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D. Nomi 

Let’s be real. The world isn’t ready to fully embrace food intolerances but it’s coming around to admitting that food allergies are a thing. 

WebMD has an entire article on what foods are good for diabetics and which should be avoided. 

It cleverly states that all foods are allowed within limits. For example, while pasta is considered a carbohydrate and carbs turn into sugar, there are pastas that are acceptable for diabetics. 

Whole grains are great! White flour is frowned upon as it tends to lack in fiber and protein unlike its healthier counterpart. These sorts of missing nutrients can increase the likelihood of a person with Type 2 diabetes to be overweight or obese. 

So, what happens if you’re celiac or have a gluten sensitivity? How does that affect your diabetes? It turns out that the symptoms for celiac are like those of diabetes and once one is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes they should also get tested for celiac. 

The link between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease was first established in the 1960s. The estimated prevalence of celiac disease in patients with type 1 diabetes is approximately 6%, and about 1% in the general population. Due to the significantly higher prevalence of celiac disease in diabetes patients, many doctors recommend getting screened for celiac disease after a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, and vice versa. There is no established link between type 2 diabetes and celiac disease. 

The link has been made, you’re celiac with diabetes. Now how do you eat? For the average person with celiac disease, a salad may be a reasonable option at a restaurant that doesn’t have a gluten-free menu. 

However, for someone with both diabetes and celiac disease, a salad comprised only of vegetables, meat, and dressing is likely too low in carbohydrate to meet standard meal recommendations. Always come prepared with additions or use a beverage (like a smoothie or a latte) as your source of carbohydrate if necessary. 

Whole grains are best for type 2 diabetics and there is a whole world of alternate whole grain flours that are now at your fingertips such as almond flour and coconut flour. Bob’s Red Mill has wonderful products such as Millet flour and Quinoa flour which is a complete protein. 

This leads to another common allergy – nuts. What does a nut allergy do to insulin production in the body? Let’s look at all the good that nuts and other healthy fats do for insulin production in the first place. 

Through digestion, the proteins you eat are broken down into amino acids, which play many crucial roles inside your body. Some amino acids, including those that come from protein, trigger pancreatic cells to produce and release more insulin. 

While it’s good to eat proteins from a variety of sources, some research indicates that plant-based proteins are especially beneficial for increasing natural insulin levels. Plant-based proteins come from a variety of sources, including beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and tofu. 

There are articles on the benefits of nuts and tree nuts as they are wholly nutritious. They embrace all the fiber and protein needed for a healthy body. 

So, what if one has a tree nut allergy? Forget about peanuts! What if you also cannot have almonds or Brazil nuts which are high in zinc? Well, seeds have very similar properties and similar benefits. It would probably be best to find out what properties that food has in it and match that up with a food you can tolerate which gives the same benefits. 

For example, zinc is also found in lentil sprouts, shitake mushrooms, okra, and broccoli. These are also whole foods. With our current climate and increase in health awareness the use of supplements seems like the easiest answer, but we have food as medicine at our fingertips. 

“Compared to supplements, whole foods like fruits and vegetables are almost always a healthier option,” one expert notes. “In addition to containing more overall nutrients, including macronutrients and micronutrients, whole foods also contain beneficial fiber and protective compounds, such as antioxidants, that aren’t always present in supplements.” 

If a variety of foods are available to you, you most certainly should eat all the colors of the rainbow. Not just because it’s pretty but because each color represents a different nutrient your body needs. 

Recognizing what your body doesn’t like or is intolerant to is very important and knowing what to substitute is key. If the internet is not as user friendly for you a great concession would be to consult a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist. They can guide you through all the ins and outs of meal prep and how to substitute any food your body may be allergic to with another of equivalent nutritional value. 

What’s most important is recognizing all that is available to you instead of focusing on what you can’t have. 

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