Family members, friends, coworkers, and really any one person who is the least bit acquainted with me all know one thing: that I, Molly Johannes, have an addiction to peanut butter.
Creamy, chunky, even the powdered stuff that you mix with water – it’s all positively delicious to me. I’d like to blame it on the fact that peanut butter is a lower-carb food item; when I was little, it was the first thing I’d reach for when simultaneously experiencing high blood sugar and hunger. Okay, okay, it still is my go-to snack even now.
What’s not to love about peanut butter? It’s rich and thick, somehow sweet and savory at the same time. It pairs excellently with a number of foods, from apples and bananas to toast and crackers. It also comes in a wide array of flavors; beyond traditional, I’ve seen peanut butter fusions containing white chocolate, dark chocolate, honey, strawberry, and pumpkin. I can honestly say I’ve yet to come across peanut butter in any iteration that I truly disliked.
It’s a problem. A peanut butter problem. But an oh-so-tasty (if highly caloric) one to have, and one I’m happy to live with because it coexists so blissfully with my diabetes.
Recently, a random person on the Internet criticized my choice to incorporate carbohydrates in my daily diet. Thanks for the unnecessary judgment, stranger!!!
I’m not really upset about the comment, though, because it prompted me to reflect on why I consume carbs.
For me, it’s about more than just enjoying (relishing, adoring) the taste of carb-heavy substances both starchy and sweet. Carbs also help me achieve balance in my blood sugars. For instance, I find that consuming a serving of carbohydrates at dinnertime keeps me steady as I move through the evening hours. Say that I’m eating grilled chicken with a side salad for dinner. That’s a good meal by itself, but I like to complement it with a carb like half a cup of mashed potatoes or brown rice. I’ve noticed that the carbs kick in more slowly when they’re consumed with minimal or zero-carb foods, thanks to the power of the glycemic index.
The glycemic index is, in short, a measure of how quickly the carbohydrate content of foods will affect blood sugar levels. Since learning about it in college and subsequently researching the glycemic indices of various foods I eat, it’s been an immensely useful tool in determining the makeup of my meals throughout the day. Knowing the glycemic index of a wide array of foods also helps me figure out the timing of my insulin doses; in turn, preventing crazy spikes or crashes after eating.
I can’t shortchange carbs for the fact that they literally save my butt sometimes, too. When I’m experiencing a low blood sugar, nothing BUT carbs will bring me back up to a normal level. Whether it’s carbohydrates from healthy fruits or straight-up candy, it’s giving my blood sugar the surge it needs to keep me going. Like many things in life, it’s a matter of moderation – making sure I don’t consume TOO many carbs when I’m experiencing a low.
If you’re someone who thrives on low carb, high fat diets, that’s great! I know that many people find this to be a successful method in achieving target blood sugars. But for me, my tried-and-true technique of balancing carbs, fats, and proteins is always going to be my ideal strategy. Just because that’s what works for me doesn’t give anyone a right to criticize me for it. I’m here to live my best life, as we all should try to do. Shouldn’t we encourage one another to thrive, instead of judging?