"Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes" - Book Review

When did the act of cooking turn into a chore for those of us with diabetes? How many of us eat because of the time, or because our doctor told us to, or because our blood sugar is low? And when was the last time instead of shaking our head and saying, "No thanks, I can't have that, I've got diabetes," we said yes, I can! Megrette Fletcher, co-author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes wants to bring that love and passion for food back to people with diabetes. "I love food and I love eating," she says. "We need to love food more. When we love things, we treat them with a kindness that opens doors and possibilities, and when we see all that food can do for us, it's exciting."

An inside look at mindful eating

What exactly is mindful eating? The label triggers images of yoga enthusiasts sitting cross-legged on the floor, a piece of fruit balanced in one hand and a stalk of broccoli in the other. Where's the fun in that, right? In fact, Megrette says there are no rules when it comes to eating mindfully. "Mindful eating can mean something different for everyone," she insists. For this busy mother it might mean sitting at the counter with my kids instead of loading dishes while I chew, while for someone else it could mean being aware of their hunger before reaching for seconds. The good news is that mindful eating means eliminating the guilt, shame and frustration many of us feel when it comes to food.

So how do we it? The authors provide a series of tips, advice and tools on how to change the way we eat throughout the user-friendly book. One of my favorite sections of the book is right at the beginning in Chapter 3, which is titled, "Nourish: Masterpiece, or Paint by Number?" A chart of Healthy Eating vs. Restrictive Dieting is provided that lists two dozen word exchanges. For example, instead of "In Control" with Restrictive Dieting, you are "In Charge" with Healthy Eating. Instead of "Rigid" you are "Flexible," instead of the "Guilt, Shame and Fear" of Restrictive Dieting, you can choose "Enjoyment, Pleasure and Trust" with Healthy Eating. "It's a simplistic view," Megrette insists. "It's about eating with intention and attention."

Mindful meal planning with diabetes

"Mindful Meal Planning" is another key chapter of the book, offering a visual aid that resembles the American Diabetes Association's Create Your Plate guide. In the Eat What You Love diagram, half the plate is taken up by low carb vegetables, a quarter of the plate is for protein and the final quarter is a combination of grains or starchy vegetables, dairy and fruit.

It's the little stuff that matters when it comes to managing diabetes. Megrette compares it to juggling a lot of balls. "Your diabetes management isn't one 800 pound ball, it's 37 five pound balls," she laughs. There are lots of things you can do consistently to make healthy choices. For example, decreasing your carbs a little at breakfast, or walking on your lunch break can have a huge impact on our blood sugars over time. The tablespoon over time adds up. "Mindful eating is about respect," she says. "It's about the individual respecting themselves. If every person with diabetes woke up and said, I am a bright and able person and I can make a healthy food choice for my body, it would have a big impact."

Having diabetes doesn't mean eating has to be another responsibility to check off our list. Let's remind ourselves how to say yes to food, and eat what we love.

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About Amy Stockwell Mercer

Amy Stockwell Mercer is the author of The Smart Woman's Guide to Diabetes, Authentic Advice on Everything from Eating to Dating and Motherhood. She has lived with type 1 diabetes for twenty-six years.

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