📲 Instagram: @foodfreedomdiabetes
📲 Facebook: Danielle’s Support Group
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I am so excited to dive into this. This is something that I haven’t brought to the podcast yet. And I know that with working with a lot of people struggling with binge eating, the diabetes conversation comes up a lot, especially from my doctor said. And I think that just being able to put something out there to kind of clarify what really does matter and what doesn’t and being able to like focus on actual behaviors versus let’s just lose weight is something that will be so important to put out there.
Absolutely. Yeah. And I just like really admire your work. I actually like, um, came across you because of Sarah Hall. She mentioned, she’s like, yeah, you should like, you should check out her account and I was like, okay. And I was like, oh my gosh, I love this account. So yeah, I’m super excited to talk with you today.
Are you working with Sarah now?
Yeah, I am.
Nice, nice. I worked with her last year. She’s awesome and I really love her stuff.
Yeah, same. I mean, I’m learning a lot, but yeah, it’s been nice to kind of like connect with other dieticians, therapists, things like that. So yeah.
Yay. Well, let’s go ahead and dive right in. Danielle, welcome to the Food Freedom Lab. Thank you so much for taking the time. I am so excited to chat about this today.
Yes, super excited to be here.
So for anybody who doesn’t know you yet, would you mind giving us a Cliff Notes version of your story? A little bit about, you know, who you are, where you came from, and what got you interested in the work that you’re doing today.
Yeah, absolutely. I like the cliff notes version because it’s definitely been a journey, but yeah, so I’m Danielle, currently a registered dietitian. I’m from Southern California and I currently live in Ventura. So I was diagnosed when I was 16 years old with type one diabetes. And prior to having diabetes, I was struggling with binge eating and not really knowing like what to do about that. So to kind of intertwine like how I was getting into like the field of nutrition, when I was diagnosed, my doctor gave me these very black and white recommendations of like, okay, you really got to cut the carbs, you got to cut out sugar, you got to do all these things. And I was a teenager, kind of rebellious, and already struggling with binging. And I just kind of felt trapped.
Like I felt like I can’t win. It’s like now I have a health condition on top of this problem. So I just I’m sure many of your listeners understand with binge eating that, you know, it’s really complicated to restrict the things that you want. So flash forward, you know, I decided to go to school, become a dietician. And when I was in my undergrad, I went to Chico State in Northern California. And I had an amazing professor, her name’s Dawn Clifford. And she actually wrote a motivational interviewing book, but she taught that course. And she assigned us to read motivational interviewing and intuitive eating. So I remember taking this book home and reading it and it was just really eye opening to me.
Like I was really resonating with a lot of the things that, you know, these dieticians were talking about, you know, this like restrict binge cycle, talking about, you know, this all-or-nothing mentality. And I was really identifying like, yeah, you know what, like, I definitely feel like I’ve been in this place. And not only has it made it more complicated for me just to like cope with food, but also it’s been hard with my diabetes management.
So, oh my gosh, it’s been a journey. I feel like I let that kind of sit and sink in, but I feel like it wasn’t until after my dietetic internship, when I started practicing as a dietician, that I really started to practice intuitive eating in my own life. And so now I’ve been a dietician for almost five years. And I know, I know it’s been really fun. I’ve worked clinical, I’ve done some private practice and I currently own my own business where I utilize intuitive eating and I help people with all types of diabetes, you know, work through binge eating as well as creating a healthy relationship around food and their diabetes management.
I love that. That is so powerful. So just to dive right into it, can you briefly give a explanation of the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?
Absolutely. I feel like that’s such a common question, so it’s good to understand that they are different.
Let’s just stop that foundation at the beginning.
Yeah, it’s like what diabetes do you have? It’s like, well, let me explain the difference. So with type 1 diabetes, what happens is, is that your pancreas is no longer producing insulin, and this is why it’s chronic. People that have type 1, they need to take insulin. It’s vital for them to live. So type one, that’s where your pancreas no longer creates insulin. And when we’re talking about type two, what happens is your body is producing insulin, but it’s not being used efficiently. And there can be a resistance that happens. So for some people with type two diabetes, what they need is some oral medications and that oral medication will help to make it more efficient. And there’s often times where people with type two will need some insulin injections as well, which there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the process of taking care of yourself.
Okay, okay. So going off of that, what are the different causes of type one and type two? Like what is the one that is, yeah, help us with that.
Oh my gosh, yeah. So I feel like people tend to have a very black and white view of what causes diabetes, but it’s very complex. I would say heavily it can be related to genetics. If there’s a family history, that would go for both. There’s a family history, there could be comorbidities. So people that struggle with like cystic fibrosis, you know, oftentimes what ends up happening is there’s just a lot of like scar tissue that can damage the pancreas. So someone with that type of condition could end up developing diabetes. And then also with like PCOS, so polycystic ovarian syndrome, come insulin resistant. So comorbidities can play a part, medications. So if somebody has to be like on long-term steroid use, they can develop diabetes in that way as well, just because their blood sugar is being elevated from the steroids. I think some other, yeah, I feel like those are some of the big ones. And a lot of people tend to have this mindset that it’s like, oh, it’s because I ate too much sugar. And that’s just not, again, like I just explained to you the differences between type 1 and type 2. And it’s not that, you know, the food caused it. It’s your body and the way that your pancreas is efficiently using like insulin producing it or you’re just not producing it at all.
So, it’s really important to know.
Yeah, I so appreciate you saying that because I think there’s a lot of the blame game when people, you know, are struggling with this or just, you know, warnings from their doctor and being like, if I didn’t need that or I need to change my food. And I think it’s really important to recognize the role that our genetics play and like the reality that like you and I could eat the same thing but I could have no problem and you might have a big problem simply because of genetics.
Exactly and I think something too that’s so amazing I feel like I’ve been learning a lot more in the past few years you know like a lot of people that have type 2 diabetes tend to feel a lot of shame and it tends to be like, well, this could have been prevented. And the thing is, is that no matter what your body size is, you could get type 2 diabetes. If there’s that genetic component, that family history, you know, it’s not limited to a size or a look. It’s, again, it’s just a very complex condition that can happen to anyone.
Yeah, so with type 2, is there any way to reverse it or no, once it’s done, it’s done?
Yeah, I also hear this a lot and I understand because it’s, you know, when you’re in that pre-diabetic range, it can feel really like worrisome. So, what I would say is like, you can’t reverse it, but you can be in remission. You can be at a place where, you know, maybe your blood sugars are a lot more stable and they’re falling within that, you know, pre-diabetic range, normal blood sugar level. So that is possible, but I think it’s doing a disservice to tell people that it’s just cured because if your blood sugar starts, you know, elevating that blame game comes right back. It just goes right back to, I did this.
Yeah, yeah. So I know in the beginning you talked a little bit about how restricting food and binge eating can become very much triggered when struggling with this because the most common, I feel like what I hear kind of prescription for healing or moving forward is don’t eat this, don’t eat that. So what would you suggest to somebody whose doctor is telling them, you know, you shouldn’t eat sugar, you shouldn’t eat carbs, but also has a history of binge eating?
Yeah, so this is so hard because I do want to really like respect doctors and their profession, but also understanding that if a client is coming to a dietician that has spent years and years studying nutrition versus maybe like the doctor has a very general idea of it and their goal is for you to get your blood sugar in range. I would say absolutely do not cut out foods from your diet. You know, this, if you’re struggling with binge eating, this is just a recipe for disaster because you’re going to keep thinking about those foods. This like restrictive lifestyle is only going to leave you in a place where, you know, you might experience those binges at night and your blood sugar is going high. So now you’re physically not feeling well and you have the guilt and shame on top of that.
Right, right. So more of that, just like add in kind of approach.
What – Yeah, usually. So like the clients that I’ve worked with, with binge eating and diabetes, I always try to make the focus on health promoting behaviors.
I love that.
So, yeah, you know, like weight is not a behavior. So to just say, go lose weight, it’s like, it’s not really a beneficial piece of advice. Like instead, what I try to focus on with people is, okay, let’s look at your meal patterns. Like, are you eating enough throughout the day? Because having those consistent meals is gonna promote more stable blood sugars versus skipping breakfast, waiting until lunch, now your blood sugar’s dropping, you’re getting that extreme hunger feel and that can trigger a binge, you know? So it’s like the consistency of the meals is a huge piece. And then also like learning that, you know, carbs are important. They might get a bad rep when it comes to, you know, how doctors are prescribing these plans, but carbs are our brain’s primary fuel source. People with diabetes can eat carbs and it’s more beneficial if they do.
Yeah, I’m wondering how would a binge affect somebody with diabetes?
Yeah, well, from personal experience, what happens is, because it’s just very hard to stop, and you tend to go for the thing that you’re restricting, which would be the carbs. So it can lead to those high blood sugar, hyperglycemia, which doesn’t feel great. There’s that feeling of guilt that you had the binge. And then there’s this feeling of just like, just shame that now you physically don’t feel well. So like usually when people are having like high blood sugar, it’s like really lethargic, extremely thirsty. It’s like, you can barely move. So yeah, it’s, it just doesn’t feel great.
Yeah. Yeah. So what would you suggest to somebody who has just binged but also has diabetes? Like what is the best way to recover from that?
That’s such a good question. I love that. Honestly, practice compassion towards yourself. You know, it doesn’t mean that you need to restrict the next day. It doesn’t mean that you have to cut anything out. You know, if you’re type 1 and you take insulin, make sure that you are taking your insulin to correct for that. Go do a relaxing activity, like find something that’s going to like really like feed your soul because in that moment, it’s just it’s just a hard, hard feel to have that thought of like I messed up. So practicing compassion, do something else, take your medicine.
I love that, I love that. Now I wanna go back a little bit. I know that you’ve referenced blood sugar quite a bit. Can you give us just a general definition of what blood sugar is and why it’s important for anybody to kind of have an understanding of?
Oh yeah, so blood sugar, it’s blood glucose. So it’s our body’s primary fuel source. We get it from, you know, carbohydrates. Basically, we need it to survive. So everyone has blood sugar. I think replacing it with glucose can be really helpful with educating people with diabetes because they assume like, oh, the sugar part is bad. But I mean, we all need it. It’s our primary fuel source. So again, what blood sugar is doing, your blood will carry the sugar to your body cells and that’s what helps give us energy. So it’s vital and everyone has it.
So when somebody has gone, let’s say, a long period of time without eating and is claiming they haven’t felt hungry. They just, you know, whatever, has gone a long time without eating. What is happening internally with blood sugar, even if they quote, don’t feel hungry and why it’s important to still bring in that consistent food?
Yeah, so what’s happening is, and this is where the consistent meals can be helpful. Let’s say you’re starting off your day with breakfast. So as your body is digesting and your blood glucose is going up because it’s getting, you know, the body fuel, after like a three hour period mark, that’s where your blood sugar will start to trend down. for somebody with, you know, without diabetes, like, it might feel a little less severe, but if you’re getting down to like 70 for your blood sugar, that’s where you may physically feel just like, kind of tired, you may feel like it’s hard to concentrate. The urgency to eat tends to come up, but it usually comes at like the very last minute. So, yeah, it’s definitely worrisome if you wait too too long because your blood sugar is dipping by that third hour.
Gotcha, gotcha. When you have realized that you are at a place of low blood sugar, what are some quick easy snacks you recommend to just like get it up?
Yes, so I have a couple things. As far as snacks, I love just like Welch’s fruit snacks. There’s like a little packet. Cause again, we want quick energy or I recommend like glucose tablets because you know, having those, that’s gonna like get into the system fast. And I recommend this for people with diabetes where they’re like feeling all those like hyposymptoms. So they’re shaky, not feeling well. But if you kind of catch it before that, and it’s not too low, you can always just do like a snack of like some crackers and string cheese, graham crackers and peanut butter. You can make something a little more cohesive, but if you’re in like an urgent low, you wanna have something quick.
I love that. So if someone is going to the doctor and the doctor is saying, hey, let’s watch your weight, you’re becoming pre-diabetic, and this is someone who has a history of disordered eating, how do you help your clients communicate with their doctor that that is not the approach that is best for them? Do you have any suggestions on that?
Yeah, I work on this a lot with people because it can be so triggering. So usually I try to give them like a couple little like phrases they can have like on an index card if they get nervous. Some of my clients are really sassy. So like I got this. But basically I usually try to just tell them, you can always ask your doctor a couple of things. Like when you are there, please, I wanna do a blind weight, I don’t want to see my weight. And then when it comes to this like piece of advice, just saying like, thank you so much for this, but at this point in time, I’m not gonna be focusing on weight loss, I’m gonna be focusing on, working on health promoting behaviors.
And you can say, and I usually say, I’m working with a dietician, focusing on my health. So that way you can kind of reroute it and remind the doctor that, you know, you are taking care of yourself. You’re just not gonna be focusing on this weight piece because again, weight’s not a behavior and we can’t really, you know, find that success if we’re so like, I don’t know, like magnifying, like I have to lose weight in order to feel better because that’s just not the case. There’s so many other ways of really helping your health without having to go so restrictive.
Right, right. So if someone is getting that message, it can be very overwhelming. And I am sure the thoughts of just like wanting to take what the doctor has at face value is something that, you know, it’s just normal, human nature to be like, I’m freaked out, tell me what I need. So right now, could you kind of clarify, like if someone is getting that message from their doctor, like, hey, you know, let’s lose some weight, you’re pre-diabetic, what does pre-diabetic mean and what does it not mean?
Yeah, so pre-diabetic, I mean, it means that as far as like your hemoglobin A1c, which is a measure of your blood sugar average over three months period of time, it means that you’re creeping up towards a diabetic range. You’re not there yet, but it’s just showing that your blood sugar is tending to run a little bit higher than normal. That doesn’t mean that, you know, like you need to start going restrictive and cutting food groups out. What it means is you can work on some behaviors. Like you can think about your stress, you know, like what does your workday look like? What does your week look like? Are you finding time to really focus on your stress levels? Are you finding movement?
Like even, I think a lot of people discredit that even just like 10 to 15 minutes of movement a day is helpful. It’s really helpful. So finding that, finding something you actually enjoy versus, you know, forcing yourself to try to do a long period of time or just nothing at all. And then just learning how to, again, find that consistency with your meal patterns and balancing your plate. And so what I mean by that is like balancing, having some carbs with some protein, with some fat, you can add some fiber with like fruit or veggies, really allowing yourself to have multiple things so you have satisfaction and you’re fueling yourself properly.
I love that. I love how it’s a, you know, simple, not easy, but it’s simple where it’s like, we don’t need to complicate it so much. Let’s just bring it back to the basics.
The basics of just taking care of yourself. Sleep, sleep’s another thing. It’s like, you know, how are you taking care of that? Because if you’re getting like little amounts of sleep that can have an effect just on like your blood sugar level. So, you know, yeah, there’s so many things that you can do that don’t require going on like a diet plan, don’t require you to cut out things you like. And I think it just makes me, it always makes me sad, you know, when I hear these stories from people like, well, I was told that I can’t eat this because I’m going to get diabetes or I can’t do this. It’s like, why didn’t we talk about what you could do? Why didn’t we talk about what you could add in, because there’s many things you can do and adding versus restricting is always gonna fuel more like inspiration to go forward.
Totally, totally. And I love that you bring it back to those health promoting behaviors. And I know you mentioned earlier weight not being a behavior. Can you say more about that?
Yeah, so, you know, as far as like weight loss, so in general, you know, when it comes to like dieting and, you know, this pursuit of weight loss, there hasn’t been a single study that has shown that this, you know, pursuit of like dieting like none of the diets have been shown helpful in the long term, like usually what ends up happening is that people will see success within the first month or three months. within the first month or three months. And then afterwards, it’s not sustainable. It’s too restrictive. And it’s like, oh, you fell off the wagon. When in reality, it’s like diets aren’t created to work.
And it doesn’t necessarily, like weight, having your weight at a certain point doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re being healthy. Like we have to view, like you could see someone that’s like, quote unquote, in a normal body, and they could be struggling with, you know, an eating disorder, they could be struggling with, you know, like, cancer, they could be struggling with all different types of things, but you don’t see that at face value. So it really comes back to understanding the whole picture of health, and that it’s not just weight. just wait.
Yeah. So if someone is moving into potentially having type 2 or they’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 and nobody in their family has it, how do they have that conversation with their family? Do you have any suggestions on like that kind of conversation?
Oh, that that is very tough. I think it would depend on, you know, like how comfortable they feel with their family, like how safe they feel sharing, you know, this type of thing, because I think a lot of times family can be kind of like panicky, and they can be like, what are you doing wrong? Like what happened? No one else has it. So I would say, like approaching it from a standpoint of asking them to respect the boundary of like, you know, this is this is a diagnosis I just received. I am still processing it. I am still learning and I would just appreciate your support and not not this unsolicited commentary about it because I’m currently having a hard time with it. I think trying to create that boundary from the get-go can be helpful because unfortunately, family will try to come in, not all the time, but they’ll try to come in and give you their feedback. Like, well, didn’t you know that if you just cut this out, you’d be fine. It’s like, that may work for that person, but it’s not working for me. That’s them, that’s not me. I am my own person.
Yeah. So on the other side, when we’re talking about support, how could, let’s say me who doesn’t have diabetes, support a loved one, a friend, family member who does have diabetes? What helps? What doesn’t help?
Yeah. I honestly think the most helpful things is just to say like, I’m here for you if you need something, like, let me know what I can do. Because oftentimes we don’t know. You know, our blood sugars every day are different. We could be experiencing, you know, a low and that’s hard. We could be having a high blood sugar and that’s hard. We could have received, you know, maybe like an A1C that we weren’t expecting. There’s just so many things that can be happening. I think just extending that, I’m here for you, let me know if I can do anything to help you. That alone would do wonders versus, you know, the latter of just giving this advice without actually asking how the person’s doing.
Yeah, I love that. I think it would be something, or I think it is something super important for individuals to hear that is listening. Has diabetes impacted your life at all? And in the sense that has it limited your life at all?
No, honestly, no. I think that’s like one of the most amazing things. And I remember my very first endocrinologist told me, he’s like, you can live just a normal life like anyone else, as long as you’re focusing on taking care of yourself. And, you know, at the time, I didn’t know what that looked like, but now I do. And now I see, you know, like, I think alongside with learning intuitive eating, healing my relationship with food, and like processing, like seeing a therapist, I feel like this should be mandatory for people with diabetes to see a therapist so you can process this. So I think just the overall view that I have now of managing diabetes has helped me to feel like there isn’t anything I can’t do. It’s just how do I provide space for myself to be okay with not having perfection.
Yeah. Do you have any resources top of mind if somebody wanted to learn more?
Yeah. Okay, so there’s a few. So as far as like, if somebody with diabetes is looking for like a community, there is, let’s see if I have her name, Megaret Fletcher, I’ll send it to you afterwards. But she has a community called Weight Neutral for Diabetes. And so that’s something that you can join. And it’s like dieticians, therapists, you know, and it’s just a nice community. Yeah, super lovely. And she has a really great book. There we go. My messy desk, hold on.
So she has this book called Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat With Diabetes with Michelle May, that’s a doctor.
Awesome book. And then, you know, I have a free Facebook group where I’m trying to kind of cultivate that community, so I can send you that as well. But really, I think finding those resources and finding that community that isn’t about shame. Because I’ll tell you, within the past couple of weeks, actually, I was in a Facebook group for diabetes, and I was finding that there was a lot of comparison and that there was a lot of unsolicited advice that kept getting thrown out. And I could just see that people were struggling and getting confused. So it’s like finding your community of people that listen, people that share, and you know, it just has that vibe of true support versus shame.
What do you wish everybody knew about diabetes? Like if you had a mic right now that everybody could hear just to like clarify all of the BS out there, what would you want, what would you want us to know.
I would want people to know that diabetes is not your fault, that any person could get diabetes, and that if you get diagnosed, you didn’t cause it on yourself, and you can still thrive with it.
I love that. I love that. And Danielle is living proof. So, Danielle.
I know. I’m doing some adulting thing. Some things are happening.
If listeners are wanting to find you, see you, connect with you, where are all your places?
Yeah, so I’m mostly on Instagram at foodfreedomdiabetes. I’m on TikTok occasionally, foodfreedomdiabetes, let’s keep it simple. And I also have a Facebook group. So if you find me on Instagram, I have a link in my bio. I also see people one-on-one. And I’m going to be starting a group coaching soon. So depending on what the need is, I have multiple options for you.
Would you ever do a course?
Oh, yeah. I mean, I think I need some time right now, but definitely would love to do that.
Yeah, yeah, for sure. That was so good. Thank you so much again, Danielle. I think that’s one of those things where we just need to kind of normalize a lot of the things and I think really emphasize the fact that this is nothing to do with weight. It’s nothing that you cause. It is very much genetic and focusing, as always, on those additive behaviors instead of taking out, especially if you’re struggling with binge eating.
Yes, 100%. You keep those carbs, please.
To wrap up, one final question, just in honor of the Food Freedom Lab, what does food freedom mean to you?
Oh man, so many things. I think it just really, like one of the core things that it means to me is just being able to experience life without, you know, feeling so deterred by like all this like mental stress around what you eat.
I love that. I love that. Definition of freedom. Yes. Thank you so much again, Danielle. I appreciate you so much.
Thank you so much.
Licensed Therapist, Certified Nutritionist, and Virtual Wellness Coach
Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.
I understand—it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin. Let's simplify things and have you start right here:
Why Am I Overeating?
First Steps To Stop Binge Eating
The Food Freedom Lab Podcast
the food freedom lab podcast