My Cheat Experiment at the Austin Whole Foods

Em on a Carb Experiment in Austin

When I met with my naturopathic doc for the first time and got the real deal laid out for me on how I needed to live my life going forward in order to, you know, avoid leg amputations and such, I grieved.

All of you Type 1 heroes understand. Carbs are a special part of life.

It hit me even harder because I love to bake.

I make the most incredible chocolate chip walnut coconut cookies on the planet. And I would indulge in at least 3 days worth of carbs in a single Sunday afternoon when it was time to whip up a batch.

These I crave when I am stressed. My sweet tooth is my coping mechanism for sadness, loss, or just crappy days where I shouldn’t have gotten out of bed.

On every other day, I crave that oh so simple, yet heavenly artisan bread.

Just a handful of ingredients plopped into a screaming hot dutch oven and out comes a crusty round loaf that smells like home. I dream about breaking off a chunk, swimming in that yeasty, buttery aroma as the steam spills out, and then eating the entire giant loaf before taking a long nap in the sun.

I’m pretty sure these off-limit fantasies actually subliminally increase my blood sugar. Because anything and everything seems to have a say, am I right?

So, after being very, very diligent with my diet since April 1st when I had my come to jesus talk with Dr. Morstein, I’ve started to test the waters with a few experiments.

The Experiment

Em on a Carb Experiment in AustinI had the pleasure of spending Memorial Day weekend in Austin, Texas, a foodie mecca and home to the Whole Foods flagship store, opened in 1980, as I would learn from my awesome Austin host.

The plan: A bike ride around the city on a beautiful Saturday, with a carb holiday in the middle…just to see what happens.

The theory: If I carb splurge in moderation, I should still have adequate insulin to convert the sugar to energy and burn it off with exercise, effectively neutralizing the impact (and bringing chocolate cake donuts back into my life every so often).

Things didn’t start off so great.

I had a completely unpredictable hypo episode 90 minutes after lunch, with a reading of 67 right as we arrived to pick up my bike.

I popped two glucose tabs (each tab will boost me 15 mg/dL like religion) and then paired the sugar with some mixed nuts (protein) 10 minutes later to prevent another crash. 25 minutes after the low, I was at 99 and ready to ride.

After a leisurely ride around the lake for an hour, we arrived at the glorious original Whole Foods. My blood sugar level was at 100 – perfectly stable.

My original plan was to be very measurable about this carb experiment.

That being said, I was on holiday and hanging out with a very fun, go with the flow friend who empowered (enabled?) a seriously diverse sample tour.

I mean, it was Saturday at the flagship Whole Foods. There were off-limit foods set out on platters everywhere I turned!

I had bites of dark chocolate, cream cheese-frosted white cake, peach gelato, lentil crackers, chocolate-covered almonds, fig nougat bars, and so much more. I topped it all off with an entire tangelo – a solid 12 grams of net carbs on it’s own.

In all, I estimate that I consumed around 70 grams of net carbs in a single 30-minute sitting (er…giddy sample-til-you-drop excursion).

And then I felt slightly drunk.

But I rinsed off my sticky hands (I was admittedly overexcited and therefore a bit sloppy during this crazed carb bender) and we headed off on our bikes to continue my tour of the city with a stop at the Hope Gallery and a long, windy ride back around the lake and down the boardwalk.

30 minutes after my full-out carb spree…

I checked and my blood sugar had already climbed to 146.

I didn’t feel so hot either. The high symptoms weren’t terrible, but I definitely noticed them. I was a bit detached and it felt like I had cotton in my brain.

An hour more of biking back to the apartment (and feeling great), I poked my finger with some anxiety to check the damage.


By the time I sat down for dinner another 90 minutes later, I was at 84. Totally normal for me.

So, the hypothesis seems to be valid, although I think I will keep my net carb total down around 50 grams per binge to avoid some of the high symptoms.

This aligns with my earlier hiking with diabetes experiments, but I still look forward to getting a talking to from Dr. Morstein in a couple weeks when I run this crazy idea past her for a little physiology insight and confirmation on whether these carb holidays get her approval…or not.

Stay tuned. And do share your own carbs + exercise experiments in the comments or on the Facebook page. Our bodies are all wildly unique and respond differently, so the more data the better!

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