How one woman changed her life by changing the way she eats

For Shelby Kinnaird, being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes more than 20 years ago was a total shock. Kinnaird eventually created the blog Diabetic Foodie in 2010 “to show people that getting a diabetes diagnosis does not mean you can’t eat delicious food.”

Video Transcript

SHELBY KINNAIRD: There are lots of misconceptions around diabetes out there. I think one is that there is one single magic diabetes diet. You've got different things going on in your body than I do, so you need to figure out what works for you, and you need to figure out what your diabetes diet is.


I had a very stressful job. It required a lot of travel. My eating habits weren't good. My exercise habits were not good. I just went in for my regular annual physical. Couple of days later, my doctor called and said, uh, you have type 2 diabetes. I sort of made my health as much of a priority as my career was.

A typical day for me-- I get up. I take my blood sugar right away . I do a quick five-minute journal, setting some goals for the day. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I kind of went out and bought all of the cookbooks I could find that were kind of diabetes related, and it was just all these things that just tasted horrible. I started "Diabetic Foodie," the blog, to show people getting a diabetes diagnosis does not mean you can't eat delicious food.

I tend to eat breakfast right away. My blood sugar tends to be higher in the morning. There's a phenomenon in diabetes known as the dawn effect. And I have learned in dealing with that that it's best for me to get up and eat right away. I usually do a little bit of work, and then I take a walk. Lunches might be something like a shrimp salad stuffed in half of an avocado.

We're going to start with some shrimp. This is 1/2 a tablespoon of yogurt, 1/2 a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 1/2 a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger, some scallions, some parsley, and then I'm going to hit this with a little salt and pepper. And that's your shrimp salad stuffed avocado.

Thursdays, I do a yoga class in the afternoon. I like to go to the farmer's market and get whatever's in season because it tastes better. It's fresher. It's ripe. In the summer, it's easier because there's a whole lot less cooking you have to do. There's so many things that just taste good raw.

Let's say you want to stay on track for 4th of July. There are lots of different things you can. Do I like Buffalo chicken burgers. I have a banh mi chicken burger that has all the pickled vegetables like a banh mi sandwich would have. I just don't do bread. I put it in a lettuce wrap. It's OK to splurge a little bit. Now, if you're doing cookouts every weekend, you probably don't want to splurge every weekend. You can do fruit as your dessert. Blueberries and watermelon together can be a great dessert.

I started hearing from "Diabetic Foodie" readers that lived alone and they said, you know, I just can't get motivated to cook for myself. Going out to dinner was my social interactions. I'm just lonely. So I thought, you know what, I can't do the in-person things right now, but we can do things via Zoom. I'll send out a recipe, and we'll get together. So I started calling these Cook and Chat.

What inspires me the most is knowing that I have helped empower someone else. There's a big stigma out there that people who have type 2 diabetes, it's all their fault. They did it to themselves. That's not true at all. If you have type 2 diabetes, not your fault. Don't let anybody tell you it is.