Reporting by Jacquie Cosgrove
Mila Clarke Buckley was just 26 when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She says the diagnosis came as a shock, especially since she was eating well, exercising regularly and had recently lost 30 pounds. “I thought I was doing everything right,” Buckley tells Yahoo Life.
She discovered that there weren’t many resources online that catered to someone her age, so Buckley created Hangry Woman, a food and lifestyle website that features diabetes wellness tips and recipes. “I just started talking about what life with type 2 diabetes is like,” she says.
The Houston-based food blogger has since built an empire, and she says maintaining her health is crucial. One way she does it? By eating healthy foods that also happen to taste delicious.
“People often think when you have to eat healthy foods that it’s going to be bland and boring — it’s not going to be fun to eat, you’re going to dread every meal that you have,” says the 30-year-old. “But you can adapt the foods that you love by just paying attention to the labels that you’re reading. Once you get a little more thoughtful about the foods that you cook, you can figure out what to make.”
Here’s what Buckley eats in a day:
Buckley kicks off her day by checking her blood sugar. Then, she can figure out what her dose of insulin, a hormone that your pancreas naturally makes to allow your cells to use glucose, should be for the day. (People with diabetes have trouble making insulin, or make none at all, which is why they often take insulin in the form of an injection, according to the American Diabetes Association.)
Next, Buckley says she usually has a “light” breakfast because she likes to exercise right after eating. One go-to meal: chia seeds, Greek yogurt, and granola. “I mix it all up and it’s delicious and easy.”
“I appreciate lunchtime because that’s where I can go wild, and just figure out what I want to do when I have the rest of the day to correct it,” says Buckley. She’s big on “lots of fresh vegetables.. but I won’t say no to a good burger.”
One lunch she enjoys is a takeout burger with bacon and cheese on a lettuce bun. “It’s so important that you don’t deprive yourself of the foods that you love, but you just figure out how to change them in a way that’s going to be better for your blood sugar,” she explains.
Buckley checks her blood sugar right before she makes dinner. “Sometimes if my blood sugar is a little higher, maybe after exercise, I’ll go for a protein-heavy dish or something with lots and lots of veggies, just to make sure that my blood sugar isn’t skyrocketing too much,” she says. Buckley says that she and her husband keep “lots of ingredients in our house at all times, so we have a lot of choices when it comes to making food.”
Buckley also keeps tabs on what she eats via her Diabetes Food Journal, which she released in May. “It’s a food log that gives you the ins and outs of what to do,” she says. “I like to fill mine out and just kind of reflect on all of my progress.”
Overall, Buckley wants people to know that you can have type 2 diabetes and be healthy. “The biggest thing that I’ve learned in being diagnosed and having type 2 diabetes is that I take more care of my health than I ever have,” she says. “You could feel discouraged and you could feel upset, but you could also feel happy that you have this opportunity to be more in-tune with yourself.”