Yes, a Type 1 Diabetic can achieve an A1C in the 5% range without severely restricting their carbohydrate intake, but at what cost?
For several years (during both of my pregnancies and the time in between) I maintained A1c levels of 5.8% to 6.3% (this falls within the ADA's recommendations of "Tight Control") and my doctors were thrilled. BUT these levels were due to daily highs and lows. I was on a constant teeter-totter of blood glucose swings and I could never find the balance point. This lead to a lot of danger, uncertainty and stress. I often had no idea what was causing high blood glucose levels and would blame my pump, or my calculations, or myself.
I felt like a "bad diabetic."
I felt like I was failing every day and it was exhausting and disheartening. I hated diabetes and held a lot of anger towards it.
I was out of control and would eat too much when experiencing a low blood glucose level. Then I felt helpless with a high blood glucose level because it would often take hours before the insulin peaked and brought it back down again, but I frequently over-shot my goal of 100 mg/dl and went low, just to start the cycle over again.
(The incidence of long-term diabetic complications goes up dramatically with blood glucose levels over 140 mg/dl. Here is a great aggregate site of scientific studies that confirm this.)
Diabetes management seems so much clearer and obvious to me now. With a low carb plan, it's simple to see the blood glucose variation if I'm eating something new. I'm no longer stressed about my daily care like I was when I was eating high-carb and covering it with loads of insulin.
I feel much more positive about my future with this disease than I ever have.
I feel empowered with information and a whole toolkit of diabetes management techniques that I never knew existed.
I am not a control-freak BUT...
I WILL restrict my foods every day of my life if it allows me to go about my day, work, exercise, care for my kids, and go to sleep at night without worrying about a dangerous low blood sugar level.
I WILL stick with low-carb forever if it helps me avoid high blood glucose levels and to someday avoid common diabetic complications of nerve damage, amputation, dialysis and heart disease, just to name a few.
And really, what is restricted? I eat an incredible variety of vegetables, meats, nuts and full-fat dairy. Plus, nearly every carb-laden food can be re-created using low-carb ingredients.