A Word (or Two) on Eating Diabetic

You can always spot me at a party: I’m the lady hovering at the edge of the buffet table, muttering to herself as she counts and recounts the strawberries on her plate; I’m the one clutching her purse maniacally when the host says, “you can put your stuff in here” –- cause I’m too paranoid to be separated from my monitor, pen, and glucose tabs, ever; if dinner gets delayed, I’m the one looking peevish and perturbed, piling my plate high with tortilla chips in an angry sort of way. Buffet

Actually, the whole “what can I eat?” thing is right up there on my Top 5 list of things that rocked my world when becoming diabetic: the idea that I would never, ever again be able to pop the slightest little snack or tidbit into my mouth without worrying about it, counting its carb content, doing the math and dosing for it! What a way to kill the fun of Yum.

Luckily, I’ve never been a problem eater (unless you count starving myself for a few years in college on the unfounded belief that SKINNY = HAPPY). But this whole “balanced meal” concept was new to me, nonetheless. I found out this means part-starch, part-protein, part-veggie or fruit — not too much of anything at one sitting — which should have been obvious, I know, but let’s face it, what we KNOW and what we DO don’t always coincide.

Even now, knowing what I do, I sometimes eat those evil ALL-CARB meals (like granola and yogurt, pasta followed by fruit salad, or chili with crackers). I often kick myself for not eating an apple instead of the bread, but naturally fruit itself is a major a dilemma, since it’s healthful and delicious, but makes glucose levels spike. Some diabetics have given it up cold turkey. Man!!

In a way it’s poetic justice: I was always so impatient with those nitpicky people at parties who wanted to know, “what’s in the sauce?” before they’d touch it. (I was rolling my eyes in lieu of “Geez, just shut up and eat the food!”). And now here I am checking for traces of gluten, fussing about sauces and dips and dried fruit and God knows what…

What I have learned is that I can’t count on anyone or any group, any book, paid program, or course to make me eat right. I have to do it MYSELF -– at every party, picnic, get-together, at every meal, and every moment when someone offers me food. If I deem it worthy of my efforts, I have to worry about it, count its carb content, do the math, and dose for it!

The new June issue of Diabetes Forecast, which arrived on my doorstep already two weeks ago, is all about “Fabulous Food Tips.” As I opened mine, I first came across the note from the publisher Peter Banks talking about the ADA’s new food guidelines and how they’ve now barred advertising from the “wrong” food companies. This whole issue is packed with good-looking recipes, actually. But how long have they been publishing that mag? More than 50 years, according to the cover. And how long have we known that certain advertisers’ food products are wrong for diabetics (if not for everyone?) So I’m assuming someone’s turned up the heat on them, no?!

Evidently there are some other experts out there doing something truly proactive to help diabetics enjoy “normal” food. See “Doctors Want Diabetics to Eat Pizza Without Guilt.” Yeah, right.

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8 Responses

  1. Shannon Lewis
    Shannon Lewis May 27, 2005 at 6:10 am | | Reply

    Amy,
    I know just how you feel about food and parties. Whenever we go to one with the kids, Jeff and I hover over the buffet table trying to see if anything is measurable carb wise. Then we break out our hand dandy Calorie King book and start calculating. Then comes the cake and much relief if there’s a nutrition label on the box…much trepidation if there isn’t.
    Parties aren’t as fun as they used to be for Jeff and I, but Brendon doesn’t know that.

  2. chester
    chester May 27, 2005 at 4:11 pm | | Reply

    thanks for your site — as someone with diabetes for 13 years – insulin dependent for 8 — i can tell you it does get better — it becomes second nature – and it feels good to be in control as opposed to not knowing what is going on in your body– adjusting to diabetes is learning that only you can take care of yourself … no one could do it for you…. and that is very empowering if you can embrace it. you sound well on your way –

  3. Kasp
    Kasp May 29, 2005 at 4:14 pm | | Reply

    Hi, it’s a nice blog you have here, but on reading this post it sounds as if you make diabetes seem more of a burdon than it is! I’m assuming you are from America, and by the sounds of it things are done differently there. It sounds like you adjust the food to the insulin? In the UK we tend to adjust the insulin to the food – the idea is to eat whatever you like be it chocolate cake or an apple and then give the right amount to cover it. I have been diabetic for 17 years, all of which insulin dependent. I counted carbs for about the first 5-8. I now just eat more or less when I like and what I like, while maintaining a healthy diet. With plently of bloodtests to make sure I’m in reasonable levels. I don’t know if the readers of this site have ever tried this method but it makes life so much easier without having much effect on HBA1 levels (if you get them over there?). Thought I’d share my thoughts – keep up the good blog!

  4. AmyT
    AmyT May 30, 2005 at 1:00 pm | | Reply

    Kasp:
    Everything becomes commonplace with time; after 2 years, I’ve kinda got the eating thing down (although dinner time is still hard).

    But wanted to share my experience, and the knowledge that “it ain’t easy being D.”

    - Amy

  5. Shannon Lewis
    Shannon Lewis May 30, 2005 at 3:49 pm | | Reply

    Counting carbs isn’t as time consuming as I seemed to let on in my comment. It takes all of 10 min from beginning to end, but the tension of making sure we’ve calculated the carbs correctly is what makes it stressful.

  6. Mark
    Mark June 9, 2005 at 8:31 am | | Reply

    I’ve been a type 2 diabetic for about 8 years now (I’m 54). Just stumbled upon your blog – great stuff – like that you have an RSS feed. I was curious if you have ever tried Dreamfields pasta – http://www.mendosa.com/dreamfields_pasta.htm ? I can not tell the diff between it and regular pasta and my blood sugar levels are much lower after eating it than after eating regular pasta. Was curious if you’ve had any experience with it.

  7. AmyT
    AmyT June 10, 2005 at 11:25 am | | Reply

    Mark:
    Unfortunately Dreamfields is made with wheat, so it’s out for me. On the gluten-free pasta front, I like Quinoa pasta. Tastes great and is light in the tummy, unlike rice pasta. Check it out at http://www.quinoa.net/Quinoa_Pasta/quinoa_pasta.html.

  8. Nick
    Nick June 12, 2005 at 7:39 pm | | Reply

    I quit cold turkey eating refined carbohydrates and fast-acting carbohydrates six months ago when I switched to Dick Bernstein’s diet and exercise program. I recently learned how to follow the diet while eating at restaurants and while traveling. My
    glycosylated hemoglobin result is down to 5.1%, which the lab says corresponds to 93 mg/dL.
    This is my first summer without fruit. I don’t
    miss it. I like feeling normal again! What a treat!

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