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Food: A Frustrating Need
Food is frustrating to me. Ever since I can remember, food has been a completely different aspect in my life than what my family, peers, and humanity deals with. Yes, food is a source of energy and existence. Yes, it's amazing. Yes, it packs on the pounds. But it's also a total love-hate relationship with me. For one reason: diabetes.
When I was first diagnosed, my life was thrown into "sugar-free" mode. My sugar intake was limited. I never tasted a real coke unless I was low. I didn't get to eat normal candy or normal desserts. Everything was tainted by fake sugar, a chemical taste that couldn't replace my childhood need for some old-fashioned sugar.
And some time after that, food changed to a focus on carbohydrates. Not too many, not too little. Counting every last one in every food. It was about figuring out "free foods" like certain vegetables, carbless treats, and Crystal Light. It was easier than sugar free. After all, I could finally have a slice of cake made with real sugar! But it's still tangled and messy.
Because food for me isn't like food for a non-diabetic. Food requires a blood sugar check. Food requires insulin, preferably before I even ingest anything although I'm terrible at that. It also requires careful management. I can't mindlessly eat...because I need to know that those 2 handfuls of popcorn are an exact amount of carbs. I need to know that a can of coke has so many carbs and takes so many units of insulin.
Food is also completely personal, whether diabetic or not. It requires daily decisions in my life that go beyond the food I want or need or have. It's dependent on my blood sugar, my activity, and my overall diabetes "aura."
For me, I don't snack unless I'm hungry because I know that means more insulin, which means greater chance of weight gain and greater fluctuations in blood sugar. Every ounce of food put into my body HAS to be corrected. It's not a matter of a bag of M&M's being something I want; it's a matter of calculating the carbs for that and expecting a drop later because of the sugar content.
I also try to eat the same types of foods...things that I've tested over time. I can predict a blood sugar from the enchiladas at my favorite restaurant, but I can't predict the number after a dessert at a restaurant I've never been to before. I don't splurge as often as I like to (although I do splurge!) because it means my blood sugars get thrown all over the place. I typically never feel full, because eating till I'm full means more insulin. And you know that whole endless cycle by now.
On top of all the back and forth with food, there's a completely different aspect of food in my life. Bottom line, sometimes I'm forced to eat when I just don't want to and not eat when I really want to. Whether it's a matter of planning a snack in the middle of a busy day to avoid a low. Or eating to bring up a consistent bout of lows. Sometimes it's a matter of waiting for a high blood sugar to come down before indulging in a decadent dessert or high-carb meal.
Food is tricky. It's frustrating. It's even flat-out annoying to me. Because I'd love to eat anything I want, whenever I want without considering that I have to follow it with insulin and a blood sugar check and possibly a high or a low. I know I can run off the extra calories, but I can't run off the hormonal effects of insulin or the drops from certain foods.
After sixteen years of eating like this, I've gotten down to nothing like science. It's still confusing. So I prefer to keep going the way I am...avoiding certain foods, avoiding snacking, avoiding extra insulin, and avoiding the rise and fall of blood sugars.
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)
Nicole Purcell lists having type 1 diabetes last when she's asked to provide information about herself - because that's where it belongs. (Read More)