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August 27, 2014
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On the Other Hand


"The 'Diabetes Police' are everywhere, telling us what we may or may not eat or do, on pain of losing a leg, going blind, or -- G-d forbid -- dying like their father's great-aunt by marriage did thirty years ago."

 

  • --"They" tell us we may not eat breads and cakes
  • --"They" tell us we may not eat fruits or sweets
  • --"They" tell us we may not eat that nice, juicy bacon cheeseburger -- especially if it's accompanied by a plate of crispy French fries and a frosty tankard of microbrew ale
  • --"They" tell us we may not drink anything other than tap water, or black coffee sweetened with Splenda
  • --"They" tell us we must eat tons of cinnamon, bitter melon extract, and a myriad of other "cures du jour" that cure diabetes only in Halle Berry's pipe dreams

       

      While each person with diabetes has different dietary limitations based on our individual health, budgets, and religious beliefs, we can agree in general that

       

      • --We can eat breads and cakes -- though sometimes they must be gluten-free, nut-free, or dairy-free, and often only in moderation
      • --We can eat fruits, though we may need to moderate their effects, and we can eat sweets (in small quantities)
      • --We can eat bacon cheeseburgers (unless our religious beliefs prohibit it)
      • --We can drink fruit juice, milk, and regular soda -- indeed, we often must do so to quickly counteract low blood sugars
      • --We can drink alcoholic beverages (unless we're on metformin) -- but in moderation, and only if we are committed to monitoring its glycemic effects

       

      Like most of us, I thought the "Diet Police" sort of parochialism was limited to diabetes management and weight-loss dieting. Not so! A segment on Shalom TV's Mr. Bookstein's Passover (at the 26-minute mark) taught about chometz by saying that on Passover,

       

      • --We may not eat breakfast cereal
      • --We may not eat cookies
      • --We may not eat cake
      • --We may not eat pizza
      • --We may eat matzoah
      • --We may eat macaroons

       

      While simplification is appropriate for the show's pre-school and early-elementary audience, a quick perusal of the "Kosher-for-Passover" sections at my "go-to" supermarket uncovers

       

      • --Passover breakfast cereal (made with matzoh meal or potato starch instead of flour)
      • --Passover cookies (American-style chocolate chippers and Italian bakery-type cookies as well as more traditional types)
      • --Passover cakes (typical bakery-style cakes -- made from potato starch or cake meal -- as well as more traditional types)
      • --Passover pizza (dough made from matzoh meal and/or potato starch)

       

      Not to mention, recipes for the last three of these are available through multiple online and "dead-tree" sources.

       

      On the other hand, matzoh is only ok to eat on Passover if it has been certified Kosher for Passover, and I have yet to find a "macaroon" recipe that doesn't include eggs and flour (as opposed to the almond-meal-and-coconut concoctions from Manischewitz, Streit's, and other manufacturers).

       

      As is usual for me, there is always "the third hand": just as non-insulin-injecting people with Type 2 diabetes can't correct for spikey foods and most people with celiac disease can't eat Wonder Bread, some of us have religious traditions that forbid the use of matzoh in any form other than "as is" (non-gebrokts) or any starch-derived confection that has a third dimension to it (including potato-starch sponge cake and puff-pastry-like "soup nuts"). That's the exception, though -- the extra-strict custom, rather than the general rule of thumb.

       

      On the fourth hand, it's faster and easier for most of us -- people with diabetes (or celiac disease or metabolic syndrome or food allergies), people with faith-based dietary limitations, and those whou would advise (or "police") us -- to "just say 'no'."

       

      Unfortunately, the result of that is, we often must explain why when we say "yes" instead.



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      Megan Holmes
      Megan Holmes Megan was diagnosed in 2009 with Type I. As an RN, she was familiar with the medical side of her diagnosis; learning to be a good patient on the other hand, was and continues to be the challenge of her day to day life.   (Read More)
      Michelle Kowalski
      Michelle Kowalski 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)
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