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Food and Me
Thing is, I have always loved food. I used to love a whole lot of food, and mostly the wrong kinds. I can remember when my daily diet consisted of two bowls of sugared cereal each morning, some kind of take out food (with nothing left on the 700+ calorie plate) at lunch, an afternoon snack from a vending machine that involved chocolate 99.9% of the time, and then a dinner of pasta with buttery sauces, fatty protein like ground beef, and a half gallon of ice cream.... Food was comforting on bad days, it was entertainment on a Saturday afternoon when I was home trying to figure out what to do with my overweight self (why not bake cookies? or a cake?) Food was like a boyfriend that didn't talk back, though now, when I think about it I realize that my body was screaming for years while I ate like a piggy. Half the time, I inhaled my food so quickly I'm not sure I tasted anything for a long, long time.
Now, I am more interested in way food looks and tastes and feels. I don't use it as a comforter or a source of entertainment (except for the guests I like to cook for). I am more interested in figuring out how to take foods that might be considered uninteresting or not tasty and make them taste stunning than I am in mixing up a batch of toll house because I'm bored. I can appreciate when people talk about spices and additions that hold tastes or accentuate other parts of a meal.
The things is, food is still, in the end, something that's always been necessary in my life. Juice and peanut butter are never part of enjoyment eating for me, they're really reaction treatments, foods that are meant to serve the practical purposes of pushing bloodsugar up and hopefully keeping it there. And every time something crosses my lips - even if it's something healthy or green - I have to think about how to balance it against anything else I've eaten, what exercise I've gotten and my insulin needs. I don't think I've ever just really purely enjoyed a meal, because in eating there is always math involved and math is not enjoyable. Ever. It's what makes the food relationship so complicated. I wonder, when I see a person without diabetes eat, what it's like to eat and not have to give insulin. I don't remember food so much before my diagnosis, so it's impossible for me to understand what it's like to taste something spectacular and think "oh my god, so good" without thinking immediately "wonder what this'll do to my bloodsugar..." Even when I was eating a zillion calories a day, I was still pretty careful to bolus for them - and when I skipped boluses (on purpose or by accident), there was always thinking, guilty-feelings, or self questioning around it.
Recently, I recognized how far I've come with food and eating. On July 4th friends had a BBQ and there was so. much. food. Most of it clean food - cole slaws and salads and beautiful dips and pickled things, gluten free selections, ribs and chicken on the smoker, shrimp. So. Much. Food. And for the first time in YEARS, I ate as much as my heart desired. The thing is, I ate myself totally sick. I actually needed a nap, I actually had a food coma. I was just so full. And I didn't actually feel right until this week. My stomach was in revolt for several days. For the first time in years, I was pissed at food. Pissed at it. How messed up is that? Back in the days though, i would have stayed pissed at food, ignoring my own part in the overeating mess. This time, I didn't once say out loud "stupid ice cream, stupid ribs, stupid food." I said "Stupid me." Because I knew better. Perhaps it's OK to overeat like that once in awhile. I hope that next time I measure the past consequences before I indulge; I think I will.
Food is complicated. I suppose it's less complicated now than it has been, but it's still complicated. What I wouldn't give to just once eat some guacamole and rice crackers and have that pure enjoyment - without thinking "that'll be .75 units, serve, cash or credit?"
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)