Cookies as Medicine?
Treating hypoglycemia and resisting temptation.
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July 2010 — Throughout my years developing friendships around the online diabetes community, I know every person living with type 1 diabetes chooses something different for treating hypoglycemia.
Some use glucose tablets religiously. Some drink juice. Some use sugary candy in a pinch. Some use something different every time, and some go through phases where only one particular item filled with fast-acting simple carbohydrates will satisfy that desperate hunger.
Nearly a year ago, my husband became enamored with the use of sandwich cookies with chocolate frosting for the purposes of treating hypoglycemia. For months, two packages of these cookies were purchased on every grocery store trip. For months, these delicious delights lived in our pantry.
And for months, I snuck around eating two or three cookies at a time, usually as a bedtime snack. While once in awhile would have been considered a treat at 21 grams of simple carbohydrates per two-cookie serving, every night was detrimental to the type 2 diabetes regimen of diet and exercise. While these cookies were treating hypoglycemia for him, they were also creating hyperglycemia for me.
So much for maintaining good control – I exhibited no self-control. I could follow my well-tuned philosophy of eating high-quality, less-processed carbohydrates in moderation all day long, but once I hit that 9:00 P.M. hour, all effort was lost and it showed in fasting blood glucose numbers.
It was not too long before Greg noticed that his "medicine" started dwindling, though he avoided mentioning it to me. It was not until I confronted him about possibly over treating hypoglycemia that he brought up the missing cookies.
Two problems that had one easy solution - no more sandwich cookies with chocolate frosting - right?
Wrong. Greg did not want to stop using the cookies as treatment for lows while I hung onto that nightly crutch of having something sweet to satisfy some emotional need. He argued that he was covering any extra cookies with more insulin and I argued that I would go for a walk every morning. He might have followed through, but I was entirely not doing so.
So, the cookies stuck around like a relative who has overstayed their welcome. Greg kept treating the lows and I kept grabbing a couple every night. Until he got sick of the chocolate frosting goodness…
The delight I felt at the first sight of no cookies in our grocery cart could not be contained. I vowed to return to the principle of mindful eating, the principle that had helped me maintain a healthy weight and hemoglobin A1c for years before the cookies first made their appearance. I started purchasing 70% pure dark chocolate to satisfy the sweet tooth. One square contains 5 grams of carbohydrate and may have health benefits, after all.
The cookies showed up in our cart again a few weeks later. Instead of leaning on my old crutch, I remembered that they were like medicine to my husband, as long as he allowed himself only one or two to treat a low blood glucose event.
Besides, dark chocolate just tastes better without all that processed filler that seems beneficial for only one thing – assisting in raising blood glucose fast when racing against hypoglycemia's clock.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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