Advocate for Real Choices!
Let me just say that it’s been a wild ride. Losing 45 plus pounds, motivating myself to exercise, and boosting my self-confidence has been great. However, having my blood sugar plunge into the thirties, watching callouses form on my pricked fingertips, and experiencing diabetic nerve pain in my legs and neck has not been great.
I have learned that I must have constant vigilance against weight gain and re-developing bad eating habits. While I have kept my weight down (between 222 and 227 pounds), I am in a frequent battle with myself not to splurge and eat something forbidden, like a Little Debbie Oatmeal Crme Pie. Okay, okay, make that a couple of Little Debbie Oatmeal Crme Pies. I also have to be on guard when shopping for food, eating with non-diabetics, and especially when eating with diabetics who don’t manage their diabetes through their diet (which is a great way to revive some old eating habits).
Those with type 2 diabetes that proclaim that medication manages their diabetes, so they can eat whatever they want, continue to disturb me. What they do not address is what is happening to their eyes, kidneys, circulation, etc., as their blood sugar spikes. Call it what you want, but I call it giving up, not to mention fooling yourself.
Then there are folks like me that have type 2 diabetes and have become something of a fanatical advocate. We like to educate others about our diabetes, as well as just plain talk about it. I think this attribute can be harnessed and used for good. In fact, I think the type 2 community can be a very powerful force in the marketplace (restaurants, grocery stores, etc.). It helps if you like confrontations, negotiations, or have an “adventuresome” side.
Last month, I had a great experience at my local Applebee’s Restaurant. I wanted to order their Fried Cod Fillets, but I didn’t want the french fries that were included with the meal. When I asked to substitute another item, my server informed me that a minimum $1.00 “up charge” would apply. I was reluctantly okay with that, but when I requested that a small Caesar salad replace the fries, the $1.00 increase jumped to $2.49! My temper and indignation started to rise as well. I wasn’t asking for more food, I was just asking to substitute an item that makes my blood sugar soar, without being overly financially penalized in the process.
My server had the manager come to my table and review my request. He was very gracious and understanding, and quickly allowed me to make the substitution. This impressed me — not just because it saved me some money, but because it made me feel like I wasn’t being penalized because of my type 2 diabetes. And, I like it that this restaurant was willing to earn my patronage.
I have contacted Applebee’s’ corporate office and praised the actions of both employees. I am hoping that they will be commended for their actions. And I hope that this will motivate Applebee’s to consider how to allow patrons to substitute menu items that adversely affect their health without being penalized or forced to choose from some predetermined menu of “healthy options.”
So what does this mean for you? I urge you to speak up, be heard, and take a stand! If you are going to patronize an establishment, request that they earn your business (or show their appreciation) by serving products and adopting policies that help you manage your diabetes. And I don’t mean just the token diet beverage or the token low carb substitution. Advocate for real choices! Because it is our responsibility to make changes in our lives and manage our diabetes.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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