I don’t eat the stuffing from couch cushions or food from the trash. Food textures don’t bother me and I don’t fear vegetables or foods because of their color or how many vowels they contain. I’m OK and me with most food smells, however, I don’t do liver and I don’t like handling raw animal protein IF I can help it. But that doesn’t stop me from grilling fish or bringing home some bacon and frying it up in a pan!
Actually, there aren’t too many foods I don’t like. But because of diabetes, I think I might have developed some weird food... Quirks.
Like when I was growing up, one of my favorite snacks was a ½ of banana with peanut butter. Half, because the Diabetes Exchange Poster in our kitchen said I could only eat ½ a banana. And to this day, unless the banana is small, I’ll most likely only eat a ½ of banana.
Same goes with small apples & peaches verses large ones.
I don’t drink juice anymore, but as child, the diabetes exchange list only allowed for ¼ of a glass of OJ. Anything else was totally off limits. Which meant sometimes when I’d go over a friends house, I’d go all types of batshit on the Tropicana Pure Premium.
My mom never bought or cooked baked potatoes bigger than a tennis ball and I was OK with that. And even now, when I go out for dinner as an adult and the protein comes with a baked potato, I can't eat more than ½ a spud.
I’ve written this before, but I got into some major arguments with my parents regarding the number of grapes (12) that the diabetes exchange diet said I was allowed to eat. Seriously, who the hell eats 12 grapes?
Now, even with the freedom of carb counting, it’s really hard for me to eat more than 12 grapes – Because in my head I think I’m breaking all sorts of diabetes commandments, even though I know I’m not.
Like Alfred J Proofrock, I feel as if “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons,”
and as a child and now adult with diabetes, food became (and is still) is all about portions. ½'s verses wholes, ¼ cups instead of thirds, allotted amounts instead of how much I actually wanted to eat. And now it's all about numbers!
Today, label reading is key and carb grams jump out at me in bold print.
But back in the day, there was no such thing as carb counting and IT SUCKED.
When I was in grade school, we had the option of going home for lunch. I lived in a small town; most moms stayed at home, and I lived directly across the street from my school.
And I actually really liked going home for lunch. I liked seeing my parents and watching 15 minutes of cartoons or McCale’s Navy or Hogan’s Hero reruns on TV.
Sometimes I’d eat at school, but my parents weren’t thrilled about that option for obvious reasons. But I was always allowed to bring friends home for lunch, and sometimes I’d bring my friend Leslie. We’d eat our lunches out on the front porch and talk about school, skateboarding (she was an awesome skateboarder) and movies. Leslie always ate a fluffer nutter sandwich on white bread, and I’d eat a turkey or a baloney and cheese sandwich. Sometimes Leslie would want to trade, but the fluff part of the sandwich scared me due to the whole “it could kill me“ thing and I never wanted to try it.
And to this day, I’ve still never eaten Fluff, or cotton candy.
I grew up eating a lot chicken because my dad had heart disease. But I never ate chicken with the skin on it – my mother literally cut it off with shears because of my dad's dietary restictions - I still don't eat chicken with the skin on it, same goes for turkey. We stopped eating wonder bread when I was in the fourth grade, and my parents forced the skim milk on me when I was in middle school. And I don’t ever remember actually using the saltshaker on my food. Instead, I’d always shake some salt onto my palm and than sprinkle it gingerly on my food.
And then there's the whole guilt that diabetes brings re: food.
As a child I learned that exercise = getting your numbers to where it needs to be after ingesting contraband Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. So I’d do jumping jacks in my room to try and burn off the the forbidden food.
In middle school I'd a sneak a candy bar and then I'd flush the wrapper down the toilet. Afterwards, I'd go ride my bike for an hour. Sometimes when I was over a friend's house, I'd sneak a slice of coffee cake from their fridge on the way to the bathroom. And then I’d lie about it if I got caught. I’m not proud of what I did, but growing up in the Diabetes Dark Ages, there was no such thing as flexibuility or carb counting, insulin sliding scales, etc. And it was HARD.
We were 13 year olds suffering from diabetes burnout, except it didn’t have a name and we were told that we were bad. We weren't, we were tired and frustrated - But we felt guilty just the same.
High School brought brought more challenges. I wanted to fit in and eat McDonald's sundaes with the rest of the kids after Play practice. On occasion I’d eat French-fries and tastykakes at lunch and I'd washed them down with diet coke. Some days I’d come home from school and I’d be so tired I’d fall asleep on the couch. Not because I was getting up every morning at 6:00 to catch the bus at 7:12, which I was. No, it was because my blood sugar was skyrocketing. Scholastically speaking, I seriously don’t know how I made it through certain parts of high school.
Our family of 3 diabetics shared 1 meter, the size of a brick that took 3 minutes to calibrate and cost hundreds of dollars. Taking it out of our house was not an option!
Luckily, I got scared straight and embraced owning my diabetes sometime in the mid 90’s.
But even as recently as 10 years ago, when I was working out with a personal trainer and was the epitome of a "Brick House," I still let other peoples food issues/influences come into play in my world of food quirks.
My ex-trainer, while technically excellent, had the sensitivity of a drill sargent and a heart that was 4 sizes too small. She had me eating chicken and spinach twice a day and told me that any meals over 15 grams of carbs were a no-no. Bread, for the most part, was off limits.
Anyway, about a year after I started training, I started dating, and then eventually moving in with my ex BF. I gained 6 lbs of the 20 lbs I’d lost back (because lets face it, when in your newly in love, you eat and have fun, and chicken and spinach twice a day looses it’s appeal,) my trainer flipped her bitch switch and became down right mean: Your going to gain weight again. Don’t tell anyone you work with me - I’ll lose money because of how your starting to look.
And yet, I still worked out with that bitch three days a week (at 6 a.m.) before work, because I wanted to be healthy. I knew that even though I had gained some weight, the fact that I was working out was a really great thing - I didn't want to stop!
But when I made the decision to go on a pump, She REALLY freaked out.
She told me that going on the insulin pump was my excuse to eat and not be accountable for what food I was putting in my body. I told her she was nuts and that she needed to get a clue. And that I was running out of injection real estate and that being on the pump would not only help save my skin, but also help keep me from spiking in either direction.
And it was at that moment that I was done with her. I realized that she didn’t get my diabetes – And she didn’t want to. She was a size four idiot who burned bridges with her clients when they didn't do what she wanted!
She was the one with issues, BIG ONES - And I'd take my quirks any day!
As of today, I’m still not at my fighting weight, but I’m OK. I’m not as skinny as I was when I had a trainer, but I’m thinner than I was 5 years ago.
I'm still "quirky" and I still have my diabetes food idiosyncrasies. But hell, who doesn't!
Yes, I need to exercise more, and I have to keep reminding myself that low in carb does not equal low in fat.
If I work with a trainer again, it would have to be someone like Ginger. Ginger is positive and she doesn’t yell, she encourages! I just started reading her book, "Your Diabetes Science Experiment" and I’m excited so excited! Review to follow!
It’s a delicate dance we PWDs groove to when it comes to maintaining the perfect balance of insulin, carbs, exercise, and all the diabetes “what ifs” that continually run through our heads and cause us to develop quirks our diabetes quirks.
No matter how hard we try, we are never perfect diabetics.
But diabetes or not, no one is perfect, and diabetes is a tricky little sucker! It’s never the same disease two days in a row.
I’ve found that ceasing to label foods as “BAD” or "GOOD" means that I don’t always want those things that were once strictly forbidden.
There are times when I still find myself asking: Do I dare to eat a peach?
And nine times out of ten, the answer is: YES, a big, fat, delicious one - And I'll bolus accordingly!
Now, if I could just get my shit together when it comes to getting back to exercising on a daily basis, my Brick House status would never be in question!