“How Do You Manage Sweets With Your Diabetes?”

My red, plastic plate was piled high. I’d grabbed a scoop of hot apple crumble topped with Connoisseur ice-cream, a Cherry Ripe chocolate cupcake and a slice of liquor sponge cake from the desert table at our family get together over the weekend.


Get togethers in our family are all about the food. I spent most of Thursday telling Mum that she’d prepared way too much for our get together that evening, and the remainder of the weekend saying I told you so. Nonetheless, you still want to try and have a little bit of all the deliciousness.

“How do you manage the sweets with your diabetes?” my Uncle asked me as I sat down at the table with my plate.

After all these years with type 1, you sort of begin to expect these kinds of questions. I mean, even I get a little conscious when I sit down with a piled plate, wondering what others must think.

I went on to explain that I would look at the plate and estimate that I had at least 100g of carbs there.

I went on to say that I would enter 100g into my insulin pump, and that the pump would deliver an insulin dose for me.

I went on to explain that I can technically eat anything, so long as I cover it with insulin.

I went on to explain that I should still be mindful of how many carbs I eat, but that it was Easter and I didn’t care so much today.

I went on to explain that if it wasn’t Easter and I did care a bit more, a back up bolus of at least 15 minutes would also be helpful.

I didn’t explain the months of hard work that went into perfecting my basal rate, so that my mealtime insulin does its job and doesn’t get stuck in quicksand.

I didn’t explain how I weigh all of the food I prepare at home, multiply that weight by carb factors, and then divide it by my own unique insulin to carb ratio.

I didn’t explain how some foods are digested very slowly, while others are digested very rapidly, and insulin needs to be backed up or delayed accordingly.

I didn’t explain that a larger, higher fat or restaurant meal, requires a temporary basal rate for several hours to combat the insulin resistance.

I didn’t explain the importance of checking my blood sugar levels post meal, to ensure that my insulin is doing its job.

I didn’t explain that sometimes I get it wrong, and I end up eating my way out of lows.

I didn’t explain that sometimes I also get it wrong, and I end up shovelling down insulin and bucket loads of water at 3am to bring down the highs.

I didn’t explain the huge investment I’ve had to put into learning, observing and applying, so that I don’t make these errors so often and see more numbers in range.

I know that my uncle wasn’t trying to be rude or judgemental. And it was nice of him to ask. I liked that it opened up the dialogue, and that I could deflate the stigma around sweets and diabetes.

It’s just a shame that despite how simply I’d put it, nobody in that room will remember a word of what I said.

It’s a shame that despite how many times I check my blood sugar or pull out my pump during the day, nobody seems to notice the diabetes.

It’s a shame that I’m only ever asked these questions when I’m seen with a plate piled high with desert.

Eating Whatever I Want

My eating has been lacking lately.

Most afternoons of late, I’ve been coming home and sinking my teeth into something sweet. Like the Ice Cream Pannettone sitting in the freezer, that we made with one of our leftover Panettone from Christmas.

The leftover Pancakes I made for breakfast last weekend. A bowl of ice cream. The stash of Woolies choc chip Hot Cross Buns sitting in the freezer. Or, the block of Kit Kats that was on sale last week.

This is rather different to burnouts I’ve experienced in the past, because I’m still diligently covering my carbs with insulin. Dare I say, I’m covering my carbs with insulin quite well. The Calorie King app is my lifeline for things like the pancakes, or the choc chip hot cross buns. If I’m guessing for that Panettone ice cream, I weigh it first and estimate that it’s got at least 50-60% carbohydrate content. My insulin to carb ratio seems spot on most of the time. My levels honestly aren’t bouncing around all over the place, that I sort of feel like I can get away with it. 

I’m also in the midst of what I refer to as the lazy time of year. It’s been a warm start to March. There’s little motivation to go outside, or doing something more productive after work. The heat sucks all the energy out of me, that crashing in front of the air con is the most tempting option at the end of the day. The mornings haven’t been the most comfortable to wake up to either, lacking that cool, crisp and fresh feeling. Thankfully, it seems to be coming to an end…

The energy spike and crash from these carbs isn’t helping my cause. I have felt pretty damn lousy this past week or two as a result. I feel exhausted. I have observed noticeable changes in my mood. I shouldn’t feel like I am limping toward the finish line on Friday, despite a stressful week. 

I know what I need to be doing. Cutting back on the sugar laden foods. Swapping some of the carbs out for fruit, veggies and proteins. Being more organised with meals and snacks. Swapping the spontaneity with more set times to eat.

This is different to burnouts I have experienced in the past, because I don’t feel particularly burned out. I am still actively managing my blood sugar levels and counting carbs. I know I have a lot going on at the moment. Perhaps taking my foot off the pedal and eating whatever I want, is simply a way for me to cope the demands of diabetes and life at the moment.