Diabetes Food Guilt

Let’s just say I have a bit of a love hate relationship with food. I liken it to a kid with a toy. You tell him he can’t play with it, and it only makes him want it more. That’s the way I feel about food.

My family was never very restrictive around our eating growing up. We ate breakfast, we rarely (if ever) brought our lunch from the school canteen, and we ate home cooked meals at dinnertime. But when it came to things like cordial, soft drink, chips, lollies, chocolate and ice-cream, we were never told that we couldn’t have it. Mum and Dad did buy these things when they did the grocery shopping, and we did enjoy junk food quite often after school.

So, throwing a diabetes diagnosis into the mix after 17 years did complicate things. Suddenly, I saw these afternoon indulgences as foods that I shouldn’t be having. I experienced the mess these foods did to my blood sugar levels. Most of the time, it was a delayed effect that happened after bedtime and left me high when I woke up in the morning. I often find myself riddled with guilt after eating less than ideal foods.

To be fair, nobody makes me feel guilty. Everyone around me is extremely supportive, and I can’t ever recall being told that “you can’t have that.” Healthcare professionals were also very supportive of managing diabetes around what I already ate after I was diagnosed. Then there are the extended family members who love to throw in their advice and tell me about their friend’s mother’s cousin who also had diabetes and did this to manage and maybe I should try it too…

But at the end of the day, the guilt is mine. Nobody causes it, and nobody forces me to feel this way. Except for diabetes. Yes, diabetes makes me feel this way. Let’s blame it on diabetes. I associate these foods with bad blood sugar levels. I sometimes find myself thinking about the long term damage I am doing to my body when I eat them, and possible future complications. I see these foods as things I shouldn’t be having, which has led to me binging in excess when diabetes hasn’t gone right.

There are a few things I like to remember, however, when diabetes food guilt comes to the forefront of my mind.

I do feel much more comfortable about what I put into my mouth now. Looking back at life before my diagnosis, I knew nothing about food. I was absolutely blind to things like the Glycemic Index, sugar content, carbohydrates and fat. I have made plenty of positive changes to my diet staples, which I am extremely proud of.

I am trying. I am ALWAYS trying. Just because I stop for a coffee and cannoli, it doesn’t mean that I am not trying. I put a lot of hard work into enjoying it. Like testing, carb counting, bolussing, and testing again afterwards.

Finally, I have never let diabetes stop me from enjoying the same foods I did prior to my diagnosis. I still eat (for the most part) what everyone else eats at get togethers and big events, so I have never felt as though I was missing out. I just work around it.

Life is too short to miss out on all the good stuff. Good food is one of the things that makes me feel the very best in the face of life with diabetes.

If you want to chat about more thought provoking topics like this one, I strongly encourage you to join in our supportive weekly OzDOC chats on Twitter every Tuesday night at 8.30pm AEDT. Just follow #OzDOC on Twitter

A Turning Point

I feel as though all of my diabetes efforts over these past few months have been like putting on band aids. Taking holidays over Christmas, reminding myself of pending clinic appointments, and even pulling out my shiny new Insulinx meter that I’d saved for the New Year. Like all band aids, my diabetes efforts have gone wayside. The motivation just hasn’t been there lately. If I’m being honest with myself, the last really good stretch that I can remember was back in August when I wrote this.

It’s easy to tell myself I’ll review the numbers every day. It’s easy to tell myself that I’ll take the time to look at what I’m going to eat, and pre-bolus. It’s easy to tell myself that I’m going to log my insulin doses in my Insulinx meter. It’s easy to tell myself I’m going to be more careful with my insulin doses, so that I’ll have fewer hypos. It’s easy to tell myself that I’ll prepare more interesting lunches, so that I’m not tempted to buy Cadbury Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns from Woolies instead.

Diabetes is hard. Diabetes is so damn hard. My recent visits to diabetes clinic only reminded me of just how unmotivated I have been over these past few months.

I know, I’m too slack,” was all I could mumble as Gwen gave me a very frank perspective on my meter results. As she was reminding me that I needed to be logging my insulin doses and minimising my hypos, all I could really feel was overwhelmed. All I have felt lately, is overwhelmed.

After a few days of feeling really burned out by my diabetes a week ago, I finally reached a turning point.

I realised that I was sick of waking up feeling utterly exhausted every single morning, fighting every urge to close my eyes again. I realised that I was sick of eating junk food so often, and feeling uncomfortable afterwards. I realised that I was sick of hearing my sighs of exhaustion all the time. I realised that I was sick of my diabetes making me feel twice as angry at the other things going on during my day. I realised that I was sick of feeling guilty, and in a bad place with my diabetes.

Since that turning point, I feel as though I’ve finally found that motivation again. I’m counting my carbs. I’m pre-bolussing. I’m logging my insulin doses. I’m putting more effort into making my diet less boring. I feel somewhat lighter.

And on Saturday, I had a near-perfect day (until 10.14pm, that is).

I’ve got this “click-click-click” intuition on my mind at the moment. Like the cogs on a well oiled wheel. Almost like the final pieces of a puzzle clicking together, seamlessly into place.

Somehow, diabetes seems a whole lot easier to manage when everything is going right.

I’m going to remind myself going forward, that this is how I want to feel all the time.