If there’s one good thing that’s come from my friend Diabetes, its the fact that its made me better understand my food choices.
Growing up, my parents had junk food in the house for us to snack on. We had biscuits in the morning and potato chips, lollies, chocolate, ice cream and soft drink after school (not all in one hit!). I can still remember politely asking Mum if it was okay to open “something special,” which is what we used to call junk food. Don’t get me wrong, its not like we were an unhealthy family. We had home packed lunches during the day and home cooked meals at night. Its just that we never had any restrictions on junk food from Mum and Dad.
And ever since, I’ve had to have “something special” in the afternoons. Its become a subconscious habit that’s been impossible to break away from. Whether I was home at three, four or five o’clock, I still had to open that cupboard and grab a packet of chips. That is, until Diabetes came along.
I never used to even think about junk food, or any of the foods I was eating and its impact on my health. And yet now, diabetes has opened my mind to the food choices I make. I liken it to this particular episode of How I Met Your Mother. Everyone had their annoying habits – Lily crunched loudly, Ted over corrected people, Marshall sang about everything he was doing, Robin overused the word ‘literally’ and Barney spaced out when people spoke to him. And nobody ever noticed these habits until an outsider pointed them out, ‘shattering’ the gang’s perfect illusions of each other.
Diabetes has made me far more aware of my food choices than I ever was before. I actually read the nutrition information on the products that I buy in the supermarket. I understand the effects that carbs, fat and sugars in my food will have on my body and blood sugar levels. And after lots of experience, I have learned how to respond appropriately.
Now I only eat salad and drink water. The fridge is full of fresh fruit and veggies and there is no junk food to be found in the house. Ha! Yeah right!
But I really do think about my food choices now. I’ll still open the cupboards most afternoons and stare at the tempting goodies in there. But I’ll also think about the repercussions afterwards – like feelings of guilt and depression, being too full for dinner, and delayed blood sugar spikes by bedtime.
One of the biggest hurdles I’ve overcome thanks to diabetes is the junk foods that I used to eat on a daily basis. Potato chips and ice cream, that I used to eat every day, I might have about once a week. Now, I’ll do my best to satisfy the urge for an afternoon snack in ways other than junk food. Sometimes I’ll have a nice coffee or cup of tea to keep my mouth occupied. Other days I’ll have crackers and cheese with a handful of nuts.
But I’m certainly no Saint. I still nibble on chocolate most days (my biggest weakness), and I buy my lunch from the food court every Friday. I still end up overdoing it on special occasions like morning teas, eating out and on lazy days. More than I’d like to admit.
But I understand what I’m eating. I know how to react. And that’s all that really matters.