Six months ago I wrote My Life As A Houseplant, where I spewed venom about my newly diagnosed diabetes.I felt like I was uprooted from my life, dropped in a vase and trimmed into something else. Of course, now that some time has passed I am bound by tradition to tell you, “life isn’t so bad. It may even be better.” Well, forget that.
THE WATERING CAN
It’s funny that I chose the vase metaphor above because my only beverage these days is water. I wish there was a plant food equivalent I could mix with it and be done with eating. At least then, the water would have some sort of taste or variety. See, there isn’t a damn beverage on this Earth that is good for you. Zero. Technically water is fine, but up here in Canada it is typically in it’s solid form. Daniel, a friend and a guest on last season’s podcast suggested I try brewing tea and drinking it with ice. Sorry, I hesitated to simply say ice tea because thanks to television and ad executives I figured you might think some sort of bottled or canned tea. No. Those have tremendous amounts of sugar. In fact, the “healthy” drinks are even bigger offenders than soda pop. Have a look at the “Green Goodness” below and then the Coke above. Take a second look at the Coke, it is a 2 liter. The juice is less than 1/4 the size and contains more sugar.
So ice tea is my spoiling myself beverage. How exciting.
Liquor & beer are another story entirely. Any time your body encounters alcohol your liver stops releasing glucose into the blood stream to work on the sauce. If I have a healthy dinner, it would only raise my blood sugar level by 1 to 1.5 mmol/L. If I drink a beer with that meal, my blood sugar won’t move until the liver is done with the alcohol content. After dinner, let’s say I go for a walk and then it’s off to bed. I’m in danger of hypoglycemia because I’ve been using energy but my liver hasn’t been replenishing it. At first, I though that was the answer. Beer or booze is like a pause button? Bring on the ice cream and cake! Of course, once the liver starts working again my levels are going to sky rocket. Basically, low and high levels are bad because it is putting stress on my body.
ICE CREAM IS NOT MY REWARD
No, my reward for eating healthy and staying active as a diabetic is “less complications from diabetes” when I get older. Awesome motivator. Alright, I can’t be entirely sarcastic about that reward. I am rather partial to my eye balls, feet and nerves. We’ve been together all my life so losing any of them might be more uncomfortable than being denied a Coke. I suppose.
That’s the crux of the issue, eating has been a reward for me throughout my life. It’s a wonder I am not 1300 pounds. Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld get it, as stated in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
After a long day at work, some might reach for a scotch, I’m headed for the ice cream. “That was a great bicycle ride, an amazing workout. I think I’ll have some ice cream.” Post diabetes me is very confused. Today, I ate a salad, had the correct amount of carbs, fiber and sugar. I deserve a reward! Oh. Right. Well, shit.
PINE CONES DON’T CONTAIN ENOUGH FIBER
It’s only a theory, but I believe you’d be better off to mug a beaver and take his log if you want fiber. Pine cones are too soft and digestible. Fiber and protein help to slow down processing of sugar in your body. You’ll get a nice slow burn of the energy rather than a high blood sugar level. So the nurse recommended I eat lumber.
I was going to drive a nail through it for the picture but my sugars were low and I didn’t have the energy.
I wasn’t much of a bread connoisseur growing up in the Midwest burbs eating the fluffy white moist towelettes Americans call bread. Then, I found sourdough, focaccia, ciabatta and more. I became accustom to the fact that bread could be just as delicious as what you put on it. Now, I’ve regressed back to seeing bread as a condiment.
It’s important to have snacks when you’re diabetic because just like the houseplant, it’s a balancing act. Too much sunlight or water could be deadly, even though it somehow survived just fine in the wild. Likewise, I survived indulging myself for 30 years, now it is a game of just enough. If I correctly eat just enough to make sure my levels don’t get too high, I will run out of energy before the next meal time. Unfortunately, snacks have to be just as mindful as meals. Who has ever heard of a balanced snack?
I started buying granola bars or Kashi brand snacks but the nurse didn’t think I was getting enough from these prepackaged “health” foods. She suggested I have more lumber, I mean toast. When I grumbled, she offered the idea of crackers. Well, her idea of crackers. This is what I get for complaining about the bread.
Cripsbread? That implies that these crackers might be chewy and not just hunks of bark stripped from trees. Munching on a box of roofing nails would do less damage to your mouth. I tried to photograph the crackers holding heavy things, but eventually I ran out of items in our house to stack on top of them.
GET TO THE UPSIDE
I can’t have pop, ice cream or what I would define as bread and crackers. The upside is that portion control is so much easier now. I think I’ll let the roof of my mouth heal instead of having a second helping of crackers. In the last six months I have lost around 17 pounds. Perhaps I am too stubborn, but I do miss junk food and pop. I’ve probably treated myself to a Coke twice in six months and it did not taste too sweet as everyone said it would after cutting it out. Beer isn’t a total loss as I think I am mostly a social drinker and I haven’t really been that social since I moved to Canada. Alas, that’s a whiny blog for another day.
Of course, I shouldn’t dismiss the social issue entirely as I think that is probably one of the most difficult parts of diabetes for me. Eating together is one of the primary means of forming real relationships. Throughout the centuries we’ve used meals to celebrate, kick off events and bring people together. While I can still eat, I don’t see you and I bonding over a new creation at Cold Stone or trying the lasted food item to include bacon or Sriracha. Yes, it sounds overly dramatic to say that food is going to make my relationships suffer. Think about how you feel awkward when you offer someone a beer and s/he politely declines and describes her or his sobriety in years/months and days. Alcoholics are probably less likely to hang out at pubs and wine tastings to avoid temptation. While libations can bring good times to many, they’re a curse to an alcoholic. Now, I am less inclined to go out to restaurants and parties. Sorry, I think I may have confused my point, but I don’t have time to rewrite this. I’m going to search the web and try to find a 12 step program for ice cream.