Imagine if every meal you eat is no longer just a meal, but instead it involves a variety of tasks- none of which are fun. For most folks, they sit down to a breakfast of pancakes, or a grilled-cheese sandwich for lunch and think, “Oh, yum, I’m so hungry! Let’s eat.”
For a person with Type 1 diabetes, excitement about the delicious food is only one fraction of what’s going on through our minds. Instead, we are trying to figure out how many carbohydrates are on the plate.
“Is that apple considered medium or large? is that steak big enough that some of the protein will be converted into glucose? Should I take a full dose of insulin for my meal or should I cut back because I exercised two hours ago? Am I going to give an injection in my stomach or my thigh? I gave an injection two hours ago in my stomach; I’ll use my thigh this time…oh but wait, I’ve got a big bruise there, and my doctor told me I have too much scar-tissue building up…I guess I’ll use my stomach. Oh, and shoot, what was my pre-lunch blood sugar? I might need a little extra insulin to correct that high reading.”
When your lunch becomes this complicated, it’s only inevitable that your entire relationship with food becomes, well, absolutely affected. Food is not only what a person with Type 1 diabetes relies on to save our selves from low blood sugars, it’s also the same resource that causes stress, frustration and guilt when our blood sugars are high.
And don’t forget the list of what a person with diabetes “should” and “shouldn’t” eat. That list is endless. The voices in our head from our parents, our doctor, our partners, and ourselves are all saying, “You’re not eating perfectly! You’re not counting carbohydrates perfectly! You’re not doing this perfectly!”
What’s the easiest way to rebel? To fight the “system” of diabetes? To tell the world that this disease will not control your entire life, and instead, attempt to control the world around you?
The easiest way to rebel and finally show how exhausted and frustrated you are is to use food as a weapon against your very own body. Binging on food. Eating gobs of carbohydrates and skimping purposefully on your insulin dose. Choosing all the foods you know will make you feel the sickest, make your blood sugar the highest, and make you even feel the most guilty hours afterwards. You’re telling yourself it doesn’t matter what you eat, because you’ll never do it perfectly. You’re telling the world you have diabetes, it’s challenging every single day, and you need more support than you’re currently getting.
Changing your relationship with food while living with diabetes is absolutely possible. It is one of my favorite challenges to take on with my clients, and it doesn’t take as long as you might think. But it requires digging, shining a light into the areas of your heart and mind that you try to keep hidden, and discovering that you absolutely do deserve to be healthy and happy in your life.
By: Ginger Vieira
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ginger Vieira has lived with Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease since 1999. Today she is a certified health coach, personal trainer and yoga instructor. After setting 15 records in drug-tested powerlifting with record lifts of 308 lb. deadlift, 190 lb. bench press, and a 265 lb. squat, Ginger published her first book, “Your Diabetes Science Experiment” to help people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes better understand unwanted fluctuations in their blood sugars and how to gain tighter control in their diet, day-to-day management, and during exercise.
She coaches people with diabetes across the country through www.Living-in-Progress.com, and she is the Mental Skills Coaching for www.TeamWILD.org. You can also find Ginger’s diabetes video blogs at http://youtube.com/user/GingerVieira.