The idea that today people with diabetes can eat everything is supposed to be a liberating philosophy – and certainly, compared to the restricted diets of the past, it is. I’m grateful for faster acting insulins, blood glucose meters and continuous glucose monitoring systems. But unfortunately, this supposed liberation can only go so far: even today, every meal requires you to correctly guess how much insulin to take, and to monitor and check yourself multiple times afterwards to make sure that you’ve succeeded. As Dr Richard Bernstein has pointed out, the greater the number of carbohydrates in your math problem dinner, the more likely you are to get it wrong. Catherine Price via People With Diabetes Can Eat Everything, Really?.
Which is why I called Mike Norris an idiot for organizing an Ice Cream Social for people with diabetes. In his anger, he organized an event that surely the public saw as “diabetics fighting for the right to eat crap”. It’s tough enough for people with Type 1 to overcome the stigma that we caused our diabetes because of poor dietary choices.
Yes, I popcorn. No, I don’t eat ice cream. Yes, I eat pizza1. No, I don’t eat cookies. The things I eat that aren’t nutritious, I eat in moderation. I eat them occasionally. They are not a regular part of my diet but I enjoy them when I eat them. But … I would never advocate that eating them is part of a normal healthy diet. That’s just stupid.
This, I realized, leads to a contradiction in supposed liberation: while part of me was grateful for the flexibility that today’s medications and technology allow, another part of me felt oppressed. Here’s why: if diabetes itself is supposedly no longer restricting me, if I supposedly have all the tools at hand to eat whatever I want, then any time I finish a meal with high blood sugar or a scary low, then I must have done something wrong. The problem, in other words, isn’t my diabetes, it’s me.
No Catherine; it’s not you. It’s the people who think there is something normal about eating four scoops of ice cream and washing it down with a soda. It’s people who think eating an 1600 calorie dinner at The Cheese Cake Factory is “normal”.
No one can eat like that and stay healthy. Not even people with diabetes.
- I had stopped eating pizza because of the roller coaster job it did on my blood glucose. I have started eating pizza again now that I have an insulin pump. But it’s rare. ↩