Yes, I Can Eat That

When I eat a pastry, the

| Oct 4, 2011

Sometimes I don't feel like explaining myself. Sometimes I just want to eat a pastry in public in peace, without the "diabetes police" showing up and giving me their two cents. When that happens, I can usually handle it without my blood pressure rising. I politely explain to these well-meaning people that I'm perfectly in control of my diabetes and that as long as I count the carbohydrates and take my shot, I can eat anything I please. Occasionally though, I find myself getting irritated and angry. I get tired of defending myself all the time.

For the most part, I eat pretty healthily. I limit fat, calories, carbohydrates, and overly processed items, and I eat high fiber foods and a rainbow of veggies, fruits, and protein. But I enjoy treating myself after my hard work on the treadmill and the weight-training machine. It helps me when I work out to know that somewhere in my future, a gloriously decorated confection awaits. I don't feel that I should have to eat it in private. I shouldn't feel guilty about eating what I want as long as I'm careful about my blood sugars.

Last year during the holidays, I was actually slapped on the hand for eating a candy cane by a woman volunteering at my work. I was munching away in cheerful holiday peppermint bliss and answering a work-related question when she literally slapped my hand and said "Shame on you! You're a diabetic." My cheeks burned as I told her that I was allowed to eat what I wished as long as I counted the carbohydrates and took my insulin injection. I also informed her that if my blood sugar went low, she would see me downing sugar to correct it so that I didn't end up unconscious and hospitalized. I know she didn't understand, but it isn't right to assume, and it is certainly not okay to slap a person with diabetes.

During another incident at work, I was discouraged from attending our ice cream social because the coworker coordinating it saw a magazine article I wrote about taking control of my diabetes. While discussing the decorations, she declared "I'm sure I won't see you there because I know all about your diabetes and the fact that you shouldn't eat ice cream." Even after I explained, she went on to say that her father had been "the same type of diabetic," and she knew it wasn't "good" for me. The joy of the ice cream social was gone for me. I helped with the decorations and stayed away from the event, too emotionally deflated to explain to the diabetes patrol on staff that yes, I can eat that.

I literally started wondering if I was correct in thinking that I was allowed to eat the occasional sugary treat. After all, so many people were badgering me about my dietary choices. Had I become too easygoing about my beloved dessert allowances? I believe that if you are unhappy with your diet plan, it's important to talk to your doctor. So I talked to my diabetes educator, and she put my mind at ease. She told me I could eat a candy bar every day if I chose, as long as we planned for it. Though I didn't plan on eating candy every day, I felt better and more justified than ever about not letting others exclude me from anything because of my diabetes.

I try not to overreact when well-meaning individuals give their opinions of my food choices because each person I educate means one less member of the diabetes police force and a happier, guilt-free life for all of us.

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Categories: Candy, Carbohydrates, Diabetes, Diabetes, Diabetes Police, dietary choices, Food, Healthy Eating, Pastry

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Posted by Anonymous on 4 October 2011

I have a hard time "educating" people these days because I'm tired of it. It seems like all day every single day, I'm being demeaned because of something that I'm eating, or shoes that I'm wearing. I have a 6.0% A1c and am healthier than most people I know! So, instead, even with poor etiquette, when someone tries to reprimand me like a child by slapping my hand and saying "You can't eat that! Shame on you, you're diabetic!" I reply with a childish response by slapping their hand and saying "You can't eat that! Shame on you! You're fat!"

It's not nice and it doesn't educate, other than to say even IF I was eating something I "shouldn't" be eating, they can keep their comments to themselves. They get the point at least.

Posted by Anonymous on 5 October 2011

That's a good reason not to share your health information with anybody besides a few close people. With diabetes it can be risky at times. Why do you feel the need to defend and explain about what you're doing and teach? Nosy "friends" run around checking out others. Don't share this information if you don't want it twisted and used against you by certain rude people.

Posted by Anonymous on 5 October 2011

I am a registered nurse who also has diabetes. This is why I am don't reveal my diabetes to most of my coworkers.

Posted by bonnynemia on 6 October 2011

Lucky me that since my diagnosis as a type 2 diabetic in July 1991 based on a fasting sugar reading of 468 mg/dl, I have been using exercise as my only anti-diabetes medication. Exercising a total of 90 minutes/day in 4 sessions of 24 minutes each (1 session immediately before a meal and before bed) affords me the privilege of eating all my favorite foods, like fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, roots, grains, seaweeds, pasta, spaghetti, Chinese noodles, lean pork, lean beef, skinless chicken, fish, shrimps and other seafoods. When I join relatives and friends to eat out, I eat anything which is heart-healthy, natural, fresh (eaten raw or cooked). How about ice cream and sweet desserts? I can safety eat them occasionally.

Do I worry about diabetes police or getting after-meal sugar highs? No, I don't. For more than 20 years now, I have been consistently getting after-meal sugar highs 3x/day but all my A1c's have been encouragingly in good range: 5.2% to 6.3%, the latest done in June 2011 was 5.6%. Not once have I ever had hypoglycemic episode.

Because of my daily exercise, I have always been living like I have no diabetes.

Enjoy life always!!!


Posted by Anonymous on 6 October 2011

I agree that there are too many "well-intentioned" but"over-opinionated" peers out there. Just remember that your diabetes is "your responsibility", not "theirs". So, give them your best smile and say: "Let me decide what is good for me, I have a vast experience on that"

Posted by Green Lantern on 6 October 2011

I'm afraid I fall in the Dr. Bernstein (Diabetes Solution) camp of extreme carb limits--and I'm just trying to PREVENT type 2 diabetes. If I consume more than 30 grams of carbs PER DAY, my blood sugars climb and I gain weight. So, there are NO "gloriously decorated confections" in my future--at least, not more than a bite.

90% of type 2 diabetes is preventable with diet and exercise. Sorry, but "covering" sugar with insulin is not a good strategy for long-term health with diabetes.

Posted by Anonymous on 6 October 2011

Bottom line is you are trying to justify eating something you really shouldn't and really why do you want to put food that is toxic to you into your system in the first place ... it is this thought process that is the root of all problems and it isn't just with diabetes. It is with everything. People just refuse to accept limits. You can eat what you like whenever you like - yeah, that is true. Just make sure you are not asking the rest of us to pay for it when it doesn't work out the way you would like it to work out. Just injecting more insulin isn't the answer ...

Posted by Anonymous on 6 October 2011

It's doubly frustrating to provide a logical explanation to someone who still refuses to believe me.

Posted by Anonymous on 6 October 2011

I was diagnosed with T2 with a HbA1C of 9.4. After 15 days check the fasting sugar which was 106 and post food 224. Did some serious control on my diet and got the results after one month as 86 (fasting) and 116 after eating food. Am I really diabetic still unsure. Doctor has advised to take metformin (half a tablet) once after lunch. Feel like my head is spinning throughout the day. dont know the problem

Posted by deafmack on 7 October 2011

Definitely don't let people dicttate what you can eat or can't eat. I not only get the "You have diabetes, you shouldn't eat that, but because of food allergies I also get, "Oh you can eat just a little, it won't hurt you." So I get not only the diabetes police but the food police as well.
As to the woman slapping you, that is considered assault. Let her know that the next time she slaps you that you will be calling the police and reporting her for assault. That should stop her. Whatever you do, do not hit her back.

Posted by Anonymous on 7 October 2011

Thank you! thank you! thank you for writing this article!! I have this argument almost every day.
Bring on the afternoon sugar covered donut treat!!!

Posted by Anonymous on 7 October 2011

I get hammered as well when I eat sweets, and it's not just by people that aren't that close to relatives do it too. I don't think you should hold back from telling people that you are diabetic - I think anyone that is around you a lot (usually is coworkers) should know in case of having a low or even worse diabetic will they know how to help if they don't even know what you have?! When someone says something to me about what I am eating or what I can't eat I say the same thing "I can eat whatever I want" and usually it shuts them up. I also just want to say to bonnynemia that it's great that your levels are in such good control done by exercising, but type 1 diabetics can't have good control just by exercising - it also includes knowing how many carbs are in food we are eating, and how much insulin to take depending on what we are eating, and what we are doing at any given's an entire balancing act. I hope you know that - it just seems to me you are trying to convince others that it's possible to control levels just by exercising.

Posted by cde on 7 October 2011

Of course, it is true: anyone with DM1 or DM2 can or, better said, is able to eat anything and any quantity of anything that he or she wants to eat. Since no matter what or how much carbohydrate is eaten, it will not ever affect anyone's BG level, except that of the person who eats it, then others' expressions of judgment about what is eaten by the person with DM (except as unsophisticated expressions of care, love, concern, or ignorance) are not central to the decision at hand.

For that reason, I try to guide eating behavior by asking myself (silently or mumbling sotto voce) a series of questions before deciding to eat a "delicacy":

1) What is my BG goal for this moment? If I am already at my goal, will I be successful at altering and do I want to alter my BG away from my current level? In other words, is there risk or guarantee of being hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic as an outcome of eating the item?
2) Is there an alternative food item that would be just as delicious but that would less upset the glycemic cart? A tablespoon of ice cream?
3) Am I hungry?
4) Will I be able to calculate the amount of carbohydrate in the contemplated food item and the exact amount of insulin needed to maintain my BG at or within my BG goal?

Food decisions, for me, are made with reference to my BG goals, since a day without hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia is a wonderful day indeed, and those days happen when my food intake is made up of the accustomed delicacies of the kinds and amounts necessary to ensure normoglucemia and lack of fear for the future.

Dr. Stan De Loach
México, Distrito Federal

Posted by Feinman on 7 October 2011

Any person on any diet will have good days and bad days and it is clear that you are paying attention to your health needs. The problem is the difference between principles and day-to-day practice. The things that you read that you are allowed sugar if you "cover" it with insulin or that you are "entitled" to eat things that make BG worse, are the strange and dangerous advise of "experts" that are astounding to most scientists and health professionals. On the other hand, the degree of strictness in following principles is up to you. We all know that breaks from the regimen can be liberating (or just taste good) and anybody that upbraids you for any single act is too up-tight. The reason people object to the ADA and others who emphasize your "right" to deviate from good practice is that they are encouraging detrimental behavior and it suggests that they think that people with diabetes have an insatiable craving for carbs and need to be catered to, rather than recognizing that people can understand good principles but do not have to be absolute. It is a kind of reverse of the people who are down on you for the occasional ice-cream. I find them just as annoying and more dangerous.

Posted by seashore on 7 October 2011

The writer stated, "I eat pretty healthily. I limit fat, calories, carbs, and overly processed foods, and I eat high fiber foods . . ".

Fat is not harmful to a diabetic! A low-fat diet results in a high-carb diet, which is bad for a diabetic.

Dr. Richard Bernstein recommends a maximum of 30 grams of carbs (about one ounce) per day, whereas the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends at keast 6 times this amount. I suspect that the writer is exceeding the ADA recommendation.

There is strong evidence showing that damage occurs whenever PEAK blood sugar exceeds 140 mg/dl. To stay below this limit generally requires a low carb diet that at least approaches Dr. Bernstein's recommendation.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 October 2011

As a type 1 for most of my life, I feel that I have a very good idea of what I can eat and how it will affect me. i eat a very clean diet, and exercise dailt, snd my test results show that I am working hard to control my diabetes. I am constantly badgered by people who think they know better than I do how I should control by diabetes, and don't have an issue telling me so. I really try not to take offence to their advice-instead I try to educate them on diabetes (and a good opprtunity to let them know what a horrible disease it is so that perhaps they might donate to the cause!). I agree with the author of this article that it gets a bit much though! On the rare occasion that I have a "forbidden" treat, I want to enjoy it!

Posted by Anonymous on 9 October 2011

Like the other commenters, I am constantly thinking about my food intake, physical activity level, meds., and their impact on my blood sugar. 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. Why would I take advice from somebody who knows next to nothing?

Posted by Anonymous on 10 October 2011

I eat an extremely clean diet. All my providers say they could never eat as well as I do. Being an RD helps! I can buy some candy or some other kind of junk food and hold on to it for months because I'm too busy using my carbs for actual "food". So when I really, really want something like candy (like my health food store PB cup-just 13 carbs for a regular sized one), darn it, I'm going to "have" it. No one ever dares to tell me "shame on me", they know I'm super good.

Also, I'm not exactly following the thought of it's not a good idea (as a diabetic)to use insulin to cover something high in sugar. Would that person also say it was not a wise idea for a non-diabetic to eat high sugar foods? I do agree that high sugar, low nutrient foods aren't a smart choice regularly (for "anyone") but I'm not seeing the problem if it's an occasional treat (like they should be for "everyone) and one takes the appropriate amt of insulin to keep your sugar in your target range. If our pancreases were working properly, our bodies would just release the right amt of insulin to keep our sugar in the normal range, only difference with insulin users is that we have to give ourselves the right amt of insulin.

Posted by Anonymous on 13 October 2011

24 hours per day, 365 days per year, I am studying the effect of food and exercise on my blood sugar. Even so, I don't always "guesstimate" correctly. Why on earth would I take the advice of someone who knows less than I do?

Posted by Anonymous on 17 October 2011

If you can eat whatever you want whenever you want you are a typical American, excluding the one out of five Kids who went to bed hungry at least once last year. Are you also one of the earth's 5% who are consuming 20% of earth's natural resources? Do you buy whatever you want whenever you want regardless of how many people must suffer in it's manufacture? Think of blood diamonds, cocoa for chocolate, innocent Iraqui, Afghan, Egyptian, Libyan, and Syrian kids dying in oil wars. Oil provides chemicals to make insecticides,fertilizers, preservatives, flavorings for the foods we eat whenever we want. It provides diesel and petroleum to move the foods within our easy grasp. But is eating all this carbohydrate a healthy addiction? Or is it putting us at risk of dying younger than our parents? Breaking carbohydrate addiction is not easy when we're constantly bombarded by clever propaganda. I hope someday you pick up a copy of Dr. Richard Berstein's book just to casually examine it. Thanks for reading my rant. P.S. Cutting my carbs in half has resulted in less insulin needed which has resulted in fewer carb-compulsion cravings! I'm type 1 and have a.achieved an A1c below 6% several times.

Posted by Anonymous on 5 November 2011

Thank you for writing this article!!! I have to tell people this allll day long. I think its really ridiculous for people to tell me i cant eat certain foods - who would know better about diabetes management than me - a person with Type one? I try to explain to people that if a food has carbohydrates in it at all its going to affect my blood sugar regardless of what it is. I will always have to give insulin for food. If you have fantastic control and know how to count carbs and accurately dose your insulin, there is no reason to fully eliminate foods you love from your life.With all the stuff we have to deal with, we deserve a treat every once in a while!

Posted by cde on 12 November 2011

Theoretically, as the last Anonymous believes, "If you have fantastic control and know how to count carbs and accurately dose your insulin," you can eat donuts or other CHO-dense foods. In reality, I am still waiting to find, meet, read of, hear of, have evidence of an actual human being who can count CHO and dose insulin "accurately" enough to maintain normal levels (71-99 mg/dL) of BG. Eating CHO in the amounts recommended, and employing the "accurate" counting and dosing usually (about 95% of the time) lead, in my experience, to either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. Since proteins ingested also affect BG levels, the counting is flawed to begin with. Like most recipients of medical and dietary advice, I, too, followed that path from diagnosis and the 20 years following diagnosis...without success. Eating according to Dr. Bernstein's 6-12-12 grams of CHO for meals, however, I do this balancing act with success, several times each day. Often, I wonder if the years of failure to achieve normal BG levels are necessary for the person with DM1 (in terms of motivation to take the bull by the horns and in terms of understanding the the common advice is far from instrumental in helping to avoid the minor and major complications of DM1) in order to aim for better control with a method that provides the desired results. BG levels are absolute...either the level is normal or it is abnormal. Food content is a habit, and habits are modifiable. A donut? Not even on the radar as something I crave. But a rib-eye with Cajun-seasoned buttered broccoli and orange-flavored, liquid-Splenda-flavored whipped cream for dessert...that I can do.

Dr. Stan De Loach
DM1 for 42 years
Certified Diabetes Educator
México, Distrito Federal

Posted by Anonymous on 17 January 2012

These people are everywhere! Does it ever occur to them that I might know what I'm doing? I've lived with this for 37 years. Yes, sometimes I crave sweets, if my blood sugar is over 150 I won't be having any but if it's under 75, as it frequently is, I'll have whatever I damn well think is appropriate. I , for one, don't like waking up in ambulances or E.R.'s. Diabetic's aren't freaks, we can do anything,in moderation, as long as we use good judgement.

Posted by Anonymous on 23 August 2012

Wow, everyone is so opinionated. As the author said, she eats well and takes care of her Type 1 (yes, insulin DEPENDANT diabetes). She was expressing her frustrations with people taking it upon themselves to tell her how to live. So what does she get....everyone else's opinion about how she should take care of her Type 1 diabetes. Exactly what she was trying to say, exactly what she was frustrated about. To all those who supported her and understood what she was writing got it!

Posted by Anonymous on 2 September 2012

Good for you... people are uneducated and the ones that "think they are" are sometimes twice as dangerous! My son was diagnosed at age 9, he is now 20 and wears a pump. It still amazes me how ignorant our society ie some doctors can be when it comes to diabetes T1 especially. Carry on and we will do the same in a educated, healthy manner....we are LIVING with diabetes! Thanks for your blog...Its real....

Posted by Anonymous on 13 September 2012

I'm a RN and most of my coworkers know about my diabetes, and I have had people tell me I shouldn't eat things, and I educate them, I think the worst was a Doctor I work with, I had just finished a basal test for my pump and was snacking on cheezits. She told me as a Diabetic I probably shouldn't eat them, I told her that my endo said I could eat what I liked as long as I took the insulin to cover it. She asked how many times I'd been in DKA, I told her the truth, NEVER (Type 1 but diagnosed in the honeymoon stage, I was VERY lucky). She relented and told me to keep doing what I was doing because it was obviously working....

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