Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Everybody Knows Somebody.

I'm not sure it's possible to live with diabetes, but without issues surrounding food or our bodies.

Food is never just food - it's medicine; it's a math equation; sometimes it's the enemy. The numbers on our glucose meters and on our medical charts often dictate, or reveal, our behavior. Are we skipping meals because we don't want to mess up that pretty little CGM line? Are we inhaling cereal at 2:00 am to bring us out of the sweaty, confusing haze of low blood sugar? (Really, who else inhales cereal but a PWD with a low BG?) How about the times we skip the healthy food - the fruit, the whole grains - because the low carb (but less healthy) options will wreck less glucosey havoc? (I'm looking at you, piles of bacon.)

And what about the times we binge - either mindfully or mindlessly - only to frantically attempt to carb guess and bolus accordingly afterwards?

What about the times we defy a healthy choice, simply because we can make the unhealthy one?

Growing up with type 1 diabetes, there were many things on the "nope" list. Hungry? Okay, you can only eat these things, in these amounts, at this time. Not hungry? Too bad - you have to eat these exact things anyway. Hostess products stayed on the top shelves of our pantry, out of my reach but rarely out of my sight. I'd linger there, leaning on the door and gazing with affection at all of the things I couldn't eat in whatever quantity I wanted to.

Now that I'm an adult capable of making my own decisions (and wearing an insulin pump that allows me the kind of foody freedom I never got to have as a kid), things get a little sticky. The cumulative power of "no" sometimes feeds an irrational sense of being owed; like I need to eat the things I couldn't eat previously to somehow make up for lost time. As if, somehow, I'm sticking it to diabetes by doing so - when, if anything, I'm only sticking it to myself.

Food issues? Yes. Yes, I absolutely have those.

The thing is, I know I'm not alone - many of us experience a tangled relationship with what and how and how much we eat. This week, February 24th through March 2nd, is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness if you're Twittery) and the Diabetes Advocates organization is striving to "broaden and amplify the conversation on diabetes-related eating disorders by offering information and resources to the diabetes community, including those at risk and those in need of support", and I fully support this mission. This post on the DA site offers some great resources to check out, and I urge you to pass them onto others.

Everybody knows somebody.


  1. yes. just yes. amen. you said it better than i could say it myself.

    you are absolutely not alone. and thanks for so often reminding me that i'm not alone either.

  2. Indeed you have a point. Although I did not have this wretched disease as a kid, I still haven't looked at food as FOOD for the past 10+ years.
    I hate food now.
    it's numbers and math and medicine. It's lost its enjoyment (most of the time)

    thanks for the post and WHAT is that picture? It looks like a tasty brownie mix or something.

  3. I am guilty of not eating/skipping a meal because I don't want to ruin a good string of blood sugars (didn't eat lunch until 4 p.m. today) and I also regularly choose no/low-carb food over fruit. I honestly can't tell you the last time I ate a piece of fruit. I wouldn't say these are eating disorders, but definitely speaks to the "obsession" T1Ds have with food/food choices.

  4. Ugh. Food and diabetes. So freaking complicated. My head is all messed up about it.

    Thank you for helping to spread the word, Kim.

  5. I didn't grow up having diabetes. Probably a good thing as I wouldn't have been very good at it.
    When I get angry, or sad, or just plain mad, I say to myself, "Remember, there are people who have been coping/dealing with this for much longer."
    Then I suck it up and cope/deal with it.
    Because you and others have told me, "I Can Do This."

  6. T1 and food issues. I got diagnosed in 1978, before carb counting and analogs, and I've noticed that those of us from that d-generation almost universally have an unhealthy relationship with food. It was that strict exchange diet, I think. Now it's a lot more complicated and the math and timing thing gets us all, but at least there's the ratios that give us a little more freedom.

    There's another eating disorder connected with T1, I've heard it called "diabulemia." One study I read years ago said that something like one in three adolescent T1 girls between 12 and 20 admitted to manipulating insulin to lose weight. Those are the ones in the study who admitted to it. I'm positive boys do it too. That study also showed that 80% of those girls had eye changes within 5 years. Scary and sad.

  7. I think this is a great post, Kim. Thanks for sharing. It is a touchy and sometimes very personal subject for T1D's but I agree that it definitely needs to be spoken about. I have my own personal story about developing an eating disorder, not long after I was diagnosed with T1D, almost 19 years ago, and you may have just encouraged me to write about it. So, thank you. And thanks for sharing the Diabetes Advocates link regarding this. I love what they are doing.

  8. Huge love for pointing out how unhealthy this is: Okay, you can only eat these things, in these amounts, at this time. Not hungry? Too bad - you have to eat these exact things anyway.

  9. Kim,

    Can so relate. Got T1D at 9 yrs old (48 years ago) and used to sneak pieces of bread when my parents went out - we didn't keep cookies in the house but everything I ate for meals and snacks was measured and weighed, and I felt I had to "cheat" when I could, even if I didn't like what I was eating. First job at 16 was at Dunkin' Donuts - I'd eat 8 donuts while there and when I'd get home I'd sneak a shot of insulin, sometimes as much as 80 units. Don't quite know how I lived as long as I have. On a pump the last 14 years which has made life easier but food has always been more than just food my whole life. And can sooooo relate to inhaling cereal at 2am for a low blood sugar :) Thank you once again for what you write and letting us know we're not alone.


  10. Sadly, I have re calibrated my brain to view food purely as energy. However, I do admit that if I want a cookie or piece of cake I'll count out the carbs, bolus accordingly, and enjoy the bloody heck out of it.
    I wasn't diagnosed until my late teens so I know what it's like to run in the kitchen and grab a handful of cookies with no worries. But with Diabetes you have to measure out everything, even when you are going hypo. Even when I am using my Juice box, pixie sticks, or twinkies to stop myself from sweating and shaking I'm still thinking about if my blood sugar is gonna spike...which will be followed up by a correction bolus and the roller coaster ride starts.
    I am getting better about my relationship to food though.
    I always think of it in the long term. The way I eat now is healthy for me. So I will stick to it.

  11. I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic.


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