Firstly it relates to a question I get asked a lot by well meaning family & friends (and sometimes strangers) who seem to think that because I am Diabetic I am doomed to a life of bland, sugarless, tasteless food. 'Should you eat that?' I get asked, or sometimes 'You can't eat that!'... my answer 'Can't I? Watch this!'. You see, these kinds of comments make me want to prove them wrong. They also frustrate me because the last time I checked, I was an adult capable of making my own decisions. Also, I am the one pricking my fingers >4 times a day and injecting myself >5 times a day, do they really think that I have a lapse of concentration and forget that I am diabetic? For some reason everybody seems to become an expert on what a diabetic should and shouldn't eat, without actually knowing anything.
I can eat anything that I wan't to, whenever I want to - That is what my insulin injections are for... I am able to work out how much Carbohydrates (Sugars) are in the food I am eating and therefore how many units of insulin I need to cover it with. The only difference between me and you (assuming you are non diabetic) is that I have to inject my insulin, where as your body produces it for you. Sometimes my calculations aren't quite as accurate as your body's, but I deal with it by eating some lollies (if I have overcompensated) or taking a little more insulin (if I have undercompensated).
This disease has only been with me since my 21st birthday, before it appeared I was already a young adult with aspirations, hobbies and dreams for the future. Let me tell you, getting Type 1 Diabetes was not even on the radar for me, as I'm sure it isn't for you. Before diagnosis my biggest love was food and cooking, and it still is.
There was a short time after diagnosis when I listened to the generalisations about diabetic diets and what I couldn't eat, that I had to eat to my insulin, having x amount of carbs at each meal, no matter how hungry (or not) I was. This was a very depressing time for me, I went from someone who loved food and cooking, to someone who saw a lot of foods as off bounds, boring, restricted and something that was just fuel for the body and nothing else. The foodie in me died.
I am happy to say that period didn't last very long. I soon realised after talking to others afflicted by diabetes that it doesn't have to be that way, that I could in fact eat anything I liked, just maybe in smaller portions than before. I saw food as a celebration again, something to savour, experiment with, love and enjoy. I realised that although my immune system could go crazy and kill off my islet cells, It could not kill my inner foodie - She is alive and kickin'. And that's the way she should be, because without her, there is only a shell of me left. A 'quivering-in-the-corner, depressed, don't-want-to-get-up-in-the-morning' mess of a shell. I've chosen to keep my quality of life, and if that means that when I am old and crusty they need to remove my toe, then I accept that - I'd rather be living without a toe for a little while than living my whole life as a shell of who I could be.
It was through talking to others on Reality Check that I came to realise that this disease has to fit in with my life & not the other way around, after all my life came first. I would highly recommend the above site to anyone who has been diagnosed with diabetes, or anyone who knows someone with it. It really does give you an insight into the everyday living of young adults (and not so young adults) with diabetes.
That isn't to say that my eating habits have remained the same, I am eating healthier these days. I feel like getting diagnosed with this disease was a wake up call to start treating my body with some respect. On diagnosis I was told that this disease would shave around 15 years off my life expectancy, I would like to disagree with this estimate. I now eat more fruit and vegetables than ever before - and I enjoy them, I eat lower GI foods on most occasions not only because I'm diabetic, but because these are foods that are good for everyone. I think the changes to my diet have actually extended my life expectancy from what it was pre-diagnosis, or at least compensated for the impacts of the disease.
Being diagnosed also bought about a huge shift in what I wanted to do with my life. I am now studying nutrition and dietitics in the hope that one day I can help others who are diagnosed with Diabetes and other diseases that impact on eating patterns, such as food allergies and Coeliacs disease. I would also like to help those who haven't been given such an explicit wake up call to make healthier lifestyle and food choices. This is where the second meaning of the title comes in, I will be endeavouring to point out the nutritional benefits of different ingredients in the hope of showing that all foods can be good for you, just some need to be in moderation.
Although I am studying health sciences, I am in no way a doctor or qualified to give medical advice to individuals. The views on this website about my diabetes management are just that - views. My philosophy has helped me to cope with my disease and has not hindered my management - My HbA1c has been consistently below 7.5% and my daily finger prick tests are reasonable. If you need help managing your diabetes, please speak to a GP, Endo, Dietitian or Diabetes Educator. If you want to enjoy some food, cook some of the recipes on this site!