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Food is more than nutrition. Family picnics. Thanksgiving dinner. Going out for ice cream. Birthday cake. Comfort food. Desert.
We form memories around food. We associate specific foods with events. We have traditions around food. Friday night Pizza. Super bowl snacks. Dinner out to celebrate.
Our life is a timeline, and food is all along it.
We receive gifts of food, starting from a young age. Lollipops. Candy canes. Halloween candy. Cadbury Creme Eggs and other Easter candy. Donuts.
Diabetes Challenges that Joy
With diabetes, we now have negative feelings associated with food. Don’t eat too much. Count the carbohydrates. “Look at those numbers, you should have eaten something else,” is an internal dialog I am familiar with.
Insulin shots are usually the first way insulin is given. A shot for every meal. If I wanted to snack, I’d need a shot of insulin then too. “Never mind, I’ll just not eat that,” was a common conclusion… Having to do a shot can quickly take the joy out of eating.
Insulin pump makes this better. Just push some buttons. But, I still have to count the carbs and remember to administer a bolus. If I want to have a good graph on my CGM, I really can’t eat anything whenever I want. I have to wait for my glucose to get lower before I have that sweet treat.
With a CGM, I am now very aware of which foods cause my blood glucose to spike. Is that cake really worth it?
Protect your mental health
We are all coming from different places and have different positive and negative feelings about food.
It may feel like we have to sacrifice the joy of eating in exchange for better health. We may be judged, or judge ourselves, for not following a strict diet. We may suffer consequences for eating the food we desire.
I think that this struggle around the joy of eating is something that can contribute to depression and other mental health issues. Mental health is as important as physical health. What’s the point of having a great A1C if you feel depressed?
Find the joy in eating again
Eating is one of life’s pleasures. I think that finding ways to enjoy food can help with depression.
HOW to find the joy again is a personal journey. For me, I have two strategies:
- I eat carbohydrates IN MODERATION. I eat a half of a bagel, but not a whole one. I eat a small slice of cake. I eat pizza with thin crust. Eating larger amounts of carbohydrates just causes increased stress for me, as I find it difficult to get the dosage and timing correct with higher amounts of carbs, and I feel that the stress/negative experiences of either highs or lows is so great that it negates any joy in the eating experience…
- I have a list of foods that are low in carbohydrates that I personally LOVE. I can eat these without worry, as I need either little or no insulin for these foods. My personal list includes avocados, bacon, pistachios, dark chocolate, and cheese!