I have a bit of an intense relationship with food. Since I was a child I have always had a big appetite and enjoyed hearty fare.
When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, aged 16, things had to change. I was only on two injections a day then which made eating the right thing at the right time into a fine (often inconvenient) art.
As things moved on and I moved on basal-bolus control (five daily injections) and did the DAFNE course, my diet felt a bit more normal. I was eventually given an insulin pump which changed my life (best health decision I’ve ever made). The pump gives me a lot more freedom to adjust my rates, eat at different times and not worry about ‘topping up’ if I want to eat a little more than planned.
However, the reality is still that I am on artificial insulin and using my brain to try assess how much to take. It is pretty tricky, and I am still a long way from mastering it. I find myself constantly calculating how much carbohydrate is in everything I am offered (I have pretty good mental maths skills now!)
A whole host of other factors such as exercise, hormones, illness, inflammation, the temperature, stress and injection sites also influence what my blood sugars are doing. Makes you appreciate how clever the human body is (when it’s working properly)! I sometimes struggle with guilt and stress when I get it wrong. A decision that seemed right at the time can look very silly with the benefit of hindsight.
The daily grind of constantly thinking about what I’m eating and assessing its impact can be frustrating. Since adding coeliac disease into the mix, things have become even more complicated! But I’ve found there are benefits to being so aware of what I’m eating:
- Variety is the spice of life and since going gluten-free I’ve been trying lots of new foods and recipes. Often these are more healthy than the pasta I would normally default to. It’s also meant Tiny and Small are trying more new things and having a more varied diet. They have both discovered a love of oily fish, which I’m not going to argue with!
- I have good awareness of my overall diet (not just carbs) which means I won’t just eat a cake and then forget it (most of the time). It’s harder to graze on snack foods, which is a good thing.
- The whole family benefits as I think through what we’ve eaten today, or this week it helps us make better decisions about choosing fruit rather than biscuits (although I’m not sure how much the rest of the family see this as a benefit!)
I’d love to hear any other positives of having to think so much about food.