Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Diabetes-Friendly: My Own Food Revolution

Miniature Food Dollhouse - Polymer Clay Mini F...Image by PetitPlat by sk_ via Flickr

Writing my post from yesterday about fibro-friendly, my favorite fibromyalgia coping strategy, got me thinking about my prior experiences in making life diabetes-friendly. Well, that and watching the new TV show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.

I realized that before my life with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, I learned to deal with life with Type 2 diabetes.

I don't talk much about my diabetes, probably because after living with it for over 10 years now, coping with diabetes is a routine part of my life. What a difference time makes. Ten years ago I struggled to understand what having diabetes meant to me and my relationship with food.

When I was first diagnosed, I used food diaries to get a handle of my situation. I spent a lot of time recording and analyzing my food choices. So when I watched the preview of Food Revolution last Sunday, I really empathized with the people in Huntington, West Virginia who were asked to take the proverbial good, hard look at what they were eating and feeding the children in the school cafeteria.

I find myself at a loss to explain the exact emotional state that gets triggered when I am asked to review my food diaries. If I had to guess, I would say it is fear and anger that my food choices being judged, plus some frustration and resentment over having to limit some of the foods I really enjoy but don't fit with my new eating plan. I think I saw some of those same emotions in the people of Huntington, West Virginia.

What being diabetic means to me today is choosing to limit food portion sizes and balancing meals between protein, carbs and fat and eating lots of vegetables. The fact that most people do not eat this way, nor do most restaurants and fast food chains serve up food this way, makes diabetic eating a challenge. I'm not immune to the societal trends towards fast food, sugar and junk food, but for the most part I can resist making poor food choices. But eating healthy becomes really hard when the people around me eat whatever they want, whenever they want it.

I tribute my success in changing my eating habits to my Grandma Ann. She introduced me to vegetables at a young age and taught me how to both eat and enjoy them. She modeled good food choices for me and because I revered and respected her, I made big efforts to like the new foods she asked me to eat. She inspired my love of cooking as well (though I admit that more recently fibromyalgia has made cooking more difficult to do.) So really all I needed to do was tweak my eating behavior and tip the scale a bit more towards vegetables and away from carbs.

So I do get it when the folks in Huntington get upset when asked to change how they eat. I get it why they resist change. What they are being asked to do is counter-cultural, out of the norm and completely foreign to the status quo. I just hope they can see beyond their resistance to the compelling reasons behind the need for change. Because making good food choices, and teaching their children to do the same, might help them all avoid having to learn to make their lives diabetes-friendly.

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1 comment

Annie said...

Great article Selena! I've added your site to my Google Reader feeds and will also add you to the Resources page at The Tramadol Diaries.

Food diaries (which I keep as part of my pain log) are so helpful. Eye-opening, too - I'm almost always surprised by the reality compared with what I thought I'd eaten!

I don't think food is going to cure what ails any of us but it sure can help manage symptoms.