My first summer as a diabetic taught me a lot about the pressure other people put on diabetics to eat incorrectly. I found myself at more than a few occasions where people offered me food or portions that are outside of my diet AND THEY WERE INSISTENT.
Perhaps, the most common people were diabetics themselves (who eat horribly) or close relatives of diabetics (who watch their diabetic relatives eat horribly).
“Taste a little bit of this cake.” “My mom has diabetes and she eats like this all the time.” “Eat some more of that.” “Girl, God will take care of you, you better eat all you can.” “Them doctors don’t know what they talking about half the time no way.” “You should eat all your food.” “Is that all you’re going to eat?” “Come on, you have to have some of this dessert, I made it.” “You can eat whatever you want, diabetes ain’t affecting you yet.” “It’s okay to eat this today, just don’t eat it everyday” “It’s okay, I got a diabetes too and I’m eating it”
Sure, as a diabetic, no food is off limits. If I want ice cream-I can eat it. If I want sweet potato pie-I can eat it. But what I can’t do is eat a plate of chicken, macaroni & cheese, rice and peas, yams, corn, and 2 slices of cake washed down with sweet tea all in one sitting. And, my decision to eat only 3 carb choices at once (which means I have to make a decision between the mac&cheese, the rice, the corn, the cake, and sweet tea) seems to rub other people the wrong way.
I’m reminded of house parties. I use to walk around with a cup of Sprite soda in my hand sipping on it like it was alcohol just to avoid people constantly saying “You’re not gonna drink?” or “Have a little” or “Just taste it.”
I’m also reminded of the hostility I’ve gotten from some people when I say, “I don’t eat pork.” Rather than accept the fact that I’m perfectly fine with them eating pork they want to convince me that it’s okay to eat pork. Once, at a dinner, my decision to not explain why I no longer eat pork was the center of discussion for about 20 minutes. I refused to explain why I stopped eating pork and one dinner guest refused to give up on asking until it was certain that I would not budge.
So, I’ve learned that when you don’t drink alcohol in a setting where people drink-they pressure you to drink. When you don’t eat pork around people who are eat swine-they pressure you. And now I know that when you’re diabetic and you refuse to eat too many carbs-people pressure you.
I never lose sight of the fact that my pancreas is out of whack and what I eat today determines if I’ll have working kidneys, eyes, heart, and legs in 30 years. I wonder if those same people who are pressuring me to eat improperly now will offer me their organs or limbs as easily if I needed them in 30 years? Would they so easily say in 50 years, “I’m partly responsible for you being this sick in your old age and I want to offer you one of my kidneys.” If the sugar they offer me today ends up being the cause of fading eyesight, will they be my guide? Will they be just as angry at the amount of medication I have to take to stay alive as they are when I deny their large glasses of sweet tea, soda, or kool-aid?
Living with diabetes means that I never forget that I am what I eat…and I choose to eat healthy.