The Food Police, Sandy edition

It’s been about a week since I’ve returned home following my unexpected post-Sandy week-long visit with my aunt and uncle.  These people are truly incredible.  After hosting a west-coast couple for the week prior to the storm, they housed my family for the week after (with a little overlap with one-half of the couple who couldn’t catch an early flight back to San Diego).  There were also other storm refugees staying over; at one point, there were nine overnight guests (plus the two full-time residents) in the modest split-level home. Perhaps not losing power doesn’t make a person lucky.

Since he retired, my uncle has made a hobby out of cooking. More of a passion, really.  His meals are out-of-this-world, and his desserts are even better. I think. Because as much as I love them, and know that they are trying their best to help, at times I became the subject of a two-pronged Food Police interrogation.

Sometimes I would give a long-winded explanation in exchange for a morsel of banana-cream pie.  Other times I declined, not because of the impact of the food on my blood sugar, but because it wasn’t worth the effort of giving an explanation. There were even times when I’d pretend I was seven years old and sneak the cookie when nobody was looking.  Sure, my aunt and uncle mean well, and they really want to understand, it’s just that they don’t, or maybe they can’t. Perhaps, at their stage in life, they’re just done with academia. But over the years, I’ve gotten used to it and grow to accept it.

But, there are times when I make mistakes.  Times when I’ll mis-SWAG the carb count of my dinner (or over-bolus for the dessert) and my sugar will go low; then I genuinely need something to eat – even more sweet stuff.  That’s even worse.  Because then, after the puzzling looks and attempts to deliver a coherent explanation (with a BG in the 50’s), I get the “are you OK?” treatment. Do you need something else? Why don’t you lay down? Let me know if you need anything. Is it because I made it with Splenda? Are you still OK? I just don’t understand this diabetes thing. But this didn’t happen yesterday! How do you know you’ll be OK? Do you need a pillow? A sandwich? Do you feel better yet? How about now?

When it comes to the Food Police, treating a low is even worse than indulging a sweet tooth. It’s a slap in the face to the concept of moderation and contradicts everything I’ve said previously about being cautious and counting everything.  The survival-instinct doesn’t have provisions for education, calculations, or forensic CSI-work;  it barely can accommodate the 15 carb/15 minute rule.  The instinct says to eat EVERYTHING IN SIGHT, then try to find something else to occupy my attention as my blood sugar level hopefully increases. As it is my tendency to care for myself when low and to push away any distractions, my response is always “I’ll be OK, I just need a few minutes to myself.”

That answer does little to satisfy those who are asking the questions – those who genuinely care – which is why they persist. Ironically, this leads me to sneak food when I’m low, too, so that I don’t get all the extra attention that I don’t want.  Yes, I robbed the candy dish while you weren’t looking. Even though I did nothing wrong, it was easier than taking something while you were looking!

Everyone who is reading this probably knows how restrictive and how judgmental the Food Police can be. But I never realized how much of an obstacle they could be at times I really do need something.  Until now.

But they’re family. They’re extremely thoughtful and generous and caring, and I love them.

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Posted on November 13, 2012, in Diabetes. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Being a spouse it seems to take a mixture of food police/cook and then letting our spouse do what they want. I’ve found ultimately once I see my hubby’s blood sugar after a meal that’s not “diabetic friendly” and know how to bolus if he wants it again I become more comfortable with it. It is the rest of the family that seems to understand it less though. I’ve fortunately been able to teach them a thing or two about diabetes, but there will always be those people who have been taught the Type 2 concept of sugar bad you must do this this way to be ok.

    I hate those overbolus lows though. Jon had one last night. Ugh. Fortunately the CGM jumps in and tells him to get some sugar then go back to bed.

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  2. It’s worse at my in-laws. I try my best to keep a low profile on my lows. But everything at their house is either processed or canned. And they don’t drink milk. So I usually just pack my own treats for lows. And then I get asked “well, what can we buy you to accommodate you because we don’t normally eat that stuff.” Gah!

    And I think my family just stopped asking. :P

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  3. Hmmm, interesting spin on this that I’d not thought of before!

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