Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Yes, some people say to me you're too skinny, but never a skinny person says that to me, only people who could lose a few pounds say that."

Part 4: Diabetes

I was at a math team competition, and I asked to see the bag of Oreo's to read the nutrition facts. This immediately started a few people on how I shouldn't worry about the calories and just enjoy myself. "I'm diabetic," I said, "I don't have a choice."

Diabetes is impossibly entangled with food. For those people who have issues with obsessing over food, a simple solution is to let it go and not pay attention to what they're eating. I can't do that. Everything I eat. Everything I put into my mouth, I have to count it. It's seems like obsession, but it's how I survive.

Doctor's appointments every three months, weighing me. Nutritionist appointments where my mother was criticized frequently for not feeding me enough or feeding me too much. It starts to feel like you're being scrutinized and poked and prodded to no end. Everybody has something to say. I'm eating too much, I'm not eating enough, I'm not eating "healthy" enough, I'm not counting what I'm eating right. This started an obsession with food, because clearly no matter what I did something would be wrong, but I was going to try.

In the past approximately 8 years (I kinda lost track) I've learned all about how starches affect my blood sugar. Basically, they're not worth it. Ignore how they're like, the base of the pyramid. It's almost impossible to eat a bagel and not feel sick later. I've learned that MSG is the food equivalent of satan. I've learned that pizza loves nothing more than laughing in my face.

It must be really nice to not have to worry about being healthy. It must be really nice to just eat what ever you want and therefore have a healthy relationship with food. I envy those that do. I would give up candy and sugary foods if it meant I didn't have to freaking count everything.

There's no stopping it, because it's all in a desperate attempt to control my blood sugar, an admirable goal. Everything I eat or don't eat affects it. Some people will insist that diabetics can eat anything, as long as they give themselves insulin. Others say it's best to limit your diet to less carby foods. I suppose if I was more obsessed about my insulin, I could focus on that instead, but that seems to work less than the food method.

Where do my feelings about my body fit into this mess? They don't really. No one seems particularly concerned about it. Where fat feminism ignores the physical affects, doctors seem to ignore the emotional. It's gotten better over the past couple of years. I've learned what to listen to and what to ignore. I can filter some of the crap from what's genuinely good advice. A lot of that comes from having found a non-judgmental doctor that gets how difficult it is to be healthy with my disease, despite the obsession over it.

I know yesterday's post became controversial because there are apparently some people for whom being healthy is not a priority. Honestly, the concept is just so foreign to me it hadn't even occurred to me. There are really people out there who don't think about what they eat? They don't let it bother them? They don't count the carbs and the calories and the protein and fat? They don't obsess over what they just ate for the next couple of hours, hoping they don't feel like shit because of it?

Sorry, yeah, I didn't get that.

Being healthy is more than a priority for me, it's a necessity, a way of life. Diabetes kills people. It kills people so much so that it's one of the leading causes of death in America. One of the only ways I have to take care of myself is to watch what I eat.

So you really want to tell me there are people out there unconcerned with their health? Well, more power to them, I guess. But maybe you can understand where I'm coming from. Why that just never registered with me as possible.

I'd really like to just tell myself I'm beautiful and let the rest of it go. But I can't let my obsession with food go. I have to deal with my issues differently from everyone else. For me, dealing with it has meant focusing solely on my health. It helps me keep my weight in a reasonable range without obsessing over whether or not I'm "pretty enough." It helps me take care of my diabetes while not spending too much time in front of the mirror, scrutinizing. Focusing on health has been my coping mechanism for my body issues. I want to be healthy, I have to be healthy, and if that keeps me from thinking about whether I'm fatter than the super models on TV, well, it's a start.


  1. 1 - eat all the oreos
    2 - use intense sugar rush to supercompute the math problems
    3 - crash on bus ride back

    We could have been the best, if only you'd have taken one for the team... such a shame.

  2. Arty, we ALL should have done that. Mrs. Campbell would have quite after two competitions though, hahaha.

  3. 1. I've really enjoyed this little series you put together.
    2. while I've found most of it easy to relate to this particular post has been the one I've related to the most. It put alot of stuff that I knew in my mind into words that other people could possibly understand. i'm glad you brought up the so often ignored emotional component of diabetes. Hopefully they will bring it up in med school one day so doctors get it too.