“My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” -Forrest Gump
“Quick question,” my friend F. texts. “Do you think it’s okay to give a person with diabetes chocolates for Christmas?”
Hmmm, I thought, and for a moment, I wished that F. and I exchanged Christmas gifts. I would LOVE to receive chocolate as a gift. Especially dark chocolate.
Surprisingly, F’s text felt like a loaded question with a complicated answer. F. knows her friend has diabetes. If she gives her chocolates, is she ignoring the large chocolate marshmallow Santa in the room? Is F. saying, “Yes, I know these probably aren’t something you’re supposed to eat, but I thought you might enjoy them anyway.”
Oh wait. That sounded judgemental and even more problematic. F. texted, “I mean she wouldn’t eat them all at once, would she?”
I texted back a smiley face. “Oh, so should you put a disclaimer. Eat only one chocolate a day for best blood sugar results?”
Here’s what drives me nuts. When people assume they can take care of my health and diabetes by offering me options that might be their perception of what’s best for me.
Example? Giving me a piece of cake made with fake sugar. “It’s diabetic friendly,” a friend once told me, when offering me such a concoction.
It also tastes terrible. And is still loaded with carbohydrates. If the recipe called for 3/4 a cup of sugar, that’s 3/4 a cup of sugar spread over some 12 slices of cake. In other words, it’s not a lot of sugar. And I can figure out how to bolus for the cake — and enjoy it because it tastes great.
Or when you’re out with well-meaning relatives (pre-pandemic times), who, when it comes to dessert, gently nudge you towards the fresh fruit bowl, in lieu of the yummy looking raspberry tart that you’ve been craving.
“Isn’t that great, Karen?” they say. “That fruit bowl sounds delicious!” And probably about 40 grams of carbohydrates, about the same — or more — than the tiny raspberry tart.
I remember at one of the first meals shared with my well meaning French mother-in-law. She cooked her famous Clatfouti, a delicious desert that mixes an amazing crust with custard and fresh fruit. She beamed when she presented it. “I hope you enjoy it,” she said. “And I substituted saccharine for the sugar, so you’d be able to eat it, dear.”
I smiled graciously and looked at my husband, hoping he’d eat my share as well, while I played with the dessert on my plate.
I guess you’ve guessed that I stay away from any sugar substitutes. I’ve tossed the Splenda. When I bake, I usually just cut the sugar required in the recipe by half, especially because I’m often adding delicious dark chocolate chips. And I’m not a fan of super sweet treats.
I’m not suggesting we people with diabetes start consuming sweets with abandon, but I am suggesting that it’s something we need to decide for ourselves.
It’s back to the whole “Can you eat that” discussion that so many of us deal with on a regular basis. Maybe a bit less now, only because we’re not seeing friends and socializing…
F. texted. “I think candles or soap is a better bet,” she wrote. “Or better yet, I’ll get a gift card.”
HAPPY HOLIDAYS and all the best for 2022!
(Please remember, I’m not a doctor or an educator. Just a person who has had type 1 diabetes for the past 27 years. Please follow me on instagram at @grownupdiabetes.)