Living with diabetes – striking a balance

It's about keeping things even

Regularity and balance are important for diabetics. It’s all about keeping your blood sugar on an even keel and doing so (in part) by not overtaxing your pancreas with excessive quantities at irregular intervals.

A minimum of three meals a day at regular times is recommended. Skipping meals is not.

This isn’t always easy to manage, especially when you’re part of a family and cannot expect them to work to your timetable. My mother was very good at helping Dad manage his condition. The evening meal was always ready for him as soon as he arrived home from work. He was an habitual ‘fresser’ (in-between meal nibbler). If forced to wait more than a mandatory five minutes for his dinner, his quest for nibbles would be relentless.

My normal everyday routine is to cook dinner while the 6.00pm News is on, and then eat mine when it’s ready. I don’t wait for my partner to arrive home because by then I’d most likely be either 1) ravenously hungry and grumpy because of it, or 2) asleep on the couch! If any of my kids are coming home for a meal, I will wait for them. They’re always hungry so will definitely arrive early …

Going out for dinner can be a bit of a problem especially in summer. And then there’s the problem of having to take medication in public – it’s very hard to disguise. Even if you do manage to slip the pills surreptitiously out of your bag, someone will see you skulling them down with huge glugs of wine and raise an eyebrow or two!

If it looks as if the evening will involve only nibbles and drink, I’ll have something at home before I go, take my pills and then exercise monumental self-control when the bacon-wrapped scallops are offered. Sigh…

Self-control isn’t easy!

I have a huge appetite – much bigger than anyone would ever suspect. When offered a second helping, my heart cries  “yes, yes, yes!” while my head gives me a firm “NO!” Head wins – not always.

If ever I consider myself hungry I think of the millions of people for whom hunger isn’t a choice.

My healthy appetite probably comes of being the only girl from a great meat-eating food-loving family. I was a competitive swimmer during my youth and could quite easily match plate size with my brothers. Unfortunately when forced by school to give up swimming in favour of studies, I carried on eating the same sized portions. I guess you can sense the rest – extra kilos!!!

I still remember my doctor – the one who is still my doctor – getting me to stand on the scales and it registering 9stone 8. At a staggering height of 5ft 2in, he told me that carrying excess weight could be socially limiting. Would he get away with that nowadays? One day I’ll remind him of his words …

Yet again I’ve digressed – it’s all about balance. If I lack self-control over coffee at 11.00am, I’ll exercise it later on when I’m craving a huge scoop of ice-cream. Guilt will see me doing extra lengths in the pool or an extra block out walking.

The pancreas is not a gigantic earth moving machine. Like an eco-smart car, it needs regular top-ups of fuel and judicious steering.



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