I try not to go off on rants too often, but something that happened yesterday really bothered me. However, while this is a rant, I’m going to have to get rather technical to complete it.
Also, this is going to get a little personal, if that bothers you, you may want to move on.
Though I’m not very forthcoming about it, I am a type 2 diabetic, as was my mother. And if you don’t know it, being type 2 carries a stigma. You see, there is a genetic component to type 2, but another good way to get it is to overwork your pancreas by eating too much, specifically in the form of simple carbohydrate foods (sugar).
In my case, I probably would have become diabetic eventually, but my weight probably brought it forward 10 to 15 years. I’m aware that I made bad decisions and I’m taking ownership of that. Going as far as to loose 65 pounds in the last 4 months. Coincidentally, that’s the weight of my lawnmower.
So, just in case you’re wondering, type 1 is a completely different animal. It is a genetic condition by which the pancreas just ceases to function and the body is incapable of producing insulin. A lack of insulin raises blood sugar.
Conversely, type 2 is a disease caused by overproduction of insulin, whether caused by abusing simple carbohydrates or genetic propensity, but more likely a combination of both. Because the body is flooded with insulin all the time, it stops responding to it, raising blood sugar. (The blood sugar imbalance being why these diseases are linked. The cause is different, but the effect is the same.)
You may be asking yourself, at this point, where is the rant? Don’t worry, it’s coming.
So, I spend a lot of time studying diabetes, as anyone diagnosed with a chronic, degenerative disease might do (or so you’d think) and I’ve learned a lot about it, not only the conventional wisdom, but I’ve also followed the bleeding edge of nutrition and medical studies. Part of this is hanging out on the diabetes subreddit.
And this is where we come to yesterday. In a thread about being shamed about being diabetic, someone related that they often got nasty looks in their office when the partook of birthday cake. I happened to have an anecdote about ice cream that seemed appropriate to reply with, as cake and ice cream go well together.
I’ll go ahead and leave it here:
We were at a family reunion and I heard my wife’s great uncle say, “Make sure Paul (my father-in-law) gets the sugar free ice cream; he’s diabetic.”
I whispered to my wife, “Don’t tell them I’m diabetic. I want the good ice cream.”
And ironically, in this thread on shaming people for diabetes, someone tried to shame me for making the decision to have regular ice cream. Not only that, but they went as far as to blame America’s high cost of healthcare on me for being overweight and diabetic. I almost responded, but then I remembered not to feed the trolls. The moderators took it down soon thereafter. Still, it stuck in my craw.
And here’s the rant:
First of all, US insurance companies like fat people. They can discriminate against them, and they actually die faster when the get sick, keeping costs down. This scary fact is one of the things motivating me to lose weight.
Second, many sugar-free foods, ice cream is a great example of this, are horrible tradeoffs. In exchange for 50% of the flavor, you’re probably only losing 10% of the calories and 25% of the carbs. Take a smaller scoop, and the physiological effect would be the same.
Thirdly, what you eat over one vacation weekend doesn’t matter in the bigger picture. Eating sugar-free ice cream every day is more carbs than eating fully-sugared ice cream once a week.
That’s pretty much it for the rant part.
This brings me to the biggest problem about type 2 diabetes, the judgement of yourself and others. When I was diagnosed, I was ashamed, I was depressed. But being ashamed and depressed didn’t help me lose weight. It didn’t help me exercise. If anything, it had the opposite effect. I spent a year of my life convinced that no matter what I did, I was going to die young, leaving my wife a widow and hoping I had enough life insurance to take care of her.
It was only after dozens of hours of research that I discovered what I needed to know to fix both my weight and my blood sugar, and hopefully my health.
I’m not sure more shaming is really what I need.