CW/TW: some talk about weight loss dieting negative impacts
The other morning, my fasting blood sugar was 162. I took it again, feeling incredulous. 155. Okay, so unusually high. Some may say, alarmingly high. A year or two ago, a reading like that would have had me freaking out – re-organizing my whole life, panic mode level of “gotta fix this NOW!”
I may have said, “oh, shit” that morning upon seeing that reading – but I wasn’t particularly upset or worried. For one thing, I was aware that I’d eaten dinner much later than usual the night before – and that I’d had higher-carb foods than usual. Okay. A signal to be more mindful – perhaps not choose to eat so late, and, if I’d missed dinner earlier and was super hungry, at least to choose something a little lower carb. My memory isn’t super clear at this point, but I think I may have had chicken nachos and a beer that night prior. Not the best choice in the world. Also, not going to kill me on the spot.
When I was first diagnosed, I was totally freaked out, running around like it was a five-alarm fire that I had to get under control right this minute! For over 18 months, I was ridiculously meticulous about everything – to the extent that it became unsustainable for me. Then I had the (predictable) rebound effect and started being less and less careful until I was basically not careful at all. I had thought that because it was diabetes (a legitimate health issue) that it would feel different for me than my rebellion against weight loss dieting. It really didn’t feel all that different. I understood (and understand) that the stakes are much higher and more important in controlling my blood sugar – but the same psychological processes around deprivation and desire were playing out in my psyche and emotions as had been when I’d dealt with the oppressive scourge of weight loss dieting.
I am continuing to find my way into a balance I can live with. Life circumstances also have a huge impact on how I am able to handle this attempted balance. I haven’t written on this blog in weeks – because, first of all, I did a two week workshop in which I left the house before 9 am and usually returned after 11 pm. I didn’t have the time or energy to write. I also didn’t have the time or energy to plan my meals or to eat “right.” It didn’t help at all that the AirBnB where the workshop was held was a vegetarian space that didn’t allow meat on the property. Fine for people for whom that works, but that’s seriously inconvenient for people with health issues like mine, who require animal protein to stay healthy/balanced.
I suppose I could have taken walks on breaks, but I, a) really didn’t have the energy, and b) fell off a step I didn’t see the first day and ended up jamming both of my knees and my right wrist – which made it really challenging getting up from and down on the floor throughout the workshop. Going for a walk was not an appealing option with the level of pain I was in. Sigh. But I lived. I made it. It was okay.
My point in all of this is that for many people, a lot of the time, it isn’t possible to follow ideal guidelines for controlling blood sugar. Whether it is psychological – or physical constraints regarding time, energy, resources, finances, obligations, etc. – it is a very privileged position to be in that allows one to do all the things that create ideal conditions for the body to maintain balance and health. So, we do what we can, when and how we can – and need to make peace with the rest to the best of our ability.
I want to make this clear: that day that I got the terrible reading – I didn’t go into lockdown. I didn’t have a “perfect” eating day that day in a panicked frenzy to get my blood sugar under control. I was more mindful than I’d been the previous day, yes. I made a point to have my dinner at an earlier time. The next morning, my blood sugar was 131. Not at all in my target range, but much improved from the previous day – and that’s how I’m taking it. Given what is happening in my life, I’m doing the best I can – some days that is better than others.
After the workshop, I was sick for a week or two. Just depleted from too long of days and not enough rest and not ideal food/exercise conditions. (Yes, I did get tested for Covid – it was negative). So, basically a whole month without regular exercise. I’ve walked a couple of times this week. Hopped on the vibration plate machine my housemate has a couple of times. I’m getting my eating routines back into more balance – and by that, I don’t mean being totally “on program.” My blood sugar is coming back more into balance. I’m so glad I’m not freaking out about it anymore.
I don’t want to be stupid about it, obviously – but I also don’t want to be controlled by fear. I remain unwilling to be medicated. I feel mostly well – and that’s my biggest indicator of what’s happening in my body. I continue to monitor my morning sugars and pay attention to my well-being in all areas of my life. My most recent eye exam showed that my eyes are fine (one of my biggest concerns about my diagnosis). At 57, I am so blessed as to not even need reading glasses. I am grateful for my eyesight, and for this body and this life.
I’m going to keep paying attention to what are the best choices for me in my daily life to stay well – physically, emotionally, mentally, psychologically – even spiritually. To me, it’s all tied together. Freaking out throws me off balance. Strict dietary programs and over-emphasis on activity throw me off balance. I’m riding the waves of recovery from decades of weight loss dieting traumas, negotiating new pathways in my relationship to food and health/well-being. I’m also learning on a deeper level what would have been very helpful for me to know when I was first diagnosed: I don’t have to go to extremes or get this under perfect control immediately – it is okay to take my time and find my way into balance.
I’m laughing now at how offended I was at the diabetes class I took, where they suggested a diet that included bread and other carbs. I’d read such strong condemnations of wheat and its impact on blood sugar that I was sure these “professionals” had no idea what they were talking about. Recommending grains and legumes – are you kidding me? Didn’t they know anything? LOL Yeah, in the beginning, I was a whole exercise in extremity – sure because of my own “success” with Dr. Hyman’s program, that the ADA (and their recommended diet) was all misguided nonsense. I still haven’t actually looked back into their recommendations after that cursory dismissal because they weren’t strict enough (in my opinion).
Now, I’m thinking that the ADA’s more balanced program was probably much closer to what I needed long-term – what was sustainable for me. Bread is important to my happiness. And restricting whole food groups is not beneficial to my psyche. Maybe one of these days I’ll look into it again. Until then, I’m finding my own way the best I can each day – and taking it easy on me. Honestly, my joy and pleasure in life feels like the most important factor for me. Everything else flows from that.
Disclaimer: Please be advised that I am not a medical professional nor a dietician. This site is not in any way, shape, or form providing any sort of diagnosis, advice, cures, or recommendations for medical or dietary treatments. I am simply sharing my own journey and experiences. Nothing I say is intended to replace proper medical care.