Better Choices Come From Better Knowledge

Happy Holidays to all. I hope we’ve all gotten over the recent ‘hump’ of Thanksgiving, without much damage, and that we’ve learned at least a lesson or two. At least, I try to shoot for that myself – some kind of self awareness, or another. This Thanksgiving was no different.

As a newly single woman, I spent the holiday among friends. These were the relatives of a coworker, and in particular, at the residence of a man who has expressed some romantic interest in me. It’s been a few months, and burdened with the thought of moping around the apartment, I decided “why not?” There’s no harm in getting to know someone among a group of people. And getting to know someone, I did.

And boy was it awkward. Diabetes has really put an interesting perspective on my outsider relationships. You see, most of my friends these days, are other people living with diabetes – advocates, or patients – and people with whom I share on a regular basis and can take a host of things for granted. But, when you’re around someone who knows very little about diabetes, and somewhat by extension, about nutrition, you have to stop yourself a lot, and explain a lot of things. Most of our conversations simply didn’t have that ease of ‘common knowledge’ that I have with my friends. They were bumpy at times, and felt more like lectures at others. But they made me consider a lot of possible failures in our educational system.

You see, in order to survive out in the real world, we teach our kids certain basic skills – like how to read, and write, mathematics, and even some science. We require these things – and one is not considered a well rounded student if one has not had these subjects. Schools in many ways, prepare children for a potential extra education, for another career, etc.

But… isn’t it about time we started teaching our kids subjects which further help them launch as adults? And some might say, “Well, we do that to an extent, with home economics, or health, etc.” But more and more children are not able to discern choices properly, and many more are not able to understand things such as budget management, and nutrition.

In fact, I challenge that the ways in which we choose to talk to many people about nutrition is not adequate enough. Simply telling people “these fats are healthy, and these are not” or “meals have to be balanced, and have some of each food group,” is not enough. There is an insidious and permeating lack of nutritional education in our society – of the basics. People have no idea what a carbohydrate is, that table sugar is just another carbohydrate, nor that carbohydrates get turned into glucose by our digestive systems. When you have to spend your holiday explaining to someone that yes, lettuce WILL indeed turn to ‘sugar’ in your bloodstream, and that by sugar you don’t just mean table sugar, but glucose – which is a type of sugar – it is very unnerving. People give you perplexed looks as if you were discussing rocket science. Surely, lettuce has no nutritional value, after all!

There are certainly MANY reasons which are currently contributing to the health challenges in our society – but we cannot even begin to get folks to care about making certain choices, if they can’t even understand the very building blocks behind those choices. Let’s teach children the science and logic behind their choices, and the rest will more easily follow.

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