Dessert. Ahhhhh, dessert. Yum.
Diabetes. Not so yum.
Can they work, live together in harmony for me to enjoy? Yes, they can. And. They. Do.
I love dessert (I bet you guessed that). It’s not healthy, I know. Nothing can replace dessert when I really want it. Forget giving me fruit. Or fruit flan. Or pie. It’s just not going to cut it. Now, I like all those things but they don’t qualify as dessert for me. I eat frozen fruit every day in my smoothie and fresh fruit on occasion but the rest, I rarely eat. They are a waste of my dessert time and joy.
Chocolate. Anything chocolate. Now that’s dessert. Chocolate chip cookies. A chocolate bar. A fruit pastry like a turnover will do. Ice cream or better yet, a sundae. These, these are dessert.
How to manage diabetes successfully and still enjoy dessert
Obviously, PWD2 (people with diabetes 2) want to be healthy. And generally, we are. We are not sick. We don’t need to view ourselves as sick or live in a sick role. That’s a trap that is way too easy to fall into. Thinking of ourselves as sick can affect the way we view our lives and I sometimes wonder if that’s how we end up feeling depressed. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not being flip or callous. It can be a hard disease to live with. BUT we can LIVE with it, that’s why I’m voicing my thoughts about dessert. To me, that is part of living. I want to enjoy the things everybody else does who does not have diabetes. And I do—within the planning and control I referred to earlier. Diabetes is a speedbump in my life, a constant speedbump in my health that I have to pay attention to. Note my wording: ‘speedbump’. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
It has taken me some time to learn about my body and when I can or cannot tolerate certain foods. For example, I have learned through testing my blood sugars that I am more insulin resistant in the morning. This means that my sugars will climb with certain foods I eat and may not come down for hours, long past the 2-hour mark, making my sugars stay high all day. Those are the foods I avoid in the morning. Lucky for me, dessert isn’t usually the food I would eat or crave in the morning. Now the afternoon, that’s a different story.
With more testing, I have learned that my body responds well to dessert-type foods in the afternoon or evening. I could tell myself that this is a green light to eat dessert everyday BUT I have chosen not to for a couple of good reasons: my weight loss goal and my cardiac health, both of which impact my diabetes. Like many of you reading this, I weighed more than I should have by all health standards at different times in my life. I have struggled to get my weight into a healthy range off and on for years. Forgive the pun, it’s been no ‘cake walk’ getting my weight there. BUT I have done it. This also means my heart is healthier too. Have you noticed that when you read about diabetes, information about heart health is usually close by? So much has been learned about how one affects the other. They go hand in hand. So, even though I know my body can tolerate dessert in the afternoon or evening, I don’t want to sabotage the good things that have come out of my weight loss: my blood sugars are in range, my heart is strong and healthy, and I feel good about me.
I don’t have dessert every day. BUT I do have it when I know there is a special occasion coming up. Do I ‘split’ the serving in half or ‘share’ with someone? Not a chance! I’m sorry BUT that’s just ridiculous. Since I don’t eat dessert every day and I plan when I have it, I’m not sharing. It’s all mine!!! And I don’t feel guilty about it. I can live happily and healthfully being diabetic BUT I can’t live happily being a perfect diabetic. That is way too much pressure to put on myself.
I love dessert (I think I may have mentioned that). And there are times I crave it. Sometimes I need to distract myself so I don’t give in to the craving. I do a lot of self-talk, mumbling, if you will: do I really want that now; look how far I’ve come, do I want to go back there; where have my sugars been today, high; etc. I can usually talk myself out of a craving with self-talk. Sometimes getting out for a quick walk on break during the work day or in the evening can distract me. Reading the nutrient label also helps—whoa! 300 calories, for THAT? Not worth it! Distraction has been a great tool. I gain control over when I’m going to ‘have my cake and eat it too’.
Dessert, my diabetes and I live in harmony. It has taken us a bit of time to figure out how to do that BUT we have found a way. You can find a way too.