I want to take a minute to talk about indoctrination. Specifically, indoctrination in the diabetes world. When I was first diagnosed and for the first 6 years I didn’t really understand what it meant to have diabetes. I was told by my HCP to change my diet, to exercise and that eventually I might need medication. Being involved in yoga and healthy living since the age of 19, I had been taught that medication was always a last resort, to be avoided at all costs. That’s why it was terrifying to start taking Insulin. I nearly fainted when I took my first injection and for weeks afterwards every shot gave me crippling anxiety.
Eventually I got the point. Insulin was saving my life. When I reached out to the diabetes online community to learn more about how to manage my insulin with diet I was encouraged to read several books that emphasised something called the law of small numbers. The less insulin I took the less I needed to worry. That was coupled with my GP recommending I try a ketogenic diet.
Being someone who likes to be in the driver’s seat with my health I took everyone’s advice. I whole heartedly embraced low carb living. I did everything by the book. I restricted my diet, I took as little insulin as possible, I exercised religiously. From the outside I seemed happy, I was managing my health impeccably and had perfect blood sugar levels and a perfect HBA1c.
On the inside, my strict regime and lack of flexibility was slowly eroding my confidence. Eventually my body started to say WTF. Endless digestive issues, insulin resistance, a feeling of hopelessness around food culminating in a point where I stood in my local health food store gazing with longing at all the things I knew were out of bounds for me. I’d race back to my supportive facebook groups looking for familiarity and reassurance. In spite of the feeling of despondency, I was ‘killing it’ they told me. Donuts are for sissies!
Indoctrination 101: If you think it’s true you’ll find a whole bunch of other people who think it’s true too. Fact and fiction become faction. Marginalising and exclusivising myself into a corner where there’s no way out but to keep hitting my head against the same proverbial wall. Until I am bleeding so much it’s hard to miss.
That was the turning point for me. No matter how much I wanted to believe that restricting myself was the way to avoid all the pitfalls of living with diabetes, I couldn’t help noticing that there were lots of people living with diabetes who were managing their blood sugars just fine without restrictions. How did these people do it? What was their secret and why weren’t they shouting about it from the rooftops? Because THOSE people were getting on with their lives. And happily so.
I wanted to be one of those people and now through reaching out and getting the support I needed I am one of those individuals. No fancy diet or tricks. No indoctrination into another diet. Just me making decisions understanding how my body responds to diet and exercise. Lots of experimenting, lots of failures, lots of scary moments of stepping out of my comfort zone and tons of acceptance.
Eating toast and avocado, sweet potato and potato, watching the flat lines return on my meter. Making recipes, trying foods I never thought I’d ever eat again has built up my confidence and made me so much more comfortable living with this condition.
With great respect,