Anger, Blame and Diabetes

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This guest post was written by type 2 diabetic and chef Ward Alper. It originally appeared on his website, The Decadent Diabetic, and was republished on Information About Diabetes with permission.

I know I usually write about eating with Diabetes. I apologize that this week I am going to talk about something else. Something I that I see commented on so often on the Diabetes sites.

I almost lost my TV set this week. Let me tell you how it almost happened. I was happily munching away on one of my favorite Greek style low carbohydrate yogurts while watching. a report on Diabetes. There was this doctor talking about MY disease and he decided to mention why there was so much of it these days. It was NOT that he was entirely wrong. It was more that what he said was slanted to BLAME us for having Diabetes. I almost threw my shoe at the screen. I am used to, and even somewhat tolerant with the average Jean or John saying that I can’t have sweets or that I have Diabetes because I ate too many sweets. I don’t expect the person on the street (who most likely knows a few people with Diabetes) to know about what I should or should not eat or WHY I have Diabetes. We all know most people don’t know much about Diabetes. This doctor on the TV should know better than to sling blame at any person with any disease. Does a person “get” cancer or any other disease because they DID something wrong? I think it is fine for the medical community to help guide people but NEVER to blame people for their disease. What good does it do? It is not as though you can undo the disease.

Many people with Diabetes are overweight, many are not. For me, I was a “husky” kid. Let ME blame it on my heritage. In my youth in my city with my ethnic background, kids were supposed to be…plump. If you were not, others thought that:

  1. You were too poor to afford enough to eat. “His father is not doing too well in business.”
  2. You had some horrible disease. “He is sooo thin he MUST be sick or something."

That was the way it was back then unless you were a girl. Then (just ask my sister) you had to be thin enough to “get” a husband. Does that mean that if you got a husband, you would NOT develop Diabetes? Just asking.

Let me tell you that for the lion’s share of my young adulthood I was at or under the recommended weight for somebody my height. Guess what….I have type two Diabetes. So did my dad, brother and sister (she never married, “poor thing”).

The other thing this doctor spoke about was people in rural areas had less access to fresh foods and vegetables. Can we talk about ALL of our ancestors? How many of them lived in rural areas? How many of them lived in big cities? In the “old” days, the transportation of foods and vegetables was slow going. Much of it spoiled before reaching the cities or the rural areas. Unless you lived near a farm, a cucumber was a thing of wonder. Why then was the incidence of Diabetes less then than it is today?

Before I go any further, I have to tell you that I don’t have the answer. I am just a chef, not a social scientist.

Can we blame the food pyramid? The recommendations I had as a guide were very grain heavy. Did that cause the increase in Diabetes?
Why do we need to BLAME anybody or any specific thing? Perhaps eating better can prevent Diabetes, but what EXACTLY is better? For some of us (about 1 in 9 people) our body doesn’t work right to properly manage the foods we eat. We may eat the same things as Sally and Harry. We have Diabetes, and they do not.

Rather than finding blame, what we can do is manage it the best that we can. So I write for you and give you recipes that will give you the opportunity to expand your choices and vary your meals. The rest is up to you.

Thank goodness I FINALLY listened to my aunt Kate and counted to ten before throwing that shoe. I would hate to miss any of my favorite TV shows.

ENJOY!!! Be happy, be healthy, and BE DECADENT! –w

Ward Alper, The Decadent Diabetic