Stress, Diabetes and Control


Did you ever have one of those days, weeks, months…years(?) when everything that could drive you nuts did? Well of course you have. We all have.

In the “old” days, I hate to admit it, I might light up a cigarette or three or dive mouth first into a pint of my favorite ice cream. For better or worse - no definitely better - I don’t, and can’t do that anymore.

But what is a person with diabetes, and who doesn’t smoke or drink much, do when the trials of life get to the almost breaking point?

I found myself in the shower the other day after a week of what seemed pure misery wanting to indulge myself in some kind of reward for not being curled up in the corner of the shower or running screaming off into the day. Then the soap slipped out of my hands. Well a little screaming never hurts.

I haven’t smoked for decades and I don’t stock ice cream in the house. When I lived in Manhattan I could just pop down to the corner market and pick up my indulgence of choice. Now the nearest market is a couple of miles away and I would have to dry myself and dress and get the car out of the garage and…..
I enjoy eating walnuts or pecans or most any nut, but a small handful of nuts did not seem like enough reward for my getting through the stress of the prior week.

How much reasoning with yourself can you do? How “good” can you be? Where is the line between rewarding yourself and taking care of yourself, begin? A cheat/treat might not kill you, but will the guilt of indulging in something that is a bad choice help you feel better… or add to the stress?

The answer lies in each of our personal make ups. I know that I might enjoy that pint (no, a half cup won’t do) for a few minutes but then I would start to think that I am ultimately letting myself down. I will convince myself that I will develop some symptom that will make managing my diabetes worse. Worse still, I feel like I am letting my doctor down and even worse, letting all of you down. At the very least I would feel out of control.

I write about managing diabetes through good eating habits and finding more and more ways to expand the choices we have to make eating with diabetes easier to swallow. How can I let you all down? I can reason with myself that you won’t know what I did unless I tell you about it. It is how my sister led her eating life. If nobody saw her eating something, it couldn’t possibly have any calories and could not add to her weight or blood sugar.

I could find an alternative ice cream. There a quite a few out there that are pretty tasty and low in carbohydrates. The problem is that I don’t tend to keep them on hand. Would a Greek-style lemon yogurt do? It might, except that the brand I like stopped making the lemon flavor.

So, I ask you: what does this poor guy (and all of you in the same boat with me) do?

For a time I felt that all was lost. I felt damned if I did, damned if I didn’t. It was just adding to the stress level. Logically we should remember that worse things are happening to other people. But how many of us can conjure up logic when our world stinks?

All of the things that have occurred to cause stress in my life are things that are completely out of my control. Things like looking forward for weeks to a game of _____ and it rains all day, or those rascally rabbits that are devastating the flowers in the garden. I can’t do a thing about it. That makes ME feel more stressed than things I can do something about, even if I don’t like what I have to do - like that yearly flu shot or a colonoscopy.

But when it comes to dealing with eating to relieve my stress, I/we really are in control and do have choices. I could have just let it pass, do something like exercise, meditate, eat something good for me, give in to the urge and drive over for some ice cream, or being the Decadent Diabetic, create something wonderful and diabetes-compatible…..and QUICK.

You guessed it, I chose to make something wonderful. I am a big time coffee lover. I brewed myself a rich dark pot of coffee, frothed up some milk, and topped it off with some cinnamon (some say cinnamon is good for diabetes). I sat down in a comfortable chair and slowly sipped my coffee concoction, looked at my Tori gate while the stress lightened. It did not go away all together but I did not increase it by ill thought out indulgence. I have birthdays and holidays for that.

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT.-w!

Source: Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic