A Carb or Starve Situation


If you only have a few minutes to read something about diabetes today, I suggest you skip over my blog and go directly to this article, Is Sugar Toxic? If you have more than a few minutes, please enjoy reading why sometimes, many times, most of the time, I feel like a giant failure.

The thing that takes up most of my time is parenting (100%).  And then comes diabetes work/ASweetLife(80%) and diabetes care (40%).  When you throw in pets, errands, and the occasional need to sleep… you can probably understand why I get overwhelmed, why there’s a punchy tone in my blog today, and why I’m overusing commas (the need to pause!).  On days like today, I am a mess.  I don’t just mean I’m a mess because I haven’t put in my contact lenses for months, or worn any makeup since last summer, or even because little birds are swooping by my head almost mistaking my hair for a nest.  I’m a mess because my toddler has been up every 30 minutes for the last two nights.  He’s congested and coughing.  I caught his cold.  My husband has hay fever and has been sneezing every 20 seconds.  My older sons have vacation from school.  The dog has an eye infection.  And the refrigerator is totally empty.  I was so hungry a little while ago that I felt like I didn’t have the strength to go grocery shopping without eating something first.  And after opening and closing the refrigerator and the pantry a number of times, I came to the conclusion that I was going to eat carbs.  There was absolutely nothing else in the house.  I had no choice! It was truly a carb-or-starve situation. So I ate some granola.  Now my blood sugar is high and I feel much worse than I did when I was starving, and as I said before, I feel like a failure.

At times like this, I find it consoling to play a game called: At least I didn’t eat that! For example: I ate granola, but at least I didn’t eat Resse’s peanut butter cups.  Or, I ate a bowl of pasta for dinner, but at least I didn’t eat ice cream for dessert.  Or, at a party last night I ate pretzels, chips, and chocolate covered almonds, but at least I didn’t wash them down with vodka.

I don’t find myself in this situation very often.  I put a lot of thought into what I eat.  And the same goes for the recipes we publish on ASweetLife.  Now, I know there are many ways to manage diabetes and not everyone believes in restricting their diet.  That said, I firmly believe that dietary restrictions are key to keeping blood sugar levels under control.  Anyway… since it’s my job to read about diabetes, I’ve been taking notes recently on “diabetic-friendly” recipes I come across on other websites.  To say the least, I think there are some really bad recipes/advice out there.  I don’t mean bad because they taste bad.  I mean bad because they aren’t the kinds of food I think people with diabetes should be encouraged to eat.  Since I’m on this subject, now seems as good a time as any for me to play a game called: At least I didn’t publish that!

Check this out: The hugely popular food site, The Kitchn posted a Q and A last week.  A reader, Carol, requested a suggestion for a preparing a diabetic friendly dish to serve her boyfriend’s aunt at a celebratory brunch.  The editor at The Kitchn recommended Crispy Turnovers with Apple, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions because, hey, they don’t have any sugar.  But guess what they do have? Two sheets of frozen puff pastry, apple, and onions!  Now, if you suspect, as I did, that frozen pastry puff  has not just flour, but sugar, too, as one of its ingredients, meaning that the turnovers do in fact have sugar, you might start clicking around to confirm your suspicion.  And then you might find this page on The Kitchn which lists the ingredients of Trader Joe’s frozen puff pastry: flour, butter, salt, sugar (I knew it!), and water.  At least it doesn’t have hydrogenated oil.  And really, the main point here should be that this isn’t a dessert recipe!  It would be one thing if this were a low sugar dessert.  But it’s a puff pastry main course for a diabetic.

Dear Carol, I know you didn’t ask me, but I suggest this for your brunch: Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Frittata. Or Baked Eggs.

Phew, I’m slowly beginning to feel better about myself, and my blood sugar is coming down.  Apparently ranting burns carbs.   If you still haven’t read this article, go do it now!



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11 years ago

Hi, I was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few weeks ago, at 25 years old.  I’ve always been active and healthy, so it has come as quite a shock.  I’m trying to be pro-active regarding my own diabetes education and my management… so this discrepancy between what the nutritionists/doctors say vs. what you read on the blogs stood out to me.  Would you mind elaborating?  Do you not eat carbs? FYI: I’m currently eating 60 grams of carbs per meal (which feels like MORE carbs than I ate before the diagnosis!) and so I almost feel like I’m… Read more »

Carolyn Ketchum
11 years ago

Oh Jess, I so play that “At least I didn’t eat THAT!” game.  When I have a mini-breakdown, I indulge in a few carbs and I feel like I totally pigged out.  But then I think “well, come on now, if I was pigging out like I used to do sometimes, I would have had a whole chocolate bar AND a bowl of ice cream!” I think I was fortunate early on to have come across a diabetes forum early in my diagnosis, and many people’s advice was directly contradictory to your typical nutritionist/ADA advice, the usual “good carbs” stuff. … Read more »

Jennifer Jacobs
11 years ago

Jess, I am so sorry to hear about all you’re dealing with right now. Honestly, I really don’t know how you do it — I sometimes feel I can barely deal with my own diabetes in my own life, where it’s just me and my husband (and at the moment, no colds!). To be doing all that you do while also being such a committed and caring mom to three small boys — it’s just amazing. And I hear you on the recipe frustration/general misunderstandings about diabetes. Normally I try not to get too bothered by stupid assumptions and advice,… Read more »

Amy Stockwell Mercer
11 years ago

I can relate Jess! One of the most frustrating things about this disease is the fact that we can blame ourselves over and over again for making “right” or “wrong” choices. My therapist tells me when I have high blood sugar to think about it as “information” from my body, not good or bad, but simple information about what my body needs. The concept of information has helped me to think less in terms of blame and more in terms of logic, less emotional, more scientific. (sometimes). However, tired of scrambled eggs, I had homemade granola for breakfast today and… Read more »

Jessica Apple
11 years ago

Thanks for the support!

Michelle S
Michelle S
11 years ago

Jessica, I totally understand how frustrating it can be to try to take care of yourself on top of everything else.  You’re doing a great job, go easy on yourself!

Deborah Kanter
11 years ago

Feel your pain and frustration. Doing this diabetes thing right requires a lot of time and planning. Something that you–with 3 kids–don’t have much of.
Getting to the grocery regularly, keeping the house stocked with some easy D-friendly foods is essential.
Hang in there.

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