Diabetes and Ice Cream: Fighting the Wrong Battle


My brother Sam does not have diabetes, but he and I think alike when it comes to diet and nutrition.  We both agree that carbs and sugar are not good for people with diabetes, or for anyone else.  So I wasn’t surprised, but I was delighted, to find he’d published a hilarious article in this week’s NYT’s Sunday Review poking fun at the The New Yorkers for Beverage Choices organization (and more).

The New Yorkers for Beverage Choices opposses New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal to a ban the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages over 16 ounces in restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues, coffee shops, pizza shops, delis, food trucks or carts.  According to their website, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices believes New York City residents and visitors should have the right to buy beverages in any size they choose.

This reminds me of 2010 Krispy Kreme Challenge, an event wherein participants ran a mile or so, ate up to a dozen doughnuts, and then ran back.  The event took place in order to raise money for JDRF.  On a website that no long exists the following was posted, “the theme of this year’s JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes is “Freedom” (freedom from diabetes), so people are participating in this event so that those with type 1 diabetes will have the freedom to eat donuts.”  My brother, in his satirical Bill of Rights, points out, “A well-stocked fridge, being necessary to the stuffing of the face, the right of the people to consume alarmingly large sandwiches washed down by more than 16 fluid ounces of soda shall not be infringed; nor shall any person have to answer for the number of sticky buns consumed in a single sitting, except in a time of public danger, such as a Congressionally declared sticky-bun shortage.”

So back to the beverage ban, do I think the ban will help curb the obesity epidemic?  No.  Not at all.  I think it’s a nice attempt at raising awareness to the fact that drinks, not just food, are full of sugar and calories, and that bigger doesn’t mean better.  But despite the fact that I don’t think this ban will be effective, I don’t follow the logic of the objectors.  Diabetic or not, consuming large sugar-sweetened beverages is bad for us.  You really can’t argue otherwise.  So I suggest the New Yorkers for Beverage Choices take on a new, positive campaign.  Rather than saying don’t let the mayor tell us what size beverage to buy, I suggest ads that feature New Yorkers buying 32 ounce cups of water or sparkling water at food trucks,restaurants, and sports venues.  Beverage Choices.  New Yorkers can choose water.

The issue of “don’t tell me what to eat/drink” comes up often in the diabetes community, and the up and coming Ice Cream Social on August 4th really highlights this.  The Second Annual Diabetic Ice Cream Social is a day in which people with diabetes raise awareness about diabetes by celebrating their freedom to eat ice cream.  The event’s Facebook page says, “NO ONE should tell us what we can, or cannot eat. We CHOOSE what we want to eat, and what we can handle… And we have glucose meters, and a vast array of glucose control tools to help us make our decisions!”  (And people with diabetes in New York city are still free to wash down that ice cream with a 32 ounce cup of Coke.)

I view this Social as childish and I believe the right to eat and drink junk food does not need a platform nor should it be celebrated.  The supersize issues here are not how big your cup is, or how many scoops of ice cream you can eat before your blood sugar hits 250.  The real issue is health – the health of people with diabetes and the health of the entire population of the United States of America.  We as a community can be at the forefront of the battle for good health, which means standing up for each and every attempt to reduce sugar intake, or we can shame ourselves by proving that we have the tools to be just as unhealthy as the next girl next door.  

We can raise diabetes awareness by calling for better health care and better tools, and by teaching the world how difficult it is for people with diabetes to eat a treat like ice cream.  

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices is posing the question What’s next? as part of their campaign.  What’s next? Look at the people around you.  Look at the statistics.  The answer is obvious – unless we all start stepping up to the sugar free plate. 

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Jeannie T2
Jeannie T2

I have had diabetes for almost 40 years, so taking care of my skin and feet is important. I have been using Made from Earth Aloe Jojoba Therapy and it works wonders overnight! I have tried other products, but none as good as the Made from Earth Aloe. Cracks on my heels can quickly develop into open wounds, but not when I use this cream. The cracks quickly close and disappear within a few days. It has saved me from many trips to the wound care doctors. Wish I could take a bath in it!


And it’s comments like that that lead to the event in the first place Jim. Thanks for reinforcing it.


I heard the lung cancer group is having a smoking social complete with a bill of rights. Can’t think of anything more Ill conceived. Which drug companyiOS sponsoring this event?

Kathy White

What an interesting discussion.  I have to wonder if the majority of people who think the ice cream social is a bad idea are the adult type 1s who know that not eating sweet things are such a superficial part of this disease.  Eating ice cream would not be a worthy symbol of our plight.  And the parents of Type 1s are among those who think its a good idea because the thought of their child not ever being able to enjoy eating such highly regarded foods like ice cream to be totally unacceptable.   As usual, its a personal… Read more »


This isn’t about sugar. A slice of pizza is just as “dangerous” the point is to encourage people with diabetes to learn how to control their blood glucose levels and stay healthy without sacrificing foods that they enjoy or depriving themselves so much that they develop an eating disorder. Everything in moderation. It’s a good policy for diabetics and non- diabetics alike.


Jess, thanks for this article. Like many families with a type 1 diabetic child, my first reaction to the ice cream social event involved the ideas of cute, fun, and true. My child can eat whatever she chooses to. I joined the event, and so did my daughter. It took less than a day for the two of us to look at each other and exclaim, this is crazy.  Long before diagnosis we chose to eat healthy – more vegetables, more fruits, less refined food, less gluten, complex carbs without added fat and sugar. Managing diabetes is hard work for both… Read more »

Michelle Gonzalez

Jess, again, I think you’re kind of missing the point. The ice cream is a symbol, not a requirement. And it doesn’t even have to BE about junk food. As a type 1 diabetic, my child needs insulin nearly any time she puts food in her mouth, but a black bean social, or a peas and carrots social, or a whole grain bread social just doesn’t have the same impact. It’s not about the ice cream. It started as ice cream when that reporter said that allowing my child to eat ice cream was like giving an alcoholic booze –… Read more »


@Michelle,  I agree, let’s not start a war of any sort here. I appreciate your comment and Howard is right – if having ice cream for a day makes you happy, go for it.  I just can’t get behind the idea of “proving” we can eat junk food.   Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. 

howard steinberg

The MOST dangerous fallacy in modern endocrinology is that we NEED carbs.  Yeah we need some carbs, but with no time to dig up scientific data refuting this, I’ll let my own experiences and highly credible anecdotal evidence reinforce the ultimate diabetes rule: THE LAW OF SMALL NUMBERS.   Carbs are the enemy, only in REAL moderation can works.  But teaching kids or adults to simply eat what you want and just jack up your insulin doesn’t.  More carbs=more insulin=more mistakes=more corrections=more insulin=more hunger=more mistakes and so goes the vicious cycle. I exceedingly high physiological levels of insulin in the… Read more »


Oh and by the way, Diabetes is about carbs, not just sugar.  And there are some kind of carbs in just about everything you eat.  People like you really piss me off.


A type1 diabetic can eat whatever they want as long as they correct with insulin and exercise.

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