My food issues did not start with my diabetes diagnosis. I have been struggling with food and weight my entire life. I’ve never been very fat but have had an extra few pounds on me for most of my life which made me feel self conscious about my body from a very young age. I remember dieting at the age of 12 and 13. I also remember going on crash diets in high school. Once I went on a 800 calories per day diet and ate nothing but salad. After a few days my eyes were yellowish and I must have looked terrible because my mother noticed and made me add some protein (a can of tuna) to my diet. As is the case with many crash diets, I lost about 10 pounds in a week. Then the next week I gained most of them back. I did not know what carbohydrates were or fats I just counted calories.
Eating has never been just about hunger to me. Yes, there have been plenty of times when I’ve eaten because of hunger, eating has always been much more than a physical need. I eat when I’m happy, depressed, stressed and bored. The only time I don’t eat is when I don’t have food around me or when I to decide to limit the kinds of food I eat. I actually always envied people who got lost their appetite when they felt bad.
My food issues have been handed down to me by my family. I come from a family where food is a stressful issue. Being fat is considered a flaw in personality or a terrible weakness, and everyone in my family struggles with their weight. When everyone sits down for a family meal (extended family) everyone monitors everyone else’s plates passing judgment on the amounts piled. I have been no exception.
I had one short care free period in my life where I ate all the food I wanted to -pizza, ice cream, potatoes, chocolate bars – and was really skinny. That lasted a few months until I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I remember sitting with the doctor and dietitian and being told about how I needed to count my carbs and take my insulin and all I could think was… Would I be able to stay thin?
Once I started taking insulin and was stabilized I started gaining weight and needed to watch what I ate. Having diabetes made this much easier. Eating forbidden foods (as Ilene calls them) has an immediate price I am not usually willing to pay.
I’m aware of my family’s unhealthy obsession with food and weight and have made a conscious effort to not pass this on to my children. But in a home with two diabetic parents it is difficult to not focus on food. I would like my kids to enjoy food and be aware of what they eat without obsessing about it.