The other day I participated in an interview with Riva Greenberg about living with diabetes (more on our conversation later) and, as tends to happen when two diabetics start talking, we ended up on the subject of breakfast. “It’s my hardest meal,” I told Riva, confessing that after eating Fage 2% Greek yogurt nearly every morning for oh, the past five years, I have finally reached my breaking point. Maybe it’s the Symlin, maybe it’s general fatigue, but I can no longer make it through a cup full of the stuff without feeling a little like I’m going to puke. The same thing happened to me with Egg Beaters omelettes and cottage cheese, both of which were my go-to breakfast for the first few years after I was diagnosed. (I now eat real eggs, usually for lunch.) I staved off my current breakfast crisis for a while by turning my fruit and yogurt into smoothies — but even that has recently become stale. Riva listened, empathized, then asked me a simple question:
“What about oatmeal?”
What about oatmeal. A query so innocent, so straightforward, that I was surprised to actually feel my stomach jump. Oatmeal? For breakfast? What was she doing, trying to kill me?
Riva was not trying to do any such thing. Instead, she shared with me her go-to breakfast recipe, a combination of oatmeal, cottage cheese and various other good things that we hope to soon highlight on the site. It was a perfectly reasonable suggestion — a serving of oatmeal has about 23 grams of carbohydrates. Add some peanut butter, and you slow down absorption. And besides, I’m the type of person who insists to everyone I meet that there are no “forbidden foods” in diabetes — it’s just that certain foods aren’t worth the trouble it takes to manage your blood sugar after you eat them. Krispy Kreme donuts, therefore, are out. But eating oatmeal is hardly a sin.
Try telling that to my psyche — as I felt my stomach drop, I realized that there are certain foods whose very mention can make me feel a jolt of panic. Sometimes that reaction makes sense (“large Coke”); sometimes it is totally irrational. Like with oatmeal, for example. Or beans. Say the word “lentils” to me and I guarantee my heart rate will increase, despite the fact that they have a low glycemic index and are so unproblematic that I end up overbolusing nearly every time I eat them.
I’m fascinated by the emotional side of diabetes, and already devote a lot of thought to the swings in my self esteem I feel every time I see the number on my glucometer’s screen. But it wasn’t till I noticed my reaction to Riva’s favorite breakfast that I realized I’ve really started assigning emotional value to foods as well.
Anyone have panic foods of their own? Tell me about them in the comment section.