Why do I call it the Super Bowl diet? Because 98% of those who start dieting today will have given up their diets by the time they tune in to watch the annual Battle of the Behemoths. (For those of you in parts of the world deprived of the wonder that is the NFL, The Super Bowl takes place in early February.)
I like dieting this time of year because it is so easy. With so many people cutting back on their food there's a brief period when you are spared many of the temptations that social life provides. For a few weeks, people don't sneer if you suggest there must be somewhere healthier than the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. They don't bring donuts to departmental meetings. They don't invite you over for dinners filled with lovingly baked platters of things your metabolism can't handle.
But only for a few weeks. Then the rest of the world gets over their holiday-induced resolutions and life gets back to normal.
Except for us folk with diabetes. For whom food can NEVER get back to being normal.
As is always the case when I wander out into the wider world, over the past few weeks I ran into people who have other chronic diseases, and as always happens when I expand my circle of friends, I was reminded how lucky I am to have one of the few chronic diseases that does not doom me to slow, inexorable deterioration, and which unlike most chronic conditions, offers me the ability to control--by the dietary choices I make--how bad that disease is going to get.
My friends who have MS can eat whatever they want--which I would envy, except that they also wake up every morning wondering what function they might have lost overnight, and knowing that the only thing they can do is pray researchers will come up some treatment, some time, that will work.
There is no diet that will stop the progression of MS, or hereditary dementia, or COPD, or Lou Gehrig's disease or any of hundreds of other horrible conditions that prey upon our human bodies.
But diabetes is different. All I have to do to keep this disease process at bay is pass on the toast and home fries, the fudge and the muffins, and keep my carbohydrate consumption within the limits that insulin makes manageable.
Is it a pain to have to do this? Yes, but trust me, if you have to have a chronic condition, folks, diabetes is the one you want to have.
But as grateful as I am to have a condition I can influence with my dietary choices, I don't discount the effort it takes to do it, nor do I have anything but compassion for people who find it hard to exercise the control it takes to keep the complications at bay.
When you can't go off your diet come the Super Bowl, it is tough. There are hundreds of tips and tricks that most people with diabetes don't know about, because they don't know any other people with diabetes who are striving to avoid the complications. Doing it yourself is almost impossible, and it is not accidental that ALL the people I know who are in great shape a decade or more after their diabetes diagnoses are active online and discuss strategy and technique with others who are coping with the same challenges.
Online support can really help you get through all the days when you have to pass by all the food everyone else in the world can eat and you can't. It can help you on the days when you do everything right and still screw up.
I had that kind of day today myself. I'm on a new and oddball diet I'll describe in a future post. It allowed me to eat a nice lunch at a restaurant today. (I started it ten days ago). Unfortunately, my insulin cartridge seems to have died, perhaps thanks to having been carried around in my purse and getting exposed to too much cold. So though I covered my lunch with the amount of insulin that usually gives me normal blood sugars, I ended up at 216 mg/dl two hours after eating.
I felt like crap. I felt angry, because dammit I really do work at keeping my sugars under control and it sucks that it has to be so hard--especially as I have been eating very carefully for the last week. It wasn't like I'd eaten anything that awful at lunch either. I'd had a Chinese lunch with no egg roll, no chicken fingers, no wontons, no rice.
But that's how it is, and as that is the worst blood sugar I've had in a month, I'll be fine. Fortunately, I have my online friends who know what "216 at 2 hours" means and how crappy it feels. One of them might be able to tell me how to keep my insulin from going bad in the winter. This isn't the first time it's happened. I'm glad I've got those friends. If you are having trouble with your blood sugar control, finding a few of your own might really help.
You can find online diabetes support in many different web communities. They are all different, so you'll have to visit each one to see where you feel most at home. I've listed some of the communities you might want to check out on this page:
Finding Support Online
If you need help finding palatable foods to eat and other people who have managed to make a reduced carbohydrate diet work long term, check out the Low Carb Friends support board. Their recipe forum has lots of excellent recipes and ideas. There are quite a few people active on Low Carb Friends who can help you figure out what you can eat just about anywhere that won't raise your blood sugars. Some have diabetes, most don't, but all are committed to keeping the carbs under control.
If you know of other helpful online support environments for people with diabetes, let us know about them by posting in the comment section. Getting support this time, instead of trying to go it alone, may be what makes it possible to wake up next year at this time thinner, fitter, and with a much healthier A1c.
Let's all help each other make that happen!