Food thoughts

By | 28 October, 2011

I like food. It is generally a pleasure. But because of the pancreas situation, food is never really just food, it’s also a mental obstacle course. For me, some foods trigger several thoughts before I even consider how they taste:

Pasta: so tasty, so comforting. My pasta thought process sadly often goes like this – that’s a lot of carbs on a plate, I must take a bucketload of insulin. Then I realise a couple of hours later that just because the packet said that much pasta contained 50g of carbs doesn’t mean it’ll affect my body like that. I should have bolused for 35g and then I wouldn’t be low. I then remain amazed for the rest of the night that there has been no late night spike from the pasta. For me pasta is never as carborific as it says on the packet, regardless of what I eat it with, so I must steel myself to be brave enough to underbolus.

"Hmn, have I got enough bottles of insulin to eat the whole thing?"

Cucumber and carrot: go, go, go. I seem to have spent a lot of my childhood munching on chunks of cucumber and raw carrot. My parents claim it was an ideal low carb snack that shut me up when I was hungry but couldn’t have any carbs. I wonder if they’d simply confused the feeding farmyard animals book with the bringing up children one. I’m not too mentally scarred though, I still munch on it now.

Pizza: prepare for battle. This requires serious thinking – do I really want pizza? I know it will a bit of a rollercoaster. And it’s the humongous amount of fat that causes that rollercoaster which will just end up on my hips anyway so why am I bothering? Ah, I know all that but I still really want pizza? OK, all hands to the pump. Dual wave bolus on stand-by. 35% upon eating, 65% over 4 hours and maybe add a bit more after that. Monitor and celebrate when I stay below 10. Repeat exact process for Indian takeaway.

Fruit is friend: I’ve heard people say they struggle with fruit because it makes them spike, I’m lucky in that I don’t find that at all, for me fruit is quite predictable and something I eat a lot of. 

Crisps: Crisps are a rare thing for me. If I bolus for exactly the number of carbs that are stated on the pack (having performed some A-level maths to calculate the carbs based on a label that refers to 100g of crisps or a portion size of 8 crisps, when I just want to eat a 37.5g bag of the things without having to count them), I get the expected result. Most things I have to tweak through trial and error, but crisps are honest little blighters. They say they contain 15g of carbs and that’s the effect they have on me. They should be highly commended for this rare and valuable trait.

Fruit juice in cartons: There is very little I allow the broken pancreas to prevent me from eating, out of sheer spite I manage to consume most things, but I admit defeat when it comes to fruit juice. That stuff is rocket fuel to me, no matter how early I bolus, how much I put in, the rise is supersonic after only a little glass. Fruit juice is my medicine, I take it when I need it, never for recreational use. 

The saviours: fruit pastilles are not just food, they’re absolute medical necessities, second only to insulin in my quest for survival. In my mind, they’re completely separate from normal food, they are to be consumed at the speed of light, often in the dark and covered in fluff. It shocks me when I see people buying these powerful drugs as a snack. Do they not understand their potency?

Coffee: I drink my coffee black, no milk or sugar, so you’d think it would be a simple, no insulin transaction. For instant coffee it is. But proper coffee, freshly ground from beans that actually tastes of something requires a tiny smidgen of insulin otherwise I meander upwards for a couple of hours afterwards.

When I have the occasional  flash of willpower I’ll cut down on carbs for a while, and that does help me. I need less insulin and the margins for error are much smaller – I’m putting in a couple of units for a meal rather than a couple of bucket loads to offset all the carbs. I tend to see fewer and smaller rises and falls. Sadly, my willpower isn’t as strong as my carb consumption reflex so I frequently brush up on my mental arithmetic and return to the carbs, aiming for a healthy balanced diet, that doesn’t spike me too much and is also nice to eat.

What are your food thoughts?

Category: Food & diet Living with diabetes Tags: ,

About Alison

Diagnosed with Type One in 1983 at the age of four, Alison's been at this for a while now. She uses Humalog in a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring system and any blood glucose meter as long as it takes five seconds or less.

17 thoughts on “Food thoughts

  1. Donald Thomson

    Totally agree with your experiences with pasta. In our house it’s called ‘bloody pasta’ because I usually over-bolus and end up with a hypo. It’s banned (as is rice) on evenings when I’m going out to a rehearsal. Cramming glucose tablets behind my score of Brahms Requiem is the usual result (I don’t do fruit pastilles myself). Pizza and curry – double bolus required due to the high fat content. A restaurant pizza usually involves a total of about 30 units, which just seems so wrong, but it’s worth it! My recent conversion to eating fish after being 20 years a strict veggie has given me some new challenges. A plateful of monster haddock, chips and peas gave me a 29.5 reading the other evening as I’d completely miscalculated the carbs in the batter. It’s a minefield we have to negotiate on a daily basis and it’s much worse when eating out. But this is a rare event now with the recession so there’s the silver lining in the economic cloud.

  2. Mike

    What confuses me greatly (though I’m quite thankful for it) is the way I can get away with most of the real nasties, including such frequently declared no-go areas as pizza, indian, mashed potato and so on as long as I keep the load down to around 60g CHO. Upwards of that I just need to stick to doses I know for takeaways we’ve had before, though I recently came across the ‘add a third’* technique for higher carb loads which has been working really quite well. Who knows what will happen post-pump. Not me that’s for sure!

    *Est total carbs and if into ‘big meal’ territory add a third to the total bolus before beginning the split dose gymnastics.

  3. Lola

    The coffee one seems interesting – do you think your body is responding to the caffeine, generating adrenaline and mobilising glucose? Is caffeine from ground coffee more potent than from instant, or perhaps there’s more of it?

    1. Alison Post author

      I think so Lola, I’ve always assumed its the caffeine and that instant is just too weak to have an impact. I only worked it out after I got my CGM because I could see the impact so clearly on that.

    1. Marianne

      Sigh!! I’ll work out how to do a link one day … but it takes you to the right place.

      1. Tim

        “made of naturally water soluble fiber” yum! 😉 What do they actually taste like?

  4. Megs

    Bread for me is evil in a slice. I bolus the correct amount of insulin and before using cgm was unaware of its second coming. A few hours after thinking how super expert I am at calculating insulin and whoosh off I go chasing down a rising blood glucose. Shortbread fingers however are such an obediant food, 9.6g of cho, sorted. Why can’t more foods be obediant?

  5. katherine cromwell

    Couldn’t agree more to all of the above.
    @Alison i love the image and comment so true at times!!

  6. lizz

    Goodness, crisps are the food from hell for me, which is a shame as I love them. Full of hydrogenated fats though which will never be removed from my body.

    60g of CHO? I can’t eat that much, not enough room for the half plate of veg or salad. My limit is 30g…

    Do you think bread is not consistent because the flour is probably a mix from different places and also, sometimes more full of air or denser etc?

  7. Paul

    Pasta & rice have never had a bad effect on me, unless covered in a layer of oil or cheese.

    Pizza kills me, although the multiwave setting has proved pretty usefully although not enough for a daily basis.

    I have problems during the working week at lunch which I think is due to a poor choice of slow release carbs & yogurt (guessing hi fat issues), again I’m planning on trying a multiwave on it.

    When I told my doctor I tend to drink 2-3 litres of filter coffee per day, he went crazy for health reasons, whilst I haven’t had @alison problem I was going low when I cut it out.

    1. Tim

      2-3 litres of filter coffee per day?! That would have me hyped up and wired to the ceiling on caffeine, if nothing else! Wow!

    1. Alison Post author

      It was in a safari lodge in South Africa. We went off season and had the place to ourselves, which meant we got a full, delicious homemade cake to ourselves every day for afternoon tea before we went out on the evening game drive. It killed me sending half of it back everyday! Other equally exotic but less cake related photos from said holiday available here

        1. Alison Post author

          Yes, obviously the wild animals were merely a distraction, all we were really bothered about were the cakes.

  8. Spike Jones

    All food is evil & should be banned. Apart from those very very rare days when I’m in the stratosphere & cannot get enough of the stuff down my neck.
    What else do you expect after a lifetime of being told various foods are “bad” & it seems six months later that it’s the new wonderfood? Grrrrr
    Issues? Me? lmao


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