Planning Meals and Exercise Around Diabetes
My dad has this phrase he says to anyone when they’re feeling stuck or complaining about one of life’s trickier circumstances.
“A.I.O.!” he exclaims. “A.I.O.!”
Adapt, Improvise & Overcome!
I think he’s a genius.
(I contemplate getting “A.I.O.” tattooed onto my body all the time.)
In my own life, I think the ability to improvise is a crucial part of dealing with diabetes. Aside from the obvious part when you are actually diagnosed with a chronic illness and suddenly have to redesign your life in order to meet the needs of living with it, diabetes has a bundle of other surprises.
Usually, I carry around a juice box or glucose tabs with me at all times in case I get a low blood sugar, but if I don’t have that juice box when my blood sugar drops, Lord knows I’ve got to find another source of sugar and I’ve got to find it fast.
I’ve gone as far as knocking on a stranger’s door while out for a run when my blood sugar dropped low when I was foolishly without my beloved juice box.
I would gladly steal candy from a baby if it prevented me from going into a hypoglycemic-induced seizure.
My point is: learning to improvise with a disease like diabetes is incredibly important. You have to be flexible. You have to be willing to plan eating around exercise and exercise around eating. You have to figure out how to wear an insulin pump with a prom dress. You have to be willing to sit down with a juice box in the middle of a basketball game with a low blood sugar while the rest of the team keeps playing.
Diabetes is not one of those situations where you can simply “tough it out.” If your blood sugar is low, you have to drop everything else and deal with it.
It’s like the pile of dirty dishes in the sink (especially my sink): if you let them sit there and sit there and sit there, you entire apartment is going to smell. And no, ma’am, they will not clean themselves (believe me, I’ve tried to wait and see).
Anyways, diabetes comes first. It has to. It’s not about changing everything in your life to fit the diabetes or changing everything about the diabetes to fit your life…it’s a combination of both. Sometimes, when your friends want to grab some Ben & Jerry’s, it’s okay to feed the sweet tooth, take a lot of insulin, and fit diabetes into your life. Other days, when your sugar levels are running high for this reason or that, a bowl of strawberry ice cream may not be the best idea, so it would be wise to adjust your life to the diabetes and grab a handful of carrots.