The Frustration of Planning Your Meals When You Have Diabetes

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Pregnancy Tracker: 8 months down, less than 2 to go!

    Size of the Baby: Weighs just over 4 pounds now.

    Biggest Obstacle: Keeping up the discipline and determination.


    I know I've painted a picture of a nearly "perfect" diabetic pregnancy on this blog. Thus far, my pregnancy with type 1 diabetes has been very healthy and satisfying and for the most part, I feel a great sense of accomplishment being so disciplined with my food choices, exercise, and blood glucose management.


    This weekend, out of nowhere, some negative feelings about this disease crept up on me, resulting in a mini-meltdown.

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    My husband, my mom, and I were leaving mass on Sunday morning. We've fallen into a nice little routine of going across the street for a latte after church. Dennis gets a large, nonfat latte and I have a few sips. This week, however, we discussed the option of having some food at the café because of our plans to view the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit later that morning.


    My brain starts calculating... "I already had my egg salad on high fiber bread for breakfast. I have a cashew and date Lärabar in my purse for my morning snack. I don't really need to eat anything else until after the exhibit. There's not going to be much in this café that I can accurately bolus for anyway. Oh, but the pastries are so tempting! All I really would like is a decaf latte to go with my bar..."


    I tell my mom and husband, "I don't care, we can go in if you'd like." We scan the menu outside of the café. Our discussion continues regarding whether we want to eat here or somewhere else or just grab a coffee and head over to the museum. I repeat myself that I don't have a preference.


    Dennis, trying to be helpful, and knowing that my diet needs to focus on protein rather than carbohydrates, suggests, "Want to split a breakfast burrito?"


    I immediately consider the tortilla this burrito would undoubtedly come in. It would surely be made from white flour and contain more carbohydrates than I wanted to eat. Plus, I'd already had eggs that morning, I didn't really need more.


    For some reason this innocent mention of a breakfast burrito sent me into a rage and I snapped that I didn't care what we did for breakfast because I can't eat anything anyway! I won't quote myself because part of it would have to be censored, which demonstrates how mad I was, because I never curse!


    I burst into tears, right there on the sidewalk in a busy tourist area of San Diego, on a crowded holiday weekend. Luckily my sunglasses were on, so it was somewhat discreet.


    My mom, Dennis, and I made our way to the car. As I pulled myself together, I tried to explain the way I reacted. Of course, part of it is just the frustration of not being able to eat whatever, whenever I want, like a normal person. In my attempt to not inconvenience my loved ones, I had tried to express my indifference as to where we ate, since I didn't plan on eating anyway. My sweet mom and husband, however, wanted to find a place that would have something for me, thus they didn't accept my response.


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    Emotionally, however, I realized that, even though it's unfair, I want other people to validate the sacrifices I am making to manage my disease. I felt like my husband should just "know" how it feels to have to calculate everything I eat, all day long, and be more sensitive to my struggle.


    The thing is, people without diabetes, no matter how wonderfully supportive and attentive they are to their diabetic loved ones, can't ever know the intricacies of living daily with this disease. I know it's irrational to expect my husband or mom or anyone else to think like a diabetic, and I wouldn't want them to have to anyway. However, sometimes feelings aren't rational, right?


    We ended up driving to another coffee place where they each got a pastry and coffee and I ate my Lärabar (which tasted especially delicious with a few sips of Dennis's latte!) My blood sugars were great all day on Sunday, in no small part because of simply knowing the carbohydrate content of everything I ate. I was sure to thank both Dennis and my mom for their support.


    In the end, my mini-meltdown reminded me that diabetes is hard. You can focus on how well you're handling it and feel good about the disciplined choices you're making. However, it still requires an incredible amount of mental energy to maintain the level of control required in a diabetic pregnancy.


    It's good to let yourself express those feeling of frustration and exhaustion from time to time. Even better to do so constructive, before you end up having a meltdown in a public place!

Published On: November 15, 2007