Thursday, May 13, 2010

Carbs: A bit of history, with a little yelling at the end.

12 years ago, when J was diagnosed we were helicoptered (my first made up word...I am proudly announcing there are two in this post:) to a hospital in San Francisco. There we were spun through a ridiculously short synopsis of what diabetes is…and then given a book of which we were expected to read the first 100 pages.

That was it. That was the extent of our education.

Well that, and Nurse Ignorant.

Nurse Ignorant was our nutritionist. She had only dealt with type 2 adults. She only knew of “diabetes.” Not Type 1 or Type 2, just one big diabetes lump. And furthermore she had never dealt with a diabetic under the age of 50.

Regardless of all of this, she was ridiculously confident in her analysis of the situation, she didn’t do any research, she didn’t make any calls, she simply came before us and stated that our newly diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic son, (who when admitted was 8 months old, and down to 14 lbs)…was to start drinking HALF Of the formula that he was before, and never eat fruit jars again. Only meat.

We lived with her rules for the entire week we were in the hospital. But we weren’t completely under her spell…we rebelled.

We fed J when he was hungry. Before schedule, and she would come in and yell at us.

We bought a jar of apples and chicken baby food, and when she saw it she confiscated it.

It was hell. Our social worker took notice. She took me aside and said she was working with our insurance to get us transferred to UCSF/Stanford. She succeeded, and in turn we met Dr. Steve Gittelman and his team who totally changed everything.

They were very clear. They did not want us to eat around the insulin. They wanted the insulin to work with whatever J chose to eat. They told us that he should eat like a normal child. That he needed a healthy balanced diet. (Which included fruit, and surprise surprise! Even eventually ice cream.) They told me that he should have as many bottles as he wanted, and taught us that if we mixed fruit with a protein/fat it wouldn’t spike his sugar.

We have stood by that since the beginning. Let the boys eat like healthy boys should. Do we say no to dessert sometimes? Yes. Not because they are diabetic…but because it is the healthy thing to do. They eat a balanced healthy diet. Sure, when they have higher blood sugars we steer them to lower carb options, but for the most part they eat what any other child would eat.

Trial and error have helped us find how certain foods affect each boy. We have a pretty good idea what will happen after they consume pizza, and even Chinese food. We have special ways to bolus to compensate for the food absorption.

They can eat these foods, like any child…in moderation.

There are a few adjustments made of course…for example, sugary cereals are a rare treat. They are one food that we are just now figuring out. I can get it down pretty good on a special Saturday, but it is so nerve racking I can’t bring myself to let them have it during the week.

And sure, they can’t come home and drink a glass of orange juice, without having a little fat in the mix…

Yes, there are modifications. And yes there are families that choose different diets and different ways, in fact some of these families are close friends of mine, and I love them. And I respect their choice! Because what we eat is personal…and everyone has their own path…

But let me be clear to Nurse Ignorant, and the other self proclaimed food police of the world: Damn straight my boys can have that cupcake at Tom’s birthday party! And damn straight they can have that ridiculously enormous donut Johnny brought for the scout troop! And damn straight I will stay on the phone for 20 minutes while my son describes each and every part of the ice cream sundae his teacher served to the class as reward, and then scientifically-wild-assidly-guess how many carbs are in said sundae!

Because we are not in the flippin’ dark ages anymore! Insulin works quickly and efficiently, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve to avoid blood sugar spikes after these foods…F. Y. I.

We are not perfect. The boys’ sugars are not always perfect…but you can bet a year supply of insulin that we put our heart and soul in keeping their sugars level.

Because I believe that all food groups are important.

Even the food group that includes Ice cream.


  1. Amen Sista!

  2. Somehow your yelling has made me feel better. :)

  3. I love your yelling Meri.
    Amen and Bravo!

  4. You are a force of nature! Fab post. Balanced eating, I have to remind myself, is what I wanted for my child even before diabetes was in the mix. That hasn't changed.

  5. Love, Love, Love this post-- and your made-up words! :D Meri, you crack me up!! YOU ROCK!! You always manage to say what everyone else is thinking.
    Bev :)
    (Tracy's Mom)

  6. Thank goodness for Dr. Gittelman. Wow, that nurse is something out of a horror movie. I'm glad your instincts and the social worker were there to steer you in the right direction!

  7. Love your outlook on all this. . .
    so does your son come close to guessing the carb content of super sundae? :)

  8. Preach it, sista! Love your philosophy (and your nickname for the nurse... so polite. My version would have a few more curse words in it)!

  9. I was going to say AMEN SISTA too! I have a few tricks of my own...Us moms are pretty darn good for a pancreas dontcha think!!??

  10. Yell away!!!! When you are right... you are right! :)

    I can't believe Nurse Ignorant!!!

    We also don't deny Tristan anything because of his diabetes... we may deny things based on healthy eating but not because of his diabetes. However we try never to keep pop tarts in the house! LOL :)

  11. Love this post! You tell 'em girl!

  12. Assidly!!! LOVE IT!!
    I agree with everone else... AMEN SISTA!

  13. "wild-assidly-guess", that was your other made-up word, yeah? LOVE IT.

    Our philosophy is very similar to yours, and what our docs told us in the hospital as well.

    We can only hope that Nurse Ignorant has since been enlightened. Or possibly retired!

  14. Poop on that dumb nurse!

    You are such a good mom. Letting your kiddo be normal!!

    That's my aim, too! :)

  15. We have so much in common...thanks for the laugh over nurse ignorant.

  16. Love it Meri!

    Gotta love those ignorant nurses! I had one tell me that my then 18 month old son HAD to eat at least 100 carbs per meal! I was told to find the highest carbed chicken nuggets I could find! They can be just ridiculous!

    Good for you for being a rebel!

  17. damn straight Meri!! You just rock :)

  18. Ha ha--I was going to say Amen Sista, too! :)

    How about this instead: Right on, Meri! :)

  19. WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Take THAT Nurse Ignorant!!!!!! get me some frickin' ICE CREAM.

    Stat :)

  20. Nice.
    It's really what we're all doing. Just trying as hard as we can to be real people and keep our sugars level.

  21. DAMN STRAIGHT this post is great and YES I CAN have a cupcake!!

  22. Nurse Ignorant sounds like a nightmare!!! I can't imagine how much she screwed up other families lives who didn't go elsewhere :(

    I will let my girls have their cake or cupcakes too...I don't ever want my kids to feel left out or denied an opportunity to participate in the fun their friends are having just because they have diabetes. I always feel like if we can calculate those carbs and give the right amount of insulin for it...well, let them eat cake :)

    Thanks for the awesome post! You made me smile tonight Meri :)

  23. Scientifically-wild-assidly-guess. I am SO stealing that Meri. Love you.

    April Ann

  24. LOVE.IT...and really love the yelling at the end.


  25. Yay for eating like kids! We were very lucky to end up with the care we did, with doctors and nurses and CDEs who understand that kids are gonna eat what they're gonna eat, and we can actually accommodate that and keep them reasonably healthy. It's a good thing, too, because T-Bear is The World's Pickiest Eater. Thanks for the smiles this morning :) Mo

  26. Damn Skippy!

    And now that we are pumping and now that there will be a nurse at school next year part-time (hopefully), next year I am going to try to put a system in place so that my daughter can fully partake in school treats and not have her own "special" snack. (Which are Oreo Cakesters, which are special to her because we NEVER have those at home, but they are still "different" than what the class is having.)


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