Reflections – Food as a Weapon

I’ve been working with Ginger Vieira for about four months now, and I feel like I’m making some very important internal progress.  It is slow going, but many of these things can’t be forced or rushed.

With Ginger’s background on exercise training, combined with her incredible accomplishments, it’s easy to think that her “Living In Progress” coaching is all about exercise and fitness.  But Ginger is gifted in many more areas.  In fact, two-thirds of the goals we are working on are not exercise related at all.

Scott’s Goals:
1) Make exercise something I can stick with
– I’ll be taking my magical medicine.
2) Create a balanced diet that works for me
– Eat healthy = feel healthy!
3) I want to be more accurate with my insulin dosing
– I will be more balanced

Sweeping Away The Fluff
Goals 2 & 3 are more closely linked than I thought, which makes sense.  A lot of my inaccurate and sloppy insulin dosing comes from decisions I’m making (or not making) around food.

Ginger and I came up with a handful of very logical homework assignments for me to work on between our weekly calls, but I kept coming up with excuses and not finishing them.  The assignments were very simple, such as logging my food for two days (only TWO DAYS, anyone can do that!), or writing down and testing my insulin to carb ratio for one meal.  All very logical tasks, and not difficult.  But I kept not doing them.  So we looked at that.  I give myself a lot of credit for digging, and not just doing my homework for Ginger’s benefit.

It came down to those tasks feeling very meaningless.  There was something deeper underneath all of that “fluff”.   I felt like I needed to sweep all of that crap out of the way and dig deeper.

But I was scared.  I was intimidated by the thought of how much work it would take to get through it all, and I was intimidated by the changes I might need to make.  But I felt so comfortable with Ginger, and we have uncovered many things about myself, that to keep going felt right.  I wanted to shine the light into those dark corners of my mind and scrape away at the layers and layers of defense mechanisms I have built up over the years.

Anger Around Food
So we looked a little deeper.  I found anger.  Anger around food, and all of the work that I have to do around food.  It is an incredible amount of work to accurately count everything that goes into my mouth, and I’m mad about that.  But who am I to think I shouldn’t have to do that?  Who do I think I am to feel I shouldn’t need to take responsibility for what I eat and what it does to me?  Diabetes requires that work.  It is not optional.

We worked with that anger for a couple of weeks.  It felt like a real issue, at first anyway.  I felt like we hit on something that really carried some weight.  Weight that would be equaled and outweighed by benefit once worked through.  But as we looked at it, it started to crumble apart, like layers before it have.

jbI have a mental picture of these defense layers the mind builds.  The irony of my mental image is awesome, considering this is all about diabetes.  My mental image is “The Jawbreaker”, or “Everlasting Gobstopper” candy.  Layer and layer of candy.  If you were to lick one spot for a thousand years, you’d see all of the different colored layers as the candy is worn away.  Much like the different defensive mechanisms in my brain.

As that layer of anger crumbled away I found self-destructive behavior.  I found food as a sharp edged weapon that I use to hurt myself and escape the pain I feel around diabetes.  I don’t know exactly what it looks like yet, and maybe it’s just another layer of candy surrounding the real issue, but I know I need to look at it.  I need to shine the light into that dark corner and clean it out.  It is scary work, I’m terrified and intimidated, and afraid of what I might find.  But I’m nearing the point where I’m more afraid to let the behavior continue.

Why do I care?  I’m not in a good place, and I’m not doing everything I can to manage my diabetes, yet I am quick to point at out of control blood sugars and blame diabetes.  Under the surface I am not happy with myself about it.  I feel that I need to get this sorted in order to really be at peace with myself and accept diabetes as part of my life.

It is scary for me to share all of this.  I’m opening some of my deepest thoughts and fears to the world.  One of the reasons I started blogging is because the exercise of putting words onto these vague thoughts and feelings helps me.  It’s so damn selfish.  I need it.

This work is slow and hard.  When I’m ready I will post more about this and whatever new discoveries come from it.  In the meantime, thank you for giving me a safe place to explore my thoughts and feelings.

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28 thoughts on “Reflections – Food as a Weapon

  1. Scott, acknowledging anger is so taboo…I commend you for it. I’d be shocked if most people with diabetes didn’t deal with these types of emotional problems underlying their physical ones (hence why “compliancy” is such a crappy medical yardstick). We just don’t talk about those emotional issues as much; I admit that I’m almost embarrassed to bring anything up with my doctor that isn’t directly related to insulin or carbs. It’s probably part of the larger problem of lack of support for mental health in our society & healthcare system. I think a therapist would be more helpful to me than an endo at times. 🙂 It’s really hard to nail down a solution, too. The thought of going on a strict “diabetic diet” seems as much like punishing myself as binging on Halloween candy would be.
    Thank you so much for this post.

  2. Thank you for sharing this,,,its a perfect reflection of the truth for so many…Lots of luck in achieving all your goals and I agree, I have seen ginger’s video and she’s amazing… 🙂

  3. Great post Scott.
    It is very hard to come to terms with the fact that we can’t eat what others just shouldn’t eat or should not eat much of.
    We all deal with this in our own ways. I decided to go Paleo others go vegan and others just follow a low or slow carb diet. but the bottom line is that we need to eat responsibly and live responsibly.
    And it sounds like you are on the way.
    (and yes Ginger is amazing)

  4. Exactly what I deal with.
    I think when we were more restricted and were told we could not have anything with sugar we were more structured and only slipped up from time to time.
    I feel now the mindset is that we can eat anything we want and just bolus correctly is not the right way to handle this disease. I think we need to return to the stricter diets.
    I also feel that a lot of medical providers give us the freedom to eat what we want and bolus away, but that so does not work for us.
    Now I have to figure out how to revert back to my old ways with the new ways to deliver insulin.

  5. Thank you for being so open. You aren’t alone, even if it feels like it. You’ve reminded me that I’m not alone either.

  6. Thanks for sharing that Scott, you’ve vocalised (uhh, typed) what a lot of us are going through but find hard to understand. Your post helps me see it for what it is.
    I’m trying to dig deeper into my food issues too, in the hope that I’ll stop making crap choices and stop gaining weight. But I keep on doing the same stuff, no matter what ideas and plans I come up with to stop it. It could be a long road!! But it’s going to be great once I get my head around it 🙂

  7. Imagine that labyrinth you walked. It looks so confusing from the outside. It looks so foreign and almost like a maze. But we you get inside and start the journey you twist, you turn and it seems forever. But if you continue on the path, you will get to where you need to be. No question. No way to get lost.
    The only way to not get there, is to give up.
    God bless you on your journey.

  8. Scott… all I can say is – wow.
    I think it’s incredibly brave of you to bring all this public. Sometimes publicity shines the most light into those dark corners. Maybe putting it out there for the rest of the world to read is one way of creating accountability. I don’t know. What I do know is, I’m going to print your blog and leave it for my daughter (15, Type 1, diagnosed 12/23/05) to read when she has a minute. Because I think she’ll be able to relate to this on so many levels, it might actually help her break through some of her own layers in that gigantic jawbreaker relationship that is food and diabetes.
    And on another note: I’m not diabetic, but I struggle with weight issues, and let me tell you that I can relate to every single thing you wrote here, minus the insulin adjustments… I can’t pretend to understand what it would be like to have to count every single gram of every single carb that goes into my mouth, or to have to stay on top of the numbers (always the numbers, with diabetes) – but I can relate to your relationship with food, and the ways you use it to comfort or punish. I hope you’ll continue to write about your journey. Ginger is remarkable, and I’m so glad you’re fortunate enough to be working with her! Keep up the good work – you’ll crack that core and break free, and when you do, it’ll be so gratifying and worth every second of agony it took you to get there! Good luck!

  9. Scott, thanks for this post. I know these aren’t easy thoughts to share, but it’s so helpful to read. Our relationship with food is so challenging and it would be great if we all felt safe to have an open, ongoing discussion about it.

  10. Scott – I admire you for being so open with the challenges you’re taking on in your life! And I love that you’re being “so damn selfish” through blogging, because you know without a doubt that other people will read about your challenges and gain understanding in their own challenges.

  11. Thank you, Scott, for being brave enough to share this. I’m into my second year as a Type 1 diabetic and many of these issues are still very tough for me to deal with. I’ve done well enough with the practical side of managing this disease but I had a major emotional breakdown around the time of my first anniversary in April.
    After a couple of months of being angry at the world and this disease, I realized I was grieving for the life the I used to have. Up until a couple of months ago, I couldn’t acknowledge those feelings because I felt guilty for not being grateful enough that I had survived (I was admitted to hospital with a bg of 985 [that’s not a typo] and was in a coma. I came within hours of dying). I have now given myself permission to grieve for the life I once had and this is paving the way for me to fully accept diabetes as a part of my life and to handle it better.

  12. I don’t think this is selfish at all. Someone pointed out during the October 27, 2010 DSMA chat that the DOC presents us “naked” and vulnerable. If we’re not facing down the challenges, then what we share and what we work through is no longer believable. I’m sure tons of people enjoy fictional blogs about adventures that never actually happened, but the details about shedding light in the dark recesses of our own lives is much more interesting, and is why we are and feel so very connected to each other within the DOC. So thank you for putting this out there without the candy coating…it’d just give me a high BG anyway. Ha! Proud of you buddy!

  13. THANK YOU Scott! I too, have food “issues” which I deal with, and deal with differently, almost in cycles. Sometimes it seems effortless to eat healthy and balanced and it feels GREAT. Other times, I get lazy and/or busy… then get annoyed if my numbers are not ideal. Doesn’t matter if they go high OR low… they are not ideal. Anyway, THANK YOU for sharing. I look forward to reading more from you.

  14. Thanks for sharing this, Scott. Makes me think about why I get so frustrated with meals and sometimes just say “screw it” and eat without abandon, just dealing with the aftermath rather than again putting myself through the mental wringer when all I do may not prevent Highs or Lows anyhow. These emotions are so much a part of our daily D-Lives, and I think by putting these things out there we not only tap into those kindred spirits going through the same thing but also keep ourselves accountable. That’s so important, so thank you! Good luck on the continuing journey!

  15. Thanks for a great post Scott.
    I’ve found personally that thinking of FOOD as FUEL is very helpful to me… I actually don’t even want to put some of the bad stuff in my body now, even some of my former favorites. Your goal #2 is so right on! When you eat healthy you feel healthy… If your eating things that throw your body out of whack – you feel that too.
    I think of it like this – if my body were a porsche, would i fill up with “super premium” gas or would i go with discount, leaded, filler gas to save a few bucks? The porsche may still run on the cheap stuff, but it will run better and longer on the good stuff. (which reminds me.. dang, gas prices are high -its a silly analogy, but i think you get the gist 🙂

  16. I have always thought the three most important things about controlling diabetes are managment, management and more management.
    Proof positive that we can LIVE with diabetes.
    Congratulations and keep up the good work. Kinda makes me want to stand up put my fists in the air and scream victory.

  17. Scott, I forwarded your post to many doctors and educators. The relationship you describe is extremely common and rarely discussed. It’s a big focus of some of our upcoming educational initiatives here on DD. Thanks for sharing this so openly and clearly. This will help many, many people start reflecting on their own complex relationships with food.

  18. Sounds like you’re making wonderful progress! It’s always important to get to the deep feelings underneath one’s actions. You’re brave in sharing these with us. I never thought much about food and type 1 diabetes and how we can become kind of traumatized by our relationship with it. You’ve inspired me to think about this subject…maybe I’ll get it out and write about it, too. Anyway great job! And great job Ginger!

  19. Well said, Scott! I, too, deal with food issues and sometimes just don’t care about the consequences, until I see my blood sugar levels sometime later. I believe we need to deal with these issues, in a healthy way, and keep moving forward.
    I can’t wait to hear about your progress.
    Never give up!

  20. Thanks for your post. It put words to some of the things that I think also hold me back too. I think so many of us share those layers of defense mechanisms and yes, anger. For me personally, it’s like “no, I won’t let diabetes rob me of this (food, time, spontenaity, whatever it is)”, when in reality I’m robbing myself if it’s not a healthy choice. But it also has one healthy outlet for me…exercise. As in, “I won’t let diabetes stop me from completing this half marathon”. It’s really sort of the same thought pattern, just turned in another direction. Now if only I could redirect all of it that way! Anyway, great post, and thanks for having the courage to peel back the layers!

  21. Scott, thank you for sharing this with us. Reading your post makes me think a lot about how I deal with food. I think that most T1s have weird food issues. Think I need to be in touch with Ginger.