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Diabetes Can Diab-Eat-Me

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Chris Pickering is a faithful reader of I Ate Oklahoma (which means he never reads anything else and only fantasizes about this website when he sleeps) and he’s noticed that I like to joke about my impending case of diabetes (I’m aiming for Type 2 or higher).

Chris has Type 1 diabetes, because he’s an overachiever, and through his organization — The Betes Bros — he’s formed a community of people who live with the disease and thrive by providing each other support. Though the foundation is on a brief hiatus while Pickering continues building strategic partnerships, he's still a fervent advocate for diabetes awareness.

After talking, we decided to team up for this article to help dispel some myths about diabetes. He’s got the info, I’ve got the snark. So here is the annotated Diabetes Can Diab-Eat-Me.

Chris - Type 1 and 2 diabetes, though similar in ways, are very different.

For those with Type 1, the body produces no insulin and medication is required for the rest of the person’s life. This can include multiple daily injections or the use of an insulin pump.

In Type 2, the body has become insulin resistant. Though the body still produces insulin, it isn’t using it effectively. Type 2 is controlled through diet, exercise and medication at times. Some Type 2s have eliminated medication through diet and exercise. 

Greg - This is why I really need to avoid Type 2 diabetes. Think about all the good diet and exercise would do me and I still refuse.

Chris - When a person with Type 1 diabetes uses modern insulin, it does allow for some freedom — especially regarding food. On older insulins, the timeframe in which they would enter the body and peak were much slower than current insulins on the market. These newer insulins can help reduce significant spikes in blood sugar levels because of their short-acting nature. Coupled with a last insulin or basal rate via an insulin pump, freedom with food is more manageable. 

Greg - Which is to say, having Type 1 diabetes isn’t a death sentence. It isn’t even a bland food sentence. 

Chris - The current insulins were not available until approximately ’96. Prior to this, birthday cake, ice cream, or anything with sweets or high carbs were an eat-at-your-own-risk ordeal. With the newer insulin and how quickly they worked, it allowed more options. Along with carb counting and blood sugar correction factors, food was not the menace it was before. Then with the introduction of the continuous glucose monitor (CGM), life became even easier. Unfortunately many people in the general are unaware of these advancements and understanding of how these treatments work. Due to the lack of knowledge, they will ask someone with diabetes if they are allowed to eat that.  After being asked if you can eat something for the 100th time, animosity can set in. The other thing is not being knowledgeable on how someone with diabetes treats a low blood sugar. Glucose or sugar is vital and life saving at these times. 

Greg - Mind. Yo. Business. If someone asks you for help, help them. But it’s not your job to judge what other people eat. That’s my job. Back off.

Chris - When it comes to food, each person will be different and finding foods that fit their own lifestyle will vary. Some will avoid carbs because of how their blood sugars react, others will eat carbs with no worry. The key for each person is getting an understanding of how to estimate or look up carb counts while eating out, the learning how certain foods trend their blood sugar. My personal favorite is trying sweets from local restaurants and bakeries. Discussing with the staff what all is in the desserts, carb counts, or looking up approximate serving amounts to map out correction factors. Through proper management, food is an enjoyable ally and not the enemy.

Greg - There you have it. Diabetes is a disease, like any other. You don’t judge people with arthritis or whooping cough, so why get up in the grill of someone suffering from diabetes?

If you have questions about diabetes or if you’d like to join The Betes Bros, visit them on the web and become part of the community.

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About the Author

Founder and Eater-in-Chief of I Ate Oklahoma, Greg Elwell has been reviewing restaurants and writing about Oklahoma’s food culture for more than a decade. Where a normal person orders one meal, this guy gets three. He is almost certainly going to die young and those who love him most are fairly ambivalent about it. You can email Greg at greg@iateoklahoma.com.

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