Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Food -- It's Complicated

My last post was silly, but was born out of frustration and a serious point: food has become very complicated in our culture, and for diabetics it's just that much more so.

Our society has many, many different messages out there about what we should eat and how we should prepare it.  Even among those that honestly believe in their advice, there's incredible diversity.  Adding considerably to the confusion are the charlatans and snake oil salesmen looking for a slice of the billions of dollars spent in the pursuit of healthy eating.

One reason for the different messages is the differing motivations behind the recommendations.  People can choose what they eat on many different criteria.  Some of these are:

  • Aesthetics -- concern centered on the culinary quality (taste, etc) of the food.  Some of the drive behind the "eat local" movement is centered in this concern.  Vegetables grown from legacy varieties and plucked from the local farm this morning are probably going to taste much better than veggies bred for shelf life that have spent a week or so in trucks and warehouses.  How much we enjoy our food is important to some degree to most of us, though -- not many of us can treat food strictly as fuel.
  • Nutrition -- concern centered on what our food does for (and to) our bodies.  There's a tremendous amount of conflicting advice about what foods constitute the optimal fuel and even on how that food should be prepared.  If there's a medical goal such as treatment of obesity, diabetes, or other conditions, the individual faces choices that are that much more confusing.  My take is that we simply don't know all that much about human metabolism (as if PWD's need to be told that), and that the next decade or so may bring some clarity.
  • Ethics -- concern centered on the effect on others of our food choices.  We can choose food based on the environmental impact of its production and shipping, on the economic effects of our choices, and on moral issues such as the eating of animals.
  • Other considerations -- many other factors affect our food choices: product availability, what will fit comfortably within our budget, what can be prepared with our cooking skill sets, and what our families will put up with.
Of course, most of us make our choices from a mix of motivations.  We'd like food that will help our BGs relatively steady, isn't wrapped in too much unrecyclable material, can be on the table before Leno comes on, and which the kids won't feed to the dog (and have the dog refuse).  Seems reasonable, no?  But it can be devilishly hard to pull off.

In about a week, I'm due to have a phone consultation with a dietitian supplied by my insurance company.  I'm hoping to get some personalized recommendation on daily carbs and fat grams and some notion of how to meet those targets.  I know how to eat low carb, and I know how to eat low fat, but I don't know how to do both and get enough calories to keep me from yelling at strangers.

Food.  It's complicated.


  1. Bob, that is an awesome summary. Food choice is so much more critical for T2's and all those things you listed just make things more complicated

  2. Dude, Re: Scott, I think T1's have just as much concern when it comes to food. For me, it's hard for me to control my weight, and weight and health are a huge concern when it comes to my heart, as with T1 I am already at risk for heart disease.

    I wrote a blog about T1's thinking like t2's a while back. It's difficult, much harder than I ever thought. Shure, I have to take insulin injetions, insert infusion sets, and do a lot of math, but if I WANT that cinnamon roll, I can have it, and if I don't bolus correctly, I can take another dose of insulin.

    I want to eat like a type 2 for general health. I think it's a good way to eat. Besides, lower levels of carbs and lower body weight means my body uses less insulin, and that's always good.


Creative Commons License
T Minus Two by Bob Pedersen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.