Twins Always Take Care of Each Other!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The "Diet" Lifestyle

You know, there is a lot of negativity flying around out there about "diet" products and artificial sweeteners.
And for those living with type 1 diabetes, this really puts you between a rock and a hard place.
With headlines like:
"A Killer in Your Fridge - Sweet Poison" and "The Dark Side of Artificial Sweeteners" it is hard not to worry.
It is easy to judge when you have a working pancreas.


Let me say, it is easy to judge when you have a working pancreas. When you HAVE OPTIONS on choosing to drink diet or regular. When your choices are based on whether or not you are fitting into your jeans that week or not. But this is a life-long commitment to live within moderation for those living without functioning beta cells producing insulin in their bodies.

So, here is the dilemma. Having twins, do I allow BOTH (and myself) to live the "diet" lifestyle?
This is something I have really struggled with since diagnosis. There are  two schools of thought on this:

1. We could go on living our lives leaving my diabetic daughter to be the only person in our home to adjust her diet and lifestyle. We all drink "normal" and she lives "diet." Living with type 1 diabetes is not only the physical disease. There is so much a psychological impact on those living with the disease. And those living with those living with the disease. Type 1 diabetes is truly a life-altering diagnosis.

Being on an insulin pump and continuous blood glucose monitor has allowed us a great deal of freedom to live as normally as possible BUT that being said, we still want to live within a respectable amount of moderation and not freely hand out sugary drinks (soda and juice boxes and fruit snacks galore!)

AND the other school of thought?

2. We are in this together. END OF STORY.
And this was glaringly clear to me when I took my "type awesome" daughter grocery shopping over the weekend. She always chooses diet drinks - when we are out to eat, when we are at the store to purchase drinks for the house, etc. When I asked her WHY and since we were alone I felt I would get the honest answer. I told her that the only difference between a diet drink and a regular drink is the sweetener used and they are both sweet so since she does not have type 1 diabetes that she could choose whichever drink she would like and do you know what her response was? "I don't want [my sister] to feel bad so I will always drink what she drinks."

Some DIET SODA love!
It is important to note that we actually rarely drink soda - diet or otherwise. This treat is usually reserved for eating out occasions. But artificial sweeteners are found in a wide variety of drinks that many T1D families rely on regularly.

Now, I am sure that there are going to be the anti-artificial-sweetener fanatics that will go bonkers over this. Please save your breath. First of all, I have never been more proud of her. As previously mentioned, living with type 1 diabetes is life-altering. And being the sibling of a type 1 diabetic is not the easiest thing in the world either. So, for her to be so thoughtful and considerate (and NOT resentful) in my opinion is a gift from the heavens! And I will NEVER discourage it!

In my opinion, choosing an option that alienates a member of our family is not an option. Isolating my diabetic daughter would cause her to feel alone in her treatment. Option 2 shows her that we are "IN IT WITH HER" - as much as we can be anyway, in our own way. I equate it to when a chemotherapy patient loses their hair and their family members also shave their head in solidarity. This is our display of solidarity. I swear, I would take this disease from her and live with it if I could. But I can't, which breaks my heart every day. But I will, the rest of the family will, do what we can to make her feel loved and accepted and not alone. She IS NOT alone and will NEVER be alone.