The fear is that fat acceptance is bad for diabetes, that it might lead to more cases of diabetes – that if I don’t hate and fear fat, I’ll become sick – but it’s total crap. As if being afraid of fat keeps us healthy? It’s rubbish. The truth is that fat acceptance and body positivism are good for people with diabetes, and here’s why:
I have become aware of certain dangerous behaviours. There is a tendency with diabetics who have body-image issues, to let our blood sugar levels run too high – to inject only conservative amounts of insulin, because insulin “makes you hungry”, and we all want to be thin. We think we need to eat less, because we think we are too fat.
If you are currently thinking that you, yourself really are too fat, you are wrong. Sorry. And anyway, eating less doesn’t make you healthier, and it doesn’t make you thinner, so fuck it all.
I used to think of the amount of insulin I had to inject, as being an indicator of how far I have come on my quest to cure diabetes. I’m not sure how I came to the decision that if there isn’t a cure, I should try to cure it myself. Who takes that on their own shoulders? Who other than someone who believes in their own inferiority? Is it noble ambition, or is there maybe something else that can be addressed here?
There is no proper cure for type one, that anyone has yet discovered or invented. I’ve exercised, I’ve tried different kinds of natural medicine and esoteric therapies – and over time, my insulin dependency has decreased. When I was a teenager, I needed to inject 80 to 100 units per day, and now at age thirty-four, it’s closer to 60.
For a period of time, it was about 50, and sometimes less. But my blood sugars were running a little high, and I was in a perpetual state of caloric restriction without realising it (less food coming in requires less insulin to ‘convert’ that food to useable energy), and I also had less muscle mass, which might also mean there was less insulin required to get those sugars into my existing muscle tissue.
It all looked like progress to me. I wasn’t getting hypo (hypoglycaemic: when your blood sugar levels drop too low), and apart from my blood sugar levels running a bit high, all my other long-term health markers were great. I attributed this to a combination of exercise and esoteric therapies.
Since then, I’m eating more, I’m fatter and more muscular, and I have to inject more insulin, but my diabetic ‘control’ (I actually like to think of it in a different way – you don’t control diabetes, you live with it) is much better.
Why? Because of fat acceptance. Because of body positivism.
As a direct result of no longer believing I need to be thinner, I am now no longer afraid to eat more food, so I am no longer afraid to inject more insulin.
I no longer regard the amount of insulin I need to inject as a measure of my success, because I finally made the (total face-palm) realisation: “oh, that’s right… the way to treat diabetes is by injecting insulin. Yeah... that’s what you do”. I no longer have to err on the side of my blood sugar levels running high, because I’m not afraid of needing to eat, for hormonal reasons, when my blood sugar drops too low.
I’m not afraid to eat. Because I’m not afraid of being fat. And my health is better for it.
Did I say face-palm?
For the longest time, I had judged my success on whether my dependency on insulin seemed to be reducing. I was unaware that I might simply not be eating enough, and I might simply not be injecting enough. I somehow did not realise that this was only the illusion of progress. It was not real progress.
If you want to be healthy, you cannot afford to be afraid of eating food. Of sometimes – often even – eating significantly more food than we have been taught we require.
I want to say it again: I’m not afraid to inject insulin, because I’m not afraid to eat food. I’m not afraid to explain to people, why I have to eat this ‘forbidden’ food at this time. I no longer feel the need to justify my food choices to my peers, my clients, my friends and associates. I no longer judge myself for buying a couple of cartons of chocolate milk in my week, and I go out of my way to buy the full-fat variety. It absorbs more slowly, but it still does the job.
I make an effort to ensure that I always have enough of a variety of foods in my house to cover my meals, snacks, and hypo-neutralising options. And I also never fear the absence of food, because I am finally starting to trust myself, to trust that I will feed myself when I am hungry. If easy-access food is not around, I will get some. I will not penalise myself for being human.
And it needs to be acknowledged that type two is different. There are different medications, and a different mechanism, that really is not very well understood. But the notion that fat acceptance causes diabetes is ridiculous. Speaking of chocolate milk, a little sugar-metabolism 101 – if you take a sugary substance, and add fat, protein or fibre, you lower the rate at which the sugars are absorbed. This means it’s less likely to cause an insulin-spike, it’s less likely to ‘fatigue your pancreas’, and it’s arguably less likely to lead to diabetes.
If you’re drinking chocolate milk, go for the full-fat kind. Fear no calories. And if you do fear diabetes, exercise. It is the best thing you can do. Beats dieting hands down. It is more pleasant, and many, many times more effective, even if you don’t lose any weight.
Just make sure you’re doing something you like, something you find rewarding.
(Read Part One)