If you’ve found yourself noshing more and exercising less while sheltering in place, you aren’t alone.
Social media is packed with recipes for decadent desserts, magnificent casseroles and fail-safe sourdough recipes. Newspaper articles proclaim that people are cooking like never before.
But while it’s understandable that letting go of your diet may help you navigate these uncertain times, adding extra pounds during a period of high anxiety is precisely what people with type 2 diabetes don’t need.
Weight gain, after all, can lead to high or fluctuating blood sugars, which in turn can promote serious complications from the disease. As can stress.
It isn’t fair. But neither is type 2.
None of this is theoretical. Over the past month, I’ve added four stubborn pounds. And though I’ve kept up with my weight lifting and stationary biking, for the first time in years my sugars have been unpredictable – rising as high as a fasting 180 and as low as 55 mid-day.
I’d like to say that this is a mystery. But I know better. On infrequent trips to the supermarket, I’ve reached for items that might provide some needed variety – peanuts, trail mix, yogurt bars. All of which sound healthy, but, eaten in quantity, are anything but.
Plus, with a full refrigerator, stocked pantry, and lots of extra time to spare, I’ve been keeping my husband happy in this wildly uncertain time with comfort food: thick bean chilis and peanut butter cookies, rice based fish stews, and beef cooked with wine. While I’ve continued life as a pescatarian, I’ve been guilty of an extra bite here and a nibble there, and sometimes – especially if I’ve been watching the news – even a few bites more.
The problem is simple: while eating soothes my rattled nerves, the scale and my blood sugar monitor continue to keep score.
I’m not alone. A close friend with type 2 diabetes has also experienced unusual highs and lows. At home from her office job without her usual structured day, she finds herself dipping into corn chips and jellybeans, two previously forbidden foods.
“When this is over, I’ll worry about my diabetes,” she says.
I listen to her seductive words. And I get it – stuck in the house during a pandemic, why should you deny yourself a freshly made cookie or second vodka tonic? It isn’t like you have anywhere to go. Even Zoom cocktail parties can be attended in pajamas.
And yet, regretfully, for myself, I’m going to have to say no.
I don’t want to be a scold. But like the scale and the blood sugar monitor, diabetes ticks on, not caring that a pandemic has turned our normal routines upside down. No matter what, its end-goal is clear: to wreck your small blood vessels, causing issues for your heart, your kidney, your eyes. And beyond.
So, while I know it’s going to be difficult, I’m going back on the wagon. Counting calories, getting in an extra walk, taking more blood sugar readings than usual. Returning to my yoga practice. Nibbling on celery and carrot sticks while I cook.
Because while we can always conceal an extra few pounds behind a bulky sweatshirt, complications can’t be so easily ignored.