Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sugar Shack: A Diabetic's Rant on Grocery Shopping

As I round the corner on six months being diabetic, I have had to make some profound changes in my eating habits. It has mostly been for the good; I have lost a few pounds and my blood glucose levels are better, often within normal range. I have continued to exercise, and between meal snacks are fewer now. Breakfast is a new concept for me, and I am tolerating eating eggs (well, egg beaters actually) as long as they are disguised with lots of hot sauce, onions and green peppers and such. Even turkey bacon is tolerable.

It is shopping that is the main pain. Grocery shopping, once fun and exciting, is now reduced to totally skipping the bakery section (carbohydrates=evil) and reading labels.

It takes forever, since most processed food is off limits. Sugar and carbs are everywhere. We are definitely a society hooked on sugar. When a simple bottle of sauce says it has 15 g of sugar you have to remember that is for like 1-2 tablespoons of sauce. Most of us rarely use just 1-2 tablespoons of anything.

I had no food in the house last night, and was tired of eating out (another bother that I just won't touch in this rant)so I went shopping. The shoppers at Sun Fresh know to stay away from me, as I will meander slowly down each isle blocking the paths. I am reading each label, looking carefully at the carbs and sugars and the serving sizes. Are there sugar free or fat free alternatives smaller sizes, low sodium versions?? Usually there are, but taste-free is a better description.

I could not decide what I wanted. (A note here, I am a "European style" shopper, I make multiple trips to the market buying enough for 1-2 meals at a time. Whenever I load up, I soon realize I didn't want the stuff in the first place or it is frozen and thus a hassle to make, so I go out.) Pork chops looked good, but plain? Nah! Sweet and Sour pork chops. Bottled sweet and sour sauce?? Hyperglycemia here I come! Might as well eat a bag of C&H. OH look! Sugar free pudding snacks. $1 for a 3 pack. Snack time taken care of! Low carbs and not a lot of fat either.

Good. Up and down the isles, looking... reading... 1 hour later, still no dinner. I was ready to chuck the cart and head to Taco Bell. Ok you can do this. Pork chops, look good, on sale, you have a Jenn-Air grill stove so you can grill them, less fat that way, boneless, no waste. You have some fresh squash from the farmer's market (I adore yellow squash) that can be grilled too, no fat there. Salad is good, the nutritionist said more vegetables than protein or starch, so there is lots of vegetables, the fat free ranch dressing is tolerable, with lots of pepper. Dessert can be one of the pudding cups, GET AWAY from the rice... (Rice-aholic here)not today, you had a bit of rice for lunch, so none tonight (glad I am not Chinese). Finally I headed home. I hated what I had bought. Buyer's remorse.

It wasn't bad. The pork chop and squash was great, the salad with the tasteless dressing was 1/2 eaten (longing for blu cheese) the pudding cup surprising. It filled the need.

It is so much easier, especially for a single person, to go eat out (no dishes to do) or carry out. But that is what got me into this mess, along with genetics, so I have to curtail my desires. I guess I have to live longer so people have me to punch around.

Being unhealthy is so much easier. No wonder we all are.


Anonymous said...

I can SO relate to what you are saying!! The grocery store is a veritable wonderland of sugar, salt and fat. They are in all the prepared food because they make things taste good. Unfortuantely, the very things that enhance the taste of food are also exactly the things diabetics need to avoid. It makes it very difficult to shop for the diabetic. I really came to hate shopping and cooking. It's so frustrating to spend all this time cooking, (since prepared food is a big no-no) and then have the food taste so disappointing.

My best suggestion is to experiment with new spices. Are you familiar with They travel the world buying great spices. They have some wonderful sodium-free spice blends that will really perk up your meals. The spices really help as you face your umpteenth broiled chicken breast! The other thing I really like to use is lemon juice. I get very creative with it and use it on everything.

A bit off the topic, do you drink diet pop? I used to but I discovered that diet pop actually increased my appetite! Don't know exactly how that works, but I don't have the same urge to snack since quitting the diet pop.

Anonymous said...

Penzeys no longer has its catalog online, callalily (or at least its webmaster is unaware that the online catalog is down). Darn!

Other annoyances you might remember are to avoid jury duty at all costs now, and to take your prescription receipts with you when you travel, especially on planes. I can only imagine TSA thinking you're a Columbian smuggler; or more likely, you might need to run into a Wal-greens and get some insulin supplies when on the road.

At (a fat 100-lbs. overweight) age 45, I've never drank or smoked, yet most foods have a bland taste to me. All but a couple of my favorite restaurants are now exercises in expensive frustration — I say "bleh," while Renee thought it was great. And yes, the cost of fast food just pisses me off — $6 for a burger and fries. Are you f-ing kidding me? (Now I understand why Dad griped about burgers when they cost over a $1 way back.) Like you, eating out is tiring to the palette, and after a while, I just can't taste it anymore, making that $6 for soggy fries maddening.

I lived and ate day-to-day during four years of college, and even though I was skinny then, I understand why poor people are so fat: because you eat whenever you can, whatever you can, in case your next meal is 16-18 hours away. And all I can afford is carbs and sugar. Of course, carbs turn into sugar and like most of America, I waddle around, tilting toward 290-300 lbs. Anyone else noticed that merely being old or fat is now officially a de facto handicap in Amerika? Next time you're in Wal-Mart, notice the freak show that ran Barnum out of business.

HERE'S THE BRIGHT SIDE of diabetes. At 50, you're fast becoming the healthiest person you know in your circle of friends. Think about that. By being aware of your body, of nutrition, and all the interactions that sugar causes, you'll live a lot healthier over the next 30-75 years than the rest of us. (Oh, and hang in there, because nanotechnology is coming that will "fix" the effects of diabetes.)

Still, day in and day out, it's the little things that make us all nuts.