Often, when people first ask me about type 1 diabetes, they can’t believe the amount of work we all do. They say things like, “You do finger pricks how many times a day?” Or, “You mean she can’t eat anything without getting insulin?” They’re surprised at the fluctuations in blood sugar numbers that we see every day. They’re amazed that we wake up during the night to check on her as if she were still an infant waking up for regular feedings. A very common question is “Wow, what must it be like to count and dose for every piece of food before it goes in her mouth?”
I’ve often wondered the same thing—what must it be like for Kaitlyn to be accountable for every little bite? As her mother and caretaker, I understand to some extent the rigorous chore of constant counting and dosing, but I’m not sure if I will ever be able to completely empathize with Kaitlyn herself. It must be so hard for her to just want to put that bite in her mouth without a second thought.
The closest I’ve come to understanding what this is like has been when I’ve been on a strict calorie-counting diet. I’ve counted every calorie pretty faithfully for the last four months on the fitness app I’m using. It’s really helped me to lose weight and focus on eating healthily and exercising regularly. It’s amazing how much more aware of food I have become. I used to have a habit of eating anything I wanted without even paying attention. I would snack and graze all day long without realizing what or how much I was putting into my body. At first, it was really hard to keep track of every little thing, but I have really loved the transformation in my thinking about “mindful eating.”
I also believe that just like with a diet, if we are too restrictive with what we allow our kids with type 1 diabetes to eat, eventually they’ll snap! I’ve read from many sources that careful moderation is the key—not total perfection.
Even though I would never wish diabetes on anyone, I really believe that it is teaching Kaitlyn so many great lessons, and for this I am grateful. Kaitlyn will always be aware of food. It is something that is ingrained in her forever. And if she’s more likely to remember that what she puts in her body matters, she’s more likely to make good choices.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.