Forbidden Fruit

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A week ago, I went to see a dietitian at the endocrinology clinic I go to. The reason for my visit was to get some help figuring out what else I could do on the days I exercise to keep my blood glucose closer to 150 mg/dl during the workout.

While I’m not going dangerously low at the gym, when I check my blood glucose 20 minutes into a workout, and then again at 40 minutes, I often find that I’m around 100 mg/dl. It’s a pretty safe bet that any blood glucose reading at these times will be going down, not up.

So I’ve been brooding about what to do. For the past several months, I’ve been going through two bottles of Gatorade (35 carbs per bottle) during my more intense workouts. But that’s simply become too much high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for my taste.

When the dietitian recommended some other options, such as fruit juice, bananas, and/or eating more of an actual meal—without bolusing—about an hour before starting my workout, something slowly dawned on me: I’ve been carrying around some rather stupid preconceptions about certain foods over the past 10 months or so. My early days, weeks, and months with Type 1 diabetes created a few neural pathways that only recently—in the past week, actually—have I gone back in to try and clear the mud and weeds from.

Take my relationship to bananas, for example.

One of the things I learned soon after my diagnosis was how carbohydrate-heavy a banana was. In those confusing first few months, my mind spun so many erroneous tidbits of information about bananas, and in fact many other fruits, to such an extreme that I began to see them as dangerous. Avoid bananas because you’ll go high! Don’t eat more than a few strawberries! Ignore the orange juice—use only in case of emergency!

Granted, I was newly diagnosed, and this was a whole new world to take in. But really, how lame indeed that I’ve been holding on to not only my “dangerous fruit” notions, but also quite a few other “umm, duh!” misconceptions. I mean, looking back now it makes little sense that I’d bolus for the 80 grams of carbs in a buttery, cheesy pasta dish; or I’d eat three pieces of pizza, simply enter the carbs in my insulin pump, then think nothing of it; or I’d scoop some potato salad onto my plate at a picnic and think, “That’s about 35 grams”; but a banana, which has a comparable amount of carbohydrate (and is a little healthier than a piece of pizza)—totally forbidden.

I never received misinformation, mind you. My brain (me) was overwhelmed with my new life as a Type 1 and simply chose to misfile some of the info I was taking in, thus creating a few poor dietary instructions. I realize this may not make complete sense, but the unanalyzed logic I carried around seemed completely rational to me at the time.

Over the past week, I’ve altered my preworkout routine, and I’m happy to report that on average I’m down to only one bottle of Gatorade per workout. I’m eating bananas again. I’ve had a few glasses of orange juice. And I’m looking forward to the strawberries from the garden.

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