How the dispute ended with us and sugar was not so much a compromise as it was a surrender on our part. But since surrender conjures in the mind images of winners and losers, making it a hard word for at least one of the two to swallow, especially if you’re an ex-soldier, I’ll settle with compromise. We agreed to let sugar back into the house provided there was less than a handful of grams per serving, and by handful, my oldest daughter would argue, means in the neighborhood of nothing that tastes like kid food — but in reality means usually not more than ten. No more sugar monopolies. Also High Fructose Corn Syrup was banned. Period. No discussion. In return for these conditions, we ate less, ate better, and were happier, healthier people because of it.
This compromise was “signed” two years ago, so when Lia’s diabetes was diagnosed you can imagine first, our shock. How could she have a disorder so connected to sugar? We’d already, healthfully — and inadequately so — addressed its role in our lives. Second, after the immediate worry of her recovery had passed, came examination. What did this mean to how we ate? What did it mean to the learnings from two years ago, all that time spent in the grocery destroying our eyes reading tiny ingredient labels, hours spent lecturing the kids the nutritional value of food, what of all our efforts and struggles and costs of eating healthily and responsibly.
To come to our house and eat is not to be met with extravagant dishes. They are good dishes to be sure, delicious in fact, but there’s nothing fancy or even of much variety from week to week. We found what worked for us and our family and lifestyle and stuck with it. Our menu, which we write on a white board each Sunday for the following week, reads pretty much the same:
Monday is meatless. We have laying hens, so you can guess what it entails.
Tuesday is pasta. Always has, always will. (We somehow have to make this work. This family is mostly Italian, we do well to limit it to once a week).
Wednesday, fish, venison or pork, and veggies such as kale, roasted carrots, and rice or potatoes.
Thursday tends to be somewhat of a repeat of Wednesday, though we try to work in beans, lentils, or some other legume. Kale with white beans is a favorite. During garden season, the fresh vegetable choices are phenomenal. Sautéed cucumbers, grilled tomatoes, baked zucchini, roasted bell peppers, Jalapeno poppers, boiled beets, green bean salads… I could go on and on, but it is still blustery winter outside and for my sanity I won’t.
Friday is wings, or fajitas, maybe tacos. Usually wings though.
Saturday is pizza. Homemade. Best ever. Hands down. Add a glass of homemade Chianti and there’s never any reason to go out for a pie.
Sunday is “linner”, lunch and dinner combined, and may consist of a roast or something grilled, more veggies, baked bread. When there’s time, my wife, who is the cook in our house, no question, tries recipes that are a bit more adventurous and they always turn out superb (Boeuf Bourguignon most recently. It was, in the memory of Julia Child, good enough to make you cry. Bon appetit!). But in most case we are a simple-is-better food family. So with our treaty with sugar in place and our dinner menu simple, homemade and fresh, what had to change with diabetes?
Not a whole lot, to be honest. In fact, eating for us has been the easiest adaptation we’ve had to make since her diagnosis in December. The hard part is dosing correctly, which is another story all together, one that keeps us up late at night and wakes us early in the morning and generally occupies our thoughts throughout most of the other parts of a day.
But as for the food itself, we think we’ve been doing pretty well with it. So well, in fact, I had intended, in honor of the many lists I’ve found on the web touting the top diabetic snacks, to offer up Lia’s Top Favorite Foods list (in fairness to her Kale would probably not be on it, or sweet potatoes!). But the more I thought about it, the more I started to think if someone out there hasn’t already come up with their own healthful best foods list, they probably shouldn’t start it online. Better to just head on down with their reading glasses to their local grocery market.