I apologize in advance for this post, which will be self-righteous, rant-y and very nanny-state-ish. If you continue to read beyond that first sentence, you are hereby reading at your own risk.
One thing that happened when I got diabetes is that I prioritized my own health. I did this for a very simple reason: I could no longer afford not to. Unable to take for granted my body’s resilience, I realized I had to treat myself like I would any other human who was my dependent – with respect and care. I could no longer eat to excess, drink to excess, and/or deny myself hydration, sleep, or happiness. In the past, when I did those things, my body could handle it. Now, if I try to do those things, I will, in many cases, literally collapse.
It’s amazing how kind you can start being to yourself when you have no other choice.
As a result, one of my MOST MAJOR pet peeves is when I observe my otherwise healthy friends, family, and peers treating themselves with abuse. I don’t mean the occasional pig out session or night of robust drinking — indulge, compadres, while you can, and god bless you for it!
I mean a systematic denial of the basic things we need to thrive: food, water, rest, and happiness. Friends, just because your body can tolerate these things in the short term, doesn’t mean it wants to!
There are many iterations of this, but today’s post will focus on my current most frustrating pet peeve: the skipping of meals. Friends, enemies, whoever: PLEASE STOP SKIPPING MEALS. PLEASE.
But Jessie, you reply, I’m so busy! But Jessie, you reply, I’m so stressed! I literally had no time to eat yesterday. I Literally was busy the entire day.
Hey Ace, I reply, uh, pardon the frankness, here but, bullshit. That’s just not true, and you’re mis-using the word “literally.” I’m sorry, you guys, I don’t buy it. I just don’t. You have time. You may not have a lot of time, but you have time. You have enough time to buy a low-sugar protein bar and put it in your pocket or your bag. That actually takes no time. You then have enough time to take said protein bar out of your pocket or bag and shove it in your face. That can be done in less than 90 seconds (it’s more pleasant to take more than 90 seconds, but, worst case scenario, it can be done).
You literally don’t have 90 seconds? Really? Because you know what else takes about 90 seconds? Going to the bathroom. And, last time I checked, even my friends who are just oh-so-busy that they can’t find 90 seconds to eat a protein bar… none of them have peed their pants in public. Somehow, these friends do manage to find the time to go to the restroom, even in the midst of their busy schedules. Because that’s the secret: when you have to make the time, you make the time.
While I’m at it, I want to challenge, officially and in this public forum, this culture of “pride” people seem to exhibit around skipping meals. Why is being “literally so busy” that you didn’t have time to eat something to be proud of? I would actually argue that it’s something to be ashamed of – the way people who are trying to quit smoking are ashamed to admit that they’ve had a cigarette. I’m not impressed when my friends sheepishly admit to me that they “haven’t eaten since 8 AM”. I’m angry.
And this is what it boils down to, you guys… not my attempt to scream shrilly at you over something that to you feels insignificant, not my attempt to be an asshole, or to act superior. What it actually comes down to is this: I’m so mad that we live in a world where we treat ourselves with less care than we treat everyone, anyone else. What kind of crazy logic is that?! Because when I visit friends, or hang out with them, they bend over backwards to accommodate me. They ask me constantly if I need to stop and eat, if we’ve been walking too much, if I’m OK. They treat me with love and consideration, and it infuriates me that they somehow feel I’m deserving of a level of attention that they don’t bother giving to themselves.
This is what happens to me when I skip meals:
Doop-a-doop-a-doop, rolling along, blood sugar holding steady, then….drop. In this case, I went for a walk, or, I tried. I said, “Hey body, can we go for a walk now?” and it replied “Nope. You didn’t eat lunch.” and I said, “But what if I just walked anyway?” and it said, “I dare you.” So I walked anyway. And I tanked. No energy for that.
Those red dots, that red number: bad for many reasons. Bad because I could pass out, bad because lows feel bad. But also bad because every time I’m in that “red zone”, I am putting stress on my cardiovascular system. Not good stress. This is a system I want to coddle; this is a system that I want to last as long as it possibly can, and every red dot I see on my Dexcom feels like I’m slamming my heart with a sledgehammer.
Not literally. But emotionally.
So that’s what happens to me when I don’t eat. But surely, you say, that’s just because you’re a diabetic, Jessie. Well, true. Fair point. But it ain’t that great for you guys, either.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF. OR BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN. SERIOUSLY.
A 2007 study conducted by diabetes researchers at the National Institute of Aging took healthy adults and required them to eat three meals a day for two months. Then, for a second two month period, the same adults skipped two meals, and instead ate the same amount of daily calories in a 4 hour period.
Bad things happen.
And I quote, “The meal skippers had elevated fasting glucose levels and a delayed insulin response — conditions that, if they persisted long term, could lead to diabetes.”
Yes, I grant you, this is a very specific study, but it was designed to mimic a pretty common phenomenon I observe in my friends: they skip meals over the morning, or (god forbid), the day), and when they finally get some time to actually eat, they eat a lot. Justifiably so: they’re hungry!
But it’s not good.
And, haha, it’s not cute when you announce that you haven’t eaten since 8 AM then go home and eat four slices of pizza. It’s really, really bad for you and could lead to diabetes. Please, please, please, please, please do not get diabetes. Diabetes sucks monkey balls. If you need me to text you reminders about this, as I did for Stefan this morning, I am happy to.
I want to apologize to any of my friends who may have felt assaulted by my level of passion when they’ve casually mentioned meal-skipping tendencies to me. I tend to explode, and offer up a rant that’s even less measured than this blog post. It probably feels more aggressive than compassionate. But I promise, as crazy as this sounds, it’s just love dressed up as rage. The rage is that you’ve forgotten how important you are, your health is, and the love is to help you remember.
I promise you, it takes very, very little time to put a banana in your bag. If only to get me off your back, please do it.