I do not conceal the fact that I love dessert. I believe that it is something that I deserve, a reward for working out that morning, keeping my blood sugar in check, monitoring my carbohydrate intake, going to work, and taking care of household duties.
After a long day, my husband and I put the baby to bed, curl up on the couch, and flip on one of our television shows. Then, predictably, I ask, “Do you want anything?” He responds, “Like what?” I shrug. He smiles. Both of us know what’s coming next.
I get off the couch, head to the kitchen, and begin to pull out the staples: ice cream, two brownies or cookies, and occasionally some nuts, chocolate sauce, or a banana. I set two small glass bowls on the counter and proceed to create parfaits.
I place the warmed chocolate baked good at the bottom of each bowl and then layer on scoops of ice cream. I drizzle on the sauce or sprinkle banana slices or nuts on top and then carry the bowls into the living room, where my husband eagerly waits to see what small variation of our favorite dessert will land in his hands.
I make these evening parfaits as healthy as a dessert can possibly be: all natural ice cream, homemade cookies or brownies, and added protein or fruit. But the fact of the matter is, dessert is still dessert, and this nightly ritual has long been a barrier to good blood sugar control.
I did try a few solutions. First, I shrank our portion size, moving from small bowls to extra small bowls. Second, I tried splitting a parfait with my husband, but the layers were piled so high that they would fall out of the bowl and onto the couch. Third, I tried eating dessert only every other night, but then I ended up craving more sweets throughout the following day. I even seriously contemplated giving up parfaits for Lent. Rather than seeking spiritual insight, however, I was kidding myself that a religious ritual would somehow cure my ice cream addiction.
Finally, bravely and with mounting reservation and resistance, I decided to stop buying ice cream until our vacation, which was a few weeks away. I reminded myself that according to weight loss experts, if it’s not in our home, we won’t be tempted to eat it. Sure.
I know a few things to be true when it comes to craving sweets. First, eating excessive sugar leads to more intense sugar cravings. Second, on the flipside, ignoring a sugar craving leads to even more sugar consumption. Later, when the temptation is so overpowering and has festered for hours or days, one ends up consuming far more than just a single candy bar or a few cookies. Third, over-consumption of sugar isn’t healthy for anyone, and it’s obviously a nightmare for those of us with diabetes.
People with diabetes are always lectured by professionals on the importance of “balance” and “control.” These are the holy grails of a healthy life with diabetes, and they are seemingly impossible for many of us. We are surrounded by people making bad (but oh so tasty!) choices and advertisements promoting unhealthy foods. To top it off, we are fighting the strongest warrior of them all, ourselves.
After nearly four years with this disease, I am recognizing the importance of small everyday changes. Many of my attempts to change fail, but a few of them lead to success. And those changes make a difference. My last A1c dropped by 0.2%. That is a victory to me, and I’m encouraged to keep trying.
I have accepted that I will never master diabetes, for it never ceases to throw me a new curveball just when I think I’ve got it all figured out. Likewise, I may never break my addiction to a nightly bowl of gooey dessert. However, I can make one small change at a time, which will, hopefully, lead to a longer and healthier life.