Happy Easter weekend, Diabetes Peeps! Of course we're still here with our weekly advice column, Ask D'Mine!. Your host (veteran type 1, diabetes author and educator) Wil Dubois is replying to some fans of Easter baskets and bunnies... So go on and hoppity hop hop on through to get yourself a treat of wisdom, D'Mine-style.Ask-DMine_button

{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

 

Virginia, type 1 from New York, writes: Dear Wil, I'm Virginia and am 8 years old. Some of my little friends were arguing about candy and diabetes. Papa says, "If you see it in the'Mine, it's so." So, please tell me the truth: How come the Easter Bunny doesn't have diabetes?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Yes, Virginia, you'd think the King Pusher of Corn Syrup from Easter Island would have long since developed type 2 diabetes, but the truth is he does not have diabetes. I guess this is a good reminder lesson in the oft-forgotten biological fact that people (or rabbits) don't give themselves diabetes simply by what they eat. After all, if they did, nearly everyone in the country would have it except the Beachbody coaches. If you don't believe me, see our latest national obesity statistics.

Easter Bunny and Egg CandyNo, type 2 diabetes requires a complex recipe, of which food is only one part, and very likely not the largest part at all. To get type 2, you first need to have the right genes for it. More on that in a minute. Then you take those genes and add a lot of food—as opposed to any type of food. You could, in theory, live on nothing but jelly beans like the Easter Bunny does, not that I'm advocating that. But jelly beans themselves don't make you fat. Too many jelly beans make you fat. Oh dear. That came out sounding like one of those gun-nut bumper stickers about how guns don't kill people... But it is true.

Innovation 2015

Sorry. Where was I? Oh yes. Bunnies, and the type 2 recipe. Genes, plus excessive weight (from any combination of too much food and too little activity), then add the magic ingredient of age, and: Poof! You get type 2. Actually, there's nothing Poof! about it. It's a process so slow that it borders on tedious. Type 2 generally takes years and years to develop. More tortoise than hare.

And speaking of tortoises, do they get diabetes? Yes, Virginia, they do. They have those magic genes, at least some of them do. As do our primate cousins, cats, dogs, cows, sheep, horses, ferrets, pigs, bison, mice, and even birds. Oh, even elephants can get diabetes. How could I have forgotten that?

Yes, it's a veritable frickin' Noah's Ark of diabetes.

Oh, and in the water below the keel as well. Dolphins can get diabetes, too. Although they apparently have the ability to "shut" their diabetes on and off. Scientists think it might be an evolutionary adaptation that helps dolphins in times of famine. The thought is that temporary diabetes keeps blood glucose high to fuel their powerful brains even when there is little to eat. Who knew there was famine under the sea? That could also prove to be the compass that points to the answer of the age-old question: Why diabetes? Maybe once upon a time our earliest ancestors were similar to dolphins, but somehow we lost the "switch" that allows us to turn the frickin' diabetes off again when we don't need it.

But back to bunnies. Oddly, like camels, rabbits just don't seem to get diabetes. Even fat rabbits. Well, not unless you poison them with a compound called alloxan monohydrate. And who would do something awful like that? More than 100 different medical researchers over the last few years, that's who. Rabbits have been looked to as an alternative research animal to the more traditional diabetes mouse, because many researchers feel mice are too short-lived to study longer-term effects and affects of diabetes and diabetes treatments. Hence the quest for the D-bunny.

And speaking of bunnies and the letter "D," I'm sure most of you are waiting for me to slip in some kind of punch line about Playboy Bunnies. Hey, give me some credit here, I'm writing to an eight-year-old girl.

So easy does it on the jelly beans tomorrow, Virginia, and for God's sake don't leave out a platter of alloxan monohydrate for the Easter Bunny. We really want to keep him hopping for many years to come. Besides, what's a little corn syrup once a year between friends?

Oh, and speaking of diabetes and candy and corn syrup...

 

Adelaide, type 3 grandma from Ohio, writes: I'm putting together an Easter basket for my little granddaughter. She's now 8 years old and has had type 1 diabetes for about six months. I want to get her some sort of sweet treat, but don't know if I should get sugar-free candy or just a small amoSugar Free Suckerunt of regular candy. Can you help me out?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Hell no! You need to ask her mother, not me. I'm not going to get in the middle of that one! That said, let me quickly review the sugar vs. sugar-free quandary for all the adult PWDs in the audience today. When it comes to candy, there are basically three ways to sweeten it: sugar, corn syrup, and sugar-free artificial sweeteners. Sugar we all understand. Corn syrup is a super-sweet liquid from processed corn that is cheaper than sugar, and because of this, it's almost impossible to avoid in the American diet. Many candies even have both sugar and corn syrup in them, and the damn stuff even appears in hamburger buns! Corn syrup treats blood sugar the same as garden variety sugar does, but it may be otherwise uniquely harmful to the human body. So despite the "sugar is sugar" TV ads of the corn industry, I always go for real sugar given the choice between the two.

But what about the sugar-free stuff? Sugar-free sounds like a great solution for those of us whose bodies don't handle sugar well. And while there are a number of different products for diet sodas, and teas, or to sprinkle in coffee; when it comes to candy, sugar-free goodies are always sweetened with sugar alcohols. WTF is a sugar alcohol? Would you believe it's a close cousin to the stuff they make antifreeze out of? No shit. It's true. That said, the ones used in food are less toxic, but hardly harmless.

And while they don't promote tooth decay, just because they are sugar-free doesn't mean they are free of calories... or carbs. Most insulin users find they have to bolus for 50% of the carb count of the sugar alcohol. Also, you can absolutely get fat eating too much sugar-free candy. Or, maybe not. Because I forgot to mention something. And that's the curious little fact that because sugar alcohols are only partially digestible, excess consumption of them results in the bloating of the gut, and in the charmingly named "laxative effect."

Trust me on this, the laxative effect will totally ruin the Easter egg hunt.

 

This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

 

 
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