Need help navigating life with diabetes?  Ask D'Mine! That would be our weekly advice column, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and community educator Wil Dubois. This week, Wil is offering some thought on a recent episode of The View where type 2 Paula Deen  co-hosted as a "diabetes spokesperson." Then, Wil delves into another aspect of food and diabetes by telling us what we should know about certain TV dinners.

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

 

Jeannie, type 2 from Pennsylvania, writes: I caught the episode of "The View" recently where Paula Deen was the featured guest. After she told her story of getting diagnosed with diabetes, changing her eating habits and losing 30 pounds, I was shocked to hear her promoting the idea of "one day a week of indulgence." She says on Sundays, she and her family eat all their favorite rich foods and desserts.  Doesn't this stand against everything we PWDs need to do to make positive and permanent changes? I was outraged about this, but maybe I'm overreacting here...?

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Ahhh.... so many issues... so little space. Well, I think we all need to cut Ms. Deen some slack. She's like one of those Old Testament prophets who gets dragged kicking and screaming into the good Lord's service. In a sad, Greek tragedy sort of way, she's playing out on the big stage the private battle that most people go through when they're diagnosed.

I mean, would everyone who ever wanted diabetes please raise your hands? Nobody? I'm not too surprised. I think a lot of us, particularly those of us lucky enough to have fallen into education or advocacy roles, are sort of perversely glad, in retrospect, that we got diabetes; but no child ever said, "Yeah, I want to be diabetic when I grow up!"

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A diabetes diagnosis is, as most of you know, really hard. And, frankly, the older you are, the harder it is, as you have decades of habits to overcome. The problem here, of course, is that Ms. Deen has chosen to take on the role of Diabetes spokesperson. That's sort of like being a presidential candidate. All of a sudden you need to watch what the eff you say. (Unlike me, as the official Lightning Rod for the 'Mine, who can say almost any outrageous thing that comes to mind.)

Now, a disclaimer: I've never watched The View. But as to what you said she told viewers... Well, first, I don't think Ms. Deen should run for president. Secondly, I view diabetes as more of a lifestyle than a religion. I've been known to cheat now and then, myself... maybe more "now" than "then," come to think of it. And I've even been known to advocate for diabetes vacations. But honestly, I think that weekly is a bit much for whole-hog indulgence.

Speaking for myself, my crew and I do eat dessert once per week, generally on Saturday, so I have Sunday to recover and be grumpy if my BG ends up high. I eat a small portion, enjoy it, and most of the time it works out OK. But of course, on dessert nights we also eat very sensibly and very, very low-carb for the main meal. And every once and a while, we do go crazy and eat stuff that's plain "bad" for all of us, but this is generally once per month at the most. For special occasions. Or when they have the Never Ending Pasta Bowl at Olive Garden.

You asked me if I thought you were overreacting. Maybe. But more importantly, I keyed in on your statement that PWDs need to "make positive and permanent changes." Do we? We live our lives embedded in a culture that frankly, eats badly. And our lives are entangled in a web of personal relationships with people who don't need, want, or value eating what is "good" for us. So life requires some compromises.

We probably should eat healthy, PWDs and non-PWDs alike. It's good for the blood sugar and good for the rest of the bod. But I use a simpler yard stick to measure success. Some people can strive for positive and permanent changes. Some can't. Some can use food as medicine, others need to use medicine for food. Frankly, I don't care, just so long as diabetes doesn't win. Positive and permanent change isn't for everyone.

So I think we need to be careful not to press our personal views on what we "need" to do onto other people. There are many recipes for success in the diabetes kitchen.

But on the other hand, if you're going to accept large checks from Pharma companies, and allow yourself to be portrayed as a spokesperson and role model, then I think you should pay more attention to what comes out of your mouth, than what goes into it.

 

Levi, type 1 from Las Vegas, writes: I need a good meal plan guide. For the past months I've been doing Beef Bullion 16-20oz three times during the day and at night I eat a name brand TV dinner, along with .5 cup of Idahoan microwaveable instant mashed potatoes. Hours later, I eat 4-6 slices of pastrami with cheese slices on a 100% whole wheat bread sandwich.

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: That loud crash you heard was 96.8% of the registered dietitians on the country fainting dead-away on reading your question. The other 3.2% set their alarms wrong and have overslept. And I'm guessing you're a bachelor, as I can't see any woman in her right mind letting you eat both a TV dinner and instant mashed potatoes in one meal. Don't most name brand TV dinners already have instant mashed potatoes? If your dinner gets any more processed it will qualify for fully embalmed!

As you're drinking bullion all day long and then eating two meals at night, we have two problems, really. The first is when you eat, and the second is what you eat. All things being equal, I think the when is the bigger problem.

Yes, my friend, you do need a good meal plan. Now, there are variations on the theme, but a perfect meal plan for a type 1 would look something like this: three times per day you'd eat a smallish plate of food that was made up of 50% leafy greens, 25% protein, and 25% yummy carbs. On the side would be a glass of juice or milk, and a piece of fruit. For a dude, the carb count would be somewhere in the sub-60 range.

That's a perfect plan.

I never said it was realistic.

Because most of us can't stomach half a plate of green stuff for breakfast. And because you're a guy who eats instant mashed potatoes as a side dish with TV dinners, and has a pastrami sandwich for a midnight snack.

It's OK. Rome wasn't conquered in a day.

So my personalized meal plan for you is this: Don't eat all your frickin' calories at night!

Baby steps, Levi. Why don't you start with spreading out your solid food a bit more? Let's get some breakfast in the picture. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think you'd be better off if you moved your mashed potatoes to breakfast, had the sandwich and noon, the brand-name TV dinner for dinner, and the bullion for bed-time snack.

(The Society of Registered Dietitians is burning me in effigy at this very moment.)

Moving forward from there, the next step would be to consider replacing that name brand TV dinner with a slightly healthier one. Take a look at frozen dinners from Healthy Choice, Lean Cuisine, or WeightWatchers Smart Choice. Personally, I find the Kashi ones treat my blood sugar and my taste buds well.

Your diet needs some work, and you were the first to admit it by writing me. But let's take it one step at a time. Noting is harder than changing your diet. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It is easier to change your gender than your diet.

{Gag reflex moment of the week: I pride myself on having an iron stomach, but when I was working on this post I was at the Idahoan potato folk's website where I found, no shit, their stomach-flipping recipe for Mashed Potato Pizza.}

 

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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This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.