Seven months ago, at the age of 23, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
This was a diagnosis that had been chasing me for years and breathing down my neck. Diabetes runs deep on both sides of my family and my mom, dad, and older sister all have it. My doctor almost made it seem like as if it was inevitable that I would develop it, which didn’t soften the blow for me at all.
My initial reaction to the diagnosis was defeat. I felt like a failure. Although my doctor assured me that this wasn’t a death sentence, I couldn’t help but obsess about the fact that I could have prevented it. If I had just eaten a little better and maybe moved a little more, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.
If you had asked me a year ago whether I thought that food or sugar addiction was a real thing, I would have laughed in your face. I never thought that binge eating candy was a problem. Can I down two packs of Sweet Tarts in 20 minutes? You betcha! Am I the type of person who spends $5 on 5-cent candies and proceeds to eat them until I have a stomach ache? Unfortunately, yes. However, I was never mindful of what I was doing to my body.
The past seven months have been a series of ups and downs. Only recently have I come to feel any sort of acceptance towards my diagnosis, and it’s all thanks to one man: Jamie Oliver.
Last week I watched the documentary Jamie’s Sugar Rush, wherein Jamie Oliver explores Britain’s addiction to sugar and highlights the dangers of added sugars in food and drinks. Between the five-year-old child receiving dental surgery for rotten teeth, the diabetes patients with amputated limbs, and a 15-year-old girl learning that she has diabetes as a result of her diet, I began to unravel.
It was as if the shocked reaction that I expected when I heard my diagnosis was beginning to bubble up many months later. The tears were flowing and I became overwhelmed with fear. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just witnessed. I thought to myself, “Is this where my life is headed?” I knew that something needed to change and it needed to change fast.
So, now what? I have an epiphany about my life and I have no idea where to begin. I know I don’t have all the answers yet, but I am ready to learn. I am ready to take my life into my own hands. One of the small things that I have started to do is monitor the amount of sugar in the foods I am eating. I also skip the double-double in favour of an unsweetened cold brew and, I know it will sound bonkers, but I am officially quitting candy. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s something I need to do.
The reconciliation of any relationship is tough, especially if it’s with something that you literally need to live. I can’t break up with food so I’m going have to find some civility between us. I know it’s been a rocky road (pun intended), but I’m an optimist.
Photo by Madison Kerr.