What’s the worst food you’ve eaten recently? by Helen May
This question was posed on a diabetes forum recently. It got me thinking. Not, what is the worst food I have eaten but what is meant by “bad food”. Doesn’t this depend on your point of view? If you are overweight, “bad food” may be something with a lot of calories; if you are underweight, “bad food” may be something with few calories; if you have a nut allergy, a peanut is “bad food”; what if you think about what food is worst for the planet – is it the factory farmed hens, the corn which is taking over the Amazon rainforest or the cows which consume it?
As this was a diabetes forum, the questioner was really asking “what do you eat that impacts your blood glucose (BG)?” Again, this is not so easy to answer: if you are hypo, something very sweet is the best thing to eat but if you are already high, it raises your blood glucose (BG) spike further; if you have type 1 and hate injecting, you may consider anything which affects your BG is bad; you may not like foods which require multiple injections like pizza; or you may be on a pump and love using the combo-bolus option.
Guilt or Goodness?
Describing any food as bad implies you should feel guilty if you eat it and it worries me that so much food is associated with guilt. I enjoy eating what I consider to be good food. I don’t define the goodness by the number of carbs or calories or fat in it: I define it by how much I enjoy eating it: I enjoy eating something different, something with strong flavours, something with great contrasting flavours, something with a variety of texture, it may be sweet; it may be savoury. The main thing is I enjoy eating it.
So if what I enjoy the taste and texture of something that is high in calories, carbs or fat, does that make it good AND bad? Should I feel guilty for doing something I enjoy? I also enjoy cycling and dressmaking and movies but I never feel guilty about taking exercise, being creative or letting my imagination flow.
Bad food or good food?
One of the reasons I don’t feel guilty cycling is that I do not do it when I should be working; I do not feel guilty about dressmaking unless it means my partner has to do all of the housework until my outfit is complete; I don’t feel guilty watching a movie unless I am watching it to avoid having a difficult conversation.
Due to the affect food has on the BG of everyone with diabetes, it is difficult to separate food from “controlling your diabetes well or badly” which is where the concept of “bad food” comes in for people with diabetes. But I think, as with other things I enjoy, it is about variety, pragmatism, doing the right thing at the time it matters and not forgetting what you have to do … like injecting insulin (or taking other medication), maintaining a reasonably stable BG, having fun and living your life. Sure, stuffing yourself with cakes, takeaways and saturated fat is not good for you all the time, but if you also eat fresh fruit and veg, exercise regularly and maintain a good BG, do you really need to feel guilty about having a cookie dough ice cream with extra sprinkles on a hot summer’s day after a long cycle ride?