Years ago, when I was briefly a member of Weight Watchers, a woman described a recent eating binge.
It sounded familiar— it started with a single innocent Oreo cookie, but quickly escalated into a full-bore pantry raid. What I remember is the comment of another woman beside her: If you broke a dish by accident, would you go ahead and break the entire set?
I’ve thought about those words over the years, as I conquered my own issues with binge eating and the constant dietary vigilance required as a person with type 2 diabetes.
Just because you ate X, does that mean you have to clean out the entire cupboard? My response to this is twofold: yes and no.
Yes, because sometimes, when things are emotionally stressful, or you’ve had it with your dietary restrictions, and you simply want to be BAD, throwing out the baby with the bathwater can seem the way to go.
On the other hand, knowing that you have diabetes, and knowing how lousy you’re going to feel the next day, and knowing that food is but a temporary salve to a rotten mood, the answer is clearly no.
It can be confusing.
Because all of us (or at least everyone I know) have had a night or a day when all that would do it for them was Ben & Jerry’s and a soupspoon. Of course we know that it would be better to deal with the problem at work or general anxiety, but the pint of fat and cream is at hand to heal the wound. So what’s a human being with type 2 to do?
There are several ways around it. The first, and probably the hardest, is just saying no. I’ve read about people who reach for a toothbrush, clean their mouths with mint, and say the kitchen is closed for the night. But as someone who knows that you can brush your teeth twice in one night, I’m not sure that would stick.
Another possible route is to plan healthy treats—measure that Ben & Jerry’s into a half-cup scoop and lock the rest away, eat a handful of nuts (as if that were possible), or fill up on raw veggies.
Or, there is the last alternative. What if your sugars are generally ok and your A1C hovers around the recommended 7? What if your dog ate your metaphysical homework, your clothes dryer is on the fritz or your boss is on a tear? What if it’s all three at once?
Well, in that case, I think a little emergency help is in order. Maybe in the form of a few squares of dark chocolate. Or a sorbet. What I’m suggesting is a compromise that meets a craving halfway: something between full-fat ice cream and raw kale.
It’s possible your sugar may rise, but if you get back on the wagon first thing the next morning, it might not be so bad.
I’m not recommending that you break your eating plan. But I am saying that a little planning, and a little forgiveness can help you have a bad day instead of a bad week or month. So if you have to, break that one dish, but save the rest for banquets later on.