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What are Carbs?

This isn’t some boring scientific definition of carbohydrates. It’s a cheeky one.


Carbohydrates are a form of energy. This is the most simple definition that comes to mind when answering, “What are Carbs?” A question asked to me by a close family member, someone who I thought not only would know but might understand their effects on me growing up with Type 1 Diabetes. Of my seventeen years counting carbohydrates, watching carbs swing my moods and require more insulin, I have gone through my fair share of burnouts. Diabetes burnout is a real thing but that’s not what I’m addressing in this post. Right now, I’m talking about zooming in on one of the veins that leads to the greatness that is a large, pounding Diabetes Burnout. This vein is the exhaustion of the word, the smell, the numbers, the taste and the effects of c a r b o h y d r a t e s.

They get a bad rap. The pitbull of the food game, and like pitbulls, are actually really sweet but put in a bad light by society. People have developed some twisted and very faulty connection between carbohydrates and being unhealthy. Trendy diets limiting carb intake or full on casting them away and people crediting not eating carbohydrates to dramatic weight losses? Well yeah, no wonder you lost weight, Susan, you’re starving. Instead of replacing their white bread with whole grains, or enjoying a jelly doughnut for breakfast every now and again they are restricting themselves and banishing all carbohydrates to the same corner.

Here’s another answer to that baffling question; carbs are not bad for you. I’ll be straight up, I’m defensive around the topic of carbohydrates as a Type 1 Diabetic. (Surprised or have you smelled my attitude through this entire post?) For the majority of my life I’ve had to pay special attention to carbohydrates as they do cause a fluctuation in my Blood Glucose levels so by taking them out of the equation, steady graphs may result but ya know what won’t stay steady? My happiness. I enjoy carbohydrates. Does that mean I eat McDouble- Doubles for dinner? No. Does it mean I can eat a handful of maui onion flavored potato chips for a snack? Heck to the fudging yes. That’s the best flavor.

When clearing up the misconception that Type 1 Diabetics can’t enjoy carbohydrates - by the way, nobody ever questions me for chowing down on some roasted sweet potato with quinoa, but they do say with a sneer, “Can you even it that?” when I’m reaching for a cookie with less carbohydrates. Anyways, I tell everyone asking questions about my diet as a Type 1 Diabetic that I can eat whatever I want, I just have to think about it a bit longer. For every food decision, I spend an extra 30 seconds between “Do I want this?” and “I’ll take two” asking myself questions like

  • What’s my blood sugar like right now?

  • Is this food going to make my BG harder to bring down to target?

  • Am I actually hungry or just bored, is it really worth bringing out a syringe for?

  • How much will I have to bolus for this?

  • Am I going to be exercising anytime after this?

Might even be more than 30 seconds, really. Whether the answers are in favor of the sustenance or not, the mind of a diabetic is surrounded with so much anxiety around food that it begins to feel like a weapon used against us. Our conversations with strangers explaining stigmas around Type 1 Diabetes usually lead to food, suggestions for favorite low carb recipes, condolence gifts consisting of sugar-free gummy bears. Carbohydrates are this recurring theme when struggling with what this disease means. I’m exhausted. I wish it was just all food. A four letter word without macronutrients being misjudged.



This is not sponsored by Hawaiian Chips- though that would be pretty neat.

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