August 15, 2017

How I Lived My Life Without Desserts


Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. JulianoMarla DarwinMonica Eleazar-ManzanoRossana Unson, and Ronna Capili-Bonifacio tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.

I was 17 years old and about to graduate from high school when a very grumpy and rude nurse told me that I would never be able to eat anything that contained sugar again. She gruffly gave me a long list of things I wasn’t supposed to do like have manicures and pedicures, walk barefoot, wear tight shoes, do any dangerous sports and proceeded to narrate all the horrible things that would happen to me if I disobeyed. Her name was Susan and she more or less told me I had diabetes. Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. IDDM. The letters that I considered tattooing on my body a few times.

Now I’m sure you know, food is life. And sweets and dessert make up a good deal of what is pleasant about life and yet, here I was at the cusp of life, being told that I could never ever have sweets again. It was almost like I was watching the drama of someone else’s life unfold before my very eyes. Diabetes was my curse and I was going to live a horrible life with it. Or so nurse Susan told me.

But such was and is not the case for me. While indeed it is very difficult to nudge dessert out of one’s life, I was able to do it. It wasn’t easy. I cried tons. I cried buckets, especially since almost everything in the Philippines has some form of sugar in it, even soy sauce! It came to the point where I thought that I wouldn’t be able to eat anything at all.

But it began with A&W sugar-free root beer that a friend gave me as my graduation present. And then Sarsi followed with Diet Sarsi. It was not very easy at that time to find sugar-free food mainly because there were numerous warnings about the sweeteners used and how they were carcinogenic to mice (does anyone want to eat something with the word “cancer” on the packaging, no matter how small?) but every time I’d find something sugar-free, I’d cut out the packaging and stick it in my special Happy notebook. It was my notebook that reminded me that there was hope. There was progress and that there were tons of sugar-free things for me to eat out there!

Of course, food isn’t the only thing that makes my diabetes less hard for me to manage. Making healthy eating choices, regularly taking my insulin shots, visiting the doctor monthly, taking my glucose religiously are just some of the things I have to do so I can live as close to “normal” a life as possible. I am not always normal. There are some really bad days which I try as much as possible to avoid.

Going back to food, over the years I have found chocolate fudge cupcakes, mango walnut tortes, ice cream (oh happy day!), chocolate cake slices (without icing), guiltless chocolate cakes, donuts (which sadly, are no longer being made but I surely enjoyed them while they were around), chocolate-covered polvoron, chocolates (yes, there is a lot of chocolate!), hot cocoa…my list could go on and on. Have I mentioned how fruit is also good for one’s digestion, diabetic or otherwise?

Progress has found safer sweeteners, made from plants (Stevia) instead of chemicals, pen injections, shorter and thinner syringe needles and a whole lot of other innovations they didn’t have when I was 17.

I have traveled, played sports when I wanted to (but I’m really lousy at sports so…), rock-climbed, walked barefoot, had hundreds of manis and pedis (have always told the manicurista that I am not allowed to get wounds), gone to the beach and had not one but TWO babies. And yes, I have eaten dessert. And pasta and all the things I was told I couldn’t eat with moderation and care.

Which makes me think of nurse Susan. Dear nurse Susan, eff you.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Lara Intong

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Filed Under:

culture, dessert, diabetes, diet, food, health, momhood, Motherhood, nutrition, Sugar-Free

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