As I explore the eating habits of a toddler, I am often reminded of the strange, and downright creative, concoctions my parents used to get me to eat something as a child.
Eating was always a crapshoot for me. I’d have my shot of Regular before a meal. Wait 30 minutes, because that’s just how long it’d take for it to start working. (Ish.) Then I’d refuse all food presented to me unless it was covered in cheese. Or had hot dogs. Or… whatever I fancied. My parents would often sit with me at the table to make sure I ate something while I sat and stared into space. Meanwhile, my Regular is working in the background.
However, there were a few surefire things I would eat as a child and they all have funny memories associated with them. Some of which I still rely on today for snacks or hypoglycemic treatment.
Peanut Butter and Graham Crackers. Or the shorthand often found in my old food diaries, PBCx. This was a family camp and summer camp staple for children with diabetes. Somehow, after a long day of hiking, swimming, or campfire activities, this was the perfect amount of short term carbs mixed with a long term fat/protein. I associate this snack with those camps, and the middle of the night checks that resulted in sipping juice from a straw when it didn’t quite work. I still use this snack today as an adult. (Though, it usually just spikes me and keeps me there after multiple corrections.) If my mom didn’t have graham crackers in the house, she usually just gave me a spoonful of the stuff and told me to eat it. (Yup.) Sounds odd now, but Peanut Butter, or any nut butter really, is my go-to for MOTN lows. It fills me up quickly so that I don’t end up eating the entire contents of my fridge.
Ritz Crackers. I have a love/hate relationship with Ritz Crackers. I grew up diabetic in the 80s, where it was commonplace for doctors to say “avoid refined sugar and sweets,” but nothing about other carb sources, like breads, crackers, and cereals. My best friend in elementary school and I would hang out at her house all the time. Her mom kept a jar of Ritz Crackers in the pantry and would always hand them to me for snacks. Nevermind what my friend was having – she always had the Ritz Crackers for me. This thoughtful gesture backfired at my friend’s birthday party – while everyone was served cake and ice cream, I was given the jar of Ritz crackers again. No other options. My mom would sometimes allow me to take a piece of cake and scrape the frosting off. Clearly the Ritz Crackers were far more superior in terms of diabetic care. Who cares if my body processed them the same?
Equal, or the Blue Packets of Aspartame. This was a dream come true to a child who saw sugary treats in all of her friends’ lunchboxes but couldn’t have any of it. Especially since regular Cheerios often found their way into our house more often than the Honey Nut version. Equal went on everything. My Cheerios, fruit, cinnamon and “sugar” toast, Kool-Aid. I even tried to convince my mom to try and bake with it so I could have “sugar free” cookies. (Because, child logic.) These days, aspartame in certain forms gives me giant headaches. And it just tastes like metal in its purest form. I do still enjoy a diet soda here and there, but the bulk of my artificial sweeteners are from Splenda or Stevia these days. However, given the recent upheaval over artificial anything, I am happy to report that I have not sprouted any extra appendages from growing up on aspartame.
Cake Frosting. Gel writing tubes. My mom carried a bunch of these around in her purse for me. They were perfect for treating the hypoglycemic episodes that left me unresponsive. (I had several of those growing up.) They were the same concept as the old glucose gel of the 80s and 90s that tasted like vomit… but they didn’t taste like vomit! They were also cheaper and came in a variety of colors. Nowadays, we have much better tasting glucose Dextrose gels and tablets. But I also still keep cake frosting in the pantry for this reason.
Sugar-Free Candy. Since we just celebrated Easter, I was reminded of all of the sugar free candy that well-meaning relatives would give to me so I could enjoy that holiday with my cousins. There were sugar-free chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and a litany of other selections. Any PWD will tell you that these items are the bane of our existence and we’d much rather just have the regular stuff and give the appropriate amount of insulin for it. Not only would you be led under the false premise that these items would have no effect on your blood sugar (I always got hit later), but then half way through the bag of jelly beans, you’d end up with the worst stomach cramps known to mankind. (Thanks to all the sugar alcohols and lactose.) My mom used to keep my sugar-free chocolate bunnies in the fridge and allow me small bites every so often. (Which is all I could take because a cold chocolate bunny is impossible to eat.)
Well, damn. Now I’m hungry.