Oscar’s Story: The Boy on the Bike

Today if I saw a boy who spends all his paper route money on candy, it would be fraught with meaning. But back when I was the boy on the bike, payday equaled a trip to the candy store. At nine I wasn’t searching for meaning.

There is diabetes all over my family. My grandfather, father, and his two sisters all died of the disease. It is not clear to me when in the history of diabetes people started to understand the relationship between intense desire to eat sugar and development of diabetes, but it wasn’t soon enough to spare my father’s family.

Sara and Son: Shared Roots

Our story started at a Suppers table after I had been attending the program for a couple of months. One of the themes that I heard over and over was “shared roots.” Whether people came to meetings because they wanted to stay sober, manage diabetes, or be less dependent on antidepressants, we all shared roots in nutrient deficiencies from years of eating processed foods. The program calls us “health relatives” because even though our diagnoses are different, the basic solution is the same: eat whole foods.

Barb and Carl’s Story: Finding a Path Together

I just wanted to be a vegetarian. As I withdrew from the pork chop and meatball diet of my childhood, it gave me quiet pleasure and a sense of self-approval. First the red meat went, then the poultry, then the fish that had faces, and ultimately all flesh. I ate lots of rice and beans, and green vegetables when I had the time to cook. And I still allowed myself my favorite treats as long as they were produced by companies whose ethics matched my own. The only problem was that I didn’t feel well.

Bernadette’s Quandary

My way of eating blocks emotions.

Recent activity surrounding the suicide of a friend’s daughter has driven home for me the extent to which I eat in order to not feel. In the present situation, the emotion was grief. But I have a long history of dealing with loneliness, boredom, and dissatisfaction with my work life in the same way. I eat to fill myself, but when my stomach is full I still feel empty.

Ingrid’s Story: This Is Not About Willpower

If the bariatric surgery office hadn’t made me wait for several months, I would have had part of my body removed. I was that desperate. I know people who think the surgery is heaven sent, and I am happy for them. Personally I think having part of your body removed because you can’t stop eating is nutty, but I was about to do it myself because I was entirely enslaved to food and saw no other way out. Desperation is not a strong enough word to describe my situation. I’m so grateful a nutritionist steered me down another route.

Dr. P’s Story: Talk to Your Family

I attended a Suppers meeting where we were talking about how planning is essential in practicing nutritional harm reduction, especially while dealing with food-related holiday festivities. During the discussion I observed that the type 2 diabetics were generally assumed to have caused their condition through weight gain and improper eating, while type 1's were “off the hook” because it happened to emerge when most were children, so they couldn't be blamed for their role in developing this condition.

Lydia’s Story: No Help at the Hospital

I am a registered nurse and have enjoyed working in medicine for over 20 years. At the age of 50, I developed type 1 diabetes, and entered a world I was completely unprepared for in spite of all my experience in health care. The people at work all know I have diabetes but they are clueless as to what that means in practical or personal terms. I haven’t hidden the diagnosis, but I do conceal many of the details of what I have to put up with. There is no help at the hospital for people who have to maintain high standards of professionalism while living with a chronic disease.

Rob and Mom’s Story: Rob’s Journey Out of the Special Needs School

Rob was age 11 and attending a private special needs school when our story begins. His diagnosis included ADHD -- combining impulsiveness and inattention -- sensory processing disorder, dysgraphia, dyslexia and more. He felt agitated and a little heart racing too, even on the lowest dose of his ADHD med. It was Concerta, and he had been taking it since age 7. He wanted to be off meds. He was upset that he was never hungry and also underweight. He was tired of people at school asking him why he didn’t eat his lunch.

Holly’s Story: Experiments

For me, Suppers turned out to be all about experiments. Eat this, see how you feel. Don’t eat that, see how you feel. Eat this and don’t eat that and see how you feel. Eat this first, then that. See how you feel. Add vegetables. Subtract sugar. See how you feel. Eat brownies on an empty stomach (I wouldn’t recommend it). Then see if you can have one after a good meal (much better). I was willing to do these experiments because I didn’t want to give up all my favorite foods.


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