Three Years

Three years ago yesterday, I quit smoking and gave up processed sugar.  The decisions came a few days after being diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes and after reading all I could about how I might address the illness. To be honest, I still don’t understand Type 2 Diabetes.  Part of my problem is that so much of the literature and, frankly, so much of the capitalistic profiteering creates a huge miasma of confusion. But I’ve made my way and pushed the symptoms to the point of being undetectable. This doesn’t mean that I’m not diabetic anymore. It means that I’m managing a disease and no longer have the resilience to push the limits of my glucose in my bloodstream.  Go back and I will be quickly sick again.

As an example of the confusion, shortly after I was diagnosed, my primary care physician suggested that I attend free diabetes education classes at one of the local hospitals.  I was eager to learn all that I could, so I signed up and entered the next series of classes.  The classes work from a government curriculum developed by the Centers for Disease Control. Quickly I realized that the authoritative information that was being offered to me was compromised by two factors. First, the curriculum started from the assumption that people would not change and emphasized that you can eat anything if you control portions.  The absurdity here is that a brownie the size of my thumbnail has the same carbohydrate value as a small bowl of brocolli.  using portion control, you must make those kind of choices. Second, building on the first principle, it was clear that the curriculum is influenced by agricultural and processed food business concerns that have no interest in Americans changing the eating patterns that they’ve convinced us of.

To the first point, we’re told that “food is culture” and can’t be easily changed.  The lie here is that most American eating patterns don’t come from a traditional culture at all. They are a “culture” of one or two generations. They are habits, not culture. To the second point, T2 diabetes is likely an environmental illness — catalyzed by the way business have engineered food and polluted the environment. Portion control of poison is still poison.

The danger in a reflection like this is to blame corporations for my previous choices. Like everyone in America, I knew that smoking was bad for me. And, like everyone in America, I know that my eating habits were bad for me. It’s not a secret that sugar, processed and chemically modified foods have a negative effect on the body. So, the issue isn’t just what others are doing to me — and, believe me, they’re actively convincing us to eat crap — but also my ability to make positive choices. As an individual, I have control over one; only collectively can we effect the other.

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