Today’s post is from 2015, back when Birdy was only five years old, when we were talking about the carbohydrate content of some foods and why her mom cares about odd things like this.

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“So you can eat any food you wanted so long as it tastes like a pickle?” my daughter asked, looking excited.

“Not just pickle-flavored things, kiddo. But I can eat pickles without taking insulin because they are low in carbohydrates. Also cucumbers. And most of the stuff in a salad. And those wiggly Jell-O blobs we make sometimes.”

Explaining the concept of “free foods” to my daughter was an exercise in borderline silliness because she is still learning about my diabetes, and she is only five years old. But the concept of “healthy foods” is not one we shy away from at home, and she has a strong grasp on what’s a good choice versus a junkier one. Over the last year or so, Birdy and I have had conversations about how healthy food isn’t just important for her mom because of diabetes, but that all people should be considering the food they eat carefully.

Discussions about how diabetes makes me think of things in sometimes special ways happen all the time between my daughter and I. Because she and I have been home together for the last five years, the daily duties of diabetes are commonplace for Birdy. She’s seen me change countless pump sites, apply dozens of Dexcom sensors, and take boluses of insulin for hundreds of meals. Diabetes isn’t something that’s a big deal, but it’s definitely pervasive in our life. (“Mom, where is your pump on your body? I don’t want to bonk my head on it.” Standard question these days, as my pump is usually clipped to my body at my daughter’s eye level, leaving her head-butting into it every time she gives me a hug.) But lately, she’s started to notice when I take out my pump and bang on the buttons and when I don’t. And, because her curiosity is insatiable, she asks a ton of questions.

Which lead us to the discussion about free foods (after I clarified that the foods were free from carbs, but we still have to pay for them). I explained that there are a bunch of foods I can eat that I don’t need to take insulin for because they are really low in carbs and don’t have a lot of sugar in them. These foods are good to snack on when my blood sugar is a little high but I’m still hungry, because they won’t make my number go even higher.

“They’re the opposite of foods like pasta or cake, because those foods have lots of carbs and sugar in them and I need to take a lot of insulin for those.”

“Right, except if you have a low blood sugar.”

Maybe the discussion wasn’t an exercise in silliness after all. Maybe it was more of a real-life lesson in the nuances of diabetes, the importance of food, and how you need to be aware of what you’re eating.

“The free foods are ones that don’t have as much sugar or crabs in them?”

“Carbs, baby.”

“That’s what I said.”

Close enough.




(this post was originally published as part my work with Animas)