Confessions of a Quondam Gourmand

in Life Beyond Medicine by

I usually stay away from posting personal stuff on my blog here at Scepticemia, but seeing as how the personal stuff has kept me from blogging (and life, in general), over the past few weeks, I thought this was high time I acknowledged the same the one way I know how to: blog about it! I was not sure whether I should post this blog openly or not, as I am not quite comfortable talking about this matter, and I considered, for the longest time, publishing as a password protected post. I am still not sure about running this with open visibility and I may change it around any day I feel like. For now, I am jumping into the bandwagon and hoping it does not tilt over. Be polite people!

So, I am at the end of the second year of my residency and I had a torrid couple of months towards the end, thanks to the mad rush to submit my dissertation, the process of which was complicated by a diagnosis of hyperglycaemia thrown up during working up complaints related to sinusitis. While the latter problem needs surgery for amelioration, it is the former that is causing me more heartache. As anyone who has seen me or known me for three seconds knows, I love food; I am a connoisseur of good food; and my ever expanding waistline was proof of the lands I was laying to waste with my gluttony. If any of you have seen me with good food around, you know how I block out the rest of the universe and just muse on the beauty of life, my enzymes and zymogens gurgling away with glee…

Goof Food = Unadulterated Glee
Good Food = Unadulterated Glee

But I guess the divine irony was yet to land on me; and land it did, like a ton of bricks: I was written off as ?T2DM a few weeks ago. And those few letters changed everything. From someone whose ravenous appetite was of legendary proportions, I went down to measuring portions that would leave a sparrow famished. I spent an hour with a dietician and a lifestyle modification counsellor who scratched out every single edible thing on earth and left me with a food list that was shorter than Dale Steyn’s length on a hard bouncy track. If you’re not in the mood for cricket analogies, it means that the list was really, really short. They spouted the usual lore about how oil is bad, sugar is bad, carbs are bad, proteins are bad, almost anything that is good to eat is bad… the routine brouhaha, you know.

So, for someone who loved a spread that put the Mughal Emperors to shame, it was really a big blow.

Ironically, since I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I had to lose weight, I had started cutting down on the junk food (albeit very slowly) in order to try and manage my weight, but then came this rather sudden blow. And knowing all too well what happens to diabetics with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, I knew that sooner or later, I had to come to terms with the diagnosis; however, I startled all those who were labouring under the delusion that I would come quietly. I was quite the obstinate denialist for the longest time.

To be entirely truthful, the initial few days were not easy. I did not feel like giving in. There must have been some lab error. I am too young. It can be controlled if I started playing cricket or exercise again. It is just ONE cup of ice cream, that is not going to harm me! But eventually, I got tired of fighting with my own realisation that the die has been cast, and I was slipping down the rabbit hole. I was moving away from all that I liked and desired to the world where everything was so different that I did not know how to react. I started reading blogs of diabetic people, and their battles with food cravings; I got the food cravings, and even gave in a couple of times. All of my friends and mentors berated me for being careless.

I hid behind the veil of my dissertation work for a while. Just this week, let me submit my thesis work, then I shall take care of all of these issues, I kept telling myself. In hindsight I realise I was just being too afraid to let go of my lifestyle of fun, frolic and food. Each time I reached for the phone to order a pizza, I realised this was not an option for me anymore; I skipped department parties because I was not sure I could fight the temptation and peer pressure; I felt horrible.

I was eating bland, tasteless food, as though it was a holy commandment to provide me with such food to beat my sugars back; unpalatable food, which went untouched day after day. I woke up in the middle of the night, tummy rumbling with hunger, and a cupboard stocked with food I cannot eat. I started getting irritable, jumpy, cranky. The frustration of a steady diet of bland hand-rolled bread (chapatis) and green-vegetable-swill was eating away at me. And on top of it all, I was slaving away at my dissertation that needed to be completed within a deadline that rushed at me with ever-increasing velocity. The stress of it all seemed to add spark to the pile of dynamite I was feeling like.

It did not take a life altering cataclysm to bring me to my senses. My mother is a diabetic for over two decades now; I am seeing her suffering the complications of poorly controlled blood sugar levels. I am a medic, after all, and I know the theory of how the extra sugar in our blood literally eats away at us. I guess, eventually, I Kubler-Ross-ed my way into acceptance once I had submitted my dissertation. It was nowhere near as good as I had hoped it would be; and it felt like a pretty big disaster, actually. Once the dissertation was submitted (hopefully it shall pass by the reviewers and I won’t get stuck on it again), I felt the enormity of the situation hit me. I had a condition which I needed to take care of, instead of doing which I was just turning away in denial. It felt stupid; it was stupid.

I guess, like the Awkward Yeti, I had reached my stage of acceptance:

Donuts? No donuts.

Diabetes is the worst diagnosis a food loving bloke could ever get stuck with; and it is not going to be cakewalk. I know that the sugar coating of life has to go and it is time to face the bitter truth. I also know that the temptations are galore and I need to resist them, but:


However, I have begun my rehab. It is time for a change. I have lost 13 kg weight in the past month and half, and I actually feel fitter and more sprightly. I have started doing morning walks (only after geeing out over which iPhone pedometer app is the best to keep track of steps taken and calories burnt) everyday. I actually feel more productive and energetic now. My jeans have gone slightly loose, so that means I need to go shopping for new ones (which is a good thing!). But I still know, at the end of the day, this is a war I am fated to lose. Some of the evidence points to the fact that eventually all the complications will set in; what I can do for now is to keep them at bay and try to get the most out of life. This sometimes makes me feel fatalistic, especially the times, in the middle of the night, when I wake up with a hunger pang running more through my mind than through my tummy; and I feel like just giving it all up and get some “comfort food”.

Let us see how this goes. Hopefully, I shall be squeezing out more time for blogging now! And hopefully, by blogging about this, I shall manage to keep myself true to the goal.

I hope p is <0.05
I hope p is <0.05


Skeptic Oslerphile, Scientist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases. Interests include: Emerging Infections, Public Health, Antimicrobial Resistance, One Health and Zoonoses, Diarrheal Diseases, Medical Education, Medical History, Open Access, Healthcare Social Media and Health2.0. Opinions are my own!

1 Comment

  1. nice one PC… Well I can apprehend your misery perfectly, being myself diagnosed homozygous for TCF7L2 gene polymorphism recently (which carries odds ratio of 2.4 for type 2 DM). And, along with family history of diabetic mother n grandmother, I am not sure whether I should wonder more abt how much risk do I have for diabetes or rather how I m still a non-diabetic despite being such foody (Typical punjabi… :P)…

    But, its good you have accepted the fate and are working towards it… I am still in the denial mode and needs to take lot of inspiration from you buddy… 😉

    But, despite all imperfections, life still rocks…

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