Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Guilt and Misunderstanding in the Juice Aisle (Diabetes Awareness Month, 2015)

When Aaron was diagnosed with diabetes over two years ago, I knew we'd have some new and unusual and scary issues to navigate.  But believe me, I never guessed how much drama there'd be over JUICE!!

We're not a juice family.  It's a health thing and it's a preference thing.  Juice is not the "health food" they market it as, and I just don't care for it that much (except for the occasional fresh squeezed orange juice that pancake houses serve in a shot glass for $4.99.  It's criminal... but oh, so delicious!) so I don't really serve it to my family.  

I think I can count on one hand the times our kids drink juice each year - they get orange juice at Easter brunch (cause the adults gets mimosas *glug, glug*!), apple cider at the Fall Soup Party and Thanksgiving, and maybe a sip or two on those Saturday mornings when my husband has one of his biannual I-must-have-juice-now!! episodes and runs out for a frozen orange juice concentrate leaving all the kids sitting at the breakfast table waiting like baby birds for him to come home with the delectable nectar.  

So, we don't really drink juice.   But we have a pantry stocked with juice.  And we never leave the house without juice.  And I have a bottle of juice in the glove compartment of both cars.  And the kids... all these kids I have... are frequently pestering me about can they drink the juice juice juice juice juice!?!

Aaron drinks juice.

And it is a constant source of conflict for me.

Because everyone knows that juice rots your teeth, and has little nutritional value compared to an actual piece of fruit, and juice spikes your blood sugar in a major way. 

Bingo.  Aaron drinks juice to spike his blood sugar in a major way.  

Since a diabetic's body does not naturally regulate blood sugar, if his glucose levels are  very low (hypoglycemia) they must be brought up immediately and artificially, to avoid severe complications such as comma, brain damage, and even death.  

Scary.  And that's why, despite all my instincts not to, I buy juice. 

For most diabetics the preferred methods of raising blood sugar quickly (because it must be done quickly) are juice, frosting, candy such as Skittles or Smarties, or glucose tablets.  It must be something with lots of sugar, little fat, and low to no nutritional value, because fat and nutritional goodness slow down the effectiveness of the sugar.  If a diabetic's blood sugar drops low enough that he is uncooperative, is too confused or incapacitated  to chew or swallow, or is unconscious, he will need an immediate emergency and life-saving injection of glucagon (a hormone that's kind of like the opposite of insulin.)  And believe me, ain't nobody want the glucagon...............

I mean, you might as well cue the Psycho music... right??  

So juice it is.  

And even though I know that juice is part of my son's life-saving first aid kit, I still feel guilty buying it.  

I hear little whispers  from the nutrition angel on my shoulder as I head for the juice aisle at the grocery store, "Juice is evil!!!  Don't purchase the evil!"  I hear the JAWS theme music play as I scan the shelves and reach for a six pack of apple juice.  I feel the piercing and disapproving stares of health-conscious shoppers as I put the juice in my cart and lower my eyes so that our gazes don't meet.  I act distracted and all "how'd that get there???" when I put the juice up on the checkout counter.

Ok, I know.  It's all in my head.  I mean, they don't really play the JAWS theme at the place where I shop.    

And I know I'm just imagining the piercing stares.  Seriously, no one else in the store cares what's in my cart.  No one is really judging me for buying juice.  

Except for the day that they did.

I was in the juice aisle, chatting to myself but making it appear less awkward by directing my mumbles in the general direction of the baby sitting in the shopping cart.  I crossed juice off my list and reached for a six pack.  

"Oh wait!  That's the low sugar kind," I said out loud to myself as I withdrew my hand, realizing my mistake.  

A nearby, well-meaning shopper overheard my private conversation with myself and said, "Oh sweetie, it tastes just as good as the other stuff and it's so much better for your kids." 

In retrospect, I should have been an on-the-spot type 1 diabetes educator, politely said, "Not for my child, it isn't," and given her my speech about the dangers of hypoglycemia and the life-saving properties of juice, frosting, and Skittles.  But I had that baby in the cart and four other kids in the grocery store kids play room, so I just laughed off her misunderstanding of the situation, found the juice I wanted (the kind with the extra double shot of sugary goodness), and bustled out of there. 

Cause the truth is, I sort of get it.  It goes against every fiber of my being to have juice in the cart, in the fridge, in the pantry, in the car, and in my purse.  But it's a diabetic's necessary accessory and in an emergency situation, that sugary, tooth-rotting, non-nutritive, sugar-spiking juice, could spike the sugar of the exact person that needs it to save his life.  

*   *   *   *   *   *

Know the signs of hypoglycemia:

sweating, chills, clamminess
irritability, impatience
rapid heartbeat
lightheadedness, diziness
hunger, nausea
blurred vision
weakness, fatigue
lack of coordination

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

*    *    *    *    *    *

I encourage you to read some of the other things I've written about 
diabetes and our family life.  And as always, please feel free to 
ask questions here!

What is Type 1 Diabetes? and Other Things You Can Learn From 

Highly Scientific Internet Memes

*   *   *   *   *   *

You may also like...

by Amanda Perales


  1. I'm not a huge fan of juice either...but it's what keeps my chronically constipated kids "regular". Makes me a little twitchy, but I buy it and they drink it--because it's better than the alternative!

  2. My daughter gets it once a day with her massive dose of miralax for neurogenic bowel. Do not even think about feeling guilty!


Like the old song says, "comments are a girl's best friend." Or something like that... So... leave a comment! I love chatting here! Pretend you're on my back porch, kick the broken plastic sandbox toys aside, sip your iced coffee, or beer, or (__fill in the blank with your beverage of choice__) and let's talk about all the things, because back-porch blogging is what I do!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...