Mindful eating & hunger

For me, someone with Type 1 diabetes, mindful eating practice often bumps up against the physical and emotional effects of low or high blood sugars, as well as my ongoing relationship with food, which is affected by a history of compulsive eating and bulimia. I am no longer an active bulimic or compulsive eater, but food will often present itself as the perfect coping tool in times of stress, and sometimes I still eat more than I want. Personally I call them binges, because for me, it identifies that kind of eating as non-nourishing. I’m not judging it just identifying it.

With Type 1 diabetes, high and low blood sugars cause feelings of hunger. That happens during highs because the body is not getting the energy it needs from the food eaten, so it sends hunger signals. A particular problem for me is feeling angry that I’m high at all. Almost always my first feeling at seeing a number above 200 is anger then judgment. Because I fear the long-term complications that result from consistent highs, I’m often harsh with myself: I screwed up; I should have managed my food/activity/stress/insulin better. A tall order since our endocrine system is dynamic and even doing the best one can do will still not result in perfect blood sugars all the time. As a matter of fact, the striving for perfect blood sugars often results in stress, which adversely affects blood sugars, etc. etc. etc. A vicious cycle.

During incidents of low blood sugar, there is an acute need for glucose because the body has more insulin than glucose. Sometimes this presents itself as an opportunity to eat more- or eat trigger foods or sweets like chocolate.

So these episodes of blood sugar induced hunger complicate an already confusing picture, which is why mindfulness and cultivating a non-judgmental attitude are so important to me.

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