The Cake Mistake – Diabetes, Birthday Cake and My Blood Sugar

My Diabetes Cake Mistake

It’s no secret that cakes and other flour-based desserts are treacherous territory for diabetics, especially when they’re prepared by someone else and there is little or no knowledge as to the amounts of each ingredient.  While my wife and I were on vacation celebrating our birthdays and anniversary (May 13th is my birthday, May 14th is hers and the 15th is our anniversary), I decided to have several bites of her strawberry shortcake.  I figured that since I had been going low from walking around Key West all day, a few bites of cake would give me some lasting carbs that wouldn’t send my sugar too high while I was sleeping.  I figured wrong.  After all, sleeping isn’t the best time for a large dose of lasting carbs, but in this case, temptation clearly beat out logic.

After enjoying five or six bites of the dense yellow pound cake that had been further moistened by melting vanilla ice cream and succulent strawberries, I tried my best to ignore the sense of guilt that was slowly engulfing me.  It was my wife’s birthday and at the restaurant I had subtly told the waiter to bring her a piece of strawberry shortcake, despite her request that I not tell them to do so (she wasn’t hungry for it and she didn’t want it to tempt me).  I just didn’t want her to be disappointed later because she didn’t have cake on her birthday, and to be honest, the idea of a taste or two of her dessert was enticing to me as well.  By the time the dessert came, she was full, so we took it to go and headed back to our hotel.  Roughly an hour later, I realized my blood sugar was going low, so I figured it would be a good time to have a few bites of her cake to raise my sugar.   After all, she wasn’t hungry for it and the mini-fridge wasn’t getting very cold.  I couldn’t let it go to waste, could I, especially after not having dessert on my birthday which was the day before?

I should point out here that my wife did surprise me on my birthday by requesting that a candle be put in my shrimp side salad.  It was a thoughtful gesture, one that in hindsight I should have appreciated more than I did at the time, but all that I could think about was the promise of something sweet.  It had been quite some time since I had deviated from my diet.

For several months I have been following Dr. Richard Bernstein’s strict low carb diet, which he outlines in his book Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution.  I haven’t wavered much, other than a tiny taste, a lone lick, or a solo slurp here and there when my wife gets something sweet, such as ice cream, a milkshake, or a piece of pie.  As a result of my new low carbohydrate diet, I’ve lost nearly thirty pounds and have kept a pretty consistent blood glucose level that has been free of dangerous highs and lows.  However, this was my vacation and trying to follow the diet’s strict guidelines felt almost unbearable, especially with so many new and tantalizing foods all around me.  It took enough self control just to resist Florida’s staple dessert, key lime pie.  Throw in strawberry shortcake, chocolate gonache (with crumbled pretzel), rich vanilla ice cream and icy summer smoothies, and the temptation begins to feel overwhelming.

In the middle of the night, I woke and tested my blood sugar.  It was 283.  I gave myself a correction bolus and went back to bed.  It was still high in the morning when I woke and it took nearly half a day to get it back under control.  Temptation definitely got the best of me that night, but it also became clear that my diet is working, as long as I adhere to it.  I guess the proof was in the pudding, or in this case, the cake.

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