Piece Of Cake

Entry by: Alobear

21st September 2015
Piece of Cake

I have a complex relationship with cake.

You see, I’m diabetic, so the choice for me isn’t ‘cake or death’, but rather a straight-up warning of ‘cake is death’.

It doesn’t help that two of my work colleagues, and several of my close friends, are amazing bakers, so I often find myself surrounded by delicious cake and struggling to resist it. And I have the self-control of a kid in a candy store who’s just been given their pocket money.

Sugar is actually pretty hard to avoid, even when you’re really trying. Once you start looking, you find that it’s put into almost everything and no supermarket ‘free from’ range has sugar free alternatives that I’ve yet found. Also, don’t be fooled by so-called ‘diabetic chocolate’ – not only is it absolutely disgusting, but it’s almost as bad for blood sugar levels as the real stuff.

Of course, you could say this is one of the ‘first-est of first world problems’, since a great many people in the world don’t have access to processed sugar at all, but I would counter that it is actually quite a big problem for the first world. We have so much choice, and so much abundance, that it’s really difficult to be healthy, and sugar isn’t just a danger for diabetics – it’s just more of one.

Knowing when you’re in trouble is difficult, too. It’s not like I go into anaphylactic shock at the first sniff of a piece of cake. I’ve been trying to maintain balanced blood sugar levels for seven years now, and I still don’t know what the signs are of when it’s too high. Too low, and you feel weak and dizzy – easy to identify. But I can happily eat an entire chocolate cake and feel no difference afterwards at all. So, it’s all too easy to dismiss the problem and figure that I don’t really have to worry about it.

Other diabetics I know have similar issues, and we all ‘game the system’ to our advantage. We’re always really good in the weeks leading up to a blood test, so the results don’t exactly give a reliable indication of our control. And, of course, the period of time between having the blood taken and getting the results ‘doesn’t count’, so we can eat whatever we want!

Human beings are so good at deceiving themselves to their own detriment – how is that effective evolution?

Still, it’s not all bad, and I have some wonderful people looking out for me. On hearing about my diagnosis, my mum, bless her, put her chef’s hat straight on and started trying to make sugar free desserts. That first Christmas, I was presented with what was supposed to be cheesecake, and is best left to the annals of history. That was also the New Year that a friend tried making cupcakes with cream cheese icing for me – I really appreciated the thought, but the cakes were practically inedible. My mum didn’t give up, though, and her sugar free plum crumble, apricot fool and chocolate mousse are now to die for.

I’ve been experimenting with sugar free baking, too, and I’m now actually quite good. I guess, in the end, I should be grateful that I live in a time where diabetes can be diagnosed early, and where there are alternatives to sugar available. Though, of course, it’s said that artificial sweeteners might be as bad for you as real sugar. I’ll go with the ‘might be’ over the definite in my case, every time.

Sugar free peanut butter cookie, anyone?