My favorite part of Saturday afternoon grocery shopping is the checkout line. But not because I’m leaving behind the cacophony of wailing children, frustrated parents, squeaky cart wheels, and endless loud speaker announcements. No, I love the checkout line because it is lined with gloriously arrayed candy. It’s sugar, baby! A wondrous assortment of Milk Way, Hershey, and Nestle Crunch bars neatly nestled beside Dove Milk Chocolate, Godiva Milk Chocolate with Caramel, and Lifesavers. And lets not forget the inspiration for this article. A blast from my past that has recently fought its way back to the checkout line bonanza- Sugar Babies.
Yes, I am a Sugar Baby. Don’t get me wrong. I like cookies, cakes, pies and ice cream too. But it’s always been candy that really get my juices flowing. Chocolate, fudge and caramel to be specific. Hard candies will do in a pinch.
Sometimes, when I’m not careful, a new cashier will put the candy in with the rest of the groceries before I can stop them. It doesn’t happen often. Most of them know better and hand it to me after scanning it. I tuck it in my purse with the faint hope that maybe it will survive the trip home. The first light out of the parking lot is about as far as I get before I succumb to temptation.
I’m not alone. The United States is full of other Sugar Babes drooling their way through the checkout line. According to the 2005 data of the National Confectioners Association’s, retail chocolate candy sales grew to $15.8 billion with another $8.9 billion in non-chocolate candy sales.
But this is a new year and it’s time for a change. According to the American Diabetes Association 20.8 million adults and children have diabetes in the United States. That’s 7% of the population. More than of a third of these people don’t know they have it.
A few years ago my mother had a stroke. That’s when she discovered she had type 2 diabetes. It was shocking. She had always been health conscious. She ate well, exercised and took vitamin and herb supplements. But until her diagnosis she was a fellow Sugar Baby. Not nearly at my level but we could do some damage. These days, she’s a retired Sugar Baby and her diabetes is controlled by diet, exercise, and supplements.
My father also had diabetes. He couldn’t fasten his buttons because diabetic neuropathy had caused nerve damage in his fingers. His big toe was amputated. Did you know that congestive heart failure is more than twice as likely to develop in people with type 2 diabetes? I didn’t. Last year my father died of congestive heart failure.
These are the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes:
– an inactive lifestyle
– family history of type 2 diabetes
– 45 years old or older
– African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific Islander.
– history of diabetes while pregnant? Having a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth
I assessed my risk factors and I didn’t like the results. So it’s time for a change. I’ve had a good run but I’m too old to be a Sugar Baby. At least I am if I want to live to be an old babe…a healthy, old babe. High levels of sugar and insulin increase your risk of stroke, high blood pressure, kidney failure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and, of course, diabetes.
What can I do if I want to stack the deck against developing type 2 diabetes? There’s not much I can do about my family history, race or age. But improving my diet is a start. If necessary, I can close my eyes as I go through the checkout line. I can drag Tansy, my neurotic, I’m-afraid-of people-cars-dogs-rain-wind-and-the-backyard German Shepherd for a walk. Walking may not seem like much of a defense but exercise enables the muscles to burn off glucose (sugar).
I don’t think these changes will be easy. But I believe they will be worth it. After all, I don’t want to be a sickly, short-lived Sugar Baby when, with a few changes, I can live to be healthy, sexy Granny Babe!