The Food Police

by Leighann on September 14, 2009

I want to talk pop culture today. More specifically tween/pre-tween pop culture: Hannah Montana.

What does Miley Cyrus have to do with diabetes, you ask. Well she may be the latest person to either bring awareness to diabetes and those suffering from it or she’s about to reinforce some negative stereotypes and inaccuracies widely propagated.

A little background: Last fall there was a scheduled episode of Hannah Montana focusing on diabetes. The Nick Jonas recorded a promo, presumably talking about his own diabetes. Some people viewed the episode online before it’s television debut and were outraged at the content. The episode was pulled.

So now the episode has supposedly been reworked in consultation with the JDRF.

Chatting with a few D-Moms online, we all assumed that the offensive “food police” scene was removed from the reworked episode. And surely if the JDRF is involved, the episode should be a good depiction, right?

Well, us D-Moms aren’t putting complete trust in Disney. No, we will DVR the episode and watch it before letting our children view.

So I went to the menu of my DVR to set the recording for the September 20th episode and was a bit shocked when I read the description:

“Uptight (Oliver’s Alright)” Oliver is diagnosed with diabetes. When Miley and Lilly hear about it, they appoint themselves as his personal food police at Traci’s sweet-16 birthday party.

Uh yeah. The food police scene is still there.

I can tell you this: my daughter certainly does not need ignorant people going around telling her what she can and can’t eat, keeping her from enjoying a party.

At five she has a wonderful awareness of what are appropriate and inappropriate foods. She knows some foods that are too high in carbs. She knows that some foods can only be eaten on rare occasions.

She knows to say no when someone offers her crappy junk food. She knows to ask her mom or dad first.

She knows.

Within the first two weeks of her diagnosis, she had three birthday parties on her social calendar. I felt horrible for her because how do you tell an almost-four-year-old that everyone else can have cake, but you can’t? I’ll tell you the advice that our providers gave: let her be a kid.

And she can.

I think it would be far worse for her to be alienated (any more than she already is) by being singled out at a party. By having Mylie and Lilly grabbing food out of her hand before it can reach her mouth.

She can go to parties; she can have cake.

What’s worse is if her peers see this episode and think that all sugar is off limits all the time: like the juice that can bring her blood sugar back up to safe levels if she is going low. (She can’t just drink juice any time though because 1/2 cup of juice has 15 grams of carbs, the total number of carbs she could have at her normal snack time.)

Here’s our reality:

She can have 15 grams of carbs as a snack.

A banana has a crazy amount of carbs. One can have 30 carbs (no kidding!). A 3″ piece of frosted birthday cake has about 45 grams of carbs.

No, it’s not good to have cake and ice cream all the time. Even with insulin to cover the carbs, it can take her days to even back out.

We plan ahead for it. When possible, we schedule treats like this so they are part of a meal. If it works out, she can get the one injection for both the meal and the cake.

If the treat is not at a scheduled meal, she will need to get an additional injection. That means five injections in one day instead of four.

Sometimes we will just take home her portion of cake to have later, actually with a meal. Most of the time when we do this the cake sits in the fridge for a week, forgotten, and is eventually tossed. But not always. The reality is that she’s far more fond of ice cream than cake (both kids get their love of ice cream from their father).

Can she indulge all the time? Absolutely not. Can she sometimes? Yes.

I’ll watch the episode and I am sure I will have opinions. But if the show is at all close to the description, I have a feeling we will not air it for our daughter.

Maybe (hopefully) Disney will surprise us.

Update: I didn’t actually like the show for several reasons and never did show it to my daughter.

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