Diabetes Lesson: Sweet Tea and Steve

One and half years of ‘rocking’ this disease, I am still learning a diabetes lesson.  We live, we err and hopefully we learn.  I see so many who do not learn.

  • You will make mistakes, learn from them
  • Learn to test foods and check labels


I was born and raised in the Southern US and if there is ONE DRINK that I could not live without before my diabetes diagnosis … it was Sweet Tea.  I would often drank it morning, noon and night.  I LOVED MY SWEET TEA!  Of course we all know the deal, I was really loving the sugar.

Diabetes Lesson: Sweet Tea
Sweet and un-sweet, looks the same


Diabetes Lesson: Diagnosis

I knew I had to give sweet tea up … and I did. In fact I cut out all sugar added foods immediately.  It was not as tough as I thought it would be.  It’s amazing how a trip to the hospital via an ambulance and a three night stay in Intensive Care Unit can change your perspective.

It’s easy it is to avoid certain foods or drinks when you have a life threatening illness staring you in the face, or it should be easy.   I know, even then it’s tough for some… but they just need to get their “mind right”.

Since my diabetes diagnosis in February 2009, I had had only a couple of swallows of ‘sweet tea’ and even those swallows were accidental.  In both cases a server had brought me sweet tea instead of my un-sweetened tea. In both cases it was immediately obvious to me… the tea seemed thick and extremely high in sugar… to the point of being sickening.

And that is one of the great benefits of ‘low carb paleo’, a benefit that  I don’t talk enough about… your entire body adjusts to the reduced sugar/carbohydrates including your taste buds.  Foods that once seemed bland are ‘sweeter’ now…this includes broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables.  It’s a good thing! :)


Another Diabetes Lesson Learned

I recently attended a Benefit for my nephew Brendan Williams who is in need of a kidney transplant.  With each plate you receive a ‘tea’… of course I selected Un-sweetened Tea.

The tea that came with my meal was definitely un-sweet and tasted just fine.  The servers brought out re-fill pitchers and of course, like a good diabetic I took a small taste after re-filling my cup. As I mentioned earlier, I know mistakes can be made… we are all humans after all.

The refill did not taste like “High Octane Bojangles’ Sweet Tea” … but it definitely had a sweetness to it.

I asked my son to taste it, by the way he is NOT ‘low carb primal’ at all.  He made the sour face said it was ‘nasty’.  I asked him and he said it was definitely un-sweetened tea.

Since going Very Low Carb… my  ‘sweetness radar’  is very sensitive.  So… in my mind I thought, “Brad said it was unsweetened… so it’s ok”.  I finished that cup of tea and started on another cup.   In the back of my mind I kept worrying about it.

Finally my wife eventually came by and I asked her to taste it.  She is ‘part time primal’ … she tasted it and said without hesitation.  ‘oh yeah… this is sweet tea. It’s not syrupy sweet but it’s definitely sweet tea.’

I did not have a meter with me at the  time but I was able to go and test my blood sugar approximately 1 hour post Sweet Tea consumption.  I do not know how much sugar was in the tea, I do not know how much tea was consumed given the large amount of ice and other variables.

All I do know?  I am almost always in the 80’s on my overnight fasting blood sugar tests.  My goal is to be sub 100 mg/dl 24 hrs a day, I don’t always meet that goal…but that’s my target.  An hour after the slightly sweetened tea I posted this number…. I was lucky, it could have been much worse.

An hour after eating mostly fatty meat and drinking some slightly sweet tea.

The REAL Diabetes Lesson

Yes, another diabetes lesson learned … maybe it will help you.

You know the old saying,

“if something sounds too good to be true… it probably is too good to be true “

I pride myself in being a strict ‘low carb paleo’ adherent.  I have to be since I am diabetic. How could I be fooled?

I spent some time, after the Benefit’s festivities, thinking about the “Sweet Tea Affair” … :)

I knew it tasted sweet, I KNEW IT!    Yet, all it took was one ‘3rd party verification’ source to say it’s ‘ok’  and I gladly gobbled it up. Luckily, after consuming only a small amount, I asked for another opinion.

I imagine it’s like that for millions of other diabetics who are still addicted to sugar and carbs, all it takes is a one 3rd party verification … a doctor,  a certified diabetes educator or even a co-worker to ‘ok’ eating sweets and grains…. and they dive in.  Diabetes lesson learned.

That’s why it’s so important that we stop the shameless and ignorant ‘pimping’ of grains and sugar by so called, “diabetes educators”.


In Closing?

When in doubt … test test test… and seek other trusted sources.

My son who is such a ‘carb addict’,  the slightly sweetened tea did not taste sweet to him.  He was not a ‘trusted’ or reliable source due to his sugar tolerance.

Eat this ‘diabetic friendly’ diet… and say NO to the American Diabetes Association’s “carb up and shoot up” failed treatment policy.