“Sugarfree”

I had a real “Oh Shit!” moment this week, which some of you may have already read about on Facebook.  If you didn’t (or if you did and want a refresher), here’s what happened.

I love Starbucks soy lattés.  My “usual” is the grande decaf soy latté with sugarfree caramel.  Decaf because I’m a caffeine wuss (pregnant or not – that much caffeine does not do this body any good), soy because it tastes good and raises my bloodsugar more slowly than milk, and sugarfree caramel because…well..you know, the whole diabetes thing.  This drink has 13g of carbs in it, with the aforementioned slow rise, so it’s generally very manageable from a D-standpoint.

Normally I get my latté after breakfast.  (To be clear, this is about a once-a-week thing – not daily.  I’m not made of money!)  Part of the reason for this timing is that the walk to/from Starbucks, paired with a fresh breakfast bolus (I drop fast with exercise after breakfast), means I often don’t even need to bolus for those 13g of slow-rise carbs.  It’s one of those beautiful diabetes moments. 🙂

But this Wednesday was different.  I ran into a friend on the way in to work, and we decided to go for coffee immediately.  I dropped off my coat/bag/etc. in my office – including my breakfast, which I always eat first thing upon getting settled at my desk – and headed to Starbucks.

At this point I did not have my breakfast bolus hard at work.  In fact, I likely had some stubborn dawn phenomenon still kicking around and pulling my bloodsugar up instead of down.  This is one of the things that should have occurred to me, but didn’t.

When we got to Starbucks, I started to think about how nice it would be to get one of their special holiday drinks, so I asked the barista whether they made any of them in a decaf-soy-sugarfree version.  She said, “Yes, we can do the peppermint mocha for you.”

“Great!”  I thought, and ordered it – no whip or chocolate shavings.

Spoiler alert: As it turns out, “mocha” isn’t sugarfree.  This is the other thing that should have occurred to me, but didn’t.

So I walked away, happily drinking my holiday drink…got back to my desk…ate my breakfast (25g of low-GI carbs)…finished my coffee…and thought, “That sure was sticky for sugarfree.”

As I tossed my empty cup in the garbage, it occurred to me that maybe I should see if I could find the nutritional information for my new drink online – just to see how it compared to my “usual”.  I didn’t find the information I was looking for (re: their holiday drinks) on the Starbucks website, but did manage to rebuild my drink using the Starbucks app for iPhone.  As I built it, it became clear that the peppermint syrup was sugarfree, the soy milk had its usual carbs…and the mocha syrup was not even pretending to be sugarfree (nor decaf, for that matter).

This was the “Oh Shit” moment.

My rebuilt drink had 64g of carbs in it!  (My friend managed to make it add up to 56g, but I’m still not sure how…and either way, it was still way too much!)

With my breakfast, I had ingested 89g of carbs.

My normal morning involves 25g-30g.

My morning is the spikiest time of my day.

Oh, and I’m pregnant…and my endo wants me to try to avoid spikes over 8.0 mmol/l (144 mg/dl).

Knowing that my breakfast was low GI, and that there was a lot of protein in the drink, I didn’t want to just hit myself with a massive bolus all at once in case I bottomed out.  Plus I had no idea how much it was going to take to get me to a normal level, since I never ever have that many carbs in the morning.

I started testing every half hour an bolusing as needed, but quit bolusing as soon as I started to see my levels going back down.

My peak: 9.9 mmol/l (178 mg/dl).

An hour later I was 7.2 mmol/l (130 mg/dl), and by lunch (after a bit more walking as well) I was down to 3.7 mmol/l (67 mg/dl).

I didn’t stay under 8.0, but I’d call this a successful recovery, not to mention a well-protected bun in my oven.

At first I was frustrated with the barista for telling me this drink was “sugarfree” when it wasn’t.  But, in all honesty, I don’t expect everyone who serves me food/drinks to understand the ins and outs of “carbs” vs. “sugar”, or to fully understand the nutritional information of everything they serve.  I don’t expect every Starbucks barista to know what it means for me to experience a mistake in the realm of 50g of carbs – especially when pregnant.  If she just thinks “which holiday drink has sugarfree syrup in it” when I ask for sugarfree, I don’t blame her.

My diabetes is my responsibility.  It’s up to me to do my due diligence in a case like this – whether it means asking more questions (e.g. “So what all is in the drink?”  “Is the mocha sugarfree?”) or checking nutritional information before ingesting delicious holiday treats.  It’s on me to do this.

Lesson learned.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. wow.. I gotta give you some MAJOR kudos! you only peaked at 9.9? cripes. If that was me it’d be up around 19. Good for you! and way to handle the situation.

    Reply

    • I was actually REALLY surprised it didn’t go higher. It still took a fair bit of insulin for it to come down, but the rise was much slower than I expected. I can only attribute that to whatever fat/protein was in the drink to slow down the sugar. I lucked out.

      Reply

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