Latkes and Jelly Doughnuts Fill the Weekend

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OK, I’m all partied out. I’ve eaten enough latkes to clog every artery in my body. And that was just Saturday evening, when we had a latke tasting with everything from good ol’ regular latkes to creations such as guacamole latkes, vegetables and feta latkes, and gingered carrot latkes. Did I mention the Cajun sweet potato latkes?

Sunday morning was the religious school’s Chanukah party. No latkes, but we did have sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). We set up craft stations where the children can do things like paint t-shirts and decorate frames for this year’s pictures; they smashed a dreidel-shaped piñata into smithereens and went home all sugared up. Their parents may (or may not) thank us later.

But back to the jelly doughnuts. When I was thinking about what to write this week, I kept coming back to making jelly doughnuts. Because it seems to me to be a little self-serving, I tried to think of something else, but the doughnut story kept coming back.

We have a little boy in religious school who is allergic to wheat. (That’s in addition to two mamas who have celiac.) When I’m in charge of snacks, I always make things that all of the children (and mothers, if they’re there) can eat. Gluten-free works for all of them.

Most of the jelly doughnuts were coming from a bakery and were not gluten-free, so I decided to make a batch that were.

When the boy, who is nine years old, arrived, I motioned for him to come back to the kitchen, where I was sitting on a stool frying doughnuts. When he learned I was making gluten-free doughnuts, he got a huge smile on his face. When he took a taste, the smile got even bigger. (The bulging cheeks and the thumbs-up were kinda cute, too.)

“You always look so happy when you learn you can eat the same things as the other children,” I said.

“I am happy!” he replied. “Most of the time, I can’t have a lot of the stuff that’s there.”

I have noticed that when other people bring snacks, he’ll take a little bit of whatever’s there rather than go into the kitchen and grab one of the gluten-free goodies I have available. I’ve learned to bring out a plate of the kitchen stash and add them to the snack table for everybody to eat. I guess none of us likes to feel different, especially at that age.

What does this have to do with diabetes (except for the fact that people with diabetes are more likely to have celiac than the general population)? Have you ever gone to a party or a dinner and found out that everything on the table is full of fat and carbohydrates? While we can eat anything — in moderation, of course — don’t you wish that others would be more cognizant of what’s best for all of us and add some healthier choices to the mix?

When I think of others being aware of the wants and needs of somebody who is a bit different when it comes to the care and feeding of diabetes, I think back to when I visited my friend Nancy in Korea.

It was back in the day, before rapid-acting insulin, and the primary regimen was two shots of Regular and NPH a day. Instead of adjusting your insulin dosage to the carbohydrate count, you took the same amount of insulin and ate the same number of carbs at specific times of the day.

I needed to have 15 grams of carbs mid-morning and mid-afternoon to meet insulin peaks. But I was just s-o-o-o jet-lagged I couldn’t wake up when Nancy brought a bowl of ice cream for my snack. She then went back to the kitchen, dumped some of the ice cream and mixed in chocolate chips to get the right amount of carbs in fewer bites. Then came and fed it to me.

It’s something I try to emulate when dealing with somebody else’s differences: Find out what their needs are and be as inclusive as you can.

If nothing else, do it for a smile.

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