Archive for the ‘Diabetes’ Category

Parable of the Bag of Donuts

January 28, 2008

As I was walking through the grocery store, I encountered a man about to buy a big bag of fresh baked donuts. But I noticed in his other hand a book: “Dealing with Diabetes,” and then I noticed he had a medical necklace that had come over his collar, which indicated him as having a very advanced case of Diabetes.

So, I warned the man: “Those donuts have a lot of sugar in them.”

The man looked at me and said, “No, donuts are healthy. I love them. I’m going to eat them.”

I offered to try to explain to him the nutritional facts about donuts, but he wouldn’t listen. In fact, he offered to debate me about the nutritional value of donuts. His proffered resolution was: “Resolved that donuts are properly classifiable as healthy food.”

I said, “well, I want to be clear that we are talking about the same thing here:”

– “donuts have tons of saturated fats, right?” His answer surprising answer was a denial.
– “donuts have tons of sugar, right? ” Again, he replied in the negative.
– “donuts are a kind of pastry, though, right?” (I asked in wonder) But again he replied in the negative.

He insisted that these “round things with holes” are nutritious, sometimes are made from whole grains, and often include embedded fruit, such as raisins or blueberries.

“Aha,” I answered, “what you have there are bagels not donuts. Bagels are (or can be) healthy food, so I won’t be able to argue with you that they are not healthy.”

“Oh no,” insisted the man, “I mean ‘donuts.’ Don’t tell me what I mean. But I can see you are not interested in a debate, since you are trying to impose all these absurd conditions on me.”

With that, the man took his bag of donuts and left the grocery store.

I sat in awe. Could anyone be so foolish as to be a severe diabetic eating donuts? Could anyone be so hardened in his sugar-consuming ways that he would deny basic characteristics of his donuts, even to the pointing of treating donuts as though they were bagels?

But that was not the end. The next day one of his friends stopped by and insisted that I was afraid to defend my “crazy” ideas about nutrition, and that I had refused to debate the man in the grocery store! I tried to set him straight, but oddly he too thought that I must accept the man’s own description of the contents of the bag, and not a more objective description.

Moral: One might think that the moral is “don’t mess with the donut guy. You’ll both get powdered sugar all over yourselves, but the donut guy will enjoy it.” But, of course, sometimes one has a duty to warn someone else of the dangers that face them. Sometimes the only charitable thing to do is to warn someone that something is unhealthy, for their body or (even more crucially) for their soul. They may deny that it is what it is, until they are blue in the face. You cannot change that. What you can do is give the warning as best you can, and leave it in God’s hands to open their eyes to the danger.

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