When you think of products made for diabetics, what do you picture? I think of that freaky aisle at Walgreen’s with like, “special” white tube socks, toilet seats, and peppermint foot moisturizers. Although it’s admittedly been a challenge for me to stay away from this mecca of geriatric and demoralizing accessories for the last 10 years, I’m sure I will continue to survive for a few more decades without the sugar-free gummy bears that do unforgivable things to people’s stomachs. (For a good laugh, tho, the reviews of said gummies practically broke the Internet).
All distasteful jokes aside, I’ve never been particularly open minded towards many of the products that are specifically made for diabetics or with diabetics in mind. And I say that with the best, most sensitive intentions. So when the beautifully packaged, artfully marketed Carela Foods approached me last week to give their “glucose soothing” teas a try, I was beside myself with excitement. Just look at this lovely line up!
Carela is a new(ish) beverage company selling teas made with bitter melon, a veggie that has been proven to essentially lower blood sugar. YUP. I SAID LOWER. The company’s mission is to harness the powers of the mighty bitter melon, that has historically been a tricky to use but popular ingredient in Asian and South American cuisine (duh, it’s always on Chopped!), make it tasty enough for we Westernized sugar addicts to consume, and for the whole world to enjoy the health benefits of the melon.
So anyway, I said, “Cool, I’ll give it a whirl if you promise it’s not gross!” Needless to say, the word “bitter” in the description of a drink (that’s a veggie, not a fruit, or is it both?) was a little scary. But I perked up once I saw how swanky and delightful the packaging was. #MarketersDream…
To experiment with the magical wonders of the bitter melon, I tested my fasting blood sugar in the morning. 112. Perfect! I proceeded to my fridge, and cracked open a Peach Cooler flavored iced tea. On the phone with my boyfriend in that moment, I dramatically stated, “if I drop dead from this, I love you and thank you for helping me install my air conditioner that one time, you’re my hero.” and he said, “You are a hypochondriac. Drink it the damn tea.”
Expecting it to taste sort of like a tolerable but obviously chemically infused VitaminWater Zero, I tentatively raised the bottle to my mouth and took a swig. You guys. THIS STUFF IS SO DELICIOUS. Absolutely not one thing about it tasted artificially sweetened or like anything from that forbidden aisle in Walgreens. It was certainly not bitter, and there was no funky aftertaste. Just pure, ice cold, refreshing goodness.
So it clearly passed the taste test with flying colors…but what about the “glucose soothing” part?
THIS IS WHERE IT GETS GOOD, PEOPLE.
I waited about 60 minutes, then ate a whole wheat everything bagel with butter because I really wanted to push the limits of this drink (not because it was Friday and I was in rough shape…okay, fine, maybe it was both…whatever.)
Normally when I eat New York bagels, since they’re about 900x the size of anyone else’s doughy deliciousness, I cover them with a full bolus accounting for about 64-70g of carbohydrates (so naughty, I know!!!!). Sometimes I’ll even do a duel wave bolus if I eat it with cream cheese. Because fat. Bagels are so mean sometimes.
Not thinking the tea would make much of a difference, I did my normal bolusing thang, and about 2 hours later, I figured I’d test again to see what kind of science was happening in my body. I felt a little off when I did this follow-up test, so was curious to see the result. Based on historical “data” (aka my shitty memory), I’m typically ~200 that soon after eating a bagel and require a correction for the stubborn after-carbs. BUT NOPE. 55. I WAS 55 two hours after eating a bagel. A NEW YORK CITY SIZED BAGEL! There are a few other factors that played a role in this low, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the bitter melon played a big part in driving my BS down. I had some glucose tabs on me, so I popped a few of those to correct the low, and went about my business. Feeling much better, I grabbed a salad for lunch and didn’t bolus. Another 90 minutes later, tested again… 79. I was hovering in a place that I hadn’t hovered in….ever? It was pretty amazing. I stayed in or below range for the rest of the day, and even into Saturday, with very little correcting or even full-bolusing. It almost felt like I had taken a dose of Lantus or was back in my glory days of honeymooning. I was officially shocked.
A few days later, I was cleaning my apartment and took the ol’ pump off because I’ve had one too many run-ins with my tubing and door knobs. I had one more iced tea flavor chilling in my fridge, so I sipped on it while running around with the vacuum. Same deal, to make up for probably 1 or 2 units of basal that would have squeaked out in that hour, the bitter melon kept me in range. NOT TO MENTION THE CRANBERRY COOLER FLAVOR IS ALSO RIDICULOUSLY TASTY. It was a real treat to be able to unhitch for an hour and not worry about my whole day being derailed.
This stuff is dope, my friends. I 100% endorse these drinks as a flavorful, exciting alternative to artificially sweetened garbage. Also, not only does it quench my thirst and relieves me of my sugar guilt, but it also squashes my “buying stuff from big mean corporations” guilt. Carela teas are harvested and created by a partnership with the first carbon-neutral tea company in the world. BOOM.
From a legit medical and health perspective, I am very interested to hear what the Endos of the world have to say about the punch that this stuff can pack since I did experience a pretty significant blood sugar dip when I drank it. I’m excited to learn more about bitter melon and its proven abilities to help treat type 1 diabetes.
Thanks, Carela for sharing your product with me. I can’t wait to stock up on some more for the rest of the summer.