So a person with diabetes walks into a sugar factory……
You might think that this is the start of bad joke however this is not a joke but a recent experience of mine. During the holidays, following the completion of my first semester at University, my family brought me on the Chelsea sugar factory tour in Auckland.
I was excited because I have what you could call an immense interest in sugar but from two very different perspectives.
Firstly, as a type 1 diabetic I have to strictly monitor my blood sugar through finger pricks and with the help of a constant glucose monitor. I make an analysis and take appropriate action based on whether the blood sugar reading is within normal range or not. I always have to be on top of my sugar to reduce the possibility of future adverse health effects.
Secondly, I like sweet things very very much. By this I mean chocolate and miscellaneous sweet tasting goods. This interest pre-dates my diagnosis. Although sugary treats often weigh on my mind, they do not occupy anywhere near the amount of thought dedicated to blood sugar.
Today I would immerse myself in my love of sugar.
We embarked on our tour of the factory all geared up in our Chelsea colours, not blue, but neon pink high vis vests and helmets. We journeyed via the wharf on a train to what I would call the “Dune du Pilat” of sugar, aka Sugar Mountain which was situated in the raw store (where raw sugar is first stored when it arrives by ship). To be honest, it put me off sugar a little bit (alas, not enough) as it was as far as away from a scene in Willy Wonka’s factory as could be. Not because of the lack of Oompah Loompas but because the raw store is not an attractive or sweet smelling place. Apparently they even found an abandoned lunch box inside the raw sugar once! We were then taken to the melt house where the first stages of sugar production commence and the magic begins.
The tour guide explained a bit about the factory’s history and how it was built in 1883 taking 18 months to complete, using one million hand-made bricks. Once opened, the factory was given the name, Chelsea, after the London hometown of the first customs officer. In 1884, the first ships full of Indonesian raw sugar arrived, and the factory began processing and packing.
By the end of the tour and despite having had enough sugar talk for one day, the delicious looking cabinet of sugar heavy treats snapped me back to reality and I made a conscious effort to focus my attention on my blood sugar and keep on monitoring my levels!
Glucose upon publishing: 13 mmol/L
Ps Care to guess what else I did during the holiday? A diabetic walks into an ice cream factory… This is also not a joke!