Category Archives: Diabetes and Diet

Juice Fasting with Type 1 Diabetes

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I’ve written about juicing in the past here.  Last week I decided to try a few days of juice fasting.  I drank about 2 to 3 liters of vegetable and fruit juice each day and the only other thing I consumed was water.  I used a high quality omega brand juicer and drank mostly non starchy vegetables.  I lasted 4 whole days.  Here’s how it went down:

First of all, why did I do this?

Several reasons.  First of all, I just felt like it was the right time for me, motivation-wise.  But, also I was extremely curious to see how someone with type 1 diabetes, like myself, would manage such a drastic reduction in calories and a juice fast.  I also wanted to welcome springtime with tons of fruits and vegetables without their pulp for an infusion of vitamins and minerals.  And I wanted to reset my way of eating.  I hate Winter and so every year when it’s cold and dark, I tend to comfort myself too much with sugary and fatty foods.  It doesn’t matter how healthy walnuts and almonds are, eating too many will make you fat.  It seems easier for me to do something extreme like a juice fast in order to remind myself how much better it feels on a really healthy diet.  Last summer I did a raw food detox for a few days and felt so great, lowered my need for insulin, and felt ready to eat healthier again so I figured this would be similar.

Day 1

I started on a Saturday.  I felt fine until mid afternoon when I developed a headache.  I was outside much of the day and running after the kids.  It was probably good I stayed a little active.  I don’t know if the fast caused my headache because I have allergies and during this time of year I get the type of headache I had that day so maybe, maybe not, I don’t know.  Either way, the headache got worse and worse (it was like a migraine).  By 10pm I was in agony and threw up 5 times and shivered violently for a good hour.  My blood sugar dropped and I had to get orange juice in me.  My husband was my nurse and checked my blood sugar every hour until 1am while I slept it off.  This wasn’t uncommon for me.  I am very sensitive to nausea and migraines often make me throw up several times a year so again, I don’t know if this was something I can attribute to the fast but it certainly was a miserable start and I worried if I was going to last another day.  That night I injected half of my long acting basal insulin and it ended up working perfectly.

Day 2

The next morning I woke up feeling perfectly fine.  No headache, no weakness, no morning stiffness in my joints.  I jumped out of bed in a majorly uncharacteristic way and got straight to juicing breakfast.  The entire day went amazing.  I felt great though I did take a nap (something I never, ever do) in the afternoon.

Day 3

I woke up wonderfully again and this time felt like I was floating on air.  This was so strange.  I told Alex, “I feel…euphoria!”  And then I googled “symptoms of a fast” and found that people often feel “euphoria”.  Wow.  Ok, so it’s not just me making this up.  I felt extremely peaceful and calm and happy.  I napped again this day.

Day 4

I felt fine again but started getting loose stools and that progressed for the worse during the day, leaving me feeling a bit dehydrated and uncomfortable.  And my peace was decidedly disturbed.  I chose to end the fast that night because during the next 2 days I was to drive a total of 12 hours to presentations about diabetes and didn’t want to be stuck in a car on the interstate while needing a restroom.  Not to mention diabetes and dehydration is a bad combination.  It only takes one high blood sugar for things to possibly swing out of control.  I made a pact with myself before I started the fast to above all, be safe.  I would have liked to continue but I think for my first juice fast 4 whole days was probably ideal.

Random things about this experience:

-I am an A blood type which is associated with eating more of a vegetarian type diet.  I looked into my metabolic typing a while back and found out I’m what they call a “carb type” which happened to correlate with my blood type.  Ignoring all this information, I have to admit I’ve always felt best on fruits, vegetables, and light protein sources like chicken, white fish, and legumes.  A juice fast is really great for my “type” (whatever that really is) and perhaps that’s why I didn’t have a lot of the negative symptoms others report during these fasts.  Just a thought.

-I’ve heard of people doing a juice fast by blending fruits and vegetables in a blender and then straining the pulp.  I wouldn’t recommend this as the best option because the fast motion of the blender is harsh on the valuable nutrients in the foods.  An Omega single masticating juicer is gentle and while it completely separates the pulp from the juice, it leaves all your vitamins and minerals intact.  The downside is these juicers are expensive and take up a lot of space.  I love mine (and am grateful I bought it before the kids were born-you know back when I had more money).

-I also know some people do a juice fast with store bought juices.  This is not a “juice fast”.  Store bought juices are miserably deficient in the valuable nutrients the foods once contained because they’ve been pasturized and stored for far too long.  Making your own juice means you know how fresh your fruits and veggies and herbs are, you ensure their cleanliness, and if you drink them right away, you get loads of nutrition in a glass that many people rarely get in a full week.

-It’s probably not correct to call this a “detox” because from what I understand, and I could be wrong, to detox you need fiber which will act like a sweeper of your colon.  Maybe what I’ll do next is just use the same foods but put them in a blender for green smoothies.  A green smoothie detox!

-Juicing omits all the fiber so nutrients are more easily digested and absorbed by the body.

-I juiced the following foods:  kale, collard greens, spinach, celery, beets, carrots, ginger, mint, cilantro, bok choy, arugula, cabbage, watermelon, blueberries, apple, lemon, oranges, and grapefruit.  You’d be surprised how good mint and ginger makes these juices taste :)

-I lost 4 pounds on the fast, my skin looked great, I felt more in tune with my body, and very satisfied with life.  All in all I can’t wait to do it again, if only for a weekend.  It’s been a week since my fast and I’m still using lowered insulin requirements so this seems to help me with my insulin resistance problems.  Now I just have to continue to eat right.  But if I slide out of place I know this may be just the encouraging boost I need to get me back on track.

Disclaimer:  I’m not a doctor nor any kind of medical professional.  So don’t take my word for any of this, it’s just my experience and I’m drawing from my personal knowledge base. Some people do not eliminate on fasts (which is important) and endure irreversible damage to their vital organs such as their kidneys and liver.  A fast is something very serious if you have a health condition and you want to really research the topic, perhaps talk to your medical team, and definitely listen to your body through the entire process.  Beginners should do very short fasts at first as should people who eat an unhealthy diet.  Drink plenty of liquids, rest as needed, and stick to light exercise.  A fast should not feel awful and if it does, stop.

Emotional Eating with Diabetes Book Review

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Emotional Eating with Diabetes is Ginger Vieira’s 2nd book.  It tackles a subject all too familiar to people with diabetes and perhaps, not acknowledged enough by everybody else.

I’ve blogged about my struggles with food but not in great detail.  So I want to share my emotional eating story.

I’m a really emotional person and someone who has lived with type 1 for over 18 years (and through childhood and teenage years) so put that together and add in some 1st world body issues and you have someone who can review this book from a very personal place of experience.

And while I think I’ve got a good grip on my emotional eating issues (they don’t resurface often), I’m like an alcoholic in the sense that I need consistent reminders to stay on the right path and out of the dark side.  I really benefited from reading this book.  And I think I’ll read it every single year from now on for support.

It started when I was 12 and had only been living with type 1 for a year.  I would beg my mom for gum at the grocery store and then sell each piece at school for 10 cents, which I’d then pool together to buy an alternate lunch at school each day-a Little Debbie oatmeal cookie or fudge round.  I hated diabetes and the rules that came from my doctors so much that I was going to spite them any way I could.  So I ate what I wasn’t supposed to for lunch.

Then I started sneaking in candy bars and granola bars when no one was looking just to eat what diabetes wouldn’t let me eat.  (Do remember, this was before fast acting and 20-some hour insulin so back then we did have to abide by some rules that we don’t have any longer.)

I would binge and then feel like the worst person in the world.  And I developed a cycle of rebellion mixed with self-hate and a neglect for self-respect (ironically something I was all for in other manifestations).  People didn’t know I had a problem because I hid it.  And that was probably the first sign of a problem for me.

My health suffered, my weight went up, I had a hard time keeping up with such a destructive way of living.

Eventually (after years of hard work), I began to enjoy eating healthy and learned how to treat myself in a respectful way when it came to food.  And because food matters so much in diabetes, my health improved dramatically-no, my life improved dramatically.

If this sounds at all like you or you want to stop feeling obsessive about food, get this book.  It’s written in a straight forward but friendly way that will acknowledge all your fears and anxieties and help you through them.  This book will give you a guided path to where you want to be and show you how to be kind to yourself along the way.

I agree that the “can’t eat that” mentality is harmful. Ginger stresses that we make our own decisions and instead of telling ourselves we can’t have something, we either choose to or choose not to. And that’s how I do now with bread, rice, and pasta and other heavy carbs. I choose not to have them but I know that if I want them, I can have them. There is a difference between enjoying chicken and veggies  and eating that same dish while staring longingly at the rice side that is “forbidden”. Our minds are very susceptible to this kind of pressure and they are bound to crack.

Every now and then I eat my favorite food-ice cream, and I eat it really slowly, savoring every bite.  And I remember how I used to eat it so fast my tongue would burn and I would ask myself “What are you doing, you’re not even enjoying this?!”  That’s when I realize I’ve come a long way.  And yes, it took baby steps, the way Ginger describes in her book, but eventually we can get where we’re meant to be.  And the journey is so worthwhile.  This book is succinct, kind, and best of all I believe it’s effective.

I strongly recommend it.

Buy it here Smile

Interview with Type 1 Living Abroad, Ariana Mullins

 

Remember earlier this year when I interviewed Nathan ShackelfordHis blog is still one of my faves.  Well, he said I might like to check out his sister’s blog.  Ariana Mullins has type 1 diabetes like her brother, but doesn’t blog about it.  Instead she blogs about her family’s adventures living in Europe.  She is a fantastic writer (she just wrote my favorite blog post ever) and takes some amazing pictures.  Do check out her blog, it’s a beautiful reminder of what living a healthy, fabulous, and grateful life is all about.

I asked her some questions about how she manages her diabetes and what it was like having diabetes and living in Europe (and other places):

How long have you had type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed 21 years ago, at age 12.  By the way, I was diagnosed by my dad and his glucometer, and never even saw a doctor  about my diabetes until I was 14.  My dad and older bother are both type 1 diabetics, and we were living in a rural area in the Philippines. My dad helped me work out my insulin dosages, taught me to estimate carb counts, etc.  My brother sent me my first insulin wallet, (which I used for the next 15 years!)  I decided right away that I wanted to be healthier than any non-diabetic, and took everything related to self-care pretty seriously.  Six months after diagnosis, I left for boarding school, on another island– so I was really on my own!  When I did finally see an endocrinologist, he was amazed that I had an A1c of 5.6!

What’s your motto in life?

“Never make decisions based on fear.”  I think I have lived this philosophy pretty well with my diabetes.  I haven’t let my diagnosis keep me from doing anything I really wanted to do, with the exception of snorkeling and scuba diving.  I used to snorkel all the time as a kid, but once I became diabetic, the idea of being in the middle of the ocean with low blood sugar was just too hard to justify!  Other than that, I have not let my diagnosis keep me from living as fully as possible, trying as many new experiences as I can.

Ariana and her brother, Nathan:IMG_1246

What is your diet like and why do you eat that way?

I eat low carb, and follow more of a paleo-type of approach.  I love food, and love to cook.  We originally started eating a grain-free diet because of food allergies that my daughter and husband have, but I quickly realized that it was great for all of us, and simplified my life a lot, since I was already not eating much starch anyway.  We eat plenty of meat and eggs, lots of vegetables, coconut products, and plenty of fat.  If we’ve been to France recently, then there’s plenty of great cheese on the table, as well!
I don’t crave a lot of sweets, but I do make room in my day for dark chocolate (usually 80%) and am happy to try out grain-free dessert recipes for my family, although I don’t usually eatmuch of those treats.  We always eat very well, though, with an emphasis on great quality items.  Who wouldn’t be happy to have a nice steak with herbed butter, grilled asparagus, olives, and a fresh, herbal salad for dinner?  Add a glass of red wine and some chocolate for dessert, and I feel like one lucky lady!  I never feel deprived, and absolutely love eating all of the great food at our table.

I think that one of the most positive, proactive things a person (regardless of health concerns) can do is to look at their food supply– what are we really eating, and where did it come from?  How was it produced?  Taking an interest in our sustenance is extremely rewarding, and eating well does not have to be expensive or difficult.  It’s true that eating quality food is a real priority for me, both in terms of budget and effort, but I don’t spend more than the average person (in fact, probably less!) and we feel incredibly wealthy when we sit down to eat together.

(Sysy speaking-she isn’t kidding.  Below is her cooking.  It’s what I want for dinner.)

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What in your opinion, is the toughest thing about living with type 1 diabetes?

I think the hardest part is just that it’s always there, on my mind, and impacting the smallest decisions in my day.  What I eat, when I eat.  The type of exercise I do, when, how long, etc.  Although diabetes doesn’t limit me much, it impacts everything.  When I leave the house, I have to think about whether I have something on hand in case of hypoglycemia, and whether it’s enough, or where I could get more, if needed.   And I am always counting…  The insulin I took, what I ate, when, what I will eat, what my last number was, what happened yesterday or the day before, trying to anticipate what my blood sugar might do.  There are so many variables– how much sleep I got, the amount of stress I am under, how old my insulin is, which ratio of insulin in my system is basal, how long a bolus dose will be working… The list of factors is endless, and it can be overwhelming at times, when there is a problematic dynamic happening that I need to figure out.  I can do everything “right” and still not get the numbers I am shooting for.  Diabetes takes a ton of mental energy and patience, and when other things in my life are a little wild, it can feel like too much!

Do you ever fear your daughter will develop it?

Yes, I do fear that she might.  Genetically, the chances are not too bad, but there is always that possibility.  Honestly, this is another reason that we eat the way we do– I want to give her the best health foundation that I can.  I do my best without being obsessive, and the rest is really not up to me.  It’s not something I think about every day, though, and it really wouldn’t be the end of the world if she did develop diabetes.

With her adorable daughter, Amelia:IMG_5617

Is it challenging living abroad with type 1 diabetes? What places have been the most challenging/least challenging?

I don’t find living abroad with this diagnosis to be much more challenging than living in the US.  In Germany, I did have to do more work to find a doctor that spoke English.  My diabetes is the same here as it would be anywhere else in the world.  I think it would be more challenging living in a really hot country, where I had to think all of the time about keeping my insulin cold.  Or a place that I couldn’t find supplies so easily.  But so far, it’s not hard at all.  We travel quite a bit, and that of course presents some challenges, but usually nothing too serious.  And of course,  the travel is so worth it!

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If you can’t find glucose tablets, what do you use for lows?

Fruit– I often carry an apple in my purse.  I can’t find Smarties candy here, which is my #1 choice.  Fruit leathers are pretty good, though, and if I am out and about, then getting a little bit of fruit juice is fast and effective.

How many times a day do you check your blood sugars?

This actually varies.  Since I have some limitations of test strip supply, I use a “save and splurge” sort of strategy.  I might use tons of strips for a few days, while I am figuring out a dynamic or blood sugar problem.  Once I have logged all of that information and have something to work with, I will make changes, and then check less obsessively, to see how things are going.  On average, though, I’d say I check 5-7 times per day.

Why did you decide to move abroad? Were you worried about how you would manage with your diabetes?

We decided to move overseas because we wanted to live in Europe.  It’s really that simple!  When we found out that my husband could get a good job working for the US government overseas, we jumped at the opportunity.  We lived in Germany for a while, and now we have been in England for over a year.
To be honest, my diabetes was not even a factor I considered when making the decision to move.  I think this makes sense, if you take into account my first years as a diabetic– completely self-managing in a foreign country.  I had not gotten exceptional care from doctors in the US, and the cost of insurance, co-pays and things like that never made me feel like I was particularly lucky to be a diabetic in my home country.  Once, I went to see a really great endo in Portland, and they booked my appointment and said they would accept my insurance.  But it turned out that they wouldn’t– I found this out after the doctor had run a whole bunch of labs (which just revealed that I was super healthy!) and we ran up a bill of $1,000 for that one visit, during a time of financial strain!  I could not even afford a follow up, which would have been the more valuable visit.  See what I mean?  There are great resources for diabetics, but not necessarily available to the people who need them.

So, here in England, the way they manage diabetes is not that great, either.  But they do cover prescriptions and supplies 100%!  Honestly, it is the patient that manages their diabetes, not the doctor.  So I would rather be empowered by having the supplies and medications I need, than lots of face time with doctors and nurses.  That said, there is a diabetes clinic nearby, and I can call one of the nurses, send them my logs, etc., whenever I want, for help.  The technology is a bit behind, though.  Not many diabetics use pumps here, since the funding is limited, and CGM supplies are not covered.  I am currently on a waiting list for a pump class, and then subsequently getting set up with a pump.  I don’t know how long it will be, and it’s not something I am expecting next week, I’m just waiting to see how it plays out.  Interestingly, you have to sort of prove your worthiness to get a pump– a reasonable A1c, and adeptness at carb counting and adjusting insulin.  I know these are kind of basic in the US, but I think it’s more rare to find PWDs who are very engaged in their own management.  This observation is simply based on the way things are handled– I haven’t met another PWD here yet!

What advice do you have for someone with type 1 who is considering moving to England (where you live now)?

I would recommend that they work to get their diabetes well-managed, through whatever resources they have available to them at home first.  It may vary depending on where in England they land, but I don’t think the management resources here are great.  They would need to be pretty competent with trouble-shooting and investigating issues on their own.  Sure, there are doctors and nurses here to help, but it could take a while to get an appointment at a diabetes clinic, or to find the exact type of help they need.  For example, if I had been working with a great endo before I moved here, I would have tried to set up a way to stay in contact with them, and pay for consults over the phone or via email.  On the other hand, if they qualify for NHS coverage, then they are going to love getting all their supplies for free!

The thing that most positively impacts your diabetes management?

A curiosity about the human body, and health in general.  Being diagnosed at a young age definitely sparked my life-long interest in health and nutrition.  Our bodies are really amazing.  They are always working hard to do their best, and deserve our best in return– the best nutrition we can find, plenty of rest, play, etc.  It makes me sad when I see people feeling angry with their bodies, or fighting them– the body is always working really hard, and never tries to sabotage us! The discomforts or troubling symptoms I may have are just forms of communication.  If I pay attention and respond, I can take great care of myself!  Don’t let the challenges of living with diabetes overshadow all of the really wonderful things that we are capable of through such exquisitely designed structures!

Where in the world would Carmen Sandiego be if she had type 1 diabetes?

Probably in Germany!  The best diabetes technology always seems to be coming from there, and they also have a great healthcare system that allows diabetics to get the care that they need, with minimal personal expense.

Any last words?

I don’t usually write about diabetes, so this was a positive exercise for me, in terms of articulating my experience with this condition.  Diabetes is actually not a big part of my identity.  I learned from an early age that I didn’t like being thought of as “that diabetic girl.”  People either felt sorry for me, or felt like they needed to get involved, or (worse yet!) tell me their best diabetes-related horror story.  No thanks!  Life is so interesting, and there is so much out there to experience, so I do my best to strike the balance between taking good care of myself, and just living and enjoying everything else around me.

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With her husband, Jeff.

Thank you for letting me share a bit about my experiences, Sysy!

Anytime!  Thanks for being so candid and helping prove that people with diabetes can do anything.

Classification of Carbs

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I really believe carb counting alone is insufficient when it comes to my diabetes management.  At least the simple way it’s taught.  It’s just my opinion and I’ll explain why:

I’ve found that for ME, there are adjustments I make for different types of carbs.  These are adjustments beyond just subtracting grams of fiber.  A carb is not a carb.  They vary spectacularly and learning their differences helps me keep my blood sugars in range and helps me decide which carbs to avoid.

I classify my carbs:

-Refined grains

-Sugar/sucrose/plain fructose (no fiber)

-HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)

-Chocolate, ice cream, and other high fat desserts

-Poultry/Meat/Seafood

-Fruits and vegetables

Refined Grains

When I eat anything with processed grains like white rice sushi or pizza or cookies, cake, or crackers, I have to watch out for a post meal blood sugar skyrocket.  It doesn’t happen right away which is why it’s often confusing to dose for these kinds of foods.  For example, last time you had pizza you were high afterwards so this time around you give more insulin, only to get low in the middle-towards the end of your meal.

I find that about 30 minutes after eating anything with refined or processed grains, I have to give another dose of insulin.  An insulin pump option on a dual or square wave bolus works well for a lot of people, but from what I gather, people with and without pumps have a hard time keeping blood sugars in range with processed grains.

Sugar

Eating something like candy made from glucose or sugar or drinking plain 100% juice or sugar sweetened beverage is a bit different.  I find that if I’m going to consume this within a reasonably fast amount time (as opposed to snacking over a period of 30 minutes) then I count carbs and using my 1:15 scale, I give just that amount of insulin.  Then I wait 15 minutes for the insulin to start working (more if I’m not in range).  I find that the insulin cancels out the sugar carbs pretty well and there is no shocking aftermath.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

This one is interesting.  At least for me (remember, this is just what happens in MY body).  I find that candy or beverages made with HFCS works like when I eat refined grains.  But that makes sense to me when I think about corn being a grain!  It’s easy to forget because people serve it to kids and say “eat your veggies”.

High fat desserts

This gets it’s own category because of the large amount of fat (and because they’re my favorite!)  I try to stick with dark chocolate for a low dose of sugar.  I also make sure to buy desserts that do not have HFCS in it as a sweetener.  I try to get the gourmet kind with minimal ingredients and then I count carbs and give insulin in the middle of eating since the fat content really slows down the absorption of most of these foods.  If there is a lot of sugar I give insulin prior to eating as usual.  I’m referring to a dessert like high fat truffles, mostly.

Poultry/Meat/Seafood

I count carbs and then add a tiny extra amount of insulin to my carb count depending on how much I eat.  I don’t have to do this unless I’m really filling up on this protein source.  I love how these foods fill me up and do very little to my blood sugars.

Vegetables and Fruits

I’m a fan of these, especially in terms of carbs.  As you are well aware, the high antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, fiber, and water content of these foods makes them wonderful for our health.  I definitely don’t need as much insulin for these foods.  I count the carbs and then omit for fiber content.  Fruit is something I stick to consuming in it’s natural state and in small quantities.  The sugar in fruit is fructose and too much overloads the liver, causing fatty liver problems.  Oh and it definitely affects blood sugars.  My favorite are cherries, they are very low glycemic.  Have you tried them for a low?  It takes so many!

I know I didn’t talk about legumes or nuts.  I don’t eat legumes anymore.  I think I ate too many as a kid.  I treat legumes like vegetables and I treat nuts like meat.

With any food:  If I eat a lot, I need to give a little extra insulin for the full stomach effect that Dr. Bernstein has talked about in his books.

I adjust for a few other things.  I’ve mentioned them before but here we go again:

-BM status.  Eww, I know.  But being backed up might make a person anticipate a need for more insulin.  The opposite of that issue= less insulin.  So watch out for major lows if you get food poisoning!

-Stress.  If I’m stressed, I have to give a little bit extra insulin to combat the stress hormones and their affects on my blood sugars.

-Exercise.  Different types of exercise require different diabetes management approaches.  Read Ginger Vieira’s book for that info and so much more-even worksheets for getting all these changes right!

-PMS.  Days before I start, I need to up my basal insulin.

-Sleep.  If I stay up late (past midnight), I have to give some extra insulin (unless I’m active).

-Sedentary.  If I’m being sedentary more than two days in a row due to sickness or diabetes burnout or whatever, I definitely have to up my basal insulin substantially (by 30-40%).

-Too much artificial sweeteners.  Certain artificial sweeteners in high doses do contain carbs (it’s a small amount per serving so they’re legally allowed to round down to 0) so if you’re binging on diet coke, check your blood sugar and stay alert to a sneaky increase.

That’s all I can think of.  It’s just an example of how you want to be aware of how your body reacts to different types of food and activity.  You can see why I stick with meat/poultry/seafood, vegetables, and fruits.  Much better blood sugar stability and less variability for me.  But when I do splurge, at least being aware of how those foods act differently help me manage them for those occasions.

I write all this out because you can have tighter blood sugar management.  It helps to learn yourself and the foods you’re eating.  Again, get Ginger’s book or ebook and discover how to improve your blood sugars.  I highly recommend it.

Diabetes Blog Week 2012, Me and Food Need to Kiss and Make-Up

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Click for the One Thing to Improve – Wednesday 5/16 Link List.
Yesterday we gave ourselves and our loved ones a big pat on the back for one thing we are great at.  Today let’s look at the flip-side.  We probably all have one thing we could try to do better.  Why not make today the day we start working on it.  No judgments, no scolding, just sharing one small thing we can improve so the DOC can cheer us on!

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Well, reading all the posts from yesterday about what people do well gave me a lot to think about.  With just about every other post I thought, “wow, nice, I wish I did that really well…”.

What stuck out the most for me was something I didn’t catch anyone mentioning and I suppose it’s because many of us people with diabetes struggle with this:  Our relationship with food.

I don’t know about yours but even though I eat pretty healthy, my BMI is within healthy range (um, barely), and my blood pressure, lipid profile, thyroid function, and A1c are all within normal healthy ranges, I still feel like the missing piece to my puzzle is predominately my tumultuous relationship with food.  I don’t remember having this problem before my diabetes diagnosis so I will blame this largely on diabetes.  But also on plain old me.  I’ve abused alcohol, painkillers, and food in the past and it’s all partially connected to the way I really long for an easy escape from my feelings about my problems.  I’ve done a lot better in the past 6 years and now feel like if I could just grip my food struggles, man would that be nice!

So what is what I need to improve exactly?  Well, I’d say…anxious over-eating.  You know, the opposite of mindful eating.  I do pretty well all month long and then bam, about 10 days before my period I’m a disaster eater.  Who cares if I eat too much of something healthy?  It’s still going to pack on the pounds, leave me feeling miserable, and negatively impact my blood sugars and health.

So one issue to work on- pms symptoms.  A second issue is we don’t have a dinner table.  Well we do but it’s one of those high ones and the stools that went with the table all broke over the years (They really don’t make furniture the way they used to, sigh.)  Ok, we’ve got one stool left but sitting in it feels like it cuts off my circulation so geez was that a bad purchase or what!?  Alright, so I eat standing up most of the time which really helps me eat too quickly.  Also, my little ones are the perfect excuse for me to feel like I should really hurry and eat.  I ought to just copy exactly how they eat-slow and in the moment.

Let’s not forget diabetes genuinely causes issues in this department.  Low and not hungry?  Too bad, you sad sap, stuff that mouth full of calorie heavy glucose.  High and nauseated because you ate something you were really craving?  Aww…you just can’t win can you?  lol…Next thing you know food is medicine and food is a drug and food is a vice and a form of punishment and relief and pleasure and arrghhh…

Ok, this post has been seriously helpful.  It’s helped me see the light.  What’s the point in complaining if one isn’t going to make a plan of action, right?

I talked with my husband and we’re going to focus on saving towards a new table…seeing the impact on our health and what our kids are picking up as habits, we think it qualifies as a priority.  Eating with the kids, sitting on the floor, on the ottoman is getting cramped and too messy.  Yes, the living room ottoman is our dinner table.  Bet you didn’t know that interesting fact about me?

Also, what emotions do I have hidden under the surface relating to food?  Why such animosity?  Why do I want to simultaneously praise butter in all it’s buttery goodness and strangle it by it’s rectangular, slippery throat?  Why do I feel like throwing away all the cutlery in the kitchen in a desperate attempt to alienate food?  I will think and meditate on that and get back to you.

So what would you like to improve?  Remember there’s no shame!  In fact, take this time to identify your “thing”, whatever it is, and work on making it better.

As our D-friend Ginger always says, we are works in progress!

Sugarless Tuesdays

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Jessica Apple of A Sweet Life.org has started something that I would love to encourage all of you to consider.  Sugarless Tuesdays.  I asked Jessica “why?” and this is what she had to say:

“Why Sugarless Tuesdays?

Most of us have heard of Meatless Mondays, a movement to reduce meat consumption.  I’m not against Meatless Mondays, but I don’t think meat consumption is the main problem with America’s diet.  I’m someone who feels deeply about animal rights and doesn’t like the idea of eating animals, but I believe humans have evolved to do so.  What has no place in the human diet are foods with added sugar.  Sugar is essentially toxic to our bodies.  For diabetics it’s immediately toxic and for everyone else it’s something that slowly causes illness.  Since I’m passionate about trying to help people with diabetes – and everyone at risk for diabetes (which is almost everyone in America!) – I decided to start the Sugarless Tuesdays movement.  I think that anyone who gives up sugar one day a week will see how easy it is and find themselves giving up sugar many days a week.  Additionally, once you start to think about not eating sugar, you begin to realize just how much sugar you’ve been eating.

Sugar consumption isn’t just connected with obesity.  It’s also connected to heart disease and cancer.

Who could benefit?  Everyone.  It’s the easiest most obvious path to better health.  Just one day a week with no sugar.”

Thanks Jess!  I totally agree.  In my health coaching work I’ve been working on creating a presentation on the topic of sugar consumption and it’s effects on our health.  And the research I’ve encountered about sugar is downright frightening.  Read this article on it by Gary Taubes.  Excellent stuff.

Did you know sugar qualifies as an addictive substance?

According to Joshua Rosenthal in his book, “Integrative Nutrition”, It’s addictive because:

A, If you quit cold turkey, you will endure withdrawal symptoms.  You’ll feel similar symptoms quitting sugar, caffeine, and cigarettes.

And B, a little taste usually makes you want more.

This doesn’t mean we deny ourselves any sweets.  The problem is the way too many of us consume too much sugar.

Sometimes when we talk about “sweets in moderation” we are still consuming way more sugar than what is healthy for the human body.  So try out Sugarless Tuesdays today and see if you feel better at the end of the day.  See if your mood was impacted at all.  Try reducing your sugar intake on other days of the week.  Do you find you miss it like crazy?  Don’t fret.  Awareness leads to all things good.  If you come to the conclusion you are addicted to sugar, join us on Sugarless Tuesdays and then maintain an awareness for the rest of the week and reduce your sugar at a really slow pace so that you don’t have to go through tough withdrawal symptoms.

I will leave you with this:

Dr. Nancy Appleton’s book, Lick the Sugar Habit lists a ton of ways excess sugar can hurt our health.  Here are just 10 of sugar’s effects according to her:

1. It feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach.

2. It can cause autoimmune diseases such as: arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis.

3. It greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida yeast infections.

4. It can increase the size of your liver by making your liver cells divide and it can increase the amount of liver fat.

5. It can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney such as the formation of kidney stones.

6. It can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

7. It can cause hormonal imbalances such as: increasing estrogen in men, exacerbating PMS, and decreasing growth hormone.

8. Your body changes it into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch.

9. It has the potential of inducing abnormal metabolic processes in a normal healthy individual and to promote chronic degenerative diseases.

10. It upsets the mineral relationships in your body causing chromium and copper deficiencies and interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.

This is not about fear mongering but about using information as power.  And this isn’t just for diabetics, this is for everyone.  We can do this together.  Click here to like Sugarless Tuesdays on Facebook!

Raw Milk Experiment

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My family and I live in Virginia where it’s illegal to buy and sell raw milk.  However, clever people have found a legal loophole.  The law states a person can consume the milk from their own cow.  So we have bought what is called a cow share.  It allows us to legally purchase raw milk because we’re just drinking what our dear cow provides.

Don’t worry, I researched this farm, talked to people who’ve been drinking their milk for years, and even inquired into the health and total treatment of the cows.  Safety is very important with stuff like this.  Totally unrelated, but I love cows.  Such gorgeous lugs :)

Anyway, why am I trying raw milk?

First of all, I’ve become aware that much nutrition is destroyed in the pasteurization process.  Some don’t agree but I’ve found more researchers agreeing than not agreeing.  Milk is pasteurized to kill anything harmful in it.  However, a cow that is healthy, that eats it’s proper diet (grass, not grains!), is treated with love and care, and is milked under strict sanitation guidelines yields safe, healthy milk.  And that appeals to me.

Also, there have been too many studies for my comfort talking about a link between pasteurized milk and type 1 diabetes in children.  I have two such children and therefore take this information very seriously.

Raw milk proponents say the benefits include:

-More Vitamin A, C, and D

-More readily absorbed calcium and iron, Vitamin B12, and B6

-More minerals, including Iodine and Folate

-Protection against asthma and allergies in children (pasteurized milk has been strongly associated with the increase in asthma, allergies, ADD, auto immune diseases and more.)

(View source for the above info.)

My husband grew up in a rural area and drank milk straight out of the cow’s (and goat’s) teets and he literally is the healthiest person I know.  Literally.  All he’s ever had to deal with is a cold and because this is all he’s ever experienced, he is severely annoyed by something as simple as a runny nose.  (Lucky…)  Is there a connection?  I don’t know but I’m intrigued.

I’ve been drinking the milk for a week now and all I can say is tastes amazing.  It has no strong flavor whatsoever.  It just tastes like creamy heaven.  One of the best parts is it doesn’t taste like stinky plastic because it hasn’t been sitting in a plastic container for weeks or months.

I will let everyone know if I notice any benefits to our family in the next weeks/months.  I’m not looking for any, instead, I’m trying to tie us closer to things as they come in nature-keeping safety as a priority.  I figure that’s the healthiest way to go.

Anyone out there drink raw milk or have any opinions on it?  I’m very interested to hear!

Why I Love the Study of Nutrition

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I love the study of nutrition…

  • Because I’ve learned food is medicine
  • Because what we eat influences what we think.  A world that eats high quality food is a world that has more positivity, love, and patience.
  • Because what we eat communicates directly with our genes.  What we eat is information.  And that information helps determine what diseases we’ll develop or not develop and what health issues our children will be predisposed to or not predisposed to.
  • Because to be sick we either have too much or too little of something.  And a huge chunk of that has to do with food and all that’s in it or not in it.
  • Because the more we know and apply, the better we feel.  The better we feel, the more we can do.  The more we can do, well…the sky is the limit.

As people with diabetes, I think we benefit enormously from learning about nutrition because when you have a chronic disease that impacts every part, every organ of the body, you need all the help you can get.  We eat every single day and so every day is an opportunity to give ourselves something that will make us healthier, stronger, smarter, and happier.  The right foods do that.  And I think it’s amazing.

Closing the Kitchen

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Recently, my kids have gone from eating their brown rice and veggies, quinoa with garlic and ginger, and organic poultry, fish, and meats to wanting only fruit and dairy and grains.  They’d probably want coke all the time except that stuff has never passed their lips so they don’t know what they are missing.  And that’s why they prefer the starchier, sweeter stuff.  They’ve had it and they’re not naïve anymore to the big world of junk food.  I should have kept them in the dark…

Anyway, my only hope is to have them be hungry enough at meal time so that they’ll eat what I have to offer.  I don’t plan on being cruel and force feeding them what they don’t like.  But I need them not to eat processed foods and I want to avoid scenarios where they tire me out to the point of desperately feeding them crappy sugar laden breakfast cereal “Fine, you win!  Just stop the whining!” (yes, it’s happened).

I’m going to close the kitchen.  I grew up hearing that children require snacks in between meals because they’re growing and they get hungry more often.  But, I have been learning more and more about nutrition from experts and many of them hold the opinion that we should be hungry before meals and we shouldn’t snack all doggone day-and this includes children.  And while I don’t think snacking is a sin, I do think that for me and my kids it’s become an inconvenient appetite destroyer.

I try to make every meal and not pull it out of a box.  I also eat different foods than my kids.  And my husband eats different foods from me and the kids.  So by the time dinner rolls around I’ve made seven different meals and cut up fruit or vegetables or cheese for snacks and it just hit me that I practically live in the kitchen.  Not cool.  I grew up hearing the whole “pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen” saying and swore I’d NEVER spend too much time in the kitchen.  In fact, when I was pregnant, I looked down to find myself barefoot in the kitchen, freaked out, and quickly got some shoes on my swollen feet.  You can say feminism has scarred me.  Whatever.  Point is, I hate looking at food all day you know?  It says, “eat me!” and so all day I’m fighting the temptation to eat the kid’s whole wheat pasta or my husband’s rice and beans.  Or I’m sneaking in a bite of food here and there and realizing that one bite of food is enough to throw blood sugars and weight loss efforts.  It’s exhausting.

So I’m closing the kitchen.  I’m going to make sure the kids eat a good breakfast and then I’ll have my grapefruit or avocado or whatever I’m having and then kitchen closed.  It will reopen for lunch and then it will close.  It will reopen for dinner and then it will close.  My kids are used to a bottle of milk or coconut milk or almond milk before bed.  I’ll leave them that luxury.  But snacks in between meals?  Nope.  I need them hungry enough to eat what I know is best for them to eat.  I mean who’s in charge here?  Me or them?

Ok, I’ve adequately pep talked myself.  Let’s do this!

(I’ll keep you posted on our progress…or lack thereof :)

Do any of you stick to three meals and no snacks during the day?  If so, how does it work for you?

Thoughts on the Paleo Diet

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Thoughts on the Paleo Diet

I’ve been pondering the paleo diet lately. Not necessarily considering it, although I probably eat a diet people would consider a paleo-like diet. I’ve been thinking about it because it’s getting more popular. The diet plan presumes that humans evolved to best handle foods that were available during the paleolithic era which lasted 2.5 million years according to wikipedia. Supposedly, we’ve been incorporating grains into our diets for only 10,000 or so years. Therefore it is assumed that our bodies are not equipped to thrive on grains because we haven’t had enough time to evolve to assimilate them. If we’re going with this evolutionary train of thought…I wonder if the Okinawan’s of Japan who are some of the longest living and healthy people on the planet do so well on brown rice and vegetables because people have existed in Asia longer than people have existed in say, South America, and therefore had more time to get used to assimilating brown rice. Maybe we evolve faster than we think? Blacks and Hispanics eating the standard American diet suffer certain health consequences sooner and more frequently than Caucasians. Is this because of the predominance of wheat in the diet? And the fact that Caucasians mostly hail from Europe, where wheat has been eaten for longer than it has in Africa, South America, Central America and Mexico? Do you see where I’m going with this?

If I follow the idealogoy of the paleo diet, I get lost you see? Because it’s based on what we are not sure of yet-evolutionary stuff. We don’t know how long it takes us to evolve to foods but it seems like it’s been happening in the last 10,000 years because Caucasian Americans don’t have the same risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease as African American and Hispanic Americans do.  Or maybe not?  I don’t know enough.

I appreciate how the diet emphasizes whole foods and omits processed ones. The thing is, if a paleo dieter can’t afford or isn’t able to find organic animal products, then they are consuming what our ancestors certainly didn’t consume- chemicals and hormones and toxins galore. That’s where I think the greatest downfall of the diet is. The modern implications of it. Back then meat, poultry, eggs were pure. Now it’s all genetically modified to the point of almost needing to be called something else because it’s been changed at the most basic level.

That said, I do try to eat things I don’t pull out of a box, don’t have to cook, or need to pick up the phone to order.  And that’s often at the heart of paleo, so I do very much appreciate that.  Oh, and the fantastic blood sugars I get from eating paleo-like…priceless.

Anyway I was just thinking aloud :)

Any of you have experience with this diet?  What do you think?

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