Tag Archives: Diabetes and Diet

5 Reasons Why Food Becomes an Issue for People with Diabetes

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Because diabetes management is also food management, you can imagine, if you don’t have diabetes, that the issue of food for a diabetic, is indeed a complicated one (much like this sentence).

5 Reasons why food becomes an issue for people with diabetes:

1.  Carbohydrates must be consumed to level out a low blood sugar or to prevent one due to active insulin.

This is the case even if you’re not hungry, even if you’re nauseated, even if you are stuffed on Thanksgiving Day.  Carbohydrates are full of calories so weight gain can become an issue if someone is having too many lows.  Carbs are also filling and eating while not hungry or just to fix a low tends to push a person into an unhealthy habit of eating to pacify a symptom (perhaps depression or anxiety) or to fix feelings of fatigue or tiredness.  Next think you know, a person is apt to think they need a snack every time they have a headache or feel weak or are nervous or feel sad.  The list goes on and on and since food really is medicine for people with diabetes, the stable use of food easily derails.

2.  Some foods are much harder than others to cover successfully with insulin, creating a good foods, bad foods war.

A popular idea out there is that there are no bad foods.  I understand the thinking behind that train of thought but personally, I do think there are bad foods.  It all depends on your definition.  For me, something that doesn’t support health but rather damages it, is “bad”.  While you and I might disagree on that, we probably agree on this:  Because rice is trickier to cover with insulin than say, chicken, we get into negative feelings about rice over time.  Not all of us, but if rice doesn’t give you any hurdles, just replace it with whatever does-like pasta or pizza.  The point is that a perfectly healthy food like brown rice can become demonized in our minds simply because of our frustration with it’s complex carb load.  I like brown rice but I almost run from it screaming because of how difficult a time I have covering it with insulin.  I eat a few fork full and I know I need to be done.  It’s a shame that we also find that cheese, often full of saturated fat and sodium, tempts us to eat too much of it because it’s so easy to cover with insulin.

3.  More insulin means more fat so people who use insulin therapy have a unique weight management challenge.

Let me explain.  The more insulin one takes, the more fat they will gain.  So let’s say that I’m having a rough year (which is quite human of me, right?) and as a result I don’t carb count and measure and insulin dose as accurately as I should (also normal human behavior), well, because I’m sometimes giving a little too much insulin and needing more food to cover for that fact and because I’m sometimes giving too little insulin resulting in a higher amount of insulin needed to bring blood sugar down after the fact, I’m apt to gain a few pounds between consuming more calories than I’d like and giving insulin to cover a high blood sugar that a non diabetic never has to worry about.  Phew! The key to weight management is carefully counting carbs and covering those carbs at the right time and with the precise amount of insulin.  That key, my non diabetic friends, is not one that humans hold, it’s in the hands of Zeus and his friends.  So, what do diabetics taking insulin do?  I don’t know but I know what I do, I eat less than most people and I exercise more than most people.  That’s what I do.  Others probably count carbs carefully and probably don’t have a disposition to insulin resistance (which causes one to need more insulin and thus gain more weight).  Still, others eat low carb so that insulin intake is low and so is weight.  The rest of us may have a few extra pounds we could do without, seeing as we didn’t even earn them.  Sigh.  What a dilemma.

4.  Due to the above, it becomes tempting to skimp insulin in order to manage weight.

This is a scary one I’ve never personally tried.  However, it’s a realistic problem for many people with diabetes at some point or another.  Some people get quite desperate to manage their weight that they don’t take their insulin.  This causes high blood sugar, ketones, and body fat burning.  This also causes death and if you or someone you know is doing this, get help ASAP.  I write about this one because while it may seem pathetic to the outsider, it’s not at all.  I understand that it probably starts with just a moment of desperation, a longing to be thin without having to work doubly hard as everyone else.  Diabetes that isn’t tightly managed usually begets unwanted pounds so I can understand how it’s tempting.  But like I said, it’s very dangerous and something that you should never ever do if you have diabetes.

5.  Eating becomes an abnormal event.

When someone who takes insulin before a meal does so, they have to start some math in their heads.  They have to take note that their fast acting insulin begins in about 15-30 minutes.  Then they have to recall their blood sugar and figure out how long it will take the insulin to start pushing down the blood sugar.  If my blood sugar is 150, for example, I don’t eat right away.  I wait about 25 minutes instead of my normal 15 minutes because I want to start eating when my blood sugar is a little lower than 150 but higher than 100.  Are you still following?  OK.  Then, I have to make sure that I eat the amount of carbohydrates that I’ve just given insulin for.  So, when one of my toddlers needs something in the middle of dinner and I get up to do it, that means when I sit back down, I have to now speed eat.  I have to stuff myself to make sure I don’t get a low, providing I don’t already have one.  Or let’s say I’m at a restaurant.  I either try to guess when the food is being brought out or I let my food get a little cold before eating.  Sometimes I’m a little high but I’m hungry so I eat really slowly.  Sometimes I have literally inhaled my meal because of a low.  Either way, I can’t always just sit down and enjoy. my. meal.  This speed eating might also become a habit.  And you know what else?  When we eat while low, we become used to eating when feeling trembly or weak or flushed.  So I’ve noticed when I’m nervous or anxious or tired, I eat really fast!  It’s like I’m used to shoving food in my mouth in an effort to make those symptoms associated with low blood sugar, go away.  Why?  Because when we have a low blood sugar, we’re essentially on the way to death and our body makes us feel really awful so that we get the message, follow what our body is saying, and eat some carbs!  Preferably fast acting carbs.

Diabetes and food, they go together like a knot.

So what can we do?

Ok, this post was all doom and gloom so here is the light at the end of the tunnel.  Next week I’ll post what I have set up as some rules that work rather well for me and others I know.  These rules have helped me enjoy food more and stress over it less.  This doesn’t mean some of the above doesn’t still occur but I have lessened the occurrences which is something.

Coming next week:  5 Helpful Food Rules

Can you think of any other ways that the relationship between food and a person with diabetes is complicated?  If so, share!

100 Year Old Marathon Runner Renews My Perspective

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I just read about Fauja Singh, 100 years old, who just completed a full marathon.  By the time I lifted my jaw off the floor I had read all I could on the man.  He’s a vegetarian, eats a low fat diet, won’t consume rice or caffeine, and runs 10 miles a day in training.  He strives to be positive, doesn’t get offended or angry, focuses on charity work, and advises that to be happy and live long we must do what we love, give back, live stress free, and eat to live, rather than live to eat.

It occurred to me this man is an example of someone who eats what fuels him properly and doesn’t eat what doesn’t fuel him properly.  I think we all need a different diet and discovering what that diet consists of is no easy feat but it sounds like he’s done it.  It’s clear he also knows how to live a stress free life, something I have always seen as impossible.  Yet, here is someone who has endured stress.  He lost his wife a long time ago.  His son died prematurely.  He used running as a way to get busy and focus on something, as a way to cope.  He doesn’t have much education, was a farmer in India before he came to live in England, but he seems to know all the secrets to happiness and health and actually practices them.

For some reason his story provides me with a lightening bolt of a paradigm shift.  I feel renewed energy to eat only when I’m hungry, not paying attention to people who say one should eat often in order to avoid feeling hungry and then binging.  Hunger doesn’t make me want to binge, it makes my food taste better.  I’ve heard people say that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to the Kenyans who run amazing races or people who stay active into their 90’s like this man.  Yet, why not?  We’re human just like them and what these people do with their bodies is inspiring.  I know that I am at my current level of fitness in part because I grew up thinking that a mile was a long distance on foot.  Whereas people who grow up walking several miles to and from work or school each day don’t see a mile as a long way at all.  Their knowledge of a mile is so different and as a result, what they see as possible is very different from what I see as possible.

This man’s story provides me with a renewed perspective in how I think about our bodies and what is possible.  Surely I can run more if a 100 year old man can complete a full marathon.  Perception is key.  If I believe a 10 mile run is doable, does that make it more doable?  I once thought that keeping my blood sugar below 250 most of the time was impossible.  Then I looked at it different.  I believed keeping it around 100 was doable.  It’s not easy, and like running each day, it takes discipline and preparation, but I did it.  When I stopped the discipline surrounding what I ate and when I did or didn’t do something, that level of glucose management fell away.  However, I know it’s within my reach again.  All I have to do is firmly know it’s possible and act on that belief, ignoring all others.

Changing the Norm Starts with Us and Our Children

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The kids eating kale chips.

 

If we think of “normal” as what we usually do and a “treat” as something we really enjoy but don’t have as often as other things, then I consider healthy eating normal and fresh tilapia a treat.

I think too many of us get caught up in other people’s description of “normal” and “treat”.  But we can make the definition anything we want for ourselves.  We can do this for our kids, too.

I want my kids to think that their healthy way of eating is normal even though it’s not the norm.  I want them to feel that a bowl of fruit or a salad with tons of different vegetables is a treat, even though in our culture, it’s more of a “should do” than a “want to do”.  I want them to think that feeling good after eating is a treat, instead of accepting feeling sluggish or hyper.  I want them to be picky and really care about what they’re putting into their bodies.  If something doesn’t make them feel good after eating it, I want them to love themselves enough to avoid that food.  Just like if someone doesn’t treat them right, I’d want my kids to avoid that person.

I still give my kids ice cream a few times a month.  It’s not about making foods the enemy.  It’s about supporting their learning of how to make distinctions between different types of foods.  It doesn’t help to let children hear that first we suffer through this healthy meal and then we get to the ice cream treat for relief.  That’s probably not teaching them something helpful.  Neither is being forceful though and I’ll be the first to admit, it’s really hard to get kids to eat healthy in this world we live in.

Here is my formula so to speak, which has worked really well so far: (keep in mind we still have days where I am an exasperated mom of two little arms crossed, head shaking toddlers)

I’ll use the example of a salad because many young children look at raw vegetables like inedible toys to play with.

I let my kids watch the entire preparation of the salad.  They’re two years old so all they can really help me with is getting the vegetables out of the fridge and drying them after I’ve washed them.  Then they watch as I cut them and throw them in a bowl.  I make it a point to look happy while doing this and sometimes make a song out of what I’m preparing.  Two year old’s get into anything:  “carrots and celery, spinach and broccoli, yummy, yummy, yummy!”  Don’t make fun of me.  It gets them dancing.  Anyway, then when my husband and I eat, we ignore the kids.  We enjoy our food, we let out plenty of genuine “mmm’s” and allow the kids to try whatever vegetable they want to try.  They’ve never tried any dressing other than olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice and salt so since that’s all they know, they don’t  complain.

The reason we ignore them during meal time is they stop performing for us.  They tend to be really cute, you know two year olds.  They’re like “look at me, I can make a funny face!”  Or they smile and want you to go “Awww!”  So while we give them plenty of this kind of attention, while we eat, the focus is, at least for now, on enjoying the food.  We also never force them to eat anything because no human being likes being forced to do anything.  And we certainly don’t want them to associate any foods with a negative memory.

They mimic us parents so I’ve found they focus on the food on the plate and with nothing left to do, they start getting curious about it.  After all, mom and dad look happy over it, maybe it’s pretty good?  They usually don’t want to miss out.  Often, they won’t like something but will try it over and over until low and behold, they eat it and find out they like it all of a sudden.  All that was needed was a ton of patience on our part.  To be honest sometimes I’ve wanted to pull my hair out because that’s just how it is with feeding young children.  Sticking with my goals has proved pretty successful and I hope others try to just hang in there.  Your hard work will pay off one day!

The other thing that probably helps us out is my kids only watch kid DVD’s.  They have never seen TV commercials.  In Canada it’s illegal to market to children and I wish it were that way here in the US.  It doesn’t help parents to have their kids subject to happy looking children enjoying junk food and toys that they may not have in their homes.

The problem sometimes with too many junk food treats is not that a few junk food meals a week will do much damage but simply that the salt, sugar, and fat content will mess with a person’s taste buds.  If a child tastes the exaggerated flavors in McDonald’s chicken nuggets and milkshake, how are they going to accept the milder flavors of grilled chicken and a vegetable?  It’s hard and it’s asking a lot of them.  I’ve found that since not having any fast food meals in years, if I have a bite of someone’s fast food meal, I can’t handle the high amount of salt, sugar, and fat.  My tongue can’t.  And I have to spit the food out.  I never thought that would happen to me but it did.  (My exception is ice cream!)  I think we can give kids this advantage.  All it takes is slowly and gradually replacing junk food with whole foods and home cooked meals.  I know that’s not easy but small steps reap great rewards in this area.

It’s up to all of us to change what the norm is.  We can change what we consider a treat.  It doesn’t have to be about replacing a birthday cake.  No, birthday cakes are wonderful!  As my mom would say, It can be about having a tiny slice instead of a huge one.  It can be about more fresh whole foods instead of bagged and boxed items.  It can be about a walk after dinner, instead of a TV show after dinner.  When we change what is considered normal, we change how future generations live.  We give them a better life.  We set them up for more success and less failure.  Right now, we’re in trouble and we all know it.  And there is no room for feeling guilty about it.  Don’t let guilt bring you down, you don’t deserve that.  It’s about taking small steps to awareness and acknowledgement of all of our hands in the matter.  Think about how easy it would be to do this if no one judged.  The reality is what it is but no one needs to be put down over it.  Not when this living and parenting this is SO hard.

If this post upsets someone it’s only because it strikes a chord.  And I’m not on a high horse.  There are moments when I am so tired I give the kids strawberries and dark chocolate for dinner.  I know that is not ideal and I try to find a way to make the next day go better and recognize that I’m a parent and being a parent is hard.  If my kids eat really well on most days, I’m happy with that.

I write this post because the one thing I feel a sense of relief over as a parent is that a meal of broccoli, chicken and brown rice makes my kids happy.  Although they don’t quite understand the connection between how they feel and what they eat, I know they want to feel good.  We all do.  Maybe when they’re older they will eat all the junk food they can get their hands on.  That’s fine with me.  Have a ball!  I have faith that when they start feeling the affects of this, they will think back to the time when they felt better and make the connection to the food they ate and the lifestyle habits we had.  And I think they’ll know their way back.  I trust that because they knew a different norm, they will be able to make better decisions for themselves.  In the meantime it will take longer for them to sustain damage from the food because at least their first few years were full of healthy food.  Anyway, that’s my plan and I’m trying to stick with it.

For support, I hope my kids find other like minded peers to live this way with.  Wouldn’t it be cool if a healthier lifestyle became the norm?  Wouldn’t it be easier for others to join in?  Wouldn’t we all find relief?  I know I would.  I’m tempted by double fudge brownies just as much as the next gal.

Cooking at Home

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“Eating is really one of your indoor sports. You play three times a day, and it’s well worth while to make the game as pleasant as possible.”

~ Dorothy Draper

If I had it my way, I’d be a Princess and there would be no cooking done by me.  I don’t particularly like it and wince a little to always find myself in the kitchen.  And perhaps it’s not the cooking I mind but more the clean up afterwards (I’m very messy).  I think over time I will learn to like it more.  I have no choice.  I’ve found that the healthiest way to eat is to cook my own food.  That way, I know exactly what’s in my food, how it’s been cooked, and how fresh it is.  I can control the salt, the fat, the quality of fat, the quantity of sugar, the freshness of herbs and spices, fruits and vegetables.  I can make sure my family and I consume vegetables and fruits that are washed really well, are not wilted or brown, and haven’t been cross contaminated with germs in a kitchen.

Cooking in your own kitchen ensures all this.

Most people say they don’t have time.  I think we do if we prioritize.  I often have to choose between an outing to a store and staying home to cook dinner.  That’s when I realize I have time but choose to use it in a different way.  Some people really are pressed and I understand that.  There are lots of tips out there to help with that.  The following are what have helped me the most:

-Cook for two days

This means getting large enough pots and pans but I’ve found that this is really nice when you experience every other day as a day off from cooking dinner.  The kitchen is nice on those days, too!

-Clean while cooking

I’ve made things a lot more manageable for myself by learning to clean as I cook.  It leaves only a little to be done afterwards.  Alex would beg to differ but he often doesn’t see what the kitchen looks like during the cooking!

-Get help

I do this two ways.  First, when possible, I recruit my husband’s help in cooking because then the job goes twice as fast.  When my kids are older you can bet they’re going to be helping out, too.  Second, I play fun or relaxing music and light candles.  It makes for a special atmosphere that helps the cooking be more enjoyable.  Seriously, chopping carrots to Adele is priceless.

– Keep breakfast and lunch simple

I’m already cooking a full on dinner so for the other two meals of the day I keep it really simple.  Things like eggs, fruit, oatmeal, are pretty easy to prepare in the morning.  For lunch things like wraps, sandwiches, salads are pretty quick, too.  I actually eat mostly raw food for breakfast and lunch and then have cooked food for dinner.  It helps me to not have to cook so much.  The sight of a dirty pan almost makes me pass out.

If YOU have any tips, share!  I’m trying to get better at this.  By the time I’m 30, I want to be like Ina Garten.  She seems so happy to cook!  Then again someone probably cleans her kitchen for her…

Just keep in mind that in the time it takes you to drive to a fast food restaurant, wait in line, order, pay, and go sit down with your food, you could have cooked a simple meal at home.  Especially with practice.  This is something I’m still working on but have found that I’m much more quick and efficient in the kitchen and most importantly-less apt to burn the meal, than I was a year ago so hey, we’re making progress :)  You can, too.

As a plus, just think how great it would be if fast food restaurants died out and were replaced by healthier alternatives?  That can’t be a bad thing!  When I worked outside of the home I longed for a drive by restaurant that would just give me something fresh and healthy while I was on the run.  We can change the paradigm, one home cooked meal at a time!

Malnourished and Overweight

Practically Void of Nutrients, (Courtesy of digitalart)

 

Many of us suffer from malnourishment.  It’s one big reason we may overeat.  We eat too many foods that don’t nutritionally satisfy our bodies and as a result we’re left hungry.

To many outsiders, the solution seems to be to “well, then stop overeating” but as we discussed here before, why does anyone think that a hungry person would just stop eating?  Hunger is a very strong sensation and we’re built to obey it.  So that tactic isn’t going to work for long.

Often, the root of the problem is a diet high in processed foods.  Vitamin and mineral content is low in these foods and so you have to eat large amounts of it to feel satisfied.  When your body gets what it needs, feelings of satiety settle in.  Sometimes the body doesn’t get what it needs and we’re left feeling stuffed and anxious because our bodies still feel like something is “missing”.

But then what is the way to fix the problem?  Take a multi-vitamin?  That could be a start.  How about trying to fill up on whole foods so that the body begins getting what it needs.  For someone on an unhealthy diet, I’d recommend eating whole foods and not worrying about which ones for a time being.  For example, are you craving berries?  Have berries.  Craving potatoes?  Try potatoes.  Just stick to real food by avoiding food that comes in any kind of box or sealed package.

Over time your body will fill up faster because it’s getting what it has needed all along.

Last but not least?  Get a bottle you can constantly keep with you for sipping on water throughout the day.  Sometimes we eat and eat and eat and really our body is like, “Yo! I’m just thirsty!”

So moral of the story today:  Instead of trying to eat less, replace.what you eat with whole food alternatives.  Make it so you’re too full for junk food.

Food Journaling and Food Cravings

Painting by Ana Morales

 

I’ve been doing a small experiment as part of my curriculum at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition called food journaling.  I’m being taught that we, being mammals, intuitively know what to eat.  The problem is that modern grocery stores have everything you could imagine from all parts of the world and advertisers spend billions on us in hopes we’ll crave what they’re selling.  This all confuses us and suppresses our natural cravings.  It’s also popular and widely acknowledged that we have junk food cravings and so I don’t think most people are encouraged to give into or be open to healthy food cravings.

When I was pregnant with my twins I started craving steak and other high iron containing foods.  Then I found out I had very low iron levels.  “Gee, that’s convenient”, I thought.  I also craved big salads and that makes sense considering I was now needing nutrients for myself and two others.  I was fascinated by the fact that my body was reaching out to these foods in order to take care of me and restore balance in me.

Anyway, I’ve found food journaling very helpful lately.  I write down what I eat for meals and take note of how I feel before and after those meals.  I also spend time thinking about what I really want to eat and then I eat it.  I haven’t had any cabbage whatsoever in about 3 years.  In the past week I’ve had 2 heads of cabbage in a raw coleslaw made with cabbage, carrots, cashews, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, and agave syrup.  Then I bought something I’ve only had twice in my life-saurkrout.  Once home and unpacking the groceries I realized that saurkrout was cabbage, too!  This is when I started thinking that perhaps my body was in need of something that cabbage contains.  I’ve never liked cabbage but at this moment it’s better than chocolate to me.  It’s particularly nice to crave something healthy for once.  I just read that cabbage is high in vitamin K and C and is a pretty good anti-inflammatory.  From what I’ve read in the past, vitamin C levels tend to be lower in people with diabetes and high blood sugars cause inflammation in the body.

I’ve only been doing this a week and find it more than interesting to note that in the past week my anxiety has decreased, my energy levels have increased, and suddenly my husband is the most wonderful person ever (despite him acting exactly as before).  And this is pms season proven by my crying yesterday at Disney’s Mulan movie.  In other words, my mood is different.  They say food affects our mood and I have always believed it.  The problem is that I have forgotten about this to some extent and getting back in touch with the information has been SO valuable.

I highly recommend to anyone to try this.  It’s easy and inexpensive and the information you get out of it is priceless!  Go to the grocery store and stay out of the aisles with the boxed food.  Just walk around the produce and other whole foods areas and try to listen to what your body is calling out for.  You may be surprised!

Can We Replace “Reverse” with “Remission”? and Other Thoughts

Courtesy of Graur Razvan Ionut

 

People don’t mean any harm when they say they reversed their diabetes.  They say it because that’s what the majority of the medical community uses and what they know to be true.  It’s not widespread that one can’t reverse diabetes.  In fact I’m looking for a doctor that will explain this to me.  So far, all the ones I talk to either say, “Yes, it can be reversed” or “I don’t know…”  It would be nice if we could use the word “remission” so that we had a way to describe those who reverse their symptoms and find themselves off of meds and with normal blood sugars.  We use this term in cancer patients, why not diabetes?

For some people, saying that they have reversed their diabetes is the logical way to put it.  They used to have high blood sugars but they changed the way they live and as far as they see it, they don’t have diabetes anymore.  I used to have a problem with my kidneys.  Test results would come back abnormal.  Now, test results come back normal and so I say I “reversed” my kidney damage (that’s what my doctor says, too).  That’s just the simple way that I see it.  And yet, I am aware that if I don’t manage my blood sugars, it’s only a matter of time before I see damage again.  Society has taken notice of how important lifestyle habits are and they assume it makes sense to say that if you live a certain way, you can keep diabetes away.  They just don’t know the details of the disease and good luck to you trying to teach them all the details.  People aren’t going to want all the details unless they feel diabetes really pertains to them.  If you try to get me to hear all the details about your favorite video game or your pet dog, I’m pretty sure I won’t remember them later.

I don’t understand when people say that diabetes is only cured if one can eat and exercise like a non-diabetic and have perfect blood sugars. The way I understand it, If you abuse the body, you run the risk of having serious problems. Metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, thyroid malfunctions…it goes on and on. People literally want to be able to eat the standard American diet and be well?  That’s simply not possible-at least not for long.  Those who argue that some people never get type 2 from this diet aren’t thinking big enough. This diet hurts everyone eventually. Maybe their genes offer some protection, maybe a lot! But eventually, the diet that so many eat in the US is very harmful and unfortunately, for an increasing number of people, it only takes a little of it to cause a problem.  And what if there were to be a cure for type 2?  People would want to eat as before and I doubt their bodies would hold up.

To me, the biggest problem is the fact that the media isn’t able to report on diabetes in a more multi-faceted and in-depth way.  If they did and people heard on CNN that type 2 varied from person to person, that the severity level could be minor to major and therefore some people could eat this and others found it didn’t work and some could be off meds and others could not, that some found success through just adding more exercise and others exercising all day didn’t find success and still needed meds, then I think the stereotypes would die down.  I think we should work on spreading that message.  Along with the message that type 1 and 2 are very different and that there are 11 types of diabetes (that we know of) so people should be aware that they can’t assume anything on some diabetic’s behalf-they’re bound to be wrong.  Maybe I’m dreaming but I think that if people were to hear this on the news they’d think, “Ohh ok…I didn’t know that.”

Focusing so much on how inaccurate the phrase “reversing diabetes” is hinders us, not helps us.  I think this because people explain that diabetes can’t be reversed by saying there is no cure and that once you have it you always have it-and I don’t hear doctors making that message clear at all.  So when we talk without any back up from the medical community we don’t get the attention we deserve.  Kind of like if I claim something without showing a study to back it up.  Why would anyone believe ME when I say that diabetes cannot be reversed?  I think that we need to seek clarity from the medical community and demand they set each other and the media straight.  We need their help to define the truth and to help us spread the word that diabetes cannot be cured, just put into a temporary remission in some people’s cases.  Also, to include that it is a progressive disease, getting worse over time.

A lot of people rant over this issue with a little too much disrespect, too.  It flies over the blogosphere and makes us sound even less credible than might already be to the general public.  Why would we attack people’s ignorance?  That’s a recipe for disaster.  Another thing we do that doesn’t work is exaggerate the truth.  One thing I’ve read a lot is that most type 2 diabetics are thin. This hurts us because suppose people go to the book I have here published this year by the ADA where it says that “three-fourths of all people with type 2 diabetes are or have been obese.”  That’s the majority.  So if we say that the majority are thin we’ve just lost credibility with people.  Trying to stop one myth in it’s track with one of the other extreme is not the way to go.

Instead we should be honest and do our best to give statements that leave people with the information that type 2 varies very much person to person.  We should set the example on how we want to be treated.  It sounds like Elementary School but over time I’ve realized that although it’s tempting to give people a short, simple, and informative answer, we simply can’t do that with a complicated disease.  We are going to have to take up more of people’s time or we are going to have to do something like this:  Next time someone says “If only type 2 diabetics would eat better and exercise more, they would be able to get off meds” we could say “That may be the case for some people but not for everyone because diabetes varies so much.  You know, maybe if the government used it’s money for fruit and vegetable subsidies instead of corn, beef, and tobacco subsidies, people would be able to afford healthier food.”  In other words, emphasize that “it varies” and then let’s remind people of one of the roots of the problem.  If we had better preventative care, if we all had easier access to fresh, healthy foods, if we didn’t have to tempted by a liter of soda being cheaper than a head of lettuce, maybe then more of us would eat better.  Everyone knows that’s true, they just need to be constantly reminded so that the bitter sentiment surrounding our health care crisis doesn’t get thrown onto those of us with the disease.

Part of our constant message should be that no one with diabetes should be blamed.  Compassion and understanding should be our focus because a lack of compassion breeds hurt and anger.  Then people take the hurt and anger and lash out illogically at those of us who are struggling with a disease or those of us with the disease lash out on ourselves in self destructive ways.  It’s a cycle we don’t want to continue living with.  And that’s why I think that it’s not as simple as telling people diabetes can’t be reversed.  It’s as complicated as explaining that it varies a lot, is very progressive, and that it’s mere presence is an indicator of how badly we need a cure and of how many things need to change in our society so that we can all be healthier.

Diabetes Likes Routine, Do You?

Photo courtesy of Pixomar

I don’t.  I like getting up when I get up, exercising when I feel a burst of energy (could be around 3pm, could be around midnight), and eating when I want to eat (sometimes grazing all day, sometimes not eating much all day).

But my diabetes likes routine and because I have to not only acknowledge what my diabetes wants, I have to do what it wants if I want to stay healthy.

Fast acting insulin and almost-24-hour insulin have all helped make our daily lives a bit more flexible.  However, I caution anyone against trying to live exactly like someone who doesn’t have diabetes.  I tried this and found I couldn’t manage steady glucose control.  (I will say though, if you can manage, then by all means do your thing and tell me your secrets.)  Although, really, I think that healthy people out there and successful people all tend to rely on certain routines and habits they maintain.

I think I’ve found a balance within my dislike and simultaneous need for routine in my life.  By balance I mean this is what I am currently doing which feels sort of right to me and is quite subject to change. ;)

Routine

-I exercise every day so that my insulin needs don’t fluctuate too much based on my exercise (they fluctuate enough based on other factors).  I also try to exercise at the same time each day.

-I eat the same amount of food each day.  If I normally eat three meals and one day I happen to have a really big breakfast, then I eat a little less at lunch or dinner to compensate.  I’ve found this helps with keeping my blood sugars steady overnight.  We sleep for about a third of our lives so I try to get those hours to be blood sugar healthy.  Key word “try” :)

-I keep the same bedtime routine to try to ensure that blood sugars are welcoming in the morning.  And I try to stick with this because I notice that if mornings are good, then the rest of the day tends to follow suit.

Random

-I allow myself to eat really different foods from day to day.  Varying the types of fruits, vegetables, nuts, sources of protein, and so forth keeps things feeling interesting.

-I never test at the same times each day.  I test upon wakening and before going to sleep but aside from that it’s really random.  I am in the habit of testing and this pushes me to test whenever I think I should, such as before eating.  This leads me to…

-I eat at different times during the day.  I can’t help this.  With two year old twins, I have to sometimes just grab a bite to eat when I’m lucky to have the opportunity.  I have never been hung up on eating at certain times anyway so it doesn’t bother me.  I do look forward to the time, years from now, when I sit down at the table and calmly eat with the rest of the family.  In the meantime, I’m cooking one thing for me, another for my husband, and something else for the kids.  Or I’m at least making all sorts of variations in the kitchen.  When there are food allergies, insulin timing issues, and picky children, there is no other way.  So I just accept it and try to go with the flow.

I can’t think of anything else…Do any of you dislike routine but try to fit some in for the sake of your diabetes management?  If so, what sacrifices do you or don’t you make?

Wednesday Revisit: The Wisdom from Bruce Lee

 

 

 As you think, so you shall become.

~Bruce Lee

I can’t help but be a fan of Bruce Lee.  Much of what he said was such intelligent philosophy.  He advocated for respecting one’s body and taking care of it.  He also advocated for increasing one’s success in any matter by removing variables rather than adding variables.  This post is about how I did just that and found out he was on to something.

Originally posted on August 29th, 2009

Why Should a Girl Care About What Bruce Lee Had to Say?

The Hope Warshaw Article that Caused an Uproar

Photo courtesy of Carlos Porto

 

On every online forum for diabetes there is a low carb debate.  Does it help those with type 2 diabetes?  How many carbs per day constitutes low carb?  Does it help those with type 1 diabetes?  But doesn’t the brain need glucose for energy?  It’s a hot topic to say the least. 

While many debate against the details of what constitutes low carb, few people on these forums combat the notion that reducing carbs helps many people with diabetes.  And this is where I get confused with articles such as this one by renowned dietician and diabetes educator, Hope Warshaw.  In her article, she says low carb diets are not effective for people with diabetes and that weight loss will not lower blood sugar. 

Warshaw says there are “countless” studies to confirm the merits of the diet she recommends which is 45-65% of one’s calories coming from carbohydrates.  Yet, she does not cite a single one of those studies.  As for the weight loss, she points out that  “Large studies have shown that with loss of five to seven percent of body weight (approximately 10 to 20 pounds) and 150 minutes of physical activity (30 minutes five times a week), people can prevent or delay the progression to type 2. Once insulin production is on a dwindling course (particularly after 10 years with type 2), weight loss has less impact on glucose control.”  That’s not a lot of weight loss.  This would be like someone going from 200 to about 190 pounds.  How much blood sugar impact could that have in the long run?  Maybe we should note how well blood sugar is impacted by seeing what happens when an obese person’s weight drops to the healthy weight reange .  For optimal health, the goal is a healthy weight, no? 

Warshaw claims that treating diabetes by reducing carbs is an old dogma because that’s what we did with diabetics back in the days before insulin and medications.  True.  We didn’t have many options back then.  Today, many type 2 diabetics have found it useful to be somewhere along the spectrum of softly limiting carbs to harshly avoiding them.  There are also the type 1 diabetics out there like myself, who have managed to finally lower A1c levels by reducing carbs.  How does someone as influential as Hope Warshaw ignore the online ravings of people with diabetes on the success they have by limiting carbohydrates to some degree?  Does she read this stuff and think that something else must be to blame for our improved health?  Does she read this stuff at all?  Because I tend to think our community’s online sharing is pretty valuable information to medical experts.

I don’t know that every adult with diabetes must limit carbs.  According to my research it seems they should at least be careful about grains.  I just know that I feel and look healthier with my A1c close to a non-diabetic’s and the only way to do that for myself is to limit carbs from grains like bread, pasta, rice, and corn. 

What I find interesting is many dieticians including Hope Warshaw, explain the ineffectiveness of low carb by saying it’s unrealistic eating behavior.  Warshaw recently went head to head with Dr. Bernstein and said that eating low carb is unsustainable.  She said people have the right to eat what they love.  She said we deserve it.  If I want to sell a book about health to the masses, that’s how I would go.  I would tell people what they want to hear.  Many people with diabetes do not feel well and are thus quite vulnerable to an expert’s say so it’s genius, really.  However, when a person smokes too much and are on the brink of emphysema, should a doctor say, “Aw you know what?  You’re addicted to smoking.  Why should I try to take you away from something you love and are addicted to?   Why don’t you just switch to a higher quality tobacco?  Let me prescribe something to help with your symptoms.”  I’ve never heard of that happening.  My thinking is I deserve a long and healthy life with diabetes and so does everyone else.  Does that come with the need for restraint?  Why yes!  But so does being married, being a world class athlete, and doing well in college.

Warshaw says a low carb diet is hard to stick to in the long run.  My thought is, don’t people have a hard time sticking to ANY diet in the long run?  I don’t think low carb is an exception.   Experts stating over and over that low carb is just too hard for people makes me wonder if someone thinks we’re weak little creatures.  Golly, how do we manage to go to work every day?  I mean, the discipline involved!  Round of applause and a cupcake for me please, I got out of bed at 5am this morning to exercise.

Again, I’m not saying low carb is the way to go for everyone.  It just doesn’t make sense to say it’s wrong without any real proof, without consideration for the success others have with it, and without any valid reasons to tell someone not to simply try it.  Telling someone not to try low carb because it’s hard is like telling a child not to go for being a president or a basketball champ or a published author because it’s too challenging.  Puleeez. 

How many times a day do I hear “low carb is a fad diet”?  A lot.  And yet I’ve seen my lab results on the ADA diet and I’ve seen them on the lowish carb diet I follow consisting of around 50-75 grams a day.  The difference is startling and I’m reaping the benefits.  You won’t find my doctor telling me to change my diet.

I have nothing against Hope Warshaw or other medical experts.  I only wish they would recognize what we in the low or “lowish” carb community are desperately saying to them.   We’re saying that A) lowering carbs is helping us be healthy, B) the same diet doesn’t work for everyone (see; the world’s people), and C) what people deserve is to be healthy and to be encouraged towards that and not instant gratification.  Oh and D)  Ignoring the above is dangerous and irresponsible.

We’re not doctors or famous people but we’re capable of great things and we need the medical community to take note of our valuable observations and to believe in us.  We’re smarter and stronger than they seem to think.

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