Tag Archives: diabetes and eating

Emotional Eating with Diabetes Book Review

LIP-EEWD

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

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?

The Case for Lowering Carbs, Part 2

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So continuing from The Case for Lowering Carbs, Part 1

I often hear/read people remark that so many diabetics have lived decades with 7% and 8% A1c levels and they’re fine. That’s all well and inspiring but I can’t count on that being what will happen to me. How many people with 7% A1c averages are no longer with us because of heart disease? How many people are dealing with complications of diabetes after only two decades with it? Two decades is nothing. To a person diagnosed as a child, a few decades means that their prime of life is going to be rudely interrupted.  Maybe that is why now that I’m done with the high carb needs part of my life that all young people go through, I feel like I really need to buckle down and get blood sugars as close to “normal” as possible.

Growing up people said to me, “I bet the toughest part of having diabetes is the needles isn’t it?” Or they’d substitute “needles” for “testing” or “counting carbs” or “feeling different”. I always felt misunderstood because my biggest issue with diabetes is that you can manage it really well and still suffer bodily damage. I may not have much for complications after 17 years with diabetes but I have other issues that doctors directly attribute to my having diabetes. All of these issues are a big deal to me.  Recently, a conversation with some ladies who’ve had type 1 for several decades made me realize that I’m realistic to expect more challenges or complications from here on out.

I’ve been thinking about how badly I really want to avoid complications. I’ve decided I want this badly. And if that means eating fewer carbs than I’d like in order to keep a low A1c without risking too many dangerous lows, I may have to suck it up for my ultimate desire of being healthy in 50 years. I don’t want to sit around regretting my actions or wishing I’d done different. The truth is that a healthy body makes me happier than just about anything else because of all that leads me to. But that’s just me.

Of course, maybe a lowered carb diet will be the thing to do me in. However, my thoughts return to the fact I have always understood about diabetes: that high blood sugars are extremely damaging to the body, especially in the long term. So I know I’m gambling, but I’m doing it in faith alongside all the hours of research I’ve put in and personalized knowledge of myself. I’m going to be lowering my carbs again and trying to see how that works. I won’t be going as low carb as Dr. Bernstein recommends, but a little lower than I am now. I will also try to eat only healthy fats and keep those to a minimum.  Sounds like I’ll be restricting calories a lot doesn’t it?  Low carb…low fat…well that’s possible.

If your belief or decision is different from mine, I don’t judge or blame you one bit. Everyone longs to live a happy and wonderful life on their own terms. That is as it should be.  Though I do consider taking good care of myself part of my citizen duties since my health or lack thereof does affect others.

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes.

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!

An Intro to Quinoa

Pronounced “Keenwa”, I’ve been cooking with this grain lately.  Technically it’s a seed but you won’t find many people call it a seed.  It was the super food of the Ancient Incas in Peru.  It has an amazing nutritional panel, lots of protein, fiber, and a low glycemic index.  I’ve been cooking brown rice for the family lately as a way to give a small filling side dish to the other parts of the meal.  Brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook however, so some days I struggle to remember to put that on the stove in time.  Quinoa takes 15 minutes to cook!  And you can add things like spices, herbs, vegetables, chicken, and fish, to get a complete and tasty meal in no time.

Here is what my curried quinoa with peas looks like:

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Here is the recipe I followed.  It was great to use turmeric here because I hear it’s a great anti inflammatory-something diabetics can definitely benefit from!  This is an odd looking food but don’t be deceived.  My two toddlers loved the taste of this once they got brave enough to try it.

My blood sugars did really well following this meal which made me really excited to continue incorporating this grain, err seed, into weekly meals :)

Anyone out there use quinoa?

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