Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

Living in the “Diabetes Belt”

One of my favorite spots for hiking!  Just don't fall in the water.
One of my favorite spots for hiking! Just don’t fall in the water!


I live in the state of Virginia and have since age one.  I’m at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains and find it a really lovely place to live.  I think this city has won awards for being such a great place to live.  I think my parents decided to come here instead of Miami, Florida because it’s safe.  It’s easy to drive here, low traffic, everyone obeys traffic signals.  There is a low crime rate, no hurricanes, no tornados, no earthquakes, and mild winters. 

It’s really comfortable here.  Most everyone has a car.  I have never ridden a public bus in my life.  We do have public buses but the overwhelming majority of people drive a car.  And of course they do, we have few sidewalks (and I mean few).  Most of our main roads are one lane each way.  The most popular club in town is unimpressive to say the least…  In school, we always said our town was “boring” and “sucked you in” because of it’s safety making it an appealing place to start a family.  (To be fair this place is growing and diversifying a lot so YAY!)

Guess what we have lots of?  Restaurants!  Shopping!  Movies!  and…wilderness.  Well, the wilderness is outside of the suburbs and a great place to enjoy hiking and trails (and canoeing, white water rafting, skiing etc).  Thing is, not many people like being in the sticks.  So a select group of people use this as a source for activities.  A lot of people fish around here…but I wouldn’t consider that strenuous exercise.  When I was dating my husband we’d drive around and around town looking for something to do and would eventually settle on dinner and a movie.  And dinner at most places around here has a southern influence or charm, as I like to put it.  We like beer, buttered rolls, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, steak, french fries, and loads of ranch dressing on our salads. Dessert is a serious ordeal and we prefer it be classic apple pie or dense chocolate cake.  The other factor here is the quantity of food served locally.  At most any restaurant here, I can literally order one meal and eat off of it for three meals.

I don’t know how much of the South eats the way most do here but if the latest news about the highest number of type 2 diabetics being in the Southeastern US is any indicator, maybe we’re not alone here in my town.

The culture here has strong ties to certain foods (many of which I just mentioned) and it just so happens those foods are not the best to eat in large portions.  They are full of unhealthy fats and processed carbohydrates.  But it’s not easy to change eating habits.  We’re proud of what we eat.  Not to mention we typically continue to eat what we did growing up.  Our parents fed us what they were fed growing up.  And so on.  I am not originally from here so I ate from the local selection plus whatever my parents grew up eating and that exposure has helped me broaden my tastes and not be so fixated on certain foods.

Maybe this is the biggest problem for the people in Southeastern United States?  A culture of foods that in large quantities, become dangerous to eat.  Seriously, if the enjoyable thing in one’s culture was to have a raw veggie fest every night in front of the TV, the outcome would be a bit different.  Of course, genes are at play with type 2 diabetes but maybe this is all the more reason to try to focus on those factors which we do have control over.  Maybe we can help our odds a bit.

So I’m sending slack to the people of my area because yes, you grew up with all things yummy.  I understand the appeal of fried apple fritters, I SO do.  And I’m not saying you can’t have any.  I’m just saying, things need to change and you can start, little by little, to help make our Southeastern culture one of great health, in addition to one of hospitality, warmth, and faith.

You Can’t Know Without Experiencing


As much as we would like others to really understand how we feel as diabetics, we must remember they can’t possibly understand what it’s like.  At least I don’t think so.

I used to imagine what it was like to lose a loved one in order to try to relate to friends and relatives who had lost loved ones.  I imagined it being really difficult and painful.  But no.  When I finally lost someone I knew well and cared for, I realized the experience was nothing compared to imagining it.  I had imagined it being like a sorrowful pain creeping inside, making me cry for a while and then leaving me quiet for a few days and then voila, I’d be healed.  In reality it was more like a being hit by a train that exploded and lit flames in my head that wouldn’t be put out with any number of tears for a very, very long time.  And I didn’t even lose a spouse, a parent, or a child. 

Years ago I was 100% positive I knew what it felt like to be a parent.  I was 15 and present in the delivery room when my youngest brother was born.  I was the first person he saw when he opened his eyes.  I was his babysitter when my mom had to run an errand.  Before he was born I didn’t know I wanted children.  Our age difference helped me grow up feeling like I had an idea of what it was like to be a parent.  Wrong, again.  I had twins a year and a half ago and have realized there are things you experience and feel which can only come with being a parent.  Which can only come with being left behind by a loved one.  Which can only come from being a diabetic.

We can’t get others to ever really know what we go through.  We can spend a lot of time and energy on it.  I’ve done this before and in the end, only received disappointment.

Let’s not ask the impossible of each other.  Instead, let’s listen and let’s face the person who is talking to us and look them in the eyes.  They’ll appreciate it so much they may do it back.  And getting that kind of attention back is the next best thing to them really knowing.  Besides, if one must experience to know, do we really want everyone to know?  I don’t. 

I think pinpointing what we want is important.  Only then can we ask for it and also do it as an example.

I get the sense that all most of us want is patience, forgiveness, and unconditional love.  What about you?  What do you want?

Two Reasons, One Recipe Campaign



I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Acclaimed chef and type 2 diabetic, Franklin Becker and Dr. Yehuda Handelsman, an endocrinologist and the current Chair Medical Director of the Metabolic Institute of America and Chair and Program Director of the World Congress on Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease.

They have teamed up to educate adults with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol and healthy food choices.  The name of their campaign is Two Reasons, One Recipe.

Chef Becker is the execute chef of New York’s Abe and Arthur’s Restaurant.  After his type 2 diabetes diagnosis he set out on a mission to create healthier versions of his celebrated recipes.  On the campaign’s website, TwoReasonsOneRecipe.com you can find some tasty recipe ideas and learn more about the campaign.

These two men have teamed up to promote the importance of lowering one’s A1c test and measure of bad cholesterol, which is LDL-C, in adults with type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. 

I disagree with the campaign when it comes to the use of vegetable oils and soy but, I appreciate the effort on encouraging people to eat more vegetables and lean meats and enhancing the flavor of dishes with safe options like lemon, herbs, and spices. 

Ana and I came up with some questions to ask and you can check out the short video below to see what Chef Becker and Dr. Handelsman had to say. 

Note: While I spoke to them, I watched them on a video that had a few seconds of delay so when you hear me hesitate or talk unbelievably slow, please know this was like a mind game for me-next time shall be better, I promise!


If you don’t see the video above, here is the link to it.

Don’t forget to check out the recipes on Two Reason, One Recipe, they look really tasty!