Saturday, October 27, 2012

Type 2 Diabetes

Well, this is embarrassing. Four months ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Turns out, reading everything you can about nutrition does not translate into actually preventing disease!

The bad news is, my A1C (the test for your average level of blood sugar) was 7.1 in July, putting me in the diabetic category. The good news is, I've lowered it to 6.1, by doing my best to cut down on refined carbohydrates. I would recommend cutting down on carbs for anyone who wants to lose weight and be healthier.

To those who may have been newly diagnosed with Type 2, here is a description of my experience:

Last year I had a couple of  "episodes" where I felt anxious and vaguely ill at work. It was difficult to describe what was wrong, but I knew something was.

At one point, I went to my primary doctor for a urinary tract infection, which I later learned can indicate diabetes, and I reported my symptoms, but he didn't mention this as a possibility to me. My fasting glucose results had always been about 110, which is pre-diabetic, but the doctor seemed unconcerned. 

 But the symptoms continued, I ended up going to a First Care clinic one Saturday, as I was frightened enough by the weirdness, to seek immediate help. 

An electrocardiogram showed my heart was fine, and my blood sugar was 110, which is normal, however, I had drunk a bottle of orange juice on the way to the clinic, so this indicated my B.S. had been lower when the symptoms hit. The doctor recommended I see my primary doctor for a A1C test, which measures your average blood sugar for the past three months (by examining the remnants of sugar on your cells. ) My blood pressure was also very high, much higher than my normal blood pressure.
My own doctor diagnosed me with Type 2 Diabetes based on my A1C of 7.1, and suggested I try lowering it with diet and exercise, before we tried drugs. He prescribed a med to lower my blood pressure, as diabetics are at a high risk for kidney damage from high blood pressure. He had me make an appointment with a diabetes educator and dietitian, but it was two weeks before I saw them. In the meantime, on my own, I decided to try the Atkins approach.

The effect of cutting out bread, pasta and cereal sent me into several episodes of hypoglycemic-reactions. No one warned me this might happen- that the brain thinks its starving for sugar while going through withdrawal from having been bathed in it. Hypoglycemic feelings to me, meant I felt like I couldn't talk, was anxious and weak. Very scary. 

I also started to get a pins and needles feeling in my feet, at the end of the day, which I am told is the result of nerve damage from high sugar levels over time. It was odd, I didn't get those symptoms till after I was diagnosed and cut back on carbs. Cutting out carbs also caused awful cramps, like charlie horses, but worse, in my thighs. I've since learned this is the result of dehydration.

When I saw the diabetes educator, and told her what I'd been eating, she said I needed 100 grams of carbs a day, because the brain uses it as fuel. She went over what I'd been eating, and suggested I eat whole wheat muffins, Greek yogurt and oatmeal.She also gave me my blood sugar meter and showed me how to test my blood.

The first week, my blood sugar readings were actually normal, and I started to wonder if I really had diabetes. But, then, as I added carbs back into my diet, as the educator had suggested, I saw my blood sugar readings go up. My fasting blood sugar readings are also too high, but the doctor says not to worry about it, since, overall, I have lowered my average blood sugar levels. I have lost seven pounds cutting down on carbs, and I think I am over the withdrawal phase. Still a work in progress, however.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We got a Trader Joe's!

Portland, Maine just got a Trader Joe's, and I will be interested to see how that will affect my bottom line. So far, I have discovered they sell a Tuna Thai Curry for $1.49 which is actually edible, and filling over brown rice. Also, I bought some Trader Joe's French Roast coffee for $4.34, which is a great price.

Diet-wise, I've realized the way to go is using brown rice as a staple, and adding as many fresh vegetables as possible, while avoiding bread, pasta, cheese and sugar, when possible. This is my new focus, reducing calories while trying to eat a nutrient dense diet.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Money and Food

I've been feeling embarrassed by this blog, and my obsession, in general, with how to feed myself as cheaply and efficiently as possible. God knows I'll never be a good cook, as I am uncomfortable with food as an artistic material and at sea over my own physical requirements for it, but food, cooking, grocery shopping IS an important topic, and the fact I struggle with it is precisely why its important for me to write about it. (Important to me, but not necessarily to you :-)

Food, as a topic, is more complicated than just a recitation of the techniques and ingredients to produce a certain recipe. (For me, its more complicated.) It's how do you fight the hunger that rises up three times a day? How do you fulfill the demands from your body for calcium, protein, micro-nutrients of every stripe, when your body allows you, even encourages you, to eat "whatever?" It's complicated also because money, to buy the fruit and vegetables, doesn't grow on trees. One's budget is limited. It's no good to pretend we live in the Garden of Eden and all that's required to eat healthily are good intentions. Cash is required as well.

So, I am renewing my commitment to writing about what I spend and what I eat. It's important to me to get this figured out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

So many of us are overwieght

Seeking inspiration recently, I Googled "real life weight loss success stories" and the first hit was Fitness Magazine... a story about women who have actually lost weight...which, when I clicked on it, immediately led me to a recipe for macaroni and cheese.

Such are the dangers of seeking advice on the Internet. You cannot lose weight eating macaroni and cheese. I'm sorry. We have been told that diets don't work, and this is sooo true, but there does have to be an element of restraint in one's eating. Last night I talked myself out of a dozen different eating scenarios. I wanted ice cream, I wanted mindless eating. In the past, I have given into these habits faster than you can say "eating like this will make you gain weight."

Why are so many Americans overweight? Maybe because we are all working two jobs, or unsatisfying jobs, or are battling energy draining commutes, which sets one up to look for a make-me-feel-better-fast "reward." Fitness Magazine offers a story about real weight loss, but switches to a recipe for macaroni and cheese, because, obviously that is what we really want. And, cheese is something an advertiser can sell, whereas, nobody makes a profit, or buys advertising to promote, "just not eating so much."

Not quite off the subject, I have been thinking lately how problems in our schools are a reflection of the wider community. Our kids are not succeeding academically, but its also true our society is not succeeding. I think there has been a growing sense in our nation, while our jean sizes grew, that our nation is stumbling. Didn't we all feel uneasy when housing prices were sky high? Turned out our wealth was based on derivative trading, a Ponzi scheme of an economy, we were not so much a powerhouse of innovation and valuable businesses as a nation of con artists. I think the recession is bringing us all down to reality, to trying to innovate and grow something besides our fat cells. I know I am trying. That's my rant for the day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

$15.64 at grocery store last week

coffee $4.99
canned tomatoes $1.39
butter $1.49
fat free half and half $1.49
ground turkey $3.29
onion .90
5 lb potatoes $1.99

I made a turkey chili that lasted almost all week, and I ate some suppers of mashed potatoes, which I actually quite enjoy. Ate up food I had in my pantry: oatmeal, apples, frozen vegetables, etc. It felt liberating to have spent so little money.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Red Cabbage Slaw; Bobby Flay

Red Cabbage Slaw; Bobby Flay


  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, finely shredded


Combine all ingredients, except cabbage, in a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Place cabbage in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and let sit 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.

News flash! I just read that red cabbage may be a super food that prevents Alzheimer's Disease.

I'm going to make this recipe one of my staples. Also, apple juice shows promise in research studies.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Rachel Ray

Last week I made a Mexican Lasagna from a Rachel Ray recipe that woke me repeatedly during the night. Undeterred, I brought it for lunch for four days (it made a huge pan of ground turkey, cheese, beans, corn, spice and layers of tortillas.)

I also made Pad Thai using instructions from Kevin on the blog "Closet Cooking." (He's amazing.) It came out pretty good. I used tamarind paste, a fruity addition, for the first time ever, and the Pad Thai tasted less like sweaty gym socks, than usual.

Saturday I went to a health fair and got to indulge my hypochondria and snag some free bottled water and a banana. I got myself tested for osteoporosis (I don't have it), arterial blockage in the limbs (all clear), hearing (normal) and total cholesterol 213 (borderline high.) I spoke to a middle aged woman at the Alzheimer's booth whose father came down with the disease in his 50's, who told me not to worry about getting it, since my mother and grandfather weren't stricken till late in life. She told me only the early onset version is hereditary. I told her its more inheritable from the mother's side (she didn't know that.) So, we comforted each other.

One thing I noticed was how unhealthy all these health experts looked. Lots of fat nurses testing the masses, and the lady at the osteoporosis booth looked frail, almost skeletal. What is good health? In some ways, its just the absence of pain and disability. It's being able to walk as far and as fast as you want to. It's living up to your life expectancy. I was blessed with good genes, for the most part, and I have walked a lot my whole life, never smoked, and eaten reasonably well, if too much. Mostly, I would like to not feel fat every day of my life. Weighing less would be being healthier, to me. And that is a pretty serious intervention.