Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
I'm currently reading The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite by David A. Kessler, MD. Kessler talks about the "purple cow" concept (chapter 26): the idea that the food industry tries to create the most creative, delicious, "sense-sational" foods to lure consumers. He talks about how our brains work, our addiction to the fat-sugar combination that leads to more consumption of fat-sugar foods, portions, and do much more. The beginning of chapter 40 says, "The nation's weight problem is evidence, in part, that we have gotten a lot of bad advice."
Great point! If we are so "advanced" in our nutritional knowledge as a culture and have the best science on our side, why are we getting fatter and fatter, unhealthier and unhealthier? Why will 1 in 3 white kids and 1 in 2 black and Hispanic kids (all born after the year 2000) get type 2 in their lifetime? How has the South Beach, and banning single ingredients like trans fats or HFCS, or going low-carb, or drinking concoctions of lemon juice and maple syrup, or guzzling protein shakes, etc. done anything for us a a nation?
I don't believe one book has all the answers that will magically solve our nation's obesity and diabetes crisis. The problem is complex, and I think involves much more than food. We have factors like farming, the environment, exercise, medicine, technology, and much much more to consider. However, this doesn't mean we throw our hands up in the air, shake our heads in confusion, and then stuff in a thickburger. I think we all have a responsibility to ourselves and our families to constantly learn and ask questions about health so that we can take steps in our lives to make better choices and hopefully avoid some of the fates that our fellow people are facing. And once you learn something, educate others!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
I was thinking of eating a massively unhealthy meal...but that goes against what I truly believe in. But sheesh---I thought celebrations were about food. Shrug.
I also thought about a special trip somewhere. Anything out of the ordinary to mark the day as special.
Or just a "me" day. A massage, lots of reading, a glass of wine.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
It's a word that saturates my vocabulary. Blood sugar, sugar substitutes, sugar doesn't cause diabetes, yes I can eat sugar, I need some sugar! (when I'm hypo), and "sugar booger" (to my baby, which, when typed, sounds kind of gross).
To be honest, sugar is my weakness when it comes to managing my disease. I've got the exercise routine down pat (every morning around 8:30 a.m.), the meal prep (eat homemade, eat organic, eat whole foods), the sleep (I get eight hours a night, sometimes more), and the medications (my pump and Symlin). I sometimes remember to check my feet, and I always have a diabetes-related appointment on the calendar to stay on top of my disease. I read books about diabetes. I read blogs. I write articles.
BUT, when it comes to dessert, which I have every night, I'm simply weak.
My love of sugar started long before my diagnosis. I used to consume Pop Tarts, Little Debbies, and Pixie Stix by the truck load at every youth group event. (Speaking of Little Debbies, I saw the Little Debbie rep at my local grocery store this week and seriously contemplated asking him if he felt any bit of guilt for providing American with diabetes in a box....but I held back). I made cookies for years, nearly every other weekend, with my best friend in high school. French fries and pancakes (often together at Denny's with my friends) were one of my favorite combinations.
But then my childhood ended, diabetes made its debut, and sugar wasn't just sugar anymore. It became an enemy that had to be controlled. I hate that word---control. Mostly because every other person I meet asks if my diabetes is "under control." As I used to say in the 90s, and it makes no sense, BARF ON A STICK. People with diabetes have to control everything...but those who don't have it (or do and don't know it), pass judgement, constantly, with just that single question. I mentally sigh, quite dramatically, every time I'm asked about my blood sugar control. Controlling blood sugars is sometimes as likely as controlling the weather.
Anyway, Nanny C, my daughter's child care provider and fitness extraordinaire, and I once had a conversation about sugar. She was talking about how generally, it doesn't make us feel good (diabetes or not), but we continue to consume it anyway.
It's a really simple truth. Over consumption of sugar (and for those who don't know, "sugar" is carbs---so chips, or homemade banana bread, or three oranges, or a large potato, or raw cookie dough all count) simply makes us crave more sugar. It's a never-ending cycle. Or is it?
I'm all about small goals. That's another thing Nanny C is really good at. (If you're interested, check out her "word of the week" on her blog). I love focusing on just one thing, though it's hard for this multi-tasking mama, teacher, and wife to do. But when it comes to diabetes, a small change can make a dramatic impact.
Each night, my husband and I flop down on the couch together at 8:30 p.m. The baby is sound asleep, her toys are picked up, and the dishwasher is humming gently in the kitchen. I usually say something like, "Can I get you something?" And he usually responds, "Like what?"
It's a funny game we play, because our nightly dessert consists of _____ + ice cream. The ____ is usually some sort of homemade fruit crisp, a brownie, a cookie, or something along those lines. The ice cream is either vanilla, rocky road, or cookie dough (my fav but it's so hard to control myself!!!).
I get up, get out two small glass bowls, and begin the traditional and satisfying process of making our parfaits. Sometimes I'll add a little something extra like a drizzle of organic chocolate syrup (no HFCS!) or a sprinkle of walnuts. I then test my sugar, calculate my carbs, and bolus.
I'll bring the bowls to the living room, and we'll either talk or watch one of our tv shows while relishing in gooey, rich, dense, cool + warm goodness.
It's heavenly. And I know all the health experts say food shouldn't be a reward, but mine nightly dessert is. It's a reward for working out that morning, for grading a stack of student essays, for cleaning the house, for making a healthy dinner, for dealing with the demands of parenthood, to completing an article. My dessert is like the one thing that says I'm normal, even though I know there is nothing normal about diabetes.
So back to small goals. Mine is to continue to enjoy dessert every night, but to enjoy smaller portions of it. I already use the small glass bowls; however, I can heap one of those to the point where the ice cream is threatening to fall over (and has before).
I know sugar is so attractive because despite what our diabetes educators tell us, sugar is almost never consumed in moderation, especially when it's this forbidden pleasure in the diabetes community. Well, technically it's not forbidden. We're encouraged to consume it---but in artificial form. All I can say to that is ewwwww. Fake sugars are nasty. Period. I've been there, done that, and plan to never go back. And I apologize to my body for the diet sodas, Splenda, "sugar free" cookies, Glucerna, etc. that I consumed. I know better now.
I hope that my d-friends can:
- enjoy semi-healthy desserts or healthy desserts in moderation
- enjoy real desserts
- enjoy rewarding themselves with something sweet, every day
- enjoy life, because diabetes or not, we only get one life.
Let's live. And live well.
Now if you will excuse me....it's time for my dessert.
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Right now I'm on a diabetes kick, which has it's advantages. I just had a meeting with my DNE, my endo appointment is scheduled for early March, I've been stocking my fridge with fruits and veggies (and, oh yeah, becoming a vegetarian!), writing tons of diabetes-related articles for Diabetes Health, and getting back on my CGM (from which I took a break due to mental health concerns from all the BEEEEEEPPPPPing).
After a quick self-analysis, I realize my diabetes kick comes about this time every year---about a month before my diagnosis anniversary. It's ingrained in me, I guess. There's something about that date in March that sends me into a whirl of emotions----some victorious, some depressing, some simply perplexing.
I don't think about diabetes all the time, yet it's with me, yep, all the time. I have been criticized before for being obsessed with my disease---of course, this comes from people who don't have type I. They have no idea what this disease is like. But my readers, I know you get it...either because you have it, or because you are married to someone who has it, or you are caring for a child, or multiple children (see Meri's blog) with it.
So as my anniversary approaches, I'm throwing myself into the D-world with all new vigor. I'm reading Diabetes Rising, reading diabetes blogs, and considering if I have time to venture into participating in online diabetes communities (I have accounts, but I'm not very active right now).
The thing is, I think I got diabetes. I have type I. It has a definition. I came down with a stomach virus in November of 2004, was sick for a year and a half, and was diagnosed in March of 2006. I had a six month long honeymoon period (check----I know what that means), went on Symlin, a pump, and last year, a CGM. I have learned about insurance companies, how to deal with doctors who don't get it (find a new one!), and how to cope. I'm daily picking myself up by my bootstraps and putting on, as my friend Joy (80 years old and very healthy, by the way) says, my "big girl panties." I know about how fiber can be subtracted from the carb count of a food, what the dawn phenomenon is, and that my blood sugars can fluctuate based on the weather, my menstrual cycle, my stress level, how much sleep I am (or am not) getting, my diet, my workout routine, communion, and more. Nothing is the same. And yet, in some ways, everything, with diabetes, is somehow better in some sick, weird, twisted way.
But there's so so so much I really don't get, and after reading parts of Diabetes Rising (which, unfortunately, is now one day overdue and will be returned to my local library tomorrow for fear of even more fines---yeah, I do everything on time except return library books) I'm realizing that there's so much about diabetes I just don't get---and guess what? Neither does the medical community! This disease is a complete mystery with possible cures but no easy answers or quick fixes.
This paragraph (p 63), in particular, explains in part my frustration with this disease:
Whatever the exact rate of increase in the incidence of type I may be,
this much is clear: it's rising, and no amount of test strips, insulin
pumps, sensors, or islet-cell transplants will do anything to stop the
rise. Rather than plugging the leak in the boat, we have been bailing out
with teaspoons, all the while sinking deeper.
I do not, by any means, live for a cure. I hope there's one, but I'm not sitting around praying for one. I did, however, allow a few pent-up tears slide down my face the other night as I told my husband, "I'm tired of having diabetes. I don't want it anymore." Then I sniffed and moved on.
I am so frustrated when I hear stories of people who know they are at risk. Or at the minimum know that chips and soda are not good choices to eat...yet they do it anyway, taking on the teenager's mentality of "it can't happen to me." Dan Hurley, the book's author, conducted an interview with a nurse-practitioner/dietitian who said (83):
The general public doesn't get diabetes because they don't think they have it or are headed to it, and if they do know, they don't care. It's not like a broken bone. It doesn't hurt badly enough for someone to say, you know, I should do something about this.
If diabetes just hurt, that person would be in my office within hours.
If it just caused them the discomfort of a cold, they'd come.
I've only made it to page 117 of Hurley's book, and I've had enough of it. It's a great read, but each page has me questioning everything I thought I understood about diabetes. I scanned the table of contents to find there's an entire section devoted to "the reasons" for the dramatic rise in diabetes. Is it weight gain? Cow's milk? "Persistent Organic Pollutants"? Lack of vitamin D? Hygiene?
My guess is yes---all of the above. My diagnosis came when I was twenty-four years old. I was living in a new place (environment?), it was winter (lack of vitamin D), and I had a virus (which some say the rota virus is one of the four that can trigger type I). Maybe I had some sort of genetic disposition that got switched on by one or all of these three? Oh, and my mom didn't breast feed me long, so maybe it was that cow's milk? A real head-scratcher....
Part III of the book promises to talk about the artificial pancreas, bariatric surgery, a pill that cures type I (huh?), and prevention. I just can't stomach it anymore. I guess I figure that I have this damn thing, you know? It's not going away. Time to move on.
Recently, Dr. Oz was on Oprah's show talking about diabetes. Granted the episode did people with type I little justice, he explained how excessive sugar in the blood is like glass, scraping away at a person's insides. Wow.
There's so much I don't get. I can't even pronounce all the nerve damage problems----one for the eyes, one for the feet, one for the stomach. Oh the list goes on and on.
And here's the kicker: Blood sugar control doesn't mean one with diabetes will avoid complications. It just means the risk is probably lower. Probably.
I guess I'll just keep doing what I know how to do. I exercise every morning. I eat healthy. I get eight hours of shut-eye each night. I know when to take a down day and really just chill. I know what my limits are, and I rarely push them. I ask God to give me wisdom when my numbers are jacked. I encourage others. I just keep on trucking, wearing my big girl panties, and hoping to avoid complications for as long as possible.
God promises that He knows the number of hairs on my head. He knows my coming, my going, my thoughts, my fears (which I rarely talk about), and my hopes. I can do all I want to control my diabetes, but really, who in this world has any control over the big picture? On one hand, I believe we choose our own path...and make our own destiny. But I also know there's a God who can work everything out according to His will and purpose, despite our silly human ways.
I just don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, next week, next year. I don't know what this next year will hold as I learn more about my disease. But I will keep trying, keep learning, and also keep choosing to shut out what's not necessary, even if it is a good book.
My recent birthday dinner at a local Houlihan's inspired me to create my own version of their veggie sandwich. It's super simple!
- sprouts (take your pick)
- a whole grain bun, English muffin, pita, etc.
- a slice or organic tomato
- some good, organic cheese (your choice)
- a little balsamic vinaigrette
- hummus (I like roasted red pepper or chipotle, but plain works just as well)
- Layer and eat.
I have found that vegetarian options at restaurants are often laden with too much cheese and grains. So creating your own versions at home will save you calories.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
I urge you to read this simple prayer spoken by Jada, a sweet little girl with type I diabetes:
I don't like to poke my fingers. It really hurts sometimes. And why do I have to have diabetes? I mean, it's really like the pottiest thing ever. Some time I just want to wake up and not be diabetic ANY MORE!
In Jesus Name,