Food diaries and honesty

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Eating & Cooking |

People with diabetes are constantly aware of food, that’s a given. We need to pay attention to what we’re eating, how many carbs, when we’re eating and longing for foods we crave but probably shouldn’t eat. I have kept food journals in the past to get a grip on how different foods affect my blood sugar. I find them to be helpful. I was somewhat careful to write down what was in a particular meal (along with before and after glucose readings) but I never spent time writing down everything I ate in a day. A recent attempt to pinpoint another health issue, separate from my diabetes, was not only eye-opening but a bit uncomfortable.

I’ve been having “gut issues” for months now. I got to thinking about the possibility of lactose intolerance since I have family members who deal with that. Pretty much the only dairy I eat these days is cheese and a bit of cream in my coffee  but I figured it was worth a try. A food diary seemed like a good idea because, who knows, it might be something else I’m eating that’s causing me grief. If I just kept track of everything I ate for a week maybe my doctor could look at that and say, “Well there’s the culprit!” So I began. I lasted two days.

Have you ever really paid attention to everything you eat? Regardless of the fact that I think about food all the time, I never realized just how much I was eating. It was embarrassing. When you have to stop and write down what you’re eating, it puts a huge spotlight on that snack you’ve decided to eat. Knowing that I had to “own up” to eating something, I would either change my mind and eat something “safer” or else eat it anyway and then feel guilty. I even considered not writing something down just so no one else would see what I’d done! Talk about feeling like Big Brother is watching. It was awful.

I’m writing this to bring up the point that, even though we may have made dramatic changes to what we eat on a daily basis, even though we may be committed to a healthier lifestyle, even though we “know better”, it can be so easy to derail our good intentions with mindless munching. This is not to say that we can’t have a treat now and then, but it would be in our best interest to make it a planned treat and curtail the munching for munching’s sake. My short experiment in food journaling may not have been the success I was hoping for but it did cause me to pay closer attention to what I’m eating. I’m much more aware now and have been making better choices. What could you do to improve your diet?

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It’s a Miracle!

Posted by on Feb 16, 2014 in Eating & Cooking, General, Management & Care | 4 comments

If you’re paying much attention to what is said on social media about type 2 diabetes; how we get it and how we can get rid of it, then you’ve probably seen this:

okra and water

Wouldn’t it be nice?  Let me say right up front: I hate the term Diabetes Sufferers!!!!

Let’s discuss this claim that okra water will make diabetes “go away”.  There are some rather scary claims here.

First, that okra water “played the role of insulin”.  Anyone who has type 1 knows that there isn’t anything that can replace their injected insulin.  However, many, many people with T2 are apt to grab onto any claim that will help them stop injections.  This is dangerous, in my opinion, because people may stock up on okra and not take their insulin shots based solely on this claim.  T2s who use insulin are doing so for a good reason.  Their blood glucose is on the high end and they need insulin to keep it under control.  While not injecting insulin with T2 doesn’t have the same ramifications as someone with T1, it does mean that folks may be dealing with much higher blood glucose than they should; wreaking havoc with their bodies and possibly developing complications down the road.

Second, the claim that okra water will make diabetes “go away” leaves you with the impression that “all you have to do” is drink this stuff and you can go on eating all the junk you want, without concern.  Diabetes will not go away.  Period.  There are many things we can do to help control our blood glucose but, even if we are seeing normal numbers, that doesn’t mean that diabetes is gone.  It’s still there, lurking, ready to rear its ugly head if we should stray from the path that is working for us.  We need to accept that reality and move on.

I did a little snoping (ie: I went to Snopes.com.  I do know how to spell).  This article at Snopes lays out the controversy quite well.  Lo and behold, Snopes didn’t call BS, but instead said that there is a mix of true and false in the information found in the plug about okra.  It basically says what I did above about the misinformation and added this:

As noted in the 2012 textbook Bioactive Food as Dietary Interventions for Diabetes:

There is anecdotal evidence for the amelioration of diabetes by dietary consumption of okra but what are lacking are controlled clinical trials. There are constituents of okra such as polyphenolic molucules that provide encouragement for such studies in the future.

The article goes on to say that there is enough evidence to indicate that consuming okra might have a positive effect on blood glucose but more, extensive, studies need to happen before it can be said that it makes a difference.

This all tells me that drinking okra water might help to lower blood glucose, just as cinnamon and vinegar (not together, blergh) might work.  Some people do see an improvement with both of these things, but some don’t.  Each of us is different.  The thing to take away from all the hoopla is that it may be worth it to try okra water to see if it helps you but don’t ever buy into claims that something, anything, will make your diabetes disappear.  Only hard work and attention, by you, can make a difference.  We need to take ownership  of our diabetes.  Okra is a good veggie to eat.  Add it to soups and stews or even drink the water, but don’t put it up on a pedestal and think it’s going to change your life.  It’s just a vegetable, one of many you should be eating.

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Too much of a good thing

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in Eating & Cooking, General |

I recently read an article that warns about the “dark side” of kale.  Kale is the latest superstar of the nutritional world and yet this article warns that if you’re consuming too much it can be bad for you.  Hmmm, too much of a good thing…

This caused me to stop and think about diet/health trends and how we are so eager to jump on any bandwagon that tells us we will be healthier/thinner/happier/stronger if we just eat this or that.  I’m always leery of the “just do this” advice we’re all weary of hearing but it doesn’t seem like a bad thing when someone is touting healthy vegetables.  What harm can it do?

The thing is that, even when it’s healthy foods being pushed, we’re still looking for that magic pill; that one thing we can do to make us healthier.  Here’s the deal: there isn’t just “one thing”.  Instead we should be concentrating on a combination of healthy foods.

Drinking kale shakes until we turn green isn’t a good thing.  It’s not going to cure your ills any better than popping cinnamon pills or drinking vinegar.  They all might help you be healthier but they won’t fix you all by themselves.  Kale is awesome, in moderation.  Add some to your salad or bake it into chips, but don’t fall into the trap that more is better.

Be smart and focus on a balance of healthy foods.  Don’t zero in on one idea and only do that one thing.  Eat sensibly.  Eat a variety of whole foods.  Take supplements that you and your healthcare provider agree might help.  There is no one thing that will do the trick, unless that one thing is you making smart choices.  Think about that before you buy into any health claims.

 

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Counting Carbs: What It’s Really Like In My Mind Sometimes

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Eating & Cooking | 2 comments

Did you know there are three main types of carbohydrate?

“Carb counting” is a meal planning technique for managing your blood glucose levels.

As a T2 diagnosed at 31 years old, counting carbs means that I have to create filters around food where there were never any. It means that the amount of mac & cheese, cheese grits, bread pudding, beef patties and coco bread, fried plantains, ice cream, cookies, and yams that I’ve become accustom to eating (not all at once of course) for years must be reduced… significantly. When I learned about carb-counting in my diabetes education class, it seemed like it would be a challenge to eyeball the right amount of blueberries for my smoothies or learn how to cook enough rice for a single serving, but no one prepared me for the internal dialogue that I would have with myself frequently when I encounter my favorite dishes.

“That’s too much, put some back.”

“Go ahead and get the last piece, it’s okay.”

“Are you really going to ask for a doggy bag for that small portion?”

“You’re rather low, HAVE ALL THE (insert great-tasting-high-in-carb edible item here) YOU WANT.”

“Now look what you’ve done, you have over-corrected the hypo.”

“I hope my medication will counter this meal.”

“Oh God, I’m going to lose a toe behind this past week’s behavior.”

“One bad week won’t kill me, any sooner.”

The physical highs and lows that I experience (related to glucose levels) are compounded in invisible ways by the mental and emotional highs and lows I experience. There are times when I feel triumphant about maintaining a rigid diet 45g-60g of carbs per meal. There are other times I feel ashamed for having normal slice of cake and spiking my glucose levels. There are times when I celebrate an excellent A1C. There are times when I am angry that I can’t do the things I use to do before diabetes arrived. There are times when I am consumed by thinking like a pancreas.

I make mistakes. I indulge perfectly. I over indulge. I underestimate my carb-count and get hypos. I have moments when I simply can’t get enough of a junk-food item. I have moments when I don’t want to eat, but must. This complexity is part of my experience.

 

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