My hot topic today is diabetes and the issues that surround those that either have it or in danger of getting the disease. The question I have is whether anyone who isn’t affected by it directly truly understands what it is? Presently, I have three people in my life who have Type 2 diabetes and I’m ashamed to say I truly don’t have a complete understanding of it. Ashamed because these people are important to me and I should know better.
I recently attended an event hosted by Healthy 100, which is an organization that was "created by Florida Hospital to educate and motivate people to adopt healthy lifestyles.” The honorary guest speaker was everyone’s favorite Southern Belle, Paula Deen. I must say, she is every bit as charming in real life as she is on television. Paula shared her story about discovering she was a Type 2 diabetic and learning how to maintain her diabetes through moderation, healthy eating, and medicine. Interestingly enough, she spoke some diabetic lingo that initiated applause from the crowd, but left me feeling clueless (I still clapped, of course).
So, I’ve done a little research since then.
Let’s first address the term Type 2 as it relates to diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) a total of 25.8 million people have diabetes and Type 2 is the most common form. Basically, what’s happening with Type 2 is that the body isn’t producing enough insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows our body’s cells to absorb glucose from the blood. Almost everything we eat is used to create glucose and it ends up in our blood to fuel the cells in our body that need it. It’s the insulin that regulates those blood glucose levels. Where Type 1 is a lack of insulin produced in the body, Type 2 is persistently high levels.
For those of you left saying, “whuuut...?” here is a handy video to explain insulin’s job a bit better.
Okay, we should all now be aware that it’s insulin that takes the sugar from the blood to transfer it to cells and without it there’s an overload in our blood as it's not being distributed.
Back to Paula - one thing she mentioned, which caused a thunderous applause, was that her A1C level was at 5.8 on her last doctor’s visit. My lovely friend I invited to come with me to the event, a Type 2 diabetic, was just about to explain when Marti White, who was on stage with Ms. Deen, elaborated what A1C meant. Essentially, this is a test that measures the average blood glucose for the past three months. ADA compares it to that of a baseball player’s season batting average as it illuminates a diabetic person’s success, in addition to making certain their treatment is working.
Based on some of the sites I’ve visited, the A1C, or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), test on the average, non-diabetic person can range from 4% - 5.6% with anything higher indicating a risk, or actuality of, diabetes. My friend who was with me explained that number can vary as your doctor may want you to stick to a level based on your age or body type.
Paula also told a story of how her blood sugar level reached 139 about seven hours after a #2 cheeseburger meal, followed a few hours later by a fat-free yogurt topped with marshmallow cream. It was implied by her sudden pause and guilty glance toward the audience that the topping wasn't so fat free. But, in her defense she was on the go running errands and, as she so cleverly explained, the #2 meal is easy to eat while driving. Who hasn't reasoned their way into that excuse? The difference is that diabetics have to be more careful as this sugar level was high for her. However, she was delighted that after walking a mile she brought the level down almost by 100. What she clearly demonstrated was that exercise is essential for a diabetic as it brings down those high sugar numbers. What’s considered high? Glad you asked.
Based on the information from the ADA website, before a meal, the blood sugar should read anywhere from 70 to 130. After a meal, the number can reach up to 180 on the glucose meter. Yet remember, the levels are based on what a health care provider has recommended based on A1C percentage and body type. I have experienced both high and low blood sugar levels with two family members. The side effects of either of these can be very disconcerting and downright scary if you don’t know what’s going on. Going with the baseball theme, first up to bat is the low blood sugar scenario, also called hypoglycemia.
I’ve had numerous occurrences with one of my in-laws who, let’s just say, isn’t meticulous in regulating his blood sugar – at all. He rarely tests his glucose level and the blood sugar lowers to numbers that essentially make him incoherent. He gets confused and slurs his words – to put it plainly, it seems as though he's intoxicated. This was extremely scary for me in the past, as well as for others around him (outside of family), as it was confusing as to whether he required sugar or had too much. Again, ignorance on my part despite the frequency of this happening. Eventually, it was understood that he was in desperate need of sugar, therefore orange juice was always on hand.
And like with anything in life, there’s a yin with this yang, where the glucose levels are too high, hyperglycemia. My mother, who had not been previously diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (but warned) fell into a diabetic coma because her blood sugar levels were about 1200. Seems rather high does it? Well, it’s a little over a thousand where it should be! Her factors for getting diabetes were exceptionally poor diet, obesity, and lack of exercise. It was thought she wouldn’t live because she didn't come out of her coma for almost seven days. The list of her immediate health issues was super long, but for the most part she has made a full recovery, aside from now being a diabetic. I wish I could say she's consistently been receptive to treatment by watching her diet, checking her blood sugar levels, and exercising, but she's not. We'll call it a work in progress. You can only take them to the water so they say...
In all reality, it’s up to the individual to be responsible with their diabetic condition, however as a friend, or better yet, family member, we should all be informed and at the ready to help if needed. Considering the overwhelming amount of people who have diabetes, one must also know the myths associated with the disease as we don’t have to just be overweight or have a poor diet. Here are a few myths from the ADA website:
Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.
I can’t say this is all there is to know, but I think it’s a start as understanding the Type 2 diabetes that affect those important me is absolutely essential. And, armed with this knowledge, I recognize that not only are my children susceptible, but so am I. Fortunately, we’re already aware that a healthy diet and exercise are an important part of our lives, so we’re slightly ahead of the game. We encourage our kids to try new foods (this by no way, shape or form means they eat them) and try to keep our kids active.
I'll leave you with Paula's thoughts about our kids and lifestyle today compared to yesteryear, which actually applies to my childhood. This is a video I recorded at Florida Hospital's Healthy 100 event on March 11, 2013.
Sites to both help with your understanding of diabetes and live a healthy lifestyle. If you have more to share, please do!
I've reached the final day of my self-inflicted...ahem, imposed low-carb diet. The last few days haven’t been tough at all really, but I have to admit that I didn't stick to the 20 carbs per day limit. There's only so much you can ask of a reluctant dieter.
Sadly, my scale hasn't reflected much change, just about five pounds. However I did say that wasn't the main focus (liar, liar, pants on fire). You have to admit that it helps to see those digital numbers work backwards on your scale. It's purely psychological, which is probably why shows like the Biggest Loser have their weigh-ins. It keeps the "Losers" motivated. The great thing is that my clothes are far more loose, not the slutty kind of "loose," the reason we diet kind.
Actually, both definitions apply, don't they?
One of my thin neighbors suggested I try a low-carb plan where the carbs are reduced during the week and then I enjoy myself a bit more on the weekends. He lost fifty pounds doing it, so it’s really a no-brainer that I should give it a try. I really just want to lose ten pounds, okay fifteen, so what?
There are few things I've missed while on this diet adventure, aside from the satisfaction of a full stomach, that I plan to reinstate now that it's over:
Bread - I'm a simple gal who likes a little toast with my eggs and maybe a sandwich now and then. But, I’m not one of those nutty folks who literally moan when freshly baked bread is placed before them, or the Husband who can’t seem to make it through the grocery store without eating half of a crusty baguette. You should see the strain in his face when the kids ask for a piece. I'm convinced he feels actual physical pain as he hands it to them.
Potatoes - Ya gotta have the hash-browns at breakfast! Not everyday, mind you, just on the weekends and perhaps Monday through Friday - but only those days, otherwise it's really too much.
Tortillas - Some might say this falls in the bread category, but any tortilla connoisseur knows better. These circular vessels of cuisine are essential to my well-being and I will once again proclaim that almost anything tastes good in a tortilla. I’m not sure what there is to exclude, but the “almost” is for the ones who always have to think of something. You know who you are.
Italian Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Veggies
So begins my next food adventure. Although I'm looking forward to returning some much needed carb-fuel to my menu, I do still plan to use many of the recipes I've received and researched to make low-carb options easier. I love to try new things when I cook, so why not?
And, I guess if you absolutely have to label it, it would technically be a "diet" as I'm still holding out on my body's deluded thirst for carbs. But, I'll just call it something else...like, George Clooney. It will go something like this:
"Hey, are you on a diet?"
"No, I'm on George Clooney."
See what I just did?
So, yeah...I’m still on this low-carb diet thing. It’s been said the second week is always easier, but I’ll have to get back to you on that as I’m not buying it. I will, however, share that the Diet Devil did visit during my first weekend and presented the opportunity for a diet sin. This is my confession...
It all started when the Husband and I found ourselves on that rare occasion without children. My extremely fantastic mother-in-law wanted to take them to lunch and shopping for the day. She gives the wee-ones an opportunity to buy presents for their parents, compliments of grandma. Mom and dad are free for the day and score loot, it's a win-win.
Those of you with kids know that if we are fortunate to spend the WHOLE day without our offspring, we relish every single minute. Yes, we love them and can’t live without them...yada, yada - but we don’t have sitters or a nanny. That’s right, they go with us everywhere - always. And, keep in mind this is completely different from when they're in school all day, that doesn't count. If I had to describe the feeling, it’s almost as if you’ve been launched into a portal to the time before you had children, armed with the knowledge that one day it will all be gone. Enjoy your freedom childless-ones...enjoy your freedom.
The first thing we did as we drove away smiling was run down the list of where we were going to have lunch. I feigned shock as I kind of intended to stay on the diet. We all know restaurants don't cater to the low-carb dieter, unless you're one of the Sally Albright types (you know who you are). The Husband scoffed and reminded me of our golden opportunity to go to a place the kids would hate to eat, or to a place the kids would be envious.
We chose envy.
I'm pretty sure that the Diet Devil had taken the form of my husband because his choices were:
There may have been more, but my mind was whirling. It could have been the low blood-sugar. We didn’t decide right away as it was a bit overwhelming (remember we don’t get out much and had been dieting for a week), besides we had recently had breakfast, eggs, yet again. We opted to do some shopping for the Christmas presents as we were way behind, however, we eventually got to the point where a decision had to be made.
It was literally a magical moment when we looked at each other and said aloud, in perfect harmony, our choice. It was as if we were one when the word "Fuddruckers" sang through the air. We didn’t choose it because the kids would be most angry at about our choice, that was just a bonus. I will admit that I felt the diet guilt setting in as I perused the menu, even thinking I might skip the wedge fries that I would douse with processed cheese with the simple press of a button. I'm kidding, of course.
It may surprise you to learn that we, the Husband and I, always split the ⅔ pound burger and fries when we go to Fuddruckers. We decided to stick to that plan, with the only hesitation being whether we should chose the one pounder instead. Hey, the bun would be 40 carbs either way! Yes, I looked it up. Diet Devil wasn’t going to completely overtake me.
And then, there it was, my half of a medium-rare delicious burger with only a little bit of cheese (I was thwarted at the free processed cheese machine, it was running low). The burger was still amazing. The bun was so very soft, buttery and sinfully delicious. I am proud to say I only had 2.5 wedge fries. Who says I don’t have self-control?
All in all, I only went 10 carbs over my, again, self-imposed 20 carb-per-day, two-week diet. But, I knocked out almost all the kid’s gifts. See how that balances out? The odd thing is that I left Fuddruckers completely satisfied and without feeling like I ate too much. See what being good all week gets ya?
My punishment? Gaining a pound back from the five I lost. I totally mislead you to believe I don’t pay attention to the pounds I lose, only inches. I lied. Sorry.
Damn Diet Devil.
At the suggestion of my fabulous sister, I thought I would share what I’ve been eating lately. Not because it’s excitingly exotic, but perhaps it’s along the lines of encouraging variety to your palate. What my dear sibling doesn’t know is that the Husband and I have decided to follow a low-carb diet to loosen up the belt a bit after Thanksgiving feasting and to prep for the mounds of Christmas meals we’ll be enjoying. First let me add, we aren’t what you would call overweight by any means, but we could stand to lose a few pounds – him more than me, of course.
Normally, I don’t diet…ever. I desperately despise dieting because it’s in essence telling me what I can or can’t do with my pie-hole. And I really don’t like that. I must first offer that we don’t snack much in our house and pretty much stick to a breakfast, lunch and dinner routine. Therefore, this whole abstaining from carbs shouldn’t be too hard, but knowing I can’t have something only makes me want it more. I don’t know if you know this, any low-carb snack you want to have pretty much calls for some sort preparation that takes time. Which in all reality is the most sadistic form of torment when you feel like you’re starving to death and want to, dare I say, snack between meals.
I will stand strong, however. I’ll apply myself for the next two weeks to keep my daily carb count below twenty…ish, maybe. Sounds a bit like Adkin’s induction, I know. The difference is that I don’t refrain from my late-night-kids-have-finally-gone-to-bed-happy-hour. Momma needs to celebrate when the madness dies down. We don’t mess with that.
There are probably more don’ts I do on Adkin’s list, but I’m not going to check. My method has worked for me in the past and it will work again. I’m not offering that it’s the best way to do it, just mine. Which actually makes it the best, but we shouldn’t be too pretentious when dieting. As long as I keep the carb count low, that’s all that matters.
Breakfast on Day 1 was a spinach and mushroom frittata. Normally, I would add potatoes to the mix, but *mocking voice* I’m not supposed to. I sautéed chopped red onions in little butter for a bit before adding the mushrooms, then threw in some fresh spinach leaves. I added some chopped tomatoes to the mix before pouring in four beaten eggs and sprinkling lots of cheese on top.
The tricky part is not messing with the mixture too much so it can set. Otherwise you won’t get to use your mad chef skills to flawlessly flip the frittata. It also helps if you talk to it (kind of like a plant that needs inspiration to not die) and throw in a couple of warnings of what you’ll do if it fragments into tiny little pieces. Eggs hate threats.
Lunch was tuna fish accompanied with a boiled egg, onions, pickles and a little mayo. There’s no photo in the world that will do tuna fish justice, so I won’t even try. Likewise, the meal was very pathetic. I just dropped a glob of it on spinach leaves and feigned a smile that I was doing something good for my body as I chewed. Mmmm.
Dinner was promising considering I was trying a new seasoning I snagged at the grocery store. It was from Weber, the grill people. Mango with lime smothered all over chicken breast. I simply used my stovetop grill and piled on asparagus and mushrooms, which were doused with olive oil, salt and pepper. Everything was delicious. I know this because the Husband didn’t say, “What seasoning did you use? It tastes interesting.”
A little tip, just in case you didn’t read my getting ethnic on your friends post, “interesting” is code for "I don’t know if I like eating this, but I will pretend to feign interest to avoid hurting your feelings.”
Breakfast on day 2 and 3 weren’t nearly as exciting, but that’s just the reality of abstaining, I mean dieting. I made scrambled eggs both mornings, mixing it up each day with onions, both red and yellow, and with the type of cheese used. I always reach for the Mexican variety when selecting cheese because one, I’m half Mexican and totally biased, and two, it just requires a cheese element. I like the shredded Mexican cheese with the Monterrey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero. I also love Queso Fresco sprinkled on top. It’s not just for refried bean and tacos, people. You can also mix your scrambled eggs with cream cheese, by the way. I like to use the chive variety as it adds an electrifying element to your little ol’ egg.
Lunch on Day 2 was that infamous tuna fish I made the day before, but I cheated. It was wrapped by a delicious piece of bread, just like a warm, comforting cocoon. Bread never tasted so sweet. I was hungry, so don’t judge me. I enjoyed some meatloaf meatballs (because my teenager hates meatloaf, I make them into meatballs. I win.) for dinner along with some fresh-from-a-can green beans. Canned food is another form of cheating, I know, but let’s not fret on the details. At least I didn’t add butter, so relax!
Lunch Day 3 was celery sticks and ranch dressing. I know your mouth’s watering, right? Just keep in mind that when you are ready to chow down on your kid’s sugar cookie Pop-Tarts, you walk the line. That Johnny Cash knows how to diet.
We are now at day 4. I will add that last night dinner wasn't made by me as I had to be elsewhere at dinner time. When I returned home, I just threw some Conecuh Spicy Sausage on the grill and then scarfed it down just like a dog being fed broccoli under the dinner table by your children. But the difference is I did chew, a little bit…I think. Just so you know, the spicy Conecuh sausage is truly delicious and taste best wrapped in a flour tortilla, which I always have on hand. However, they are not carb friendly and I don't eat the carb-free type. I tried it once, but was certain I died a little inside afterwards. By the way, did you know almost everything taste good in a tortilla? Scientific fact.
Breakfast was delish, full of eggs, cheese and Lil’ Smokies. Side note: you can wrap those brave little sausages in Pillbury biscuit dough with a dab of butter and bit of cheese. If you bake as directed you’ll have your very own pig-in-a-blanket, or if you're from Houston, a Shipley's Donuts kolache. The kolache isn't native to H-town, it just seems anyone I've ever mentioned it to in other cities I've lived in look at me like I'm crazy. I rub a stick of butter on top when I take them out of the oven for additional pleasure. I dare you to share them.
As you can easily tell, I'm super focused on my low-carb diet.
Anyway, back to breakfast. I went crazy and threw some chopped green onion on top of my scrambled eggs. It actually added a little crunch the eggs needed considering it wasn’t accompanied by buttery toast. My photo doesn’t show how I showered my eggs with a bit of Sriracha, but only because the Husband says it makes them look like they were murdered. I will attest to that, but I think he’s a bit scared of the power that goes by the name Sriracha.
Lunch was a simple spinach salad, but I looked forward to our steak dinner all day. It’s a spin-off of our favorite Miami restaurant, Larios on the Beach, Bistec de Palomilla. First, I beat a piece of thin-sliced top round with the flat part of the meat tenderizer until it's rather thin, then marinate it in mojo criollo for at least 30 minutes, sometimes overnight. It’s a simple pan-fry in a cast-iron skillet after I season it with Adobo. After the steak is done, I toss in finely diced onions and garlic (lots of garlic) with some of the mojo and sauté until the onion is translucent.
Once done, its home is on top of the steak and I can’t tell you how amazingly good it is. I plan on grilling some yellow squash and zucchini to accompany it. Not exactly Cuban like the steak, but how many Cuban dishes do you know that come with veggies? That’s right…none.
I know I’m not even half way through my self-imposed two week diet, but I have lost four pounds and definitely an inch or so. I don’t really gauge my diets by how much weight I lose so much as how many inches I’ve lost. I know my clothes are fitting a bit better and when all of this is done, I’ll be more aware of how many carbs I actually eat and regulate myself better.
What I'm in need of are more ideas for low-carb meals and most importantly low-carb snacks, so I'm constantly searching the web. Do please share any recipes you have that will make it easy for me to not only survive this diet, but want to continue watching my carbs.
My photo adventures in Florida