Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I’m Conflicted

I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about my post Whatever Happened To Self Control?I don’t usually “obsess” about what I write but this particular post just won’t leave me alone.  I decided to bring my thoughts here in the hope that I might be able to let them go or find some clarity.  We’ll see.

First of all, I worried that my post would be misunderstood by fellow PWD.  I don’t want anyone to assume that I was blaming us for bringing on our condition.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Quite a few people read my post but I don’t get many comments so that leaves me wondering if they left my blog saying “Yeah!  That’s right!” or “Dang, that woman is clueless.” The fact is quite a few of us (me included) did not have a healthy diet and that contributed to our getting diabetes.  We really don’t eat that much differently than anyone else but we were the “lucky ones”.  There is no blame to be placed there.  We are not to blame for having diabetes any more than someone can be blamed for contracting many forms of cancer or high blood pressure.

The other thing that continues to roll around in my head is whether or not our government can/should help.  I still contend that it is not the job of restaurants to make their menu healthier.  They are a business and if they want our business they will cater to our expectations.  We just suck at making our expectations known.  The almighty dollar, or lack thereof, would certainly get their attention.  If we stop spending money on unhealthy foods then MAYBE things will change.  However, should our government mandate health?  I don’t know.  I’m not an advocate for more government.  I think we have too much already.  With the decrease in health we are seeing these days something should be done, but what and by whom?

I do know that I appreciate the fact that I can feel fairly safe eating foods here in the US.  With food safety laws and food production guidelines we can feel mostly good about what we eat.  Mostly.  In contrast, my trip to Costa Rica caused me to think about every damn piece of food or beverage I put in my mouth.  Why?  Not because of diabetes but because their food standards are such that you can get pretty sick if you don’t pay attention.  I had never experienced that before, never having left the US until that time.

On the other hand when you research just how some of our foods are processed it can make you gag.  I read an article on NPR.org about fast food in France.  Here's the link if you care to read it for yourself.  “French chickens, unlike some of their American counterparts, are not rinsed in chlorine to disinfect them.”  I don’t think I knew that US chickens were rinsed in chlorine.  Maybe I did but I chose not to pay attention.  “French cattle are all grass fed, which many argue makes them tastier. Growth hormones are illegal here and each animal has a passport showing where it was born, raised, and slaughtered, according to McDonald's France. That's called traceability, and we don't yet have such a national system in place.”  Why not?  I also read an article on the Huffington Post about how chicken nuggets are made (although apparently not the McD variety).  The article is here if you care to read it yourself.  Basically, it talks about how the chicken is ground up, disinfected and turned into a pink paste that is then formed and coated and made to look like a piece chicken again.  I can’t vouch for the validity of that article (a LOT of what we read in the media is just plain bunk) but it does raise the question: Can we really trust what we’re eating?  Is it up to the government to ensure that our food is healthy?  I’m conflicted.

So here I sit thinking that I alone have the power over what I eat but that really isn’t true, is it?  Unless I begin farming; growing my own veggies and grains and raising cattle and chickens and pigs, do I really have control over what I’m eating?  I can certainly choose to eat healthier foods.  I can choose to not eat “junk”.  I can choose to focus on veggies and fruit and whole grains and lean proteins but I have no control over how those things are raised.  I’m not convinced that our government has done us many favors by allowing some of the production practices that exist to continue.  The world population is out of control and somehow all these people need to be fed.  That leads to genetically modified food.  Who’s to say whether that won’t come back to bite us in the butt later?  We can choose to buy only organic foods but I’ve also read that that label is often bunk just like “low fat”, “heart healthy” and “sugar free” on a label can be misleading. I just don’t know.

I’ve managed to ramble on here so I hope it makes sense.  I’ve decided to avoid editing since this needed to be a free writing exercise for my own benefit.  I’m not sure if I cleared my head or not.  Time will tell.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Masters Paint Diabetes

I’m not a student of art.  I don’t know much about art and artists but I do know how I feel about certain paintings and whether or not I like them.  I’m not very good at interpreting what the painter was trying to say.  I just like what I like (and don’t like what I don’t like).  I went with my husband to his cardiologist’s office and waited while he had some testing done.  In the waiting room was a huge jigsaw puzzle that was supposed to keep us busy while we waited.  This particular puzzle was of a painting by Monet.  It occurred to me that diabetes is like a jigsaw puzzle.

When I was first diagnosed I think my puzzle was painted by Picasso.  

Pablo Picasso
I was eventually able to piece together the puzzle but when I was done it didn’t make any sense to me! Why is that eye on her forehead?  What is a carb?  How can I tell if it’s good or bad and how much I can eat?  The ADA says one thing yet other PWD say something completely different!  This cookie has 18 carbs and so does this slice of whole wheat bread.  Does that mean I can make my sandwich with the cookies and I’ll be ok?

As time went on I did more and more research about diabetes.  I read numerous articles and D blogs.  I perused recipes looking for healthier options.  I tested and tested again. I gained a lot more knowledge and my puzzle picture changed.  Now my puzzle was painted by Monet. 


There were entirely too many pieces and so many of them looked alike!  How will I ever put this puzzle together? What piece goes where?  This combination worked last week so why does it take a hammer to get that piece to fit this week?  I KNOW I can figure this out.  Just give me time.

Right now my jigsaw puzzle seems more like one that my grandson likes to put together. 
There are fewer pieces and it’s pretty easy.  A piece or two for diet, one for exercise, one for meds and maybe a couple for what to do when sick or stressed.  I’m smart enough to know that this won’t always be the case.  Picasso or Monet may pop up again and again.

Throughout my journey with diabetes the picture keeps changing.  Sometimes it’s peaceful and serene like a Renoir:

Pierre Renoir

Other times it’s much more Munch-like:

Edvard Munch