Sunday, March 31, 2013

I’m Mad

Today, I’m mad. Angry. Pissed. Ticked. I want to punch something.  The other day was a bad day where I didn’t feel well and was grumpy.  I re-read this post and felt better.  My last post was about feeling lucky and I still feel that way, but today I’m mad.
When I was diagnosed in 2005 I didn’t receive any direction or assistance or encouragement.  That lack of attention to the seriousness of diabetes led me to believe that I could continue eating in a way that wasn’t really good for me.  I went about figuring out how I could continue to eat some of my favorite foods and still control my diabetes, when in reality I should have let them go from the beginning and start to find healthier options.  

I have always advocated for slow change, especially when it’s someone whose diet has been filled with a high percentage of processed carbohydrates.  I still feel that this is the best approach but I’m beginning to think that we’re moving too slowly.  Lately I’ve come to the conclusion that the mainstream medical society hasn’t been doing those of us with type 2 diabetes a service by coddling us and encouraging us to continue to eat foods that contain higher amounts of carbohydrates.  The idea of a “healthy diet” is under scrutiny and some doctors are now admitting that they’ve been wrong for several decades.

Dr. Dwight Lundell is a cardiologist who has spoken up to say that he was wrong about a low fat diet and heart disease.  You can read his words here,
which I highly recommend you do. 

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.”

“(We) have simply followed the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.”

“What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.”

I’m lucky because my diabetes was apparently caught before my insulin resistance was very high.  I could still get away with eating higher amounts of carbs without medication and not see glucose spikes…for a while.  Now, not so much.  I feel cheated!  By sticking my head in the sand, with the help of my “team”, I merely delayed the inevitable: I must drastically lower my carb intake in order to control my diabetes.  Let me rephrase that: I must cut out most carbs and replace them with non-starchy vegetables, beans and nuts.  My body just can’t handle carbohydrates any longer.  Sigh.

This brings up a subject that I’ve been grappling with for some time now: Is it better for a PWD, T2 to cut out carbs in order to control glucose, or should we just take more medicine?  I’ll just betcha if I asked a dietician or CDE I would be told to up my medication.  In fact, I had a reply to a comment I made in a forum from someone who claimed to be a dietician who said that if I couldn’t even eat a sandwich without seeing a bg spike then I needed to take more medicine. But is that really the best answer?  Is the almighty whole grain really that important?

I need to clarify which carbs I’m removing from my food plan.  I’m not talking about a box of macaroni and cheese; that stuff went out the door a long time ago.  No, I’m talking about whole wheat bread, cereal (even oatmeal and high fiber options) and some fruit.  I occasionally eat small quantities of pasta and couscous.  This adjustment has taken a long time for me to achieve (and I still “blow it” on occasion).  I think that the slow change has made it easier for me to accept that I can’t just eat whatever I want but now I’m wondering if this change in food plan shouldn’t have happened sooner.  Someone should have slapped me up the side of the head and made me realize that I needed to make major changes right away instead of basically being told to “watch what I eat and move more”.  

I’m mad.  I’m indignant for all of us who are dealing with type 2 diabetes.  We’re vilified in the media for being fat and lazy when we aren’t much different from anyone else.  We’re told, even by the medical profession, that we can control our diabetes if we “simply” make some changes to our diet and increase our exercise, and yet, we are encouraged by those same medical professionals to continue to eat higher amounts of whole grains even if our meters tell us otherwise.  If our blood glucose numbers don’t go down, or continue to rise, we’re accused of cheating, of being non-compliant.  We’re told that diabetes is a progressive disease, but would it progress as quickly if we dramatically changed our carb intake early on?

I’m pissed.  I want to shout from the rooftop so that people will listen, but they won’t.  I can’t fight the mainstream thinking.  We are being sold a bill of goods by well-intentioned people who just might be wrong.  I feel as if my generation has been a huge science experiment that went horribly wrong.  We’re fatter and sicker because we ate a low fat diet filled with processed foods which are supposed to be “safe”.  When are we going to wake up?

Friday, March 15, 2013

I Feel Lucky

Living with type 2 diabetes can be frustrating, confusing and just plain awful!  But I feel lucky.  Sometimes it feels as if I can never figure out how to live with this disease.  Sometimes I want to give up.  Sometimes I cry.  But I feel lucky.  Yesterday, I felt stupid.

I’ll be babysitting two of my grandsons all weekend.  I didn’t plan ahead very well so I bought some cookies from the store bakery instead of baking healthier ones here.  As I was putting them into Ziploc bags, I ate one.  It tasted so good!  Then I ate another, and another, and…I lost track.  It was totally mindless!  When I came to my senses and realized what I had done I had this complete feeling of dread.  Oh dang, how stupid can I be?  I felt kinda “buzzy”.  I was thirsty.  I approached my meter with dread.  246.  I think that may be a record for recorded glucose readings for me.  I may have been higher at some point in my diabetes life but I may not have tested.

I was going out to dinner with my daughter and one of my daughters-in-law and I realized that I probably just tanked any chance of having a nice evening.  I didn’t feel well and might not be able to enjoy a meal out!  I inhaled mass quantities of water and hoped for the best.  I continued to check my glucose and saw the number dropping but I was still concerned.  183 at 1 ½ hours, 140 and hour after that.  When I checked my glucose before eating I was so relieved to see 82 on my meter!  1 ½ hours after eating – 109.  Score!  I had a wonderful evening with two very special ladies and had managed to survive my stupidity without having to avoid eating.  I ate a lovely meal and didn’t have glucose issues.  Phew!

I feel lucky.  I obviously have diabetes but my body also obviously still works on its own, eventually.  If you’ve read my blog you know that I don’t use insulin.  Watching what I eat and drink and making sure to exercise are the only way I can keep from having a high glucose reading.  (I do take Metformin but that works to prevent my liver from dumping glucose.  It doesn’t help me if I eat like an idiot.) The fact that I have enough insulin and that my cells eventually took care of the excess glucose leads to my feeling of luckiness.  It could be so much worse.

I could choose to rail against the machine and whine because I can’t “just eat”.  I could spend my days in a funk and feel sorry for myself.  I have those days, on occasion, but for the most part I feel lucky that I have a condition/disease/personal monster that I can work to control.  I have choices.  I feel lucky.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Love Affair with Almond Flour

In an effort to lower the carb count in some of my foods, I’ve looked online for substitutes, searching through the many low-carb blogs for recipes etc.  Many times I’ve been disappointed or turned off by the ingredients that are recommended, with one exception: almond flour.  Using almond flour made sense to me since almonds are a healthy food.  According to, ½ cup of raw almonds contains just 14 gr. of carbs and a whopping 8 gr. of fiber!  They are full of healthy fats (mono and poly-saturated) with only a wee bit of saturated fat.  Oh, and 15 gr. of protein!  Good stuff.

I’ve already posted the recipe I found for almond flour pancakes and muffins here as well as my trick for baked chicken.  I continue to make all of these things and enjoy lower glucose readings and a feeling of being satisfied for a long, long time after eating.  I really wanted to find a recipe for almond bread so I could have sandwiches without guilt (or high glucose readings).  I tried one recipe awhile back and it was a dismal failure.  Recently I found a recipe and tried it with results that left me hopeful. 

You can find the recipe I used here.  My only adjustments were that I used flax meal (because I have some and use it in my pancakes/muffins) and I used canola oil instead of coconut oil.  I also doubled the recipe to make a full-sized loaf of bread.  I purchased some coconut flour and this is the first time I’ve ever used it.


·       It is a very dense bread.  You could probably take out an intruder with this sucker if you bopped him on the head.  A veritable brick.  This is not your momma’s Wonder bread.

·       I can taste the coconut.  That surprised me since I see coconut flour all over the low-carb recipe world and have never read someone say that you can taste it.  I like coconut so it’s not that big of a deal but I’m not used to my sandwich bread tasting like a tropical island. (Let me insert here that I’ve never actually tasted a tropical island, but you know what I mean…don’t you?)

·       It’s a mite crumbly.  It holds together just fine when you slice it and even survived the toaster, but when I made a sandwich it didn’t hold together that well (read: messy damn sandwich).  Its stick-to-it-ivness is better than the other recipe I tried.

·       This bread is freakin expensive to make!  If you’ve gone to look at the recipe you can see that, since I doubled it, I used 10 eggs to make one loaf of bread! (My dear husband with a heart issue won’t be eating this bread.) Not to mention the cost of almond and coconut flours…and flax meal. Surprisingly, this bread does not taste “eggy”.  Odd, eh?

·       I used to analyze the recipe and came up with approximately 13 grams of carbs per slice with a whopping 10 grams of fiber. (estimating 10 slices per loaf.  Total swag on my part since I didn’t slice the whole thing right off the bat.)

So by now you’re probably thinking that I view this experiment as a disaster and won’t be making this recipe again.  You’d be wrong.  (Remember I said that I’m hopeful?)  I tested my blood glucose before and after eating sandwiches made with this bread and the results were amazing:

·       I made a chicken salad sandwich with homemade chicken salad, lettuce and tomato.  Before lunch bg = 116.  After = 96! 

·       I made an egg sandwich with ham and cheese.  Bg before = 120.  After = 113!

That’s right, in both instances my glucose went down and the sandwiches were good.  Now, let’s compare that to the veggie burger on a whole wheat sandwich thin that I ate the other day.  Bg before = 104.  After = 154.  Hmmm.

I am fully aware that there are tons of things that go into how our blood glucose reacts but I tried very hard to keep things as equal as possible.  I didn’t eat any side dishes with any of these meals.  I drank only water.  However, I have never had my glucose go down after eating a sandwich…NEVER.

Now do you understand why I love almond flour?  Yes, this bread was expensive and chock full of eggs, but DANG, I’m worth it!  Yes, it’s a mite crumbly, but I can live with that.  No, I won’t be making and eating this all the time but it’s nice to know that there is an option out there for me now and then.  I think I will make it, slice it and freeze it so I can take out a couple of slices when I feel the urge.  Who wouldn’t love to have a sandwich without blood glucose issues?  (Kate is raising her hand.)  Next time I think I’ll try making it with egg substitute in order to lessen the cholesterol issue.  I do wonder if the addition of almond flour to my diet hasn’t caused this plateau effect with my weight.  (It does have calories you know.)  I think that if I up my veggie intake and watch my portions a bit better, that may turn around.

My love affair with almond flour wasn’t just a summer fling.  It has turned into a long and lasting relationship that I see continuing for a very, very long time.