Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eating Right

Today marks 7 full weeks, 49 days, of no sugar and no diet soda for me. I simply can't believe it at all! I never thought I could go this long and I'm still not sure where this is coming from.....except that I continue to see the damage that it's doing to my husband.

I wanted to make notes on how I'm feeling. Yes, I still do have a moment here and there where I really really really want something sweet. But for 7 weeks, I have not had a cookie, a piece of cake, pie, or candy. I haven't given in. And it's been about 9 months since I've had any ice cream.

I am still not completely off of aspertame. But with no soda, it's mil compared to what I used to ingest. I try to be very careful of labels, but I do know that some is getting past me, especially when we eat out. Mostly in sweeteners. And I'm trying to watch that a bit more.

I also have not had any red meat in about 7 weeks. Limiting myself to seafood and chicken.

I've cut way back on white flour, using flour tortillas and pita when I can. I have not completely cut it out of my diet yet, but have substantially reduced it.

And I've walked 3 miles a day almost every day for 4 weeks now.

What do I think it's done for me?

1. I've lost 10 - 15 pounds. That's not my goal, but it's an end result of the changes.
2. I have less pain. Noticeable less pain. My arthritis only bothers me about once a week now. I'm moving better. I get up out of a chair much quicker. I can tell I'm gaining muscle.
3. I'm not irritated. I think I'm handling things a whole lot better. His flare ups don't seem to upset me as much as they did a few months ago and I think it's because I know I'm taking care of me.
4. He has slowed down on the candy. And I know it's not my imagination. I got mad at him one night as he was sitting here eating a bag of chocolate and told him if I ever saw anything sweet in this house I would throw it out! So he's either slowing down (just a candy bar every couple of days) or he's taken to eating in the closet when I'm sleeping (which I sure would not put past this guy!)
5. I have more energy.
6. I am sleeping all night long. Every night. Two months ago, I was getting less than 4 hours of sleep a night and had big black circles under my eyes. They are almost gone now. Even hubby is noticing a difference.
7. I'm getting more done. See # 5. It's like something sparked inside of me and I'm not nearly so tired, I'm happier. And I really think it all stems from the fact that I know I'm taking care of me.

And I know that I have to take care of me because I can't take care of him, I can't fix him, I can't change him. But 3 cheers for me for the changes I've made, and for making it to 7 whole weeks! :o)


Jean said...

Great job on taking care of yourself!!! And thanks for sharing the benefits you've experienced - that is very inspirational!

I have a ways to go in the "caring for my myself" department when it comes to the physical side of life. I stay active in the garden, but I do need to build in regular, structured exercise plus eat better too. Seems like that is easy for me this time of year with all the good fresh fruits and veggies, but I always have a tendency to revert to bad habits in the fall and winter. So, there's plenty of room for improvement here!

I was glad to hear that your husband was feeling somewhat better. Mine works weekend nights and thus sleeps during weekend days, which lends a certain built-in stability to my weekends.

It's a beautiful, sunny, 70-something degree day here complete with gentle breezes, singing birds, and blossoms all around, so back outside I go!

Anna in San Diego, CA said...

I've checked into your blog from time to time after I found it linked from another blog somewhere.

I'm a 45 yo woman who diagnosed my diabetes myself last winter. My doctors failed to adequately follow up with the right testing after I had gestational diabetes 9 years ago, only telling me to watch my weight and checking my fasting blood sugar now and then (always at the very top of the "normal" reference range, which they thought was fine). Well, I watched my weight go up 5 lbs per year for five years, got no help from the doc on that except to eat less, move more (who hasn't heard that?), so I went back to the restricted carb diet I was on when I was pregnant (no sugar, no grains, no starch at all, only minimal carbs from non-starchy veggies and a very small amount of fruit). Much more protein and fat. I did NOT calorie restrict and I didn't have to suffer constant hunger that one gets with low fat diets. Lost the extra weight in about 5 months to get to a steady low to mid 120 lb weight. Husband also ate all his meals LC when he saw how much good food I could eat and still lose weight (he was already eating LC dinners with me by default). He lost 35 lbs. and got back to a normal weight. We both independently noticed reductions or absence of things like indigestion, gas, headaches, colds, etc. He snores less. That was in early 2004 and we stuck with it, realizing we had to do this for life. It reinvigorated my interest in cooking so I prepared fewer convenience foods and more from scratch foods. I replaced a lot of my old cookbooks with new cookbooks, particularly Dana Carpender's books (no affiliation). I kept processed foods to a minimum and increased veggies where I had reduced carbs (salads with ample protein instead of sandwiches, for example). We both had not been getting enough protein or fats when we were heavier and eating a carb-heavy diet (one skinny chicken breast in lots of pasta with a little veggie for color is not a healthy meal to me anymore!).

Well, that probably was the best thing I could ever do for my health, but at the time, it was my vanity and waistline that had my attention. But I kept reading up on diabetes because I knew that I had a risk factor with the gestational diabetes, and I also knew that my son had extra risks due to my high blood sugar prior to my diagnosis when he was a fetus (epigenetics). And I ran across the *best* diabetes info website out there -- What They Don't Tell You About Diabetes, .

I learned that the target numbers suggested for diabetics are nearly always much too high and still cause complications. I also learned that my risk was much higher than I realized, even though I was back to a normal weight, plus, my fasting glucose was in the very high end of "normal", which seemed odd given that I was eating so little that raises blood sugar.

So I got another glucose meter and started testing myself again using my experience from gestational diabetes. I got fairly good numbers (high normal) on my typical low carb meals, but very high and even into the diabetic range results with high carb foods. Even the highly recommended beans, steel cut oatmeal, whole grain foods, etc., gave me levels that were too high and worse yet, stayed high too long. I kept a food diary and test log and prepared for my annual physical with my new primary care doctor.

Of course, I'm sure he thought I was a nut (though he didn't say so) when I told him my concerns and that I was testing my glucose again, and worrying about diabetes when my weight was fine, my A1c was 5.5%, and my fasting glucose was in the high 90s. But I stood my ground and he ordered a 3 hrGTT with insulin levels to humor me (get rid of me?). I knew what my glucose levels were already but I couldn't test my insulin myself. In fact I used my meter every 15 minutes during the 3hrGTT and knew approx glucose results and graphed them, which was very handy later. And I kept testing after the lab test until 4.5 hours after the glucose drink and recorded a low of 51 before I finally ate a nice big green salad with a ribeye. That hypo felt awful and I was much better after I ate again (but without the high blood sugar swings I woul dhave gotten if I had eaten carbs to get it back up.

So the doc called back and said I was right (that felt good!) and he never would have guessed it based on my "normal" labs and weight! Insulin level started normal but was high at then end of the 3 hr. Time to see an endo. Turns out the endo was surprised, too, because he is head of the weight loss clinic and his typical patient is quite obese (I chose him because of his additional training in nutrition). But he said that even as high as my insulin was, it should have been higher for as high as my glucose had been. So that suggests to him a degree of insulin insuffiency already -- either some beta cell burnout or perhaps one of these genetic varieties of T2, like MODY, where the beta cells underproduce (or I even wonder about even a slow onset of T1). Of course, he isn't concerned about finding out which is the issue, as long as I can keep "normal" blood sugar levels with my diet (which I was already doing). Currently, I can do that as long as I restrict carbs to a minimum. No meds yet.

So I guess I am the opposite of your husband. My doctors are too casual about this in my opinion (I am not "sick enough" for them, I guess and I don't fit the typical screening profile plus I have educated myself) but I am the one who is taking responsibility, staying on top of things, and being proactive in managing this condition. It helps a bit that my husband is a research scientist and can decipher some of the more technical stuff for me.

Anyway, to get back to the reason for my long story, I applaud your move to freedom from sugar and starches. You are doing a big favor to yourself, even without having diabetes yourself. Grains and constant consumption of concentrated sugars are so new to the human diet, added long after our bodies and metabolic systems were in shaped into the current form. Sugar was not consumed daily by average people until fairly recently in human history (gradual increase in Europe starting in 1500 with settlement of new World and last 100 years it shot practially straight up) and it is wreaking havoc on health for all sorts of reasons (perhaps cancer, too). I avoid soy for the same reason (the cons outweigh the benefits).

If you prefer no red meat, so be it, but especially if you are consuming properly raised meat (raise humanely on pasture, not grain-fed from factory-farm feedlots), it is not likely to be doing you any harm if your kidneys are undamaged by high glucose. Sugars and things that convert to sugar (grains, even whole grain), and starches are the things that do the most damage (glycosylation, which is sugar attaching to proteins in cells, sort of like carmelizing and gumming up the cell function - otherwise known as AGEs - advanced glycation endproducts ( ). In other words, sugars age the cells and therefore body.

Best wishes to you for further improvements with your health as you continue to refrain from sugars and starches. It's a very good way to take care of yourself, perhaps the best way. I wish your husband would wake up and smell the coffee, but I find your support in the face of his denial admirable. And it is further reinforcement that I need to take care of myself to be a good mother for my almost 9 yo son and to be a good partner for my husband. Additionally, I am doing what I can to gently teach my son that a healthy diet for life has little sugar and starch, especially processed forms. I hope when he leaves home he continues to eat in such a way that his risk for diabetes does not become a reality. Ultimately that will be up to him perhaps, but I'm trying to lay a good foundation.

Diabeteswife said...

Anna, thank you!

I grew up on a farm in the midwest and totally understand the value of eating healthy raised animals and crops. I'm heading more and more into health foods, organic foods....and it does feel great!

I'm seeing a tad of progress with my husband simply in that I refuse to fix 2 meals! He has to either eat what I eat, or fix something for himself.

The greatest problem is in eating out. I can eat healthy with salads and such, and he is starting to eat more chicken as I grumble when he orders a steak or something fried! LOL!

And we are eating out less. So that is good as well.

Baby steps. That's what I think it takes. Baby steps that will eventually add up to huge changes!

I commend you for making the changes in your life, for educating your physicians, and for teaching your child what's important. Sure wish more mom's would do that!

Keep up the great work!