The sweet life
I may have mentioned this on my blog before, I am a diabetic. The reason I am bringing it up today is because I am becoming increasingly aware of my disease and it’s effect on my quality of life (in other words I visited my father last weekend and saw the future and it ain’t pretty).
Since our visit I have been keeping a better log of my sugar levels. The numbers are not what I expected. I was under the naive notion that the pills I am taking are doing their job and I can go about life as usual, eating whatever I want. This is not the case as any logical human being probably already knows, but when it comes to food and urges to eat sweets logic is on vacation for me.
My visit with my father was sort of an eye-opener. I must have not been paying attention before. I could see what the disease was doing to him but I was not looking at that as my future. I am my fathers son. I remember him thinking the same thing while he watched his mother deal with the disease. He used to scold her for eating the wrong things, so much so that she used to hide candy in her room and eat it behind his back. Grandma and I shared a room when she visited for the winter months, so I saw first hand what was going on and of course she bribed me with candy to keep her little secret.
So now I am visiting my father and watching him try to balance his eating with his insulin shots and doing a terrible job. He goes from highs to lows and is constantly trying to balance things out. He carries glucose tablets for when the sugar drops too quickly. He has been living with this disease for 25 years. He is a type II brittle diabetic, which means his sugar is on a hair-trigger. It is almost impossible to control, what works one day may not work the same the next.
There are a myriad of other health complications that come from his getting older and from this disease. Diabetes kills you slowly, weakening all your body organs. He has circulatory problems, nerve damage, ulcers on his legs that don’t heal, cataracts, and other vision impairments.
When he was my age he had already had 2 heart attacks. This was not the diabetes, he has had high blood pressure most of his adult life. Lucky I don’t have that problem, although, my blood pressure is up because of the weight I am carrying around. You have heard the term Morbidly Obese, well I hit that long ago. I tell myself that I am okay because I not as big as that person or that one. But I am well over a hundred pounds over weight. Imaging getting out of bed in the morning and strapping a pair of barbecue full propane tanks, one on your chest and one over your shoulders, and then carrying it around everywhere you go. Enough said.
So I have started a log and am making some changes. I need to control this disease before it controls me. Last night I took my sugar 20 minutes after eating dinner. I have never done this before because I didn’t what to believe it. I am a believer now. My sugar was twice normal. It was enough to make me sick to my stomach. I became stressed. I didn’t have dessert. This morning my levels were within the normal range and surprisingly I felt better. I didn’t realize the effect this overindulgence in sweets was having on me.
I know I won’t be able to stick to a strict diet with no sugar or carbs. That wouldn’t be healthy either. But I am going to cut back and get some exercise. My life depends on it.
This is the diabetic food pyramid. It surprises me to see the bottom layer. The key to this layer is fiber. No processed foods. See the top layer? That is what I eat too much of. Here is how RN, Barb Hicks breaks it down:
Carbohydrates: Are made of sugars, starches, and fiber. Carbohydrates provide fuel for our bodies. Eating the right kind of carbohydrates is important for health.
There are good and bad carbohydrates. Knowing the difference between the two can clear up many misconceptions.
Good Carbs – Fresh fruits, green leafy and colorful vegetables; whole grain breads and cereals; and lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and fish. These foods contain cancer fighting agents and are full of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients that our bodies need for proper functioning.
Bad Carbs – Sodas and processed foods, such as breads, cereals, and pasta. You can eat these foods in moderation, but when you do, choose the whole grain variety. Whole grains provide fiber, which can help to lower cholesterol levels. An added benefit to fiber is that it helps to keep the GI tract running smoothly. To find out a food’s fiber content, read the label. Using the 5/5 rule, chose foods that have less than 5 g of sugar and more than 5 g of fiber. Following this plan ensures you are getting the daily fiber requirements.
Know Your Carbohydrates:
Fiber is derived from plants. If it comes out of the ground then it is a plant food, therefore it is good for you. Plant foods include:
- Beans and peas
- Whole grains such as wheat, bran, and oat cereals and breads
- Fruits and vegetables. The fresher the better
Many people enjoy taking supplements, but it is better to get your fiber from natural foods. Nothing can replace them as a healthy and natural source of dietary fiber.
You can get natural sugar from sources such as milk or fruit. It is the processed sugars you want to avoid, such as canned fruit or cookies. These are bad carbohydrates and serve to raise blood glucose levels.
Food that contain starch are vegetables, dried beans, and grains.
Eating a healthy diet is a part of healthy living. Whether or not you have diabetes, you can reduce your risks for getting it following this simple diet and food list. Eat well for life.
by Barb Hicks, RN/LMT
So, now is the time for me to take control of my diabetes and really start living the sweet life, La Dolce Vita!