Pointers to Ponder about Diet and Exercise

Update about my diabetes: I have had 5 days of 120 or less fasting blood sugar readings on basically dietary changes alone. I am working up to a real workout but it goes a lot slower. Even walking with my walker pushes my heart rate up beyond aerobic levels, and I can only do a few minutes on the stationary bike.
The weight front goes a bit slow too probably because I am not able to maintain a 20 to 30 minute workout yet. However with gaining a bit losing a bit and so on I have managed about 9 lbs (just over 4 kilos) in 6 weeks.

Goal is to keep from having to go on medications when I get my next A1C test done. Also to lose 20 lbs in 3 months.
A few pointers I would like to make based on my struggles:

1. It is more than just sugar, I was not a major sweet eater BECAUSE I knew that I was at risk for diabetes in a major way. It was starches that did me in, especially white pasta, white bread, white potatoes which used to consist about 65 % or more of my diet. Plus of course being overweight and family history. Eating more veggies is crucial, and get away from white food and processed food or at least eat them in moderation.

2. Do not just rely on fasting blood sugar test that is the usual testing done in the blood workup. My fasting blood sugar was 98 when tested. Doc was able to diagnose me long before that went up to dangerous levels via the A1C test. Think of it like the difference between a snapshot (a fasting blood sugar test or glucometer reading), and a movie that covers 3 months of all blood sugar activity (the A1C). My A1C was 6.5, which means that over a 3 month period my blood sugars were averaging around 140 or so. With the fasting of 98 that means I was having readings well above 140. If you have family history at all, or find yourself with symptoms you think might be diabetes have your doc check A1C as well as standard blood work.

3. Small changes can make BIG results. If you are overweight and have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or at risk, by making small dietary changes small increments in activity level, small weight losses (5 to 10% of body weight can make a HUGE difference in diabetes,) you can improve your health. Say you weigh 200 lbs a 5 to 10 % would mean a weight loss of 10 to 20 lbs. You can of course lose more and it will help your overall health of course, but even a small but maintained weight loss has big benefits. What is not healthy is losing a lot, gaining it back, and so on which is called the yo yo effect and is really bad for your health.

4. Find ways to move more. Of course the maximum benefit comes from a full workout, but even moving more helps a lot. I move my legs when I sit at the computer periodically. This helps the circulation which is good since I have issues with lower leg swelling, and it gets a bit more movement in, Sometimes I “chair dance”. This is an activity I can do while on the computer and listening to music and I can maintain it for over a half an hour.
If you are basically really out of shape because you have not seen exercise in years DO NOT start trying to jog, or full work out at a gym or whatever. Take time to build up to a full work out slowly. Especially if you are very overweight, trying to jog or so on can lead to injuries and quitting not to mention could over strain your heart. Park further out and walk. Walk around the block, Go to a mall and sign up to walk the mall in the mornings before they open if weather is an issue. If you have a pool you can go to, try aqua exercises or swimming.

Alternate exercises like walking sometimes with stationary bike or swimming to use more muscles differently and give some a rest. If you lift weights do so 3 times and skip a day in between each work out. Or do upper body one day then lower body other day.
Most of all listen to your body. Your breathing and heart rate will tell you when you are doing too much or too little. If you can talk with some effort but only a few words then breathe you are doing aerobic, if you can’t talk and are gasping, then you are doing it too hard, and if you can talk in full sentences without having to stop and breathe then its a bit low and you need to kick it up a notch.


Pining for Pasta and Potatoes

starch foods
I will be very honest with you, the first couple of weeks after modifying my diet, were absolutely horrible. In order to save money while waiting for the inheritance, I have been eating a very poor diet. My diet primarily consisted of lot of starch and processed foods which tend to be cheaper than healthier foods. The amount of starch I was eating will probably was about 60 to 70% of my diet. Examples include one of my favorites called smashed potatoes, and pasta dishes.

Smashed potatoes is where you boil the potatoes with the skins on, then smash them up kinda like mashed potatoes, but keep the skins on. Then you add grated cheese, spices, and either butter and sour cream or salad dressing. I usually used non fat Ranch dressing. I would eat a plate with nothing but smashed potatoes with the cheese for protein. Pasta dishes usually were some form of white pasta with cheese and maybe some meat, but no veggies added. Or a frozen pasta dish. I also relied a lot on the meal style soups.

The problem with this diet is I was not getting enough high-quality protein, or enough non starchy vegetables. A low-carb diet that benefits diabetics needs to consider the of a large portion of non starchy vegetables, good sources of protein, and a small amount of fruits with emphasis on berries, and very few starchy grains and starchy vegetables. Practically overnight, I radically switched up the contents of my day-to-day eating. Now I eat about 60 or 70% non-starchy vegetables by volume, and I limit my grains and potatoes to know more then one to two servings a day.

My main grain is my breakfast oatmeal which is much higher in fiber and lower and starchy carbohydrates then most breakfast cereals. I add 2 ounces of unsweetened applesauce and a large amount of cinnamon to spice it up. I also include ace vintage egg scramble and a bit of bacon to complete the breakfast. Almost every day, I eat a large home made salad bowl of fiber and nutrients. Overall I eat 6 to 8 vegetable serving every day, 1 to 2 fruits, 1 to 2 servings of grains and potatoes, and 3 to 4 servings of protein, and try to make sure I have at least one serving of protein with every serving of grain.

Even a potato is a vegetable, for the purpose of diabetes, it is best to be considered as a grain. In general, if a vegetable is starchy enough that you can make a bread out of it, a regular bread not a quick bread like zucchini bread, then consider it a grain. So potato bread is quite common and therefore it qualifies as a grain for the purposes of the diabetic diet, so does corn.

Not only was I going through emotional withdrawal from cutting so much starch out of my diet, I was also dealing with physical symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, lack of balance more so than usual, and a general feeling of low blood sugar even though my blood sugar was not that low. This is very, common when you cut back on foods such as pasta potatoes bread etc. I basically felt sick and like I was going to pass out at any time. I highly recommend if you want to modify your diet because you have been diagnosed with diabetes, that you make sure you have a glucometer and the equipment necessary to regularly test your blood sugar.

Otherwise you may find yourself reaching for sugar and starch because you feel like you are about passed out even though your blood sugar may be normal or even high. The other reason for getting the glucometer early on and doing regular testing is that you can find out which specific foods make your blood sugar go up high in which winds seem to tolerate fairly well. Each diabetic is still an individual, and though there are general guidelines that can help you with making the changes you need to in your diet, it is very important to know which specific foods are ones you really have to avoid.

Some people find they cannot tolerate oatmeal, others can tolerate oatmeal but not potatoes, and so on. By testing yourself one to two hours after you start eating, you can find out what fits and what combination of foods work best for your specific case of diabetes.

I will be adding a page of links for you to find more information about diabetes, and where you can find support groups online. If you wanted in person support group the best place to start is with your primary care physician, your local hospital, and your local mental health facility.

If you have any pointers or comments feel free to post them below.


Technical Tribulations and Dealing with the Big D

You may have noticed based on the date of this blog post, that there has been a gap in my writing. The reasons for the delay, are several. Mostly it has been due to issues with my Word Press blog. I finally found someone who was able to help me sort out the technical difficulties, but during that time I was unable to post any new blog posts. In addition to this issue, I was still dealing with the wait for my inheritance, and a new issue came up.

On my mom’s side of the family, I have a massive family history of diabetes. All my dad’s side of the family there’s also a family history of diabetes, though not as severe. In addition, on my mom’s side of the family there is a history of pancreatic cancer. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I also lost a fianc√© who had type I diabetes. Watching what my mom went through, during the last few years of life, I knew it was there import to have regular testing for diabetes.

On July 1, I went into the doctor to get my annual blood results, and got the news. Although my fasting blood sugar was only 98, my A1C result was 6.5. In basic terms, this is like having over a 3 month time period, an average of 140. Think of the A1 C test as being like a three-month long movie, while a fasting blood sugar test is a snapshot. Since my fasting blood sugar was well under 140, that means I was having readings well above 140 during the three months prior to the blood test.

Since I have so much family history, my doctor regularly did the A1C test as well as the fasting blood sugar. This means I went from being non diabetic to early stage of diabetes in a very short period of time, completely skipping over the prediabetic stage. This was a very scary time for me. I have watched diabetes cause so much damage in so many members of my family and contribute to early death in some cases, that the thought of having the condition myself really was an emotional upheaval.

In addition to dealing with the emotional changes, I had to radically change how I eat, work on getting more exercise, and learn everything I could about diabetes. I found out that even though I knew a fair bit already, there was so much more to learn especially in the new research. Others in chocolate which is always been my nemesis, I really was not much of a sweets eater. I found out that actually it was a starchy carbohydrates in my diet that were the main issue.

Most food can be broken up into three primary categories, fats, protein, and carbohydrates. However, not all carbohydrates are the same. Simple carbohydrates such as sugar and starch, are easily digested and turned into glucose very quickly. Complex carbohydrates, especially fiber, slow down the rate of digestion and are very crucial for healthy diet for everyone including those who have diabetes.

Most of the recommendations for controlling blood sugar actually benefit everyone. The diabetic has to be even more careful with how much starch he or she is consuming, than a person who is non diabetic, but a healthy diet is crucial to anyone wanting to have a healthier body.

In addition to controlling their blood sugar, my doctor wanted me to lose 20 pounds in the next three months. By following her recommendations and adding others based on my research, I started the journey.

As I go through this journey of dealing with the Big D, I will be sharing it with you. I hope that you learn new things along the way, and especially if you have been diagnosed with type II diabetes or are at risk for type II diabetes, that my journey to help you as well. I may also share something about type I diabetes, but that’s in many ways the years a bit different than type II and far rarer so most of the stuff I will be covering all have to do with type II diabetes.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Update, since in a period of about 9 months I lost over 80 lbs, I completely reversed my diabetes, at least for now. Probably added another 15 or 20 years to my life.