The best way to describe these first few weeks of adjustment, going from my old kitchen and dining to my new diabetes-minded kitchen and life can be summed up in three words:
Okay, I guess that’s 4 words.
First — a word about insurance companies, diabetes testing and supply warehouses, and the general futzed-up-ness of the health care industry:
It sucks. The whole mess sucks.
I’ve been diagnosed now for almost 4 weeks. 4 days in, I met with a nutrition/dietician/counselor at the local hospital and was given a “free” glucose testing kit, with just 10 test strips included, and a prescription for the local pharmacy.
The pharmacy called 3 days later to say that they needed me to come in and fill in some paperwork to get my supplies — so we drove 20 miles only to find out that they didn’t really need the paperwork since I’m not on Medicare. With my private insurance, they just needed to call the prescription drug portion of my insurance. But they were told by that office that diabetic testing supplies fell under the purview of my general health insurance, rather than the prescription drug program.
And the pharmacy couldn’t call them for me — so I sat in the pharmacy and called them myself.
Only to be told that testing strips, kits etc were only covered through mail-order medical supply companies with which they had a “relationship.”
I gave them all the information. I talked to 3 different people. It’s been 3 weeks since I last talked to them.
And … Nothing. No supplies.
They have supplies at my local pharmacy — but I can’t get them.
I can get them through the mail (evidently) — but evidence does not bear this out so far.
It just sucks. It’s a good thing I’m not dying at high speed. I’d never know.
****AND SO ENDETH THE RANT****
Every time Jimmy and I go to the grocery store, we take a bag of food to donate to the local food pantry because I don’t need to eat it, and Jim wants to eat with me. The food bank is getting a lot of cookies with nuts in them (Jim is allergic to nuts) and odds and ends like sweet cereal and sweetened pumpkin pie filling.
Since we live in a verrry small town, the closest market carries about 35% of the choices of a large city market — and they’re often geared toward tourists and vacationers enjoying the seashore. As a result, about once every couple of weeks we drive 30 minutes south, or 45 minutes north to a larger town with a bigger grocery store. And I buy a lot online if I can get free shipping or a good deal.
The biggest regret/tragedy so far has been that it took me almost 2 weeks to figure out NOT to buy fresh fruit until I can figure this all out. I just can’t eat it fast enough to keep it from going bad and going out to the dumpster. I probably threw away 2 whole cantelopes, half a dozen peaches and apricots, and just as many plums, and 3 bunches of bananas before I got the idea. I’ll be able to add fresh fruit back into my diet eventually — but it’s just wasteful to buy it now. I’m still on the slow end of the learning curve.
My grocery list has had some serious changes.
The only way my list differs from many diabetics is that the most common sugar substitutes (Nutrisweet, Splenda etc) are all off my list, diabetes or not, because each month’s new research shows them to be more and more harmful (to everybody), and they give me migraines. Without sugar and without those chemistry-set sweetners, that leaves stevia, agave, monk fruit, and the ‘ols — malitol, xylitol, sorbitol etc. — the sugar alcohols. According to the American Diabetes Assoc. and others, sugar alcohols are metabolized more like regular carbohydrates rather than like sugars, which just means they are metabolized slower and don’t hit the bloodstream as a fast shot of sugar.
Here are the deletions and additions to my pantry / table so far:
Deleted: Heinz ketchup (awwwwww — snif!), sweet salad dressing like Miracle Whip and bottled French or Thousand Island, BBQ sauce, Teriyaki sauce, honey, maple syrup, apple butter, jam, sweet pickle relish
Added: Xyla ketchup, mayonaise, Italian dressings, home-made French, Xyla BBQ sauce/ pancake syrup/ and Teriyaki, and dill pickle relish; Smucker’s malitol sweetened jams, and sorbitol pancake syrup; and Xyla jams, jellies, and blueberry syrup.
Deleted: Cough drops
Added: sugar alcohol sweetened breath mints, lollipops, and hard candies. There are no sugar- free cough drops that don’t use chemical sweeteners.
Added: Vivente agave sweetener in packets, Xylatol crystals, or stevia drops
Okay, truthfully, I haven’t kept sugar in over 15 years. I don’t bake sweets, and except for coffee and tea, I don’t actually add sugar/sweetener to anything except coffee — and I have used either stevia or vivente all these years. But the packets of xylatol are excellent as well, and easier to carry in my purse/wallet than a glass bottle of stevia. 🙂
Deleted: sugared soft drinks and large glasses of juice
Added: iced tea, hot tea, coffee (all sweetened with Vivente, xylatol, or stevia) water, Metromint water, La Croix flavored water, soft drinks made with fruit juice only, 1/2c servings of juice, V-8, buttermilk and lowfat milk.
Deleted: candy, commercially prepared cakes, pies, pastries, donuts, etc., chips, crackers, cookies, pudding
Added: hi-protein, hi-fiber, low-carb, low-sugars BARS, cookies, other snacks made all or mostly with sugar alcohols. Nuts, seeds, nut butters. Olives. Popcorn, rice cakes, and other mostly-air snacks. Best brands I’ve found so far: InBar, Simply Protein, GardenBar (savory rather than sweet), ThinkThin, Xyla, Ice Chips, Reese’s S-F, Werther’s S-F, York Peppermint S-F. And, while both Vivente powdered sweetener and stevia drops fail in baked goods, liquid agave and xylotol both can be used at higher temps and so work in some custard recipes.
Deleted: quick and easy frozen dinners (they just take up too much room — I need the freezer for other stuff). Fast pasta dinners. Fast rice-cooker dinners.
Added Quick and easy Progresso soups. Home-made pizza. Lots of tuna salad or ham/cheese sandwiches. Home-made soups. Lots of steamed veggies.
Added: High fiber bread and english muffins with butter and sugar free jam; or high-fiber bread toasted with cheese and pepper sauce; or high fiber bread toasted with butter and cinnamon.
BEST DISCOVERIES SO FAR
Evidently, this sweetener was developed during WWII as a response to sugar shortages in Europe — but after the war, the sugar started flowing again, and the xylatol research evaporated — except for a handful of dedicated scientists who wanted to understand what it was and how it functioned.
Now, we have evidence (lots of it) that xylatol creates an environment in the mouth that inhibits bacterial growth. Which is why all the breath mints and chewing gum is made with it — you really don’t get cavities if you use them after meals and before bedtime — and you’ll wake up with sweeter breath instead of bacteria infested dragon breath.
There’s also some nifty research being done now that may prove that xylatol can both inhibit the development of osteoporosis, but may also be able to (get this) reverse it. !!!
wouldn’t that be a kicker?
And — not least — it tastes good. Instead of the 4 calories-per-g that sugar has — xylatol has only 2.4 calories/g. !!! And it metabolizes like generic carbs rather than sugars — so no sugar-blast to your blood. –Good news for diabetes!
The fastest way to get carbs out of your system? Well Fiber. The nutritional guildlines on my computer, the American Diabetes Association, and the nutritionist I talked to all say that the average adult should be getting about 24g of fiber a day to keep ticking along. Well — that may be so, but I need to lose some weight. And I need to not be hungry all the time. I’ve got enough to worry about just trying to get the macro-nutrient balance to work out right so that I just don’t have the time or the energy to fight off being hungry, or worrying about calorie counting.
Fiber not only does that nifty power-sweeper thing, but it also makes you feel full faster and longer than just about anything else. So, short of eating paper towels, I upped my daily target to 48g of fiber. Sure enough — I get full really fast.
And even though the My Fitness Pal app says I can can eat between 2000 and 2100 calories a day and still lose weight — because I”m eating so much fiber, I get full after about 1600 calories on most days.
right now my kitchen floor is full of cans of Progresso soup, and boxes of a dozen different kinds of high protein, high fiber, low carb, sugar-free, low-sugar, alcohol sugared, sweet, savory, chewy, crunchy, crispy, gooey, chocolate-y and nutty little bars of varrying degrees of yummines. They’re fast. They’re easy. Pre-portion-controlled…. Pre-packaged. I carry a couple in my purse whenever I leave the house. I have them on my night table so that if I wake up starving I can grab one rather than wander the house searching for anything to stop my stomach from growling (like i did the first few days…)
I keep them everywhere. In the car. Next to the sofa. By the coffee-maker.
4. Single portion re-use containers and microwave dishes.
Obviously, portion control is everything these days. Just eating the “right” foods isn’t enough — you have to eat the right amount and in combination with the right other foods. No one food is bad so long as you keep the numbers for the meal and the whole day in mind — you have to balance the carbs against proteins and fats. And the carbs as a macro-nutrient category need to have fiber as well as sugar and other carbs. Complex carbs are good, but not if the carb part of the complex significantly dwarfs the protein.
The answer results in a fridge full of small containers. 1/2 cup. 3/4 cup. 1 cup. Part of a can of soup. Part of a can of chili. A leftover serving of beans.
Half a bag of frozen spinach. Half an onion. Half a boiled egg. Half a baked potato….
And it’s just easier if the leftover dish can go straight into the microwave.
So. That’s where I am after the first month of being diabetic. I’m down almost 18lbs. I am walking 15-25 minutes every day before lunch and again before dinner. I feel really good. Lots of energy. Sleeping well. A little frustrated trying to figure out a recipe for high fiber pizza crust. But otherwise — ticking along.
You can read Part 1: My Autistic (and Diabetic) Brain and Part 2: The Honeymoon Phase of My New Diabetic Life in this series by clicking on the links!