Three months in — and much has changed in my life.
I feel remarkably better. A lot of things I’d been attributing to growing older (though I’m in my 50’s) turn out to have been symptoms and side effects of high blood sugar/diabetes. I remember noting in the late spring that I was experiencing some unusual physical changes — but taken individually, they were simple to ascribe to weather, depression, and simply being a bit lonely because Jim was away. Hindsight makes it obvious that I should have seen all these small changes as part of a bigger picture and pattern. It took new eyes to see my health in snap-shot and realize how unhealthy the picture really was.
My fasting blood sugar has dropped by more than 60%. In general diabetes terms, that means I’ve gone from critical to guarded. It doesn’t mean I’m not diabetic — it just means I’m managing it well with diet and exercise. For now, at least, I can do this without medication. I am not insulin resistant — so my life from here on out is about making it as easy as possible for my pancreas, liver, kidneys, and heart to function well.
Unlike all the many (many!) times in my life that I’ve “dieted” to lose weight, I rarely — if ever — feel hungry. One of the main tenants of eating right for a diabetic life is to not let yourself ever go too long without a meal or snack. So, I often have a small snack when I first wake up. Then, my largest meal of the day is breakfast, followed by a moderate lunch, a big snack after some exercise, a moderate supper (almost always soup!) and — if necessary — a small bedtime snack made of mostly protein/fiber so I’ll have fuel to burn through the night and not wake up hungry. Three meals and three snacks is a good prescription for a growling tummy.
Since I have a cap on the number of carbohydrates I eat (<60 at any given meal; <40% of total daily calories) and a minimum number of fiber-carbs (75g) — it would be next to impossible to eat enough food right now to maintain my current (outrageous) weight. As a result — I’ve lost 28lbs over the last 90 days. So far, all my energy has been going into deciphering Type-2 Diabetes — so I haven’t paid much attention to losing weight. I’m guessing that at some point it will take more effort. But for now — it would be hard to argue with this kind of success. I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing. 😀
I’ve also discovered that small portions of foods I really enjoy have a particular kind of advantage. I really look forward to half a cup of grapefruit juice every couple of days. Grapefruits are by far my favorite fruit — and until the last 2 weeks I hadn’t found a way to work them into my diet. It was just the math and planning-ahead that was getting in the way — so now, my favorite is back in the mix.
Similarly — I’ve always loved nuts of all kinds. But since nuts are extremely dense foods (almost all protein and fat,) it means eating them 1 ounce — or at most, 1 1/2 ounces at a time. I’m not sure if it’s the anticipation or the limited serving size, but this has seemed to make me appreciate them more than ever. Olives, avocados, and cheese fall into the same category. All these have taken on the luster previously held only by desserts. They are treats — in 1/2 oz and 1 oz dishes. It also means that guacamole, pizza, and a BLTA sandwich suddenly fall into the category of luscious diversions!
I’m guessing this is a lot harder for people with a profound sweet tooth. But for me — it’s a savory menu I can enjoy for the rest of my life.
I have to admit that my husband, Jim, has been more help over the past 3 months can I could have imagined possible. When all I could think of to eat in keeping with the guidelines given by diabetes lilterature was canned soup, simple salads, and boiled eggs with double-fiber toast — he left his previous meals behind and ate soup etc. with me. He supported me in trying new foods, new products, and new recipes — and ate right along with me (except for the nuts, as he’s allergic to them.) He never tried to pressure me or steer me in any direction, but he let me talk things through even though the process doesn’t apply to him. I’m sure this was as tedious and boring to him as it was for me; but, there was necessity to this learning curve — and he helped tremendously.
Learning to live with Type-2 Diabetes is a lot like learning a new language. There are subtleties and nuance to it. And luckily, I married a polyglot.
In late spring, before all this started, I saw Tom Hanks on Letterman’s Late Show. He looked tall and slim and more healthy and vigorous than I’d seen him in a years. I remembered him talking years earlier about how much he loved vente rich-coffee drinks and all the pastries, quiche, and foods that inevitably go with them. Back then he was talking about how he was having to watch his weight because it was getting out of control. But this time — he was talking about how his doctor had broken the news to him that he is now fully Type-2 Diabetic. He went on to talk about how he’d lost weight and was eating better than he ever had — without insulin or medication — just diet and exercise. He was full of energy and just — happy!
Well. Me too.