Reflecting on illness, recovery, and renewed purpose.
Reflecting on illness, recovery, and renewed purpose.
2020 year-end reflection and message for those of us used to putting everyone else first and feeding into situations that don’t nourish us. Just as we try to be available supportive and our best selves for others, we should be equally, if not more so, for ourselves.
Everything I Thought I Knew About Diabetes Was Wrong
The getting-overness of it all.
The Mess Up
Deep sigh. I went overboard yesterday. Without realizing I was overdoing it.
My diabetes diagnoses came with insulin and metformin prescriptions. I’m not a fan of drugs of any kind and was immediately determined to stop taking the prescriptions as soon as possible. It took over a month for my sugar to get and stay within normal range (70-150 per my doctors). I didn’t necessarily change everything I eat, but I certainly changed how, what and when I eat. Meaning, I thought I was going to have to throw out all my food, but it turned out managing what I eat, when I eat it and what it’s eaten with has been very helpful.
I’ve been off of the metformin and insulin for almost two months. In that time my sugar has only gotten above 150 maybe three times. Two of those times this week. In general, I take my glucose in the morning and evening. Last night, I was horrified to be over 230. In fact, I thought maybe my glocometer misread my blood. This morning, I was at 150. The highest morning, I’ve had in two months. Again, I’m thinking, I didn’t even have much yesterday.
But reminders are all over the kitchen.
The food I tracked yesterday was cereal – a blend of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams (finished what was left from a guest stay), breaded cod sandwich for lunch and sauteed chicken breast with veggies and lentils. Where’s the sugar inll this?
Then I remembered the small bags of flavored rice cakes before bed. Oh and that San Pellgrino juice drink with my lunch followed by homemade sugar-free banana pudding. Oh my, maybe it was the second helping of sugar-free banana pudding that put me over. Hmmmm…. This morning the mystery was solved. The glocometer isn’t broken. I simply ate sugar I didn’t account for. After dinner, I treated myself to some chocolate gananche ice cream over a sweet lil Madeline. The ice creamwas enought to spike me, add to that the sugar cake I ate withit and the spots of carbsand sugar throughout the day and we have enough of a situation to scare the crapoit of me.
All protein and veggies today.
This morning I made a skillet size egg bake for breakfast and lunch. The lack of milk or cream keeps it from being quiche or frittata. Ingredients all to taste:
Sauté in oil rIced cauliflower, onions, orange bell peppers, tomato, spinach. Season to preference.
A lot of water will be in the skillet. You can cook it down or strain.
Add cubed Colby Jack (or preferred) cheese.
Scramble 6 eggs, season to preference. Pour over veggie blend in skillet. You can mix it up a bit or let the eggs sit on top. Put in preheated oven (350 degrees), bake for 15 minutes.
As a life long sugar addict, the thought of cutting cutting sugar completely out of my life always seemed like an impossible feat. But apparently I only needed the right incentive. For the last couple of months, I have been sampling various sweeteners that have no impact on my glucose level. Non-sugar sweeteners is a whole new world.
I enjoy baking a great deal. After buying multiple sugar-free sweeteners, I decided to try baking some of my favs with low-to-no-carbs/no sugar recipes. So far, I’ve tried banana bread, banana bread bread pudding. The banana bread was made with a blend of all-purpose flour, coconut flour and almond flour. I didn’t get the blend right. It was super grainy and dry so I tried to save it by turning it into a bread pudding. Somehow, even with soaking it in milk before baking, it was still dry and grainy. I’m gonna have to keep working on that one.
Last week, I attempted a banana pudding. It was a pleasant surprise and has its own post. Next up are sugar-free sweet potato pie and caramel cake. #Crossingmyfingers but I want to be ready for the holidays 😊
I came across this Peanut Butter Cookie recipe on the Sugar Free Diva blog. It’s extremely simple with only three ingredients: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sweetener and an egg. So far, I’ve made it about five different ways. I’ve cut the sweetener to a 1/3 or 1/4 after the first time. These trials will have their own post as well. For now, if you’re looking for some good recipes for sugar-free and low carb baking, check out The Sugar Free Diva.
Did you know diabetes mellitus is a term for a group of disorders that cause elevated blood sugar (aka glucose) levels in the body? Known by it’s first name, diabetes is a chronic (aka long-lasting) condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Glucose is a critical source of energy for your brain, muscles, and tissues.
When you eat, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) which is released into your bloodstream. This triggers the pancreas to release a hormone called insulin. Insulin acts as a “key” that allows glucose to enter the cells from the blood. If your body doesn’t produce enough insulin to effectively manage glucose, it can’t function or perform properly. This produces the symptoms of diabetes.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious complications by damaging blood vessels and organs. It can increase the risk of: heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, eye disease
Nutrition and exercise can help manage diabetes, but it’s also important to track blood glucose levels. Treatment may include taking insulin or other medications.
My mom was a diabetic. I don’t remember when she was diagnosed, but she would have been in her early or mid-thirties. I do remember watching her shoot insulin into her belly. That’s pretty much all I remember. Oh, and she was a drinker. Not too heavy, but she loved beer and now that I look back, her mood swings could have indicated some habitual drunkenness. She also enjoyed drugs and sweets. Memories of Mom’s baked goods still bring joy. When she threw together caramel cake with icing, banana pudding, and sweet potato pie from scratch, I would literally stand transfixed at her elbow peering under her arm or looking over her shoulder as time went by. Normally, I don’t claim regrets, but my greatest regret in life is that I didn’t get my mom to write down her recipes. Watching her cook and bake was not the same as having written instructions.
In the fourth grade I had my first Home Economics class – remember those? I still have Dotty, the stuffed animal I sewed that year. We learned to make French toast and vanilla pudding from scratch. There were many other dishes, but these were my favorites. Mom allowed me to make French toast and other simple dishes for the family on weekends. When I was fifteen, I took it upon myself to gift my mom and siblings with caramel cake. I threw flour, sugar, milk and eggs into a bowl and baked a brick. Mom was by nature laid back and easy-going person. A super pleasant and beautiful soul, truly. One of the few times I was the target of her rage was when she woke from a nap and saw that I had “wasted” so much of her precious baking ingredients. Desperately, but to no avail, I explained that I did not “waste” her flour, sugar, eggs, milk, precious vanilla extract and whatever else I tossed into the mixing bowl, I was baking her a cake. She stomped and screamed as she pulled my brick from the oven and tossed it on the counter. Truly bewildered, I didn’t understand why she didn’t appreciate my initiative and desire to bake one of our favorite deserts.
Today I understand. Today I can hang my head at my obtuseness. But I still wish she would have fussed and then shown me how to make her fabulous caramel cake. As far back as I can remember, Mom had worked several jobs at a time. The pride of her life was being able to say she provided for her family without government assistance. However, we were extremely poor financially. Everything, especially food, was precious. I knew that. Understood it. But that day, I didn’t consider it a waste to attempt to emulate my mother. She died a few years later and I have no other memories of trying to cook or bake her dishes. Since she’s been gone, I’ve asked relatives if they know how she cooked her banana pudding, sweet potato pie, caramel cake, turkey dressing, potato salad, pinto beans, chicken noodle soup or any of the foods that brought me comfort and joy during my childhood. No one knows. My mom cooked by taste, sight and feel. She was self-taught and as the eldest of eight children, everyone enjoyed her cooking, but no one could duplicate the magic.
This is all I knew about diabetes growing up: My mom had it. She had to take insulin. She also smoke, drank and did drugs. Subliminally, diabetes wasn’t a big deal.
I’ve long known that food is my comfort. Certain foods remind me of home and love. Until the writing of this post, I hadn’t connected my “sweet tooth” to what my mom’s deserts and home cooked meals represented to me. For most of my adult life, I’ve attempted to recreate the taste, texture and feel of my favorite foods. This has led to baking becoming one of my favorite pastimes. I still haven’t mastered caramel cake but I’m closing in on an excellent caramel icing. My sweet potato pie is gift worthy and has been has been requested during the holidays, as have my staple sweet potato dishes. I haven’t attempted banana pudding from scratch again, but it’s on the to do list.
So… just as I’m coming into my stride as a baker, I get diagnosed as a diabetic during an intense DKA episode. I was sick, but didn’t know I was a diabetic so I was cooking and baking peach cobbler, caramel cake, banana bread and similar yummies to make myself feel better. In my ignorance, I was killing myself. Despite having a diabetic mother, brother and grandmother and since my diagnosis learning, five of my maternal uncles have diabetes, I knew nothing of the signs or symptoms common to the disease.
Honestly, despite having a mother who had to use insulin daily and a brother whose death was inconclusive because he was a diabetic who had drugs and alcohol in his system when he was beaten to death, I knew nothing about the mechanics or practical requirements of diabetes. Both of my grandmothers fought chronic illness for most of my life. Yet I can’t tell you the sum of their illnesses or how their lives are impacted by each disease or how likely it is that I’ve already developed the same diseases or will soon do so. Disease isn’t talked about on either side of my family as something that is avoidable or even treatable to good health. There’s a resignation to disease with my people. So much so that it’s a side note or conversational add-on.
With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should.
Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy.
Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body’s cells for use as energy.
If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. When there isn’t enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin, too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream. Over time, that can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
There isn’t a cure yet for diabetes, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can really help. Taking medicine as needed, getting diabetes self-management education and support, and keeping health care appointments can also reduce the impact of diabetes on your life.
There are three main types of diabetes: prediabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).
Sources: CDC.gov and Healthline.com, American Diabetes Association