Becoming engaged with YOUR Diabetes
My father had Diabetes, My sister had Diabetes, My brother had Diabetes, and I have Diabetes. None of my family really took their Diabetes seriously. Despite most of my family suffering from Diabetes, I knew virtually nothing about the disease. The most they shared with me is that they should not eat sugary foods, not even honey. I watched as each of them endured the consequences of unmanaged Diabetes.
Engaging MY Diabetes
Six years ago when I finally got MY diagnosis, I decided to take an active part in managing the way Diabetes affected my life. The result is that I am probably healthier now than I was six years ago. My doctor is so pleased with my results that he has his patients look at my website for guidance. I told him that I don’t think that I have done anything so exceptional to warrant such praise. He told me the astonishing statistic that less than 5% of the people diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes do much of anything to manage their disease. I was floored.
Eating well is my key to success
Let me start with explaining that I am a chef. The prime method I use in controlling my Diabetes is the FOOD I prepare and eat. Changing my diet to work for, rather than against my Diabetes was not such an ordeal with me, or so I thought. For the first six months all I did was miss things. Bread, pasta, rice, pizza. It was so easy to get caught up in what I could not have, that I completely forgot what I could have. Rather than looking at carbohydrates as one part of my food intake, I saw it only as all the individual things that I could NOT have. I didn’t even consider that I could still have carbohydrates; I just had to cut the amount of them in each meal. All I saw was the big NO, you can’t. You can’t have this, you can’t have that. All you can have is a spoonful, but make it a small spoon.
At first, even the medication (metformin) was awful. My sister used the same medication and was virtually a prisoner in her own home. It had a similar effect on me. I just learned to carry an anti-diarrheal with me until my body adjusted to the medication. It never worked for her, but did for me. I can never say “we are all different” often enough.
Anger as motivation
What information I got from the booklets my doctor gave me didn’t help me see what I could have, just general guidelines of carbohydrate intake and tools to “guess” how big the portion size should be. The dietician he sent me to see made it worse by screaming at me when I asked her: “If I have just coffee in the morning, a can of tuna for lunch, could I then “pool” my carbohydrates so I could have that very desirable bowl (not 1 ounce portion) of pasta for supper?” Instead of saying that it MIGHT be a better choice to keep your carbohydrate intake level throughout the day, she just screamed “YOU CAN’T DO THAT”. I was not only depressed, I was angry. Angry with myself and angry with her. That anger was good. It made me realize (unlike my sister) that just taking the medication was not enough.
The first turning for me was meeting with a dietician in my “stupidmarket”. She walked me through the aisles and pointed out what I should be looking at on the labels of the foods I ate. She led me to a few breads (among other things) that had fewer net carbohydrates than the breads I usually ate. That was the key for me. My boring lunch of that can of tuna on a plate with a side of rabbit food went back to being the sandwich I always ate for lunch. It was the beginning of learning to cook and eat and think in a way that helped me manage my Diabetes.
The second thing was discovering that we can prepare thousands of dishes that we will love and others will really enjoy eating. Food was no longer the enemy!
After that it was like Alice through the rabbit hole. One thing led to another thing that led to another thing. Down I went into the Wonderland of Diabetic-Compatible eating.
If I couldn’t have pasta, I learned to enjoy spaghetti squash. If I couldn’t have chocolate mousse, I learned to make a Double Chocolate Crème that was even better.
Is Diabetes a joy ride? No, but empowering yourself by taking part in your disease, keeps it from being a ride through a tunnel of horrors.
WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.
Each of us needs to find what works for us. Some will “just do it.” For others of us, we get to it little by little, piece by piece in our own time. But that Double Chocolate Crème, sure eases the way.