Tag Archives: type 2 diabetes

There is Nothing Fair about The Fair

Well, here in Texas we are smack dab in the middle of “Fair Season.”  You know, the place you go and take your kids and spend gobs of money on absolute cr@p and rides that scare the bejeezus out of you (and not because they go upside down, but because you find yourself praying that they do not fall apart while you are upside down!).  However, it is not the trinkets or rides that 1st spring to mind when 99.9% of people are asked about the fair…… it is THE FOOD!  Corn dogs, funnel cakes, strawberry lemonade, turkey legs, caramel and candy apples, curly fries, sausage-on-a-stick, chocalate covered bananas rolled in candy, brisket wrap and ‘the fried’s”….. the bevy of items that are rolled in batter and thrown in hot grease –  fried snickers, fried twinkies, fried oreos, fried cheese, fried corn, fried coke (seriously, look it up, The State Fair of Texas has it)….. if you can fry it, the fair has it!  So, in the name of all that is good, all that is diabetic and all that is TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT, I propose that “The Fair” forever be known as “The un-Fair!”

This past weekend we thought it would be fun to attend the South Plains Fair and take in a concert by Eddie Money.  Yes, I am keenly aware that this dates me.  If you were born somewhere after 1985 you do not know who Eddie Money (or as he calls himself, The Money Man) is; however, if you were born, say, in the ’70’s, you can sing every word of “Take Me Home Tonight.”  This evening was made all the more interesting as I left work 30 minutes before expecting the babysitter which left no time for dinner (at least the kind of dinner you eat at home, the safe kind).  Surely, I thought, the fair will have something I can eat, right? Um, well, WRONG!

The classic part about being a type II diabetic who was obese upon diagnosis is that not only do I need to manage my blood sugar, I need to lose weight.  So, it is like all foods that enter my mouth must 1st pass through the diabetic-blood-glucose-carbohydrate filter that I employ to successfully manange my blood glucose.  But, wait!  I am not done there.  Next, the Weight Watchers Points system kicks in.  As my potential food choices pass through the diabetic-blood-glucose-carbohydrate filter, they are assigned a points value that is designed to help me lose weight.  I can only eat so many points a day (right now that # is 23) and as you can imagine, it is not a very big #, hence the losing weight part!  Let me just say, I have spent the past few days dousing my diabetic-blood-glucose-carbohydrate filter in Drain-O…… my food choices at the fair clogged this filter beyond recognition!

A few items did make it though the filter; somehow, they eaked by “The Fried’s”, the funnel cake, the corn dog, the candy apple, the chocolate covered banana and my favorite…..the liquid sugar over ice (aka strawberry lemonade).  Total # of items to pass through the filter – 3.5.  #1, the Turkey leg; #2, the  sausage-on-a-stick; #3, the brisket wrap (minus the wrap); and #3.5, the sliced apple with a smidgeon of caramel on top (the missing .5 is the rest of the caramel).  So, in keeping with the routine order of the process, these 3.5 champions-of-the-filter were then subjected to the assignment of their Weight Watchers points (courtesy of the Weight Watchers application on my nifty little iPhone).

1 Turkey Leg – 27  points (0 carbs)

2 Sausage-on-a-stick – 19 points (0 carbs)

3 Brisket Wrap (no wrap) – 3 points (0 carbs)

3.5 Large Apple – 2 points (25 carbs)

2 Tbsp Caramel Topping – 2 points (30 carbs)

So, for me, here is how this breaks down….. if I exercised for 1 hour and did not eat anything else all day long, I could split the items above with a willing party and not exceed my daily allowable points.  Not exactly realistic and deep down in places I don’t like to talk about, the consumption of the items listed above would not qualify as an indulgence.  You see, when eating items that pass the diabetic filter and Weight Watchers test while surrounded by hundreds of items I would rather be eating, the “qualifying” food choices seem like, well, qualifying food choices.  So un-fair!!

Are you a fair fan?  Are you a fair foodie?  What are your favorites?  Do you have any diabetic, weight loss friendly suggestions while navigating the fair season?  Let me hear!!

The Dishing Diabetic

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A Vacuum of Vices

We are designed to rebel.  Or at least that’s the way I see it.  My personal beliefs tell me that we, humans that is, are imperfect beings.  Furthermore, we are the target of infinite varieties of temptation.  It’s funny, instead of which came first, the chicken or the egg?, one could ask – which came first, imperfection or temptation.  The irony of this situation is that not only are we imperfect and vulnerable to temptation, we are highly developed and possess both a knowledge of what is good and bad for us and a conscience that inflicts remorse and guilt when we choose the ‘bad.’  The irony doesn’t stop there…… those ‘bad’ choices usually deliver some form of pleasure, relief, relaxation, exhilaration, contentment, etc.  This has to be the definition of cruel and unusual punishment!

Certain seasons make this cruelty more palpable that others.  Last Saturday, it was in the air, swirling all around me.  The temperatures had dropped (for Texas this is truly a moment to rejoice in), the smell that accompanies the arrival of fall saturated the air, I noticeably had a new shimmy to my step and down here in the south, the part of you that only comes alive with college football roared to life!  It was finally here, the dawn of my most favorite time of year and the beginning of my vicious void of vices!

Shopping.  Oh the fall fashion!  Ok, maybe you wouldn’t really use the word fashion in the same sentence with me…… but I LOVE to shop for and more specifically, buy fall clothes.  Jeans.  Sweaters. Boots.  Jackets.  Hats. Scarves. Yes, I love it all, including the rush of endorphines that is released by the simple act of spending money (come on ladies, you know its true!).  Ohhhhh, but one must have money to spend money.  This is what that little thing called a conscience tells me anyway.  As a medical student’s spouse there is one thing we are guaranteed not to have….. money.  FANTASTIC!  Vice #1 out the door.

Eating.  I love to eat.  I have no shame sharing that with you.  It’s true. Food and me, well, its just like peas and carrots – nevermind, I HATE peas and carrots.  It’s like chips and queso, or wings and bleu cheese, or cheese fries and ranch…… we were made for each other.  The arrival of fall ushers in weekly “game days” and the food that defines it.  You say ‘football’, I say ‘queso’…… broccoli, spinach, zucchini….. these are just a few things that do NOT spring to mind.  Then you must factor in that with fall comes Halloween…….. CANDY, Thanksgiving……. ALL OF IT, and yes, Christmas…… again, ALL OF IT!  The cherry on top is the contentment and true happiness these delectables bring me. Me and food…… we are quite the pair.  The problem is, we have a third wheel, type 2 diabetes.  And, let me just tell you, you will find this third wheel wherever you find me and food. The worst part is that the food and type 2 diabetes have a terribly contentious relationship.  They can not stand to even be in the same room together!  Guess who knows this better than anyone?  My conscience, of course!  TERRIFIC!  Vice #2 out the door.

Drinking.  I like wine.  OH, and I really like beer.  Fall = football=food=beer.  I am not talking about wild, crazy, college-esque drinking (although, if you read The Dishing Diabetic you will see that has been a vice I have employed before).  I am talking about friends, food, football and responsible beer consumption.  Surely when you use the word “responsible” next to the word “beer” this would be allowable for little ole me, right?  Yeah, well, NO!  #1, beer, alcohol in general, is an antagonist for my weight loss efforts and therefore an obstacle to my type 2 diabetes management efforts.  Seeing as I do not like light beer (give me a Fat Tire or Sam Adams Blackberry!)….. I am looking a 3 points/beer on Weight Watchers.  If I have 3 beers during a 3 hour game and I have used up 9 points…… that is 40% of my daily points!  Then when you consider the effects of diabetes on my liver, well, asking that organ to work overtime processing the alcohol I ingest is just not a good idea – again with the conscience thing!  So, as I search for a vice, a way to rebel, adult beverages are not a qualified option.  SPECTACULAR! Vice #3 out the door.

Smoking.  Oh, I know, for many this is such an ugly word.  It seems unimaginable why anybody would smoke….. for those who have never smoked.  Well, for those of us who do or have smoked, we know it to be a popular vice.  Smoking is a stress reliever, a calorie free treat, a social habit and it is all of this without leaving us unable to operate heavy machinery!  I smoked in college, although like many of my friends then (and quite a few of them now) I would have classified myself as a non-smoker.  Why?  Well, I only smoked socially (with beer) and isnt that the definition of a non-smoker?  Yeah, right.   Remember that conscience thing?  Well, something happened when I shed the adolescent sense of immortality and realzied that everything I do, eat, say, drink, smoke, dont do (exercise) has a direct impact on my life….. it’s quality, longevity, success…… and the life of those that I desparately love and who I am quite sure love me, too! So, there it was…… no more smoking.  No more “non” smoking  with my “non” smoking friends at football games while we ate our queso and drank our beer dressed adorably in our fall wordrobe.  OUSTANDING!  Vice #4 was out the door with it’s 3 best buddies!

So, as my absolute favorite time of year unfolds spilling forth parties, football games and holidays, I find myself in a virtual vacuum of vices.  There is no shopping, no carbohydrates, no booze and no smoking.  I am left with the instinctual need to rebel and no qualifying vices.  My world of rebellion sadly rests upon the moments when I defiantly leave the dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry left undone for one more day or the bed unmade.  Despite my belief in the contrary, I was not Born to be Wild……. I was Made to be Mild.

What vices have you kicked to the curb?  What ‘wild’ healthy substitutes have you found? 

The Dishing Diabetic

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Lost in Translation

Ok, folks, I am stumped.  I mean really stumped.  If you imagine me as someone that is very rarely at a loss for words…… well, you are spot on.  However, this is one of those rare (and valuable for many that know me) occasions, where words just escape me.  I know many refer to this as writer’s block; but, I am not sure that what I have is a clear cut diagnosis.  You see, I know what I want to write about, I know the thoughts that I want to reveal; however, I seem to be paralyzed beneath the severity of the feelings I want to share and the hope that they don’t get lost in the sensitivity of the topic.  I have missed my almost daily interaction with my readers and I have tried multiple times to write an entry on another topic until I could find the words that are eluding me……. but, apparently I have a one track mind that does not allow for a new subject to be broached until the current topic of my obsession has been cleared (this could be a problem!).  So, here goes it……

I stumbled across a new blog lately, Eat a Cheeseburger.  I like, borderlining on love, this blog.  It is spunky, clever and honestly, it makes a valid, much needed point.  The media’s obsession with thin, specifically the death-knocking-on-your-door-with-a-sledge-hammer kind of thin, is a message females of all ages are bombarded with daily.  This message takes a devastating toll on many girls and has been documented time and again.  I spent the last 18 months of my time in high school subsisting on a diet of jelly beans and rice cakes.  Why, you ask?  Oh come on, you know, it’s that whole sweet ‘n salty thing….. yeah, right!  I was desperate to be skinny.  My desperation was not as much a result of the media as it was from pressure I felt from home.  Either way, from a very young age we learn the “value” placed on being thin.

The “skinny message” must be falling on a few deaf ears though.  This is evidenced by the spiraling obesity figures in this country. Childhood and adult obesity rates are increasing every year and we are now seeing this trend in Europe and Japan.  And, you know what?  This trend has not escaped the media’s attention.  Have you seen FOX’s show More to Love?  This show is marketed as a “The Bachelor”  for girls that literally have more to love…… as in more weight.  I have been disturbed by this concept from the word go.  So, now the media, realizing the growing number of viewers who also have “more to love” are going to profit from a weight message that is just as dangerous as their get-thin-or-die-tryin’ escapades.

My new favorite blog’s most recent post discusses their “hope that women will not feel pressure to change the way they look just because they are given such a limited view of appearance from the media.”  My response – are we really only given a “limited view of appearance from the media”? I am not so sure. The contestants on More to Love present the morbidly obese view of  appearance.  FOX did not choose to use the average-size 12/14-American-girl (also ridiculously referred to as “plus size”) who in comparison to their The Bachelor counterparts definitely have “more to love”  AND offer viewers a realistic, healthy view of appearance.  Romanticizing obesity (I weighed 250 lbs during most of my 20’s), dressing it up and advocating an eat-what-you-want-and-dont-worry-about-your-weight approach is just as dangerous as blasting the dont-you-dare-eat-dont-you-dare-even-think-about-it look. There are crippling side effects of both extremes…… life threatening effects.

26 million people in this country are diabetic (95% are type II and the majority of those are obese) and 54 million are pre-diabetic.  80 million people, ALMOST ONE THIRD of the US population are affected by this disease….. the largest risk factor for diabetes? Obesity.  I couldn’t agree more with Eat A Cheeseburger’s sentiment of “hoping that women will not feel pressure to change the way they look just because they are given such a limited view of appearance from the media”; however, I hope that we can feel pressured to change the way we look because our survival is dependent upon it.  As I sat in a doctor’s office last week listening to the results of a CT scan that revealed a fatty and enlarged liver I was shocked by my physician’s stumbling, stuttering and complete decimation of the word ‘overweight.”  She was trying to explain that my weight could cause these results and she says, “your BMI is 28, so, you, are, um……o-o-o-o-o-overweight.”  This reminded me of when I thanked my OB/gyn for sticking with her yearly plea, “I need you to lose weight” and she told me that she had lost many patients over that plea.  What is going on?  We will listen to a magazine, to a TV show, to a blog, to our parents, or our friends……. but those that are charged with managing our health, well, their words, get lost in translation.  My docs don’t care if my jeans make my butt look big or if my big butt is just, well, BIG.  They only care if my big butt is causing my big blood glucose numbers. That is the only translation that matters.

I promise, I am almost there…… I am almost out of words for this entry and then you can load your cannons and fire away.  The entry that got all this started was again from Eat A Cheeseburger –Kids and Dieting: it’s not just the “media’s” fault. Having been skinny-by-starvation and morbidly obese and now being the mother a flawless 2 1/2 year old daughter……. I am beyond sensitive to how I raise her in regards to her body image.  Because of my own obesity induced health obstacles, I want her to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy weight…… for her health, NOT how her rear end looks in a pair of jeans!  So, when I read this entry and it asked the question, “If Mom is constantly dieting and obsessed with her food portions and her weight and is exercising like a maniac, what type of message does it send to her 4th grade daughter?”  I had a fairly strong reaction.  I am on Weight Watchers.  I exercise 6 days a week.  I test my blood 45 times a day.  I weigh once a week.  I can honestly tell you that I do this FOR MY HEALTH.  I do this so that I can witness as many days of this flawless creature’s life as humanly possible.  Somehow, this could be a harmful message to send her.  But, encouraging her to drink water instead of Woo-Hoo or to eat baked sweet potato fries instead of cheese fries, or to exercise, or teaching her to make healthy choices and that she can eat ANYTHING in MODERATION…… well, this message, too, could be lost in translation.

So, what is the alternative?  To not say a word?  To not teach a thing? To not live by example? I do not think that is right either.  For the first time ever, the current generation of children is not expected to live as long as their parents.  This is unacceptable to me.  I am her mother and for a long time I will be her compass.  I will find a way to teach her to love herself, to love herself inside and out, to love herself enough to make the choices that keep her healthy and yes, to love herself enough to change the way she looks if it will help ensure her survival.

I am not sure I have arrived at any great conclusion.  In fact, I am pretty sure I have no conclusions.  I am also not sure that what I have said hasn’t touched a nerve with someone else.  It is not my intent to pass judgement on anyone, it is only my intent to share my thoughts and ask that you share yours.

The Dishing Diabetic

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This is Your Brain On….. Fat?

Fried_20eggsLet me see if I have got this right……

Obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease and heart disease can kill you?  Check.

Obesity is a leading risk factor for hypertension and hypertension can cause a stroke that can kill you?  Check.

Obesity is a leading risk factor for type II diabetes and type II diabetes, untreated, can lead to retinopathy (blindness), neuropathy (nerve damage that can lead to amputations), nephropathy (kidney disease), heart disease and stroke and most of those things can kill you?  Check.

Obesity causes severe brain degeneration and severe brain degeneration can…. WAIT, hold up just one second, severe WHAT? Being obese can actually shrink my brain?  Oh, this I gotta hear!

Apparently, a new study concludes that obese individuals, indentified as those with a Body Mass Index (BMI calculator) greater than 30, have 8% less brain tissue and their brain looks 16 years older than the brain of someone who is not obese.  The study goes on to say that individuals who are overweight (BMI>25) have 4% less brain tissue and their brain is 8 years older comparatively.  Brain scans of 94 70-year olds produced this study’s results.

This brain degeneration leaves the individual with an increased risk for Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases.  In addition, the areas that experience the tissue degeneration in obese individuals are responsible for planning, memory, attention, movement and executive functions.  In overweight individuals the affected areas are responsible for sensory functions.  The senior author of the study, Paul Thompson, says if you can eat healthy and manage your weight, you can significantly reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s.

When you consider the growing list of health risks associated with being obese or overweight and realize that the World Health Organization reports 300 million people worldwide are obese and another 1 BILLION are overweight, it is easy to see that we have a problem of pandemic proportions.  Poor eating habits is the biggest culprit causing obesity.  The good news is that this is something that could be changed.  The question is how.

Do you remember those public service announcements where they put the egg in the frying pan and that very deep, very serious voice-over voice said, “this is your brain on drugs?”  Is the next step a PSA with the announcement, “this is your brain on…..fat?”

In the 6th grade, my class attended a Just Say No presentation (yep, the good ole Reagan Era).  The speaker told a story about an 18 year old drafted into the NBA who tried cocaine for the 1st time at a party, died of an overdose and never saw the fruits of a career playing basketball.   This story played a pivotal role in my choices for years to come.  Eventually we have to confront our food and drink choices just as we approach our decisions not to use other harmful substances….. eventually we have to see the fit vs. fat debate as a health debate NOT a vanity debate.  Do we need a national campaign?  Do we need a First Lady to come along and declare a War on Fat?  This may not be too far off when you read 5 Bucks for a Can of Coke. Is the government’s answer to tax the foods that are “bad” for us?  Will that be enough of a deterrent (tobacco tax has increased exponentially over the last decade with very little impact on the number of people smoking)? At what point do we make good decisions because they are good for our health?

This is a very serious problem and it is also a very sensitive one.  I am a type II diabetic who spent the majority of my 20’s with a BMI of 40. I feel that I have a responsibility to discuss the obesity epidemic and its bedfellows: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and now, brain degeneration. My perspective on this topic is from a type 2 diabetic, who has spent 1/3 of her life obese, who smoked for 10 years and spent the majority of those same 10 years completely sedentary with a total cholesterol count of 282.  I have been a fat girl and once a fat girl, always a fat girl….. no matter what the scale says (if you have been there, you know exactly what I am talking about….. that’s a topic for another post).  My approach to the obesity epidemic is devoid of judgment or discrimination….. I have been there.  However, no one can fight this battle for us, we, each one of us, one by one, has to decide that the health risks are just not worth it.

What do you think the answer is? What needs to be created or put into place that will welp reverse this deadly trend?

The Dishing Diabetic

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