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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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A Breakfast Believer!

Whether weight loss is your game or managing your diabetes (or both), you have heard, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” at least once.  Most of us actually heard this at some point growing up or in the process of growing up our own family.  Back then it had to do with being at our best during the school day and hopefully having our brain function optimally.  These days, it has more to do with trying to jump start a metabolism that has decided to enjoy early retirement or trying to bring down a fasting blood glucose number that seems to peak first thing in the morning.

Breakfast.  Just the word conjures visions of french toast, banana nut pancakes, bacon, sausage links, biscuits, gravy, piggies in the blanket….. mmmmmmmmmm! For a weight loss crusader or a diabetic defender, these visions will stay just that….. visions.  As a faithful follower of Weight Watchers, I know that you can treat yourself to these every once in awhile, especially if you manage your allotted daily points in a way that allows it.  However, as a diabetic there is a question as to the definition of “once in awhile” and as for this diabetic….. treating myself once just creates a vicious craving that I would rather be without!  And, bottomline, although those breakfast choices are once-in-awhile options, breakfast is not.  Breakfast should be an everyday occurrence for an endless list of reasons; after all, it is the most important meal of the day!

Breakfast.  Just the word conjures a steady stream of excuses…… I don’t like to eat in the morning, I don’t have time to eat in the mornings, I am not hungry in the mornings, nixing breakfast helps cut 1/3 of the day’s calories, yada yada yada.  When I first started Weight Watchers in 2005 I was one of those I-don’t-like-to-eat-in-the-morning people.  After a few months I became very frustrated with losing an average of less than 1 pound a week.  My group leader re-addressed the topic of breakfast and its effects on weight loss with me. I decided, heck, if I could figure out how to enjoy exercise, I could figure out how to enjoy breakfast!  My new routine became ½ cup of original Fiber One cereal mixed into a 98% fat free Yoplait yogurt, 1 small banana and a large glass of water.  Within a month or so of adding breakfast to my day, my average weekly weight loss increased to 1.5lbs a week.  I became a Breakfast Believer!

So, my ½ cup of original Fiber One cereal mixed into a 98% fat free Yoplait yogurt, 1 small banana and a large glass of water became my daily breakfast.  The only part that varied was the flavor of yogurt. For 3 years – over 1,000 days that included a pregnancy – this was my Old Faithful of breakfasts.  When I received my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in October 2009, I was left utterly dumbfounded.  Yes, Old Faithful was healthy; yes, it had contributed greatly to my weight loss (93 lbs) and to my efforts to maintain my loss; yes, it seemed responsible for keeping my “plumbing” in good order; however, in an instant, the arrival of diabetes turned my old friend to a new foe!

This value of this breakfast had been quantified for years as “3 points.”  This is fantastic in a Weight Watchers World.  Now, it was quantified as “65g carbohydrates.”  This is known as one big fat no-no in a type 2 diabetes world.  Every diabetic is different and their blood sugar responds to different foods at different times of the day.  I tried everything.  I tried Fiber One and water, yogurt and water, Fiber One and the banana, the banana and water….. you get my drift.  My blood sugar was just not on board with any of the combinations.  Now I was stuck.  I needed to lose 80 lbs, so I knew I needed to eat breakfast.  My mornings are CRAZY trying to get myself ready for work and my 2 year old ready for school.  I needed an new Old Faithful.  It needed to be delicious, fast, low carb AND low points.  How’s that for high maintenance??

Two fellow Weight Watchers turned me on to Egg Beaters.  Now, I had eaten them before and I loved them.  The key to this “turn on” was that they let me in on a little secret……. THEY CAN BE MICROWAVED!  Who knew?  Microwaved egg substitute out of a carton gave rise to my current Old Faithful.  Not only is it “5 points” and “18g carbs (11 net)”…… it can be prepared in less than 4 minutes and yes, I have timed it on multiple occasions!  The punch line – my blood glucose is routinely 120ish 2 hours after my 1st bite. I take the ingredients for the week to work every Monday morning so that i am never left empty handed and tempted to just wait it out until lunch.

A Breakfast Believer’s Breakfast Burrito – 5 Weight Watchers Points, 18g carbs/7g fiber

1/2 c Egg Beaters

1 Mission low carb small flour tortilla

1 Tbsp salsa

1/4 c Weight Watchers shredded cheese

1/2 small or 1/4 large avocado, sliced

Microwave bow of Egg Beaters for 2 minutes, stirring about every 30 seconds.  While microwaving eggs, place tortilla on plate and put cheese on tortilla.  When eggs are finished put on top of cheese.  Top eggs with salsa and sliced avocado. Breakfast Bliss!

Whether we are hustling ourselves to work or hustling children to school, breakfast is just an easy thing to miss.  However, once you experience the impact the most important meal of the day can have on your weight loss efforts or how the right breakfast may help decrease your blood glucose faster than skipping a morning meal, you  too, will be a breakfast believer!

Do you have an Old Faithful?  I would love to hear what made you a Breakfast Believer!

The Dishing Diabetic

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The Great Zu-dini!

Sometimes I think I should take my show on the road as a Substitution Magician. After 4 years of eating to manage my weight and then adding blood glucose management to that a year ago, it feels as if I have found a substitute for nearly all of my favorite foods. Some did not require much effort, like substituting low carb flour tortillas for regular flour tortillas or egg beaters for real eggs. Other favorites, such as spaghetti and mashed potatoes proposed a much larger challenge for my “skills.” However, as the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

True magic is made when you actually believe your substitution is better than the real deal. I can’t pinpoint when this magic happens, but, stick with it long enough and it really does happen. I was discussing this with a colleague in our office kitchen one morning. She was heating up her homemade pumpkin oatmeal (utterly AMAZING) and I was making my regular breakfast burrito. Both breakfasts included a sophisticated level of substitutions; however, we agreed that even if we could eat the “originals” our concoctions were based on, we would actually choose our alternatives. Magic! Our assumption was this…. somewhere along the way in our journey to make life changes (the only way weight loss can healthfully be achieved and maintained) we actually realized that our new food choices made us feel better.  Four days into my efforts my daily heart burn disappeared, for good.  About 4 weeks into my efforts I noticed how much better I was sleeping.  A couple of months (and a handful of pounds lighter) into it and  the constant dull ache in my hips and knees was gone.  The sensation of feeling better, feeling younger, began to carry more importance than eating the foods that tasted better. The WLDS (Weight Loss Deprivation Syndrome) and the DDS (Diabetic Deprivation Syndrome) began to dissipate and give way to a feeling of being in control for once.  I realized that the only thing I was depriving my body of was heart burn, aches, pains, sleeplessness and the list goes on….. and as for those things, I was more than happy to live without them.  As for everything else….. a substitute had to exist!

Mashed cauliflower became mashed potatoes in my house. Now the entire family and extended family prefers the substitution. My substitution for spaghetti has also become a fan favorite.  Now, remember the only 2 rules I enforce when sharing recipes…. approach with an open mind and don’t-knock-it-til-you-try-it.  Zucchini is the substitution for noodles in my spaghetti.  Yes, zucchini….. or as I like to call it…. The Great Zu-dini!  Zucchini has been a staple of my diet for a very long time.  I like to use thin slices of zucchini as “chips” for my dip.  I love to saute it with baby portobello mushrooms with a little shredded romano cheese sprinkled it.  Zucchini also makes wonderful zucchini fries (I use olive oil and about 1/2 c. flour). I can even make mini pizzas with zucchini serving as the crust (George Stella’s Good Carb Family Cookbook’s Pizza Stuffed Zucchini Bites).  Zucchini, a required prop for any seasoned Substitution Magician, deserves the title The Great Zu-dini.

Spaghini……. (spaghetti with zucchini) 6 servings; Per serving: 4 Weight Watchers Points, 24 g carbs, 5 g fiber

8-10 zucchini (speared and cut in 1/2)

2 cartons sliced mushrooms

1 lb 96% fat free ground beef  

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

1 lg can (26 1/2 oz) low carb spaghetti sauce (I uses Del Monte Green Pepper & Mushroom)

6 Tbsp reduced fat grated parmesan cheese

Cut zucchini into spears about 3-4 inches long and steam until crisp-tender.  Spray large skillet with cooking spray and saute mushrooms and onions.  Add ground beef to mushrooms and onions, brown and drain.  Return meat mixture back to skillet and add can of spaghetti sauce and heat.   Spoon 1 cup zucchini into 6 bowls. Scoop about 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce mixture on top of zucchini and top with 1 Tbsp reduced fat grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

Are you new to the substitution game or are you an old pro?  What is your favorite substitution for your favorite food?  I look forward to hearing…. I need a good idea for dinner tonight!

Have a wonderful week!

The Dishing Diabetic

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Take This Guarantee and Shove It!

If you are diabetic and have taken to the internet, then you know there is a TON of information out there. It also seems as if most diabetes websites have a “community” aspect to them where you can create your own profile, establish a blog, network with new friends and chat via message boards….. kind of like a diabetic Facebook! The sites are nothing short of a lifeline for both diabetic “rookies” and “lifers.” I troll through the many message boards observing the themes associated with the different stages of type 2 diabetes. I do occasionally comment with the intent to ask a question, answer a question, share a recipe, offer encouragement, etc. I do have 2 rules in the thoughts I put out there 1) no negativity and 2) no confrontations. Yesterday, I semi-broke #2.

I read a message board entry that stated that all diabetic will experience complications, especially if diagnosed young How do you NOT confront that statement? It is like it reached out of the computer and slapped me in the face. If that is true, why am I counting Weight Watchers Points, counting carbohydrates, pricking my find 4-5x/ day, exercising like a mad woman, and why is a blog like this even necessary? Well, I’ll tell you why…. because, despite what my precious 15 year old stepdaughter says, I AM young. I was 31 when I had borderline gestational diabetes and I was 33 when I was diagnosed with type II. I am young and I know diabetic complications are not guaranteed to be part of my future. And, young or old (aka young at heart), I want you to know that the same goes for you!

That statement, even in all its inaccuracy, did raise a few thoughts about the nature of diabetic complications and how we are instructed to prevent them. Many of us have WONDERFUL physicians, I personally have the BEST ; ). However, due to the nature of their job, they give us a glucometer and refer us to a class or individual nutritionist where we learn how many carbs to eat, what kind to eat, when to check our blood glucose and the recommended ranges for blood sugar. Many of us walk away with the assumption that managing our blood glucose is all we need to do to prevent diabetic complications, I know I did. Good thing I am married to a medical student!

Mr. Man, a 3rd year med student, attended a luncheon this week featuring a leading endocrinologist. This gentleman discussed how doctors must begin coaching their diabetic patients to do more than just manage blood sugar. The management of blood sugar is for 3 things in particular – preventing neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy. These are 3 very serious common complications of diabetes; but, there are many others and 2 biggies are heart disease and stroke. As a diabetic, preventing heart disease and stroke goes beyond just managing my blood sugar. I, personally, needed to lose 85 lbs (I have 35 more to go). I had to use both diet and exercise so that I would lower my cholesterol (now 150, down from 282 – without medication), lower my blood pressure (now 102/78 without medication), lower my A1c (now 6.1, down from 7.2 without medication) AND lose weight. I am lucky that I quit smoking 3 years ago or smoking cessation would have been added to my to-do list. Obesity, lack of exercise, hyperglycemia and smoking are huge risk factors for heart disease and stroke and managing blood glucose only addresses the hyperglycemia. The guest speaker’s point was received loud and clear: If an diabetic does not lose weight, lower their cholesterol, stop smoking, and/or start exercising they will die from a heart attack or stroke; but, hey, their blood sugar will be on target.

I was diagnosed 10 months ago and just learning to control my blood sugar was all I could handle. About 3 months in I began the weight loss and exercising. You have to start somewhere with baby steps, one at a time. Tackling it all at once would have left me feeling overwhelmed and frustrated…… 2 emotions that are not helpful in the world of managing diabetes and preventing its complications. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and it requires more than just monitoring your blood glucose. My suggestion is to create a timeline for your attack on diabetes. How many months will you focus on learning what foods you can eat and how they affect your blood sugar? When will you begin exercising (what kind, how often, etc)? Once you have that habit in place, when and how will you begin smoking cessation? Give yourself time to adjust to each new baby step and then take the next step. As you step in the ring to fight the good fight…. know there is hope; the proof is in the #’s….. 80% of diabetic complications are preventable! You will find many, many others at all stages of the marathon and most will want to help and encourage you; and, when you are ready to take the next step and add weight loss, exercise, and/or smoking cessation…… well, we will be here for that, too!

Yes, as diabetics we have to do so much more that just monitoring our BG to stay healthy and prevent complications…… but, the good news is that these complications, 80% of them, are preventable. I broke my #2 rule, no confontations regarding others’ posts….. but I felt the message was worth every word!

Have a wonderful weekend!

The Dishing Diabetic

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How About Some Pudding, Puddin’?

I must offer you all a confession.  I suffer from a serious condition known as DDS – Diabetic Deprivation Syndrome.  My DDS is brought on by a decreased intake of foods containing the main ingredient sugar, which gives these foods a sweet taste and gives my taste buds their very own rave party!  I have severe onset DDS in the evening, during my post-dinner hours.  I also have panic-induced DDS as I truly fear for my life if my day does not end on a “sweet” note!!  I have too much to live for that not rising to see another day at the hands of DDS is not an option.  I also have too much to live for that letting too much sugar cross my lips is not an option.  So, what is a girl (with type II diabetes) to do?

I do find some comfort in my suspicion that many of my fellow diabetics also suffer from DDS.  Although it may result from breads, pastas, potatoes or rice – we all share this terrifying syndrome.  What is it they say about misery loving company?  I am fairly certain, even in the absence of scientific proof, that I am not facing this condition alone (who needs scientific proof….. just visit one diabetic message board and you will see DDS running rampant!).

So, for all of you with my type of DDS…. the type resulting from a sugar deficiency….. try ending your day on this note –

How about a little pudding, puddin’?

1/2 c. Jell-o brand fat free, sugar free white chocolate pudding (follow prep instructions on box) – 1 Weight Watchers point, 6g carbs

1 Tbsp Heath toffee bits (found on the baking aisle with the chocolate chips) 2 Weight Watchers points, 9g carbs

Yep, that’s right…. toffee bits!!  Hello rave party for my taste buds (and hello on-target bed time blood glucose #’s! *Depending on what you ate for dinner of course).

Top the 1/2 c. of pudding with the 1 Tbsp. toffee bits and good-bye DDS (for tonight at least).

Another FANTASTIC topping your pudding – 1/2 c. fresh blueberries (10g carbs).

I wish you all the very best in your own personal battle with DDS.  Please share your success stories for defeating this “life threatening” condition.

Til tomorrow, puddin’,

The Dishing Diabetic

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It’s Burger Time, Baby!

Can you remember those first couple of months after you received your diagnosis of type II diabetes?  Those horrifying moments where you realized your list of “favorite foods I can not have anymore” just got one item longer?  I spent most of the first month after my diagnosis feeling like I was in a mine field.  Each time hunger would set in, I would launch my “what am I in the mood for?” routine and somehow that list would end up longer.  It felt like every time I came up with an option I had not already assigned to this list, it, too, had too many carbs!  Pre-diagnosis, I might only have to pass up the 1st 2-3 ideas because they had too many points (Weight Watchers lingo).  Post-diagnosis, I found the list of foods I was in the mood for being knocked over like dominos the length of The Great Wall of China.   A donut, pizza (even Lean Cuisine pizzas!), cereal with milk, hamburgers, pasta, Subway, po-boys, chips and queso, just chips, french fries, waffle fries, cheese fries, Bahama Buck’s (BEST snow cones ever), Texadelphia (BEST cheese steaks ever), enchiladas, ice cream (Blue Bell – the BEST ever) …….and the list goes on…..

SIDENOTE:  before I go any further….. I look at that list and I can’t escape the rediculous notion that IS IT ANY WONDER I have type II diabetes to begin with??  Hmmmmm…..

I digress. It was awful.  At least to me it seemed all but devastating.  3 years ago I had happily navigated a 93 lb. weight loss over 18 months with the help of Weight Watchers and exercise.  The beauty of this time in my life was that I could eat anything I wanted as long as I minded the points.  In addition, there was always a way to take a favorite and “modify” it to make it lower points.  The “devastating” realization for me is that you can make high fat foods “low fat”; but, you can rarely make high carb foods “low carb”.  I realize I may be opening the floor to debate along the lines of the use of sugar alcohols, etc.  There is some debate on the effect of sugar alcohols and how you count them.  I personally still get a high blood glucose reading after eating “no sugar added” foods that added sugar alcohols instead sugar (please share your own experiences with me, I always love to learn!).  Back to my point, if I wanted to make a high carb food fit in with my new diet I had to eat crustless pizza, bunless hamburgers, chipless salsa, wrapless wraps, … you get my drift.

Well, have I got news for you!!  In a moment of titanium nerves mixed with a sheer determination to eat a hamburger WITH A BUN….. I acutally REMOVED an item from my “favorite foods I can not have anymore” list. 2 hours after my hamburger endeavor I had a blood glucose reading of 119!!  Can I get a Woo Hoo?!!  Fire up the grill, it’s burger time, baby!

Blood Glucose Lovin’ Burgers (9 points, 22g carbs/4g fiber)

1 lb ultra lean ground beef (to season: I mix garlic salt, ground pepper and A-1 steak sauce into the meat) – divide into 4 patties

4 Mrs Bairds 100% Whole Wheat hamburger buns (22g carbs/4g fiber)

sliced tomato, sliced purple onion

1 small avocado

4 slices reduced fat cheese (my fave is pepperjack)

Spicy mustard

grill or cook patties on the stove top.  Spread spicy mustard on top and bottom bun. Then, from bottom up layer: 1/4 avocado sliced, burger patty, 1 slice of cheese, sliced purple onion, top bun.

Take that, list!!  As of today, I am a hamburger eating BWWD2 (Busy Woman With Diabetes 2)!

On a serious note…. I refer to the three months between my diagnosis and my follow up appointment as The Greatest Pity Party Ever Thrown.  Over this 90 day period I managed to drive my A1c up 1 whole point, much to my wonderful endocrinologist’s dismay.  It is my opinion that those of us lucky enough to get a diagnosis early on can get swept away down the river of denial.  We get bogged down in the lists, the no-no’s, the frustration, the depression and on top of all of that, the disease is invisible (when it finally becomes visible, it is too late).  For me, it was my best friend (Mr. Man) and my hope to be  sitting in side-by-side rocking chairs decades from now and my beautiful daughter and wanting to be here to witness every moment of her future that brought the lights up on my pity party.  What is your party pooper?  I would LOVE to hear what drives you and why you are fighting the good fight!!!!

Enjoy the burgers!!

The Dishing Diabetic

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