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Posts Tagged ‘diabetes’

Another day gone in a flash. Back at the doctor for more blood tests this morning, monitoring this pre-diabetes issue. Every time I go there I leave behind at least four vials of my blood, it’s not a good pattern. It’s amazing I don’t run out! One of the tests we did was for magnesium level. Did you know that magnesium deficiency can contribute to insulin resistance? If you are having problems with the regulation of your blood sugar it is worth checking in to.

At 6:30 after running around all day, speaking to clients, stuffing lunch down my face and getting some much needed work done, working out was not at the top of my list. But I took the day off yesterday so there was no arguing with the gym as it called to me. I am hyper-sensitive to exercise. If I let a couple of days go by without getting it things cease working properly. Including my brain. Exercise is crucial to regulating blood sugar. So there you have it. I went to the gym.

Once I got there, as always, it felt good to be working out. I felt strong! But even feeling as good as it did to sweat, as I ran, I thought “I’ll cut it short so I don’t use up too much energy and I can still get a really tough workout in tomorrow morning.” What? That just doesn’t make sense. Do you ever do this? Why save energy for the next workout when you could just give everything to one you’re doing right then and there? Because it’s easier to procrastinate? It’s not like I have a race tomorrow. I’ll just give it everything I have now and I’ll give it everything I have tomorrow and if I am dead tired and just can’t move another minute, I can stop. I actually think I would have stopped tonight if I hadn’t thought of a book I recently read. It’s about writing, but the message translates to just about anything:

Anne Dillard has said that day by day you have to give the work before you all the best stuff you have, not saving up for later projects. If you give freely, there will always be more. This is a radical proposition that runs so contrary to human nature, that I personally keep trying to find loopholes in it. But it is only when I go ahead and decide to shoot my literary, creative wad on a daily basis that I get any sense of full presence, of being Zorba the Greek at the keyboard. Otherwise I am a wired little rodent squirreling things away, hoarding and worrying about supply. Arthritis forms in my hands and in the hands my mind is using to shape things…

You are going to have to give and give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver.

from bird by bird by Anne Lamott

And so on I went for an additional 15 minutes. Good heart-pumping music on my iPod didn’t hurt, either. And yes I really did have this deep thought on the treadmill. I come up with some of my best ideas when running! Like continuing to run, for one. On this particular evening, I actually took it a little farther. I started thinking about what Matt Frazier writes on his No Meat Athlete website about moderation. This time the message is about veganism but, again, the message translates to so many other things. (You can read the inspiring posts here and here, and you should.) He’s so right. Why settle for moderation? You can accomplish so much more when you don’t.

Getting home at 8:30 I quickly threw together something surprisingly delicious! It’s so easy when you have the right things handy.

I boiled some whole grain buckwheat in one pot. Meanwhile I chopped up Brussels sprouts and onions and stuck them in a pan with some coconut oil and then, just at the end, added a little bit of balsamic. Threw it all together and added a few walnuts. Done in minutes! So simple.

Side note: I went to a screening of Forks over Knives the other night. It was great! I highly recommend seeing it when it comes out. The movie is about the prevalence of “diseases of affluence” that are taking over our society, how diabetes rates are soaring and are affecting people younger and younger and how such a large number of people are on drugs for things that could be reversed (and could have been prevented in the first place) through a diet of whole foods. It emphasizes a diet of plant-based foods and the importance of getting away from processed foods. The film largely covers the work of Dr. Colin Campbell (of China Study fame) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn. I am so glad I saw it.

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Sugar and spice and everything nice! Isn’t that what they say girls are made of? I’ve always had the spice, there’s never been doubt about that. I think it came naturally with my hair color; redheads and their tempers, you know… it’s not my fault, it’s my genes. But sugar? I’ve got a whole heck of a lot of sugar coursing through my veins and I’m not sure there’s much nice about that! Having had digestion issues for years, I always knew starch and sugar were issues for me but now I’ve got the concreteness of a blood test. (A few of them, actually! I was sort of wondering if they were going to leave any blood in my arm. They did, fortunately.) Pre-diabetes. The crazy wacko part is that I eat so little sugar by normal standards!! If I ate like the average American I’d be diabetic for sure. Well, OK same with most people, but… In any case, being thin, athletic and careful about my diet, I was sure I had a food intolerance of some kind or bacteria or or or… I was not about to guess that my blood sugar was through the roof. But I’m nipping it in the bud! (About a decade after I started noticing the symptoms, but let’s focus on the positive.) Look at the healthy start to my day! Leftovers from my dinner last night were eeeeven better this morning…

Raw vegan lasagna a la quinoa mixed with healthy stuff. Mmm plenty of energy for my workout and just enough to get me through to lunch. Or at least to the green juice I had just before lunch. Ah lunch… my favorite salad from Peacefood Cafe. Pure angelic goodness.

Well, so it’s not the answer I was hoping for but at least I have a cause for my troubles. Which means I can address them. Finally. Weeding out all the possible culprits is the hardest part. Eating healthier and more regularly, exercising vigilantly, staying hydrated, etc. etc. (oooh yes the list goes on) etc. That’s my game! At least I have the tools and I’m not afraid to use ’em. So, goodbye sugar and starchiness. I don’t think I’ll miss you. It may be a pain sometimes but hey I’ll be the healthiest one in the room!

It goes to show that generalizing is never a good idea. Just because you don’t have all the signs doesn’t mean something isn’t worth investigating. I was on the right track but I and my doctors must have made assumptions that kept us from looking in exactly the right place.

Now I just have a really good reminder to be vigilant about treating my body right. Just to give you a few of the basics, if you are pre-diabetic (or diabetic for that matter), you should… Well, you should seek professional help but in addition to that: Exercise regularly. Stay the heck away from sugar and it’s cronies. Yes that includes alcohol, but paired with the proper meal you don’t need to worry too much about having some now and then. Says me. No processed food, yuck. Lots of fiber. Stay hydrated. Eat regularly. You don’t want your blood sugar (and it’s co-worker insulin) levels all over the place, nor do the people hanging out with you.

Dinner hasn’t happened yet so you will have to imagine what my final meal of the day looks like. I think you’ll be OK. Oh! But I do have one final goodie for you. I was craving something along the lines of macaroni and cheese and I had nothing resembling pasta. I had some leftover wheat berries in the fridge and some raw cheese, though. That’s it. Stuck it in a pan to warm it up with a little bit of cheese and… voila! Craving satiated!

Of course I’m not trying to say this was just like eating the most decadent version of macaroni and cheese, but it definitely did it for me. There are countless simple ways to make comfort food so much healthier for you. Any other favorites?

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Ah food cravings… why can’t they ever be for things like steamed kale or raw broccoli spears? No no. Of course, the most common craving known to man – actually it seems to be more often woman, no fair! – is for something sweet.  I suppose there are evolutionary reasons behind it but that hardly helps us now, does it. Well, the good news is there are plenty of current, easily explained reasons for it now too. This is especially good news because it means there are ways to manage these cravings and use them to our benefit rather than let them be our downfall. With a little practice it’s not even that difficult! If I can get over my cravings for sweets, trust me, anyone can.

The truth is that cravings really are – no, really – our friend. They do happen for a reason, our bodies are trying to tell us something! We just need to figure out what that message is. If you just ate something salty, your body may be trying to compensate with something sweet to balance itself out. Heck, maybe you just ate something sweet – sugar is addictive so having some doesn’t help much in alleviating the craving, it just makes you want more! You could be craving nutrients that you aren’t getting or your hormones could be out of whack. Have you ever tried drinking water when you crave sweets – maybe you are just thirsty. Maybe it’s not even biology-related, perhaps you are just bored! Sometimes we crave that immediate satisfaction that we know we are going to get from that sweet, melt-in-your-mouth cupcake. And sometimes it’s a much bigger issue, something we are missing in our lives on a deeper level. All of these are things we can deal with!

The biggest problem today is that what was once sweet is no longer so sweet. Our ancestors may have had sweet cravings, but I think we can be pretty sure they were not looking for Jelly Bellies or Coke. They found sweetness in fruits and vegetables, even grains. Well, we can too! It’s just a matter of adjusting how we eat. Try adding more fruits and sweet vegetables to your diet. OK, sometimes you just really want a tasty dessert, try using a replacement for sugar like raw honey or agave nectar. (Try the recipes below!) Are you just bored? Try doing something else that will bring you pleasure without taking in calories! There are tons of strategies for overcoming that overwhelming desire for candies, cookies and other desserts. It really is worth it for your health. Despite their bad name, there is increasing evidence that sugar may be more of a culprit than dietary cholesterol and fat when it comes to cardiovascular disease. You only get one body, take care of it!

Gluten Free Coconut Macaroons

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ cup agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1. In a mixing bowl whisk egg whites and salt until stiff
2. Fold in agave, vanilla and coconut
3. Drop batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet, one rounded tablespoonful at a time
4. Pinch each macaroon at the top (like a kiss)
5. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned

Raw Brownie Bites

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey or agave nectar
1/3 cup flax seeds or flax seed meal
2 T coconut oil
1 small pinch of vanilla extract
1 small pinch of Himalayan sea salt
Dash of cinnamon (optional)
Place all ingredients in food processor until combined, roll into balls and refrigerate or freeze for storage. Serve cold from the fridge.

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