I started nightly injections of insulin a few days ago and have already had to increase the dose by 50% because the lowest dose isn’t effective. I could cry about that fact and beat myself up about my unwillingness to make the lifestyle changes that would make my own insulin effective enough to control my blood sugar, but the fact is that neither of those actions will take me in a positive direction. Once I find the right dosage, insulin will absolutely help get my blood sugar levels back where they belong and that’s just a simple truth.
At the appointment with my doctor where he prescribed the insulin, we talked about increasing my dosage of a non-insulin oral medication I’ve been taking for months, or going back to the Weight Loss clinic so they can prescribe a combo anti-seizure/amphetamine drug that’s supposed to make you forget to eat (the amphetamine option has already not worked for me), or changing up one of the six other medications I take on a daily basis. And a little voice inside my head started to scream, “Stop playing around with your health, Denise. Do what needs to be done and get on with it!” (It might have been my grandma’s voice I was hearing, to be honest, since that’s definitely what she would have told me had she been alive and in the room with me.) and so I stopped the doctor mid-sentence and told him that I’d like to start taking insulin.
Insulin isn’t the cure-all super-duper fixer-upper for my problems but it will get my blood sugar under control almost immediately (once I get to the right dosage) and that’s the big thing right now. Stop the damage that high blood sugar is doing to my body first then focus on making the rest of the changes that I need to make – eat better, exercise daily, control my stress.
As we sat in the car in the line at the pharmacy drive-through, I thought about what I need to do in order to get my diabetes under control: I just have to put my big girl panties on, take my insulin, and start making small changes for the better.
Every evening I tell myself that tomorrow will be better, that I’ll get some exercise and eat something with good nutritional value, but I don’t do it.
I get lots of really helpful advice from real-life friends, blog friends, doctors, parents, and random folks on the street. These are well-meaning people for the most part and their advice usually has at least a kernel of usefulness, but change isn’t happening.
Today I have an appointment with my endocrinologist (diabetes doctor, for those not in the know) and I will ask him to start me on an insulin regimen to get my blood sugar into acceptable ranges; I feel like such a waste of space.
Why don’t I control my eating? Why don’t I get any exercise at all??? I haven’t even made it on my yoga mat once and my 30 Days of Curvy Yoga class ends on Saturday. What will it take for me to change???
I told myself I’d write something here every day for a week but I forgot to write yesterday, so I guess I’m a failure and I’ll just throw this whole blogging thing out. Or maybe I’ll just write twice today to make up for missing yesterday. Perfection, perfection, perfection: nothing but 100% perfect is OK.
Sounds crazy, right? But that’s precisely what I’ve been thinking since I remembered that I hadn’t blogged last night before bed. It’s such an ingrained part of me, the need to be perfect at all times, that the insanity of it all takes a while to filter through all of the dysfunctional parts of my brain. After a tea latte this morning and some time spent wandering aimlessly around FitBloggin – surrounded by excited, happy people jumping around and shrieking with joy while Zumba-ing, mind you! – I finally remembered how unhappy I become when I shoot for 100% perfection. I mean, really and truly, the chances of being 100% perfect for the rest of my life are slim and none so why do I do this to myself?
I think it might be part of a bigger craziness whereby I think that if I can make myself perfect in every way except this poor, abused body I wander around with, then I’ll be acceptable. I can’t even remember when it started, the desire to be perfect, to never do anything bad or wrong, but it’s so much a part of me now that I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s why I spend a fortune on my hair and clothes and shoes and purses and jewelry and everything else that I can make perfect: I can buy perfection for material things but my perfect body can’t be bought, it has to be earned.
I don’t have the perfect plan for how to get from here to healthy but at least I know how I won’t make it happen. No more quest for diet and exercise perfection for this girl – this isn’t a race and there are no medals for finishing quickly but the rewards for treating my body with love and kindness again will be tremendous.
“I’ve had a revelation,” I leaned over to tell Shauna. “Go on then,” she said in her supportive way. “I don’t want to be overweight any more,” I said calmly. “Not in a crazy or self-hating sort of way, I just think I’m finished with the unhealthy food. And maybe I’ll move around a little bit, too.”
I have no delusions that it will be that easy and that the weight will magically fall off – although wouldn’t it be nice if it did? – it’s more of a quiet but determined feeling deep inside that the time of abusing my body with crappy food, burying my feelings with inappropriate eating, and just generally sitting on the sidelines of life while the world passes me by because my body is so stiff and sore from lack of use needs to be behind me.
I’m not banging the drum here, people, just hoping to live into my fifties.
Just as there are guidelines about how to eat for diabetics, there are also recommendations about what not to eat if you’re diabetic. (I’d like to point out that non-diabetics probably wouldn’t be hurt by following these “don’t eat” commandments, too.) I found these from Everyday Health:
Donuts.Whether glazed or jelly-filled, these little gems are full of saturated fat, tons of sugar, and not a single positive nutritional contribution to your diet. Just say no! Substitute a piece of low-glycemic fruit
(apple slices, half a banana) with organic peanut butter.
Cheese. Oh man, this one kills me! I love cheese so much that it hurts, but it’s just chock-full of saturated fat and we already know that’s a no-no. I don’t know of a really good substitute but the article mentions Greek yogurt which might work if you like Greek yogurt (it’s not a favorite of mine yet but I’m still trying).
Anything breaded and fried, including chicken fingers and fish sticks. Not only are these saturated fat bombs, they generally have way too much salt, too, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Substitute an ounce of nuts, just be careful to portion it out because if you’re anything like me, nuts can lead to overindulging.
Potato chips, crackers, and tortilla/corn chips. Wow, this is another tough one. I love chips and salsa SO MUCH. These nutritional miscreants not only raise your bad cholesterol and add too many calories to your diet, they are also a “gateway” to high fat dips or other enhancers. Le sigh. Substitute baked whole-grain crackers with salsa instead.
Packaged baked goods, like cookies. High in sugar, fat, and calories, they also fall into the bucket of carbohydrate sources that are quickly converted to sugar because they have absolutely no fiber to slow digestion. Good substitutes include baked whole grain crackers or fruit. I sometimes find that a hot cup of tea with non-fat milk and sugar substitute will satiate my craving for sweet junk food, too!
Processed cereals. I am lucky that I don’t like, and never eat, sugary cereals. As a matter of fact, I rarely eat cereal of any kind. These diet demons are packed so full of sugar that there’s no room for any fiber – a bad combination. A better option for breakfast would be non-fat Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and just a light sprinkling of a cereal that has whole grain listed as the first ingredient.
There are a few of my all-time favorites on that list, so I’d better get to the store tonight to stock up on some alternate snack ideas. I know what to do, now it’s time to actually do it.
What are some of your “no-no” food items and what strategies do you employ to avoid them? Or do you include them in your daily life in moderation? Do tell!
I had an appointment with my endocrinologist (diabetes specialist) on Friday. We discussed several different options in terms of changing my medications to try to get a better handle on my diabetes, but ultimately the best thing I can do is eat less, of better quality foods. I wish this was something that came easily to me.
The basic rules for healthy eating when you are diabetic are not really so different from those that apply to everyone. In a nutshell, here are the top five tips for better diabetic eating (with help from the American Diabetes Association’s website):
Eat a good variety of foods. Include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, non-fat dairy products, healthy fats, and lean meats. Notice that candy, cookies, and white rice are not on the list? <Deep sigh.> The variety of food you eat is important not only because it keeps you from being bored with your meals but also so that you can get most of your necessary vitamins and minerals from what you eat instead of having to take a supplement.
Don’t eat too much at one sitting or too much of any one type of food. For instance, binging on Girl Scout cookies is discouraged. Smaller portions are important because your body won’t have to work as hard if it only has to digest a small amount of food at a sitting rather than an enormous meal.
Space your meals out throughout the day and don’t skip meals. Ideally you would eat reasonably sized meals every four hours so that your blood sugar never gets low. (Low blood sugar can make you ravenously hungry and less apt to make good food choices. See the bit about not binging on GS cookies in point #2 above.)
Eat fish with your meals 2-3 times per week. Why does everyone keep talking about eating fish? It’s a lean protein option, with very little saturated fat. It’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and triglycerides and might even lower your risk of certain types of cancer.
Get your five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. For best glycemic control (defined as the measurement of how well your blood sugar is being managed), limit the amount of starchy vegetables – like potatoes, corn, peas, and winter squash, and choose fruit with lower glycemic index values like cantaloupe, apples, apricots, and plums. Again, a good variety of fruit and vegetable choices is important to make sure you’re getting the best nutritional bang for your (grocery) buck.
Of course, it’s one thing to know what to do and another thing entirely to make sure that you do it. I asked my endocrinologist for a referral to a nutritionist for help in putting together simple yet inviting meal plans for my whole family so that I can – gasp! – start eating mostly at home. While it’s certainly possible to eat well while eating out, it’s sure a lot easier when you prepare everything yourself so you know what’s going in the pot!
How do you make sure that you and your family are eating well and getting the nutrition you need? Any time and/or money saving tips you’d like to share?