Monday, June 27, 2016

Taking control of my health_Living with Diabetes

Warning--This is a pretty long post with many educational points. If you don't want to feel like you are back in school, you can skip to the bottom, where I have posted a healthy and yummy recipe!

Y'all know I am a diabetic right? I am sure I have mentioned it a few times. I have been diagnosed since 2005. Eleven long years of dealing with this crappy ass disease.  I have the type 2 'beetus. And it is a beast. And a bitch. And I hate it. And I hate that my body is defective. And I hate being a slave to medicine. And I hate that I have to ALWAYS think about food. What I eat, what I drink, planning my meals, taking my meds, checking my glucose levels...blah, blah, blah.

Every day. Twice a day. Sometimes more if needed.

Managing my meds. Any wonder why people get confused, miss doses or accidentally overdose? And the purple pill keeper--that is just the weekly, MORNING meds. I have meds I take at night also. 

I shouldn't complain. There are many other diseases far worse than diabetes. I am lucky (in a sense) because it can be controlled with oral/ injectable medications, exercise, diet and sometimes-- just sometimes-- you can actually get off the medicine.  Diabetes doesn't really go away, it is a chronic, lifelong condition. If it does "go away",  it is sort of like being in remission. Even with control it can come back later in life for Type 2's.  Type 1 diabetics don't have as many choices as type 2's in that regard.  They are stuck--quite literally--with needles. Injections or an insulin pump are a way of life.  It is their life. 

The reality is Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. It is the fastest growing chronic disease in the US with 29 MILLION people having diabetes (~1.3 million are type 1). 1.4 MILLION NEW cases are diagnosed each year. 

Diabetes is a scary disease! 
There are all sorts of complications and co-morbid conditions that go with this disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, increase chance of cardiac arrests, strokes, kidney disease, blindness, and amputations. Good times right?

Here's the facts jack--I will 100% die from diabetes and it's complications if I can't/ don't control my blood sugar. 

And the medications--well those might just kill me too. Many of  the medications have "potential" side effects just as scary as the disease itself. Heart attacks, liver cancer, kidney cancer, strokes... It is a fine balance to find the right medications with the least amount of side effects.  I am particularly paranoid because I was a chemist for 20 years. So I am not a great patient, always badgering my doctor about the medications, side effects, clinical trials, and post market reports. Hey--you gotta be your own advocate for your health.

What are the risk factors?
Genetics--Ethnicity, Age, Personal and Family Medical History
Diabetes can occur at any point in one's life. Diabetes while pregnant (without having a previous condition of diabetes) is called gestational diabetes. Later in life is called Latent Diabetes.

Not all diabetics are fat! Weight, diet and exercise are certainly contributing factors but not necessarily the cause. 20 lbs of extra weight can be the difference in an elevated glucose or not. 

For women, one of the leading cause of diabetes is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Not only is PCOS a leading cause of infertility, the hormones interfere with the production and acceptance of insulin, often resulting in elevated glucose levels and subsequently diabetes.

Anatomy and Physiology
Diabetes is an endocrine (metabolic) disorder. Insulin --which the body produces naturally in the Pancreas--more specifically beta cells called Islets of Langerhans. There are approximately 1 million beta cells in a healthy adult pancreas. Type 1 diabetes occurs because the immune system sees the beta cells as dangerous and destroys them. Type 2 often occurs because the insulin produced is defective and can't be accepted by the receptors or the body can't process the insulin efficiently to control the glucose in our blood stream.

When we consume food, glucose levels rise and insulin is released to reduce the glucose levels. All foods have some form of sugar. Milk/ dairy (lactose), fruits and vegetables (fructose) and  starchy plants-like corn- (dextrose), and table sugar (sucrose). If it ends in -OSE, it is a sugar. All forms of starches, carbohydrates, etc. are converted into glucose,for our body to use

What is normal anyway?
A normal fasting glucose level (no food for 8 hours) is 77-99 mg/dL. Postprandial (after eating) 2  hours that level should be less than 140 mg/dL.

Signs and Symptoms of Elevated Glucose
Excessive Thirst
Increased urination
Dry Skin
Nausea and Vomiting
Abdominal Pain
Cramping/ Bloating/ Increased bowel movements
Blurred Vision
Wounds that are slow to heal
Weight loss
Increased appetite
Light Headedness
Hot/ Flushed skin

Not everyone will have all these symptoms. Maybe you have a few. Often by themselves people shrug it off as being under the weather.  Do yourself a favor, don't wait or blow it off. A simple urine or fingerstick blood test can confirm elevated glucose.

Diabetes is BIG business
The estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes is in excess of $245 billion dollars. This is testing, medications, hospitals stays, physician  management, supplies and reduced productivity to the workforce. Diabetic patients spend an average of $13,000 annually on medical expenditures.

Take Control
It doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. You can take control. I AM taking control. When I was first diagnosed eleven years ago, I said  "ppfffttt--I got this. I am going to lose weight, get in shape and I will be off my meds in year." Ummm, not so much. My weight has yoyo'ed, along with my meds and blood sugar. I have had a multitude of health issues because diabetes is a systemic disease. It affects...EVERYTHING!

Finally I have had enough. I want off this ride, it sucks. In November, I had a crisis. My meds quit working. yep. Just stopped. I was faithfully (ok- 95% of the time because nobody is perfect) taking my meds, I had begun losing weight, eating healthier and WHAMO-BLAMO! my meds quit working and my glucose levels shot up to the high 400's.  Almost 4-5 times the normal range. That is bad. REALLY BAD!

Since then my meds have been changed/ adjusted 3 times. My blood sugar has decreased. Most mornings I am between 120-140 and my postprandial is 180-220. But I just can't seem to  return to the normal range. I have been very compliant with my meds, because I had the crap scared outta me! I have lost 40 pounds (not an easy feat at all) and I have made even better food choices.

Counting Carbs, Glycemic Index and a bunch of other stuff to know
When I was first diagnosed, I met with a nutritionist, took the class on how to count carbs, read labels, measure correct portions, and develop a meal plan.  Over the years there have been times where I have been lax on all of these, usually not at the same time though. 

I took a long hard look at my current habits, medication regimen and previewed a very grim future if I didn't make changes. I have to zone in on why I am still outside the normal range. 

So it is back to basics. 
Counting carbs-45-60 g per meal, not to exceed 250 g per a 2000 calorie per day intake. But since I am still trying to lose weight, I am limiting my caloric intake to about 1750 per day, so 12.5% (218 g) of that can be carbs. And not just any carbs. Complex carbs. HEALTHY carbs. Things to avoid are white bread, white flour, white sugar.

Glycemic Index--is the system that measures/ ranks foods and their effects on blood glucose levels. Harvard Medical School has a decent  chart of foods and their GI ranking. The lower the number, the less reactive and better for blood glucose stabilization. 

Making better food choices. Choosing lean proteins, eating clean (minimally processed), knowing which fruits and vegetables are the best options, and choosing healthy grains.

Other stuff--Hydrate and Move! I need to drink my water-a minimum of 74 oz each day. Water does more than hydrate, it helps with appetite suppression and fights fatigue. I just need to get up off my arse and move. You too! I walk, dance around the living room, garden and toss the ball for my dog. I  put the remote down, step away from the computer more often and move.  

I like yummy foods. Food is pleasure for me. So dieting...errr, behavior modification is BORING. I am constantly searching for/ or tweaking recipes that can be healthy and not taste like crud. 

ok, ok--enough of the teachy, preachy stuff. On to the deliciousness of these muffins. 

Low Glycemic and Grain Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Assemble your ingredients.

~Combine the dry ingredients~
1 cup almond meal
1/4 level cup of chia seeds
3 level tablespoons of coconut flour*
1 level tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 level teaspoon of baking soda
1/8 level teaspoon of salt

~Wet Stuff~
Melt 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon of coconut oil (10 to 15 seconds in the microwave will do it)
Dip your tablespoon in the melted coconut oil (drain) and measure 3 tablespoons of honey. The coconut oil allows the honey to slide right off the spoon.
Add 3 lightly beaten eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
1/4 cup of applesauce
1 peeled, cored and grated/diced apple (including the juice). I used my mandoline to coarse grate the apple, then diced the remaining pieces.

*Coconut flour absorbs moisture. I am surprised I didn't hear a sucking sound when the ingredients were combined.*

~Other Stuff~
Coconut oil spray
Mini muffin pan
mini liners
2 level tablespoons of Moreno cane sugar 

Mix all ingredients. The batter will look a little goopy. Goopy is a word, right?

Heat the oven to 350°F, line your cupcake/ muffin pan, lightly spritz liners with coconut oil. Add about a teaspoon to each lined muffin well.

Bake for about 12 minutes (appliances vary, check by inserting a wooden pick that comes out clean). Cool for a few minutes, then remove from the muffin pan to a cooling rack. Optional--lightly sprinkle  moreno sugar on muffin tops. And do try to be patient, before you start shoving these down your pie hole, because they are seriously yummy!

Healthy, they look pretty, are fragrant, has a good crumb and are moist. Loaded with protein (egg and chia), high fiber (coconut flour and chia), grain free and minimal sugar (moderately low GI). And they are freaking delicious.

My takeaway on these...
I wish I had made more and I think I would like to try these with maple syrup instead of honey.



  1. I wish you luck with dealing with that.
    My mom lost both her legs AND her eyesight .....and subsequently her life to it.
    That was my wake up call---and because I'm married, it was hubby's wake-up call as well. We were both diabetic. We hooked up with a Naturopathic doctor 2 years ago. It was hell at first, but we are both off all medications and feel terrific. Hubby lost 65 pounds, I lost 42. We're in perfect health.
    You can do this!! It's NOT a death sentence.
    Good luck to you!

    1. Hi Sue, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am sorry about your mom. But that is fantastic news for you and your husband. Congrats,I am sure it was a lot of hard work!

      I appreciate the encouragement. I want to be off the meds so much. I do have other health issues so it might take me a bit longer to reach my goal, but slow and steady wins the race right? There are a few Naturopaths in the tristate area. I am still in the research stages on who to choose. SInce it is not covered by my insurance, I need to make wise choice.

      If you have any resources or reading material you can recommend I would be most appreciative:)

    2. Hi Tonya---I'm sorry I'm not in your area at a time like this. I LOVE my naturopath. I hooked my son up with one down in Mesa and I HATED that guy (so did my kid!)
      I'll dig some info up later this week when I have time and send it to you.
      I know mine isn't covered by my insurance either (bastards!!) but it was worth it in the long run. Regular doctors don't benefit if you get better. It's an industry. No one wants to "cure" you--there is no money in that. Somehow, Naturopaths still stay in business despite not screwing people over. I wish you luck, dearie. You won't believe how much better you'll feel. I swear I'm 22---until I glance in the mirror. Wow--what a shock. I'm not 22. But--I feel great.
      Keep at it, Tonya. It truly is worth it!

  2. I was shocked and in denial for several months before I succumbed to taking any medications. About the same time, the doctor four cells in my uterus that indicated cancer. He told me that I probably had diabetes from the inflammation of cancer, that the diabetes would probably go away. Sure enough it is. But, it leaves so slowly.


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