Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top Ten Tips For Managing the Holidays with Diabetes

Happy Holidays, to you and yours! As my turkey slowly cooks in the oven, I've decided to take a moment to write a little bit. I've had a few comments from fellow sweet peeps, lately, in regards to traversing the holiday food extravaganza that is approaching, and there's much understandable fear and trepidation. 

So, I wanted to take a moment to reassure my fellow readers, especially newcomers, that, yes...

You Can Do This: 
  1. DO count your carbohydrates. Think about your favorite foods for the holiday, and plot out your total carbohydrates through the day. For example, have some turkey and greens, if you prefer to have a small piece of pie later. Or... Have some turkey, some greens, and a small amount of mashed potatoes, if you're not much into pies. But... 
  2. DON'T practice deprivation. Instead, practice moderation. Try eating just a tiny amount, of some of your favorites, instead of telling yourself you can't have anything. Besides, do you see the skinny people NOT eating anything? What do they do on a holiday like this? Some definitely pig out, and some others simply grab a few things, and taste here and there. But... 
  3. DON'T feel like you have to eat everything there, out of obligation. Instead, you may find  it helpful to plan ahead of time which two food favorites you HAVE to have, and when the day comes, pick one extra item you'd like to try. If you have more things you'd like to try, you can always get a doggy bag, and eat them later.  
  4. DO have some salad, leafy greens, and non-starchy veggies. Veggies are full of fiber, and because of this, they don't just help us with sensations of fullness and satiety, but also help keep our blood glucose levels steady throughout digestion. In other words, fill up on the broccoli on the snack plate, as it passes by... it'll help you absorb carbs, and digest and deal with any extra fat. Raw is better. But...
  5. DON'T assume all veggies will be good. There are quite a few veggies out there that are high in their own natural sugars and starches. To help you navigate through the confusion, the American Diabetes Association has put together a list of non-starchy veggies, for your review. Assume that any veggie dishes which are slathered in various sauces have extra added sugar before consuming them. When in doubt, ask the host. 
  6. DO make your own diabetes friendly dishes. Whether at home, or if going to a party, feel free to make one or two dishes which you know will be diabetic friendly -- whether that is a dish that is low carbohydrate, or a dish that is made with alternative sweeteners. Perhaps even have a favorite beverage with you, so that you can have something to 'nurse' through the day. This can be bringing your own diet tea, diet sodas, etc. But... 
  7. DON'T forget to have water. Water is essential for your body. It helps control our eating signals of hunger, satiety and fullness. In many ways, water helps us appreciate the food we consume, and taste it better. When we taste food better, we can better focus on it, and we can better tell when we've had enough. 
  8. DO try to practice eating with awareness. We go through life in such a hurry all the time, that we often eat incredibly quickly! Before we know it, the food is gone. Instead, really take some time to revel in the food you're about to consume. Notice its aroma, its colors, its textures, and flavors. Take each bite with slow, and deliberate delight. If you feel you need to put your fork down between bites, or have a sip of water, please do. Try to listen to when you're body has told you it's had enough, or even, if it is simply just satisfied. But... 
  9. DON'T feel guilty if you overeat. It's a very food centered holiday. There is soooo much food, and people do tend to overeat, or indulge a little extra. It comes once a year, and we only live once. Focus instead on friends, family, loved ones, and being thankful. 
  10. DO make it a family tradition to go for a walk around the block when you're done. A walk after eating a meal helps digestion, can bring time for conversation, and the focus AWAY from the table. If it's too cold outside, maybe it's time to break out the Wii Sports. 

Just remember, diabetes is NOT a life sentence because you 'messed up' being healthy, and active. It's simply a condition a few of us developed because we have the genes for it. Regardless of our past life choices, we can still live daily, healthful lives, and enjoy holidays and celebrations in moderation. So, kick back, and relax!   

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A good problem to have

The other day I came back with so much food from the grocery store it took some extra time to find a place to stack it in the fridge.  I started getting frustrated when the bacon fell on my feet.  I know it could have been worse…it could have been the butter, or the eggs…but I was already considering just stuffing it all in as hard as I could and slamming the door shut with rage.  Who cares if it all broke, the breaking of said frustrations would be freeing! 

And then I thought…having too much food for my refrigerator is a good problem to have.

My heart softened a bit as I picked up the bacon.  How lucky am I in my present circumstance to have a full refrigerator?

The thought has stuck with me.

When I was in traffic the other day and began to curse the cars in front of me, I stopped myself.

I have a car to pick up my boys whose school is across town.  Sitting in traffic in a car I own outright is a good problem to have. 

I look out at my backyard and think of all the work my oldest has put into the landscape.  He’s leaving next month and I know that my three youngest won’t be able to keep it looking the way it does.  I know my backyard is going to lose some of it’s magic.

But I have a backyard.  That’s a good problem to have.

L is just getting over a nasty stomach virus.  I was frustrated all day as all I wanted to see was a ketone meter that had a reading of 0.0.  But this was a good problem to have.  I HAVE a blood ketone meter.  Not too many years ago I wouldn’t have been able to accurately measure his ketones.

After leaving Costco yesterday there was a woman on the corner in the pouring rain with a sign saying she has three children and needs help.  I had given J some money to buy a hotdog and I knew he had a few dollars change.  I asked him for it and he quickly dug through his pockets and only came up with the twenty that I gave him to refill his hot lunch account at the high school.  “Quick!  Find the three dollars!”  But he couldn’t and I apologized to the lady as I drove by.

Two blocks later I realized only having a twenty in our pocket was a good problem to have.  I should have given it to her.  I’m not rich, heck I don’t have the funds to be throwing money out my window to people, but really…would giving away that twenty have made our family sacrifice anything?

Probably not.

I’m going to say it.  Diabetes is so hard and sucky, but man…it’s a good problem to have.  If we lived one hundred years ago it wouldn’t be a problem, because my boys wouldn’t have lived through the initial diagnosis.  Period.

I am humbled by the blessings in my life.  There are so many I really don’t have room to complain.  Trust me, there are days when all I want to do is complain...but deep in my heart I know there are others whose suffering is mountains above what I am going through.  I miss my husband so much my body aches...but I will see him again.  I know it.  I absolutely know it.  And when I do, there will be nothing tearing me away from his side.

When I run into something hard…when I get frustrated…when I wish for things…I promise, this season especially, I will find a way to realize:

That’s a good problem to have.

Because having my children by my side negates all the other "problems" a million times over.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Let them drink milk!

It’s 7:00pm and one of my boys just asked me if he could have a little milk. 

And I said, “Sure, but first check your sug…”

And then I stopped myself.  My head cocked to the side, and my eyes fixated on a tack on the wall, pausing to take in what I was just asking my son to do.

I was going to ask him to stick a needle in his finger, coax out some blood, get a number from the meter, relay that number back to me, analyze if that number is conducive to said milk drinking, make a decision, and THEN let him have his milk. 

I was seriously going to do that.

And as I was contemplating the insane protocol I was going to ask him to adhere to, he looked at me and in the sweetest voice said…

“It’s ok mom.  I’ll have some water.”

And I stood up and probably scared the boogers out of him and said, “NO!  It is not ok!  You want some milk, honey…go have some milk!”

“Ok.  I’ll check my sug…”

“No!  It’s just a little milk, go ahead.  DRINK milk for goodness sakes!”  My finger was pointed in the sky like I was a politician making a controversial statement.  I almost think my hand was tucked into my sweatshirt too.  Was I Napoleon?  It was a revolution!  I’m going to let my son drink milk without him checking his blood sugar!

He doesn’t need to check his sugar before he eats every little thing, for goodness sakes.  But it seems as though that’s the pattern we’ve been following.  My boys aren’t snackers.  They eat breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner.  That is it.  Sometimes dessert right after dinner.  But the 7-9 o’clock hour has been generally a no snack zone, unless there is a looming low. 

I’ve never made that rule.  It’s just the way it’s always been. 

All of this information charging through my brain, and all the boy wanted was a couple sips of milk.  Literally.

I bit my tongue.  I could have asked him to bolus 5 carbs.  But I was revolting for goodness sakes! 



Tonight anyway.

Tonight he will sip and walk away.

And later, if need be…we’ll pay the piper.

(And now...ten minutes after I wrote this, he came into the room drinking a big glass of water.  And I said, "Are you hi..."  What is wrong with me????  Can't a boy have some water without me asking him to CHECK HIS SUGAR to see if he's high?!!  The irony!)

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