So Gluten…

About 2 weeks ago, a friend at church asked me how it was going. She was referring to the diabetes, diet and lifestyle changes, etc.

“It’s going great! I think I’ve really hit my stride. I know what my blood glucose levels are going to be at the four times I check during the day. I know what throws them off (refined sugar/too many carbs). My A1C is good. I think I’ve really figured this out.”

Oh does pride go before a fall, my friends.

Literally that next week things were off. My BG weren’t astronomical, but I was getting 150’s in the morning and during the day at times. For the last 2 months, this rarely, rarely happened.

Hmmm…

I had taken a week off working out and getting up on time (shame, shame!), so I thought that must be it.

I worked hard the following week to get my activity and sleep back on schedule, but the BG didn’t right themselves. Still high-ish in the morning, not consistently below 150. Also I’d have these tremor episodes in the middle of the night. If I got up and had a snack, then they’d subside and I could go back to sleep. This was killing me though (1) interrupted sleep and (2) eating during the night were both raising my BG in the morning.

So after a week of being good with my diet, sleep, and exercise, I was pretty much convinced my pancreas must be just dying some more. Why else would my BG be higher all the sudden?

Then two nights ago, Dan came to me, “Honey! That BBQ sauce we just made (right about 2 weeks ago) has whiskey in it!”

“Yes, I know…” – me

“Whiskey has gluten in it!” – Dan

Grrr!

We really liked the new variety of sauce Dan made this time, so we’ve kind of been eating it on everything. I’ve probably had a couple tablespoons 2-3 times a week for the last 2 weeks.

That night, I noticed the eczema is back on my right hand. RATS!

It all makes sense to me now: my tremor episodes? Gluten withdrawal that usually hits 3 days after going gluten-free. I was having gluten often enough that I’d only have the tremors for one night or two before we’d have the sauce again. High BG numbers? It took my body about 4 weeks to have consistent, in range, BG numbers after going gluten-free. So I think I’m going to have higher numbers for a few more weeks. So frustrating!

It’s all one great experiment! We’ll see how this pans out!

C-peptide Results

I finally got my C-peptide test results on 8/8/17, and it only took me 4 tries from 3 different labs and 7 pokes to get it! Ha!

I let much time laps between tries to get this test done, and I now wish I had persisted more.

In my very basic understanding, C-peptide test measures the amount of c-peptide in the bloodstream which is at a 1:1 ratio of insulin in the bloodstream. Testing the level of insulin is unreliable, but the testing of c-peptide gives a much more accurate representation of how much insulin the body is producing.

When I had my fourth and final try to get this test done, I had been gluten-free, eating tons of veggies, and getting enough sleep for a couple months. Guess what the result was? Normal. No. Way. My level was 2.2 and the normal range is .8-3.9. Pretty darn close to right in the middle, eh?

My doctor was SUPER quick to assure me that she still thinks I have Type 1 diabetes so keep checking blood 3-4 times a day. They seem to have no idea why I don’t need additional insulin.

I know I have Type 1 diabetes. I see it in my blood glucose levels. I see it in how my body has reacted to eliminating gluten (an inflammatory and highly associated with autoimmune diseases). I find their response and ignorance highly frustrating.

Anyway…

Again, I really wish I knew what my c-peptide was at diagnosis, but I will be interested to see how it changes over time.

I just began to do research on this test today, so I don’t know very much yet. Here’s what I know:

  1. C-peptide will eventually cease in a Type 1 diabetic, usually within 5 years (sooner in children).
  2. C-peptide is not present in injected insulin so when the pancreas kicks the bucket completely there is no reason to continue to check the c-peptide levels.
  3. C-peptide is believed to be beneficial in preventing some of the long-term bad effects of diabetes.
  4. Prolonging the honeymoon period is advantageous.

That is what I’m trying to do, folks. Prolong this honeymoon period as long as possible. I think it’s working too. I’ve had some recent bumps in the road. I’ll hopefully write about those soon…

A1C: 6.6

Super stoked after my endocrinologist appointment today! My A1C was 6.6! 

An A1C gives a three month average of blood glucose level. The goal for a Type 1 diabetic is 7 or less which means an average blood glucose level less than 150 (around 100 is normal for a non-diabetic).

I was diagnosed with an A1C of 9.7. So this is good improvement. I still need a blood test that will tell me how much insulin I’m producing. For now, the doctors just think its because of the honeymoon period, not the changes I’ve made. I don’t of course, but time will tell.

Super excited tonight! 

Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.

This is Michael Pollan’s summary of how to eat mentioned in his documentary, In Defense of Food. It’s on Netflix. I highly recommend it.

Those statements have been rolling around in my head. This is really how I’ve come to manage my diabetes without insulin:

  1. Eat Food. Real food. Pollan goes into more detail in his book and documentary but basically if your food can rot, you should eat it. If it doesn’t rot (hello, processes/shelf stable items!), don’t eat it. For me, this also means no gluten. This is specifically because gluten is causing my body to create antibodies that kill my pancreas.
  2. Not too much. I am still a Type 1 diabetic. My pancreas is still 80%-ish dead. I cannot go carb crazy and eat all the cake I like (even if it is gluten free). I eat moderate meals and snack, and I do not have trouble with my blood sugar.
  3. Mostly Plants. This is the biggest change for me. I’ve never eaten enough vegetables. It’s something we all know but rarely do: eat more veggies. Now I do. I try to cover more than half my plate each meal in vegetables. Guess what happens when I do? I am full. I return to normal body weight (bye bye excess baby weight!). I have stable blood sugar (below 130 before a meal).

Here is my latest addition that has allowed me to stop taking the 1 unit of Toujeo and have a “normal” (again, for a Type 1 diabetic) fasting blood glucose (BG).

Go to bed on time and wake up on time.

Every. Single. Day.

This was hard for me, folks. I had been struggling with the 1 unit of insulin I was taking because it would send me low at lunch and dinner if I was even a little bit late for that meal. It really felt like my body didn’t need it if I could just figure out how to lower my BG overnight. I found the answer in two different places (so it is likely out there in more places!).

The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Ways to Regulate Insulin That Have Nothing to Do with Food

I have been going to bed at 10pm (9:45 when possible!) and getting up at 6am every day for almost 3 weeks, and my fasting BG has been in the 120’s since the first morning I started going to bed/getting up on time.

A.MAZ.ING.

I’ve been completely off additional insulin for 3 weeks now, and I think I’m off it for good. If I can keep my pancreas from dying more, I’m done with injecting insulin, and I’m a Type 1 diabetic.

Type 1 diabetes can be manages by diet and lifestyle changes, if caught right away before the pancreas dies completely.

What in the world? This goes totally against everything I knew growing up in a family with a Type 1 diabetic (a family that now has 4 Type 1 diabetics!).

I meet with my endocrinologist next Wednesday for a quarterly check-up. I am excited to show them my findings, and also to get an A1C (a blood test that gives a 3 month average of past BG levels). I’m curious to see if my average is still good. It should be, but I only check 4 times a day without testing how quickly my BG returns to normal after a meal.

So here’s my modified mantra:

Eat real, gluten-free food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Go to bed/get up on time.

 

Gluten Free Daily Menu #4

Today’s menu utilizes leftovers. Don’t let them rot in your fridge! Leftover veggies go great with eggs for breakfast or a quick lunch when you are pressed for time!

Breakfast –  Scrambled Eggs, Pan-Fried Sweet Potatoes (leftovers from dinner the night before!), water and coffee

Notes:

  • The key to fluffy, delicious scrambled eggs is cooking over low heat and stirring frequently (constantly, if possible). We whisk our eggs then sprinkle with salt and pepper either in the bowl or in the pan before we cook them. Grease the pan with oil or butter and turn heat on low. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan as they cook. Stop cooking when they are still moist. Serve immediately.
  • The sweet potatoes were peeled and chopped then cooked in a lightly oiled frying pan and seasoned salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft.

Lunch –  “Snack-y” lunch: cheese and gluten free crackers, apple, carrot sticks, bell pepper sticks, dill dip, and garlic/dill pickles from our garden

Notes:

  • Nothing earth shattering here, folks. My goal is to have veggies, fruit, and some protein on my plate, and to have half or more of the plate covered with vegetables.
  • You will be full! I promise!

Dinner – Skillet Rice and Beans with Corn and Tomatoes

Notes:

  • Another fantastic recipe from this cookbook.
  • I left out the corn because while it is gluten free, it is very high in carbs. It always sneaks up on my in recipes, so I avoid it when it’s paired with other high carb food: rice and beans.
  • The tomato salsa on top is the killer part: quarter grape or cherry tomatoes toss with chopped green onions 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. It’s to die for. Make any kind of rice and beans and throw this on top. You won’t be disappointed!

Gluten Free Daily Menu #3

Today’s menu is some dishes that are becoming staples around here: steel-cut oatmeal and “snack-y” lunch.

I had a weekend where I felt really tired and empty. I had a couple periods where my lips were chalk white. My google-doctor told me it might be low iron. A lot of the foods I eat contain iron (oatmeal and raisins for one!), and I also to most of my cooking in a cast iron pan. Food cooked on cast iron absorbs some iron from the pan. So I was confused how I could have low iron. When I get blood work, my iron levels are usually great.

I did a little digging, and it looks like you need vitamin C to actually absorb the iron in my food. I eat oranges on the regular through the winter but hadn’t had citrus in a while. I’ve been taking Vitamin C pills the last week or so and I’v never felt better! Crazy, huh?

Breakfast Steel-cut Oatmeal (base recipe), Raisins, Cashews, and Banana; Green Smoothie

Notes:

  • I’ve found that toppings or garnish, if you will, make all the difference in a plate a food. Garnish takes any dish to the next level in both flavor and aesthetics. Take the extra minutes to gather something from the pantry to throw on top of your oatmeal. Grab those herbs and cook that bacon to toss on top of your soup, it will make it so much better!
  • Green Smoothie – 1 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 1 apple, 1 cup pineapple chunks, a whole bunch of Swiss chard

Lunch – “Snack-y” lunch, grape tomatoes, dill dip, marble cheddar cheese, crackers, sweet potatoes and Swiss chard

Notes:

  • This lunch is a quick, clean-out-the-fridge kind of lunch. I regularly do a lunch like this: cheese and crackers then load up the rest of the plate with veggies (raw or some leftovers like the sweet potatoes above).
  • I use these lunches to make sure we are finishing random jars of pickles, olives, etc. too. I found I like pickles, and my kids LOVE them. So I usually toss one pickle on everyone’s plate for lunch.

Dinner – Tortilla Soup

Notes:

  • I am ridiculously proud of this dinner. It wasn’t too difficult, and I was able to pack in a ton of greens into this soup.
  • The broth and chicken came from my favorite Mexican cookbook. I did find the recipe online, but I don’t think you can view it without a subscription. Here’s a blogger’s take which is similar to mine (the broth and chicken prep is exactly the same as in the cookbook).
  • I took my idea from the rice bowl I had at a new restaurant in town, Core Eatery. It is the only completely gluten-free restaurant around. It makes me so sad it’s a chain, but it did have the freshest, realest food I’ve ever had at a restaurant. I was pleased when i went there. Could I make it better? Sure, but for eating out, I loved leaving a restaurant feeling satisfied and not sick-to-my-stomach full. 🙂
  • Basic idea: make a yummy broth then fill your bowl with chopped greens (mine is kale), black beans, chopped chicken, rice, and other veggies (We did avocado, green pepper, and jalapeno.) and pour the broth over everything. Top with queso fresco and sour cream.
  • It was so good. Dan thought possibly the best dish I’ve ever made. Woot! Try it!

 

Gluten Free Daily Menu #2

Here’s another example of what we eat at our house. I’m still not finding the diet super restrictive. I love to cook, and I think almost everything we already made was gluten free. The biggest change for us is lunch. No more sandwiches. 🙁

We did just purchase ingredients to make gluten free flour. We are going to try converting our sour dough starter to gluten free. I’ll let you know how it goes!

BreakfastSteel Cut Oatmeal (stovetop method, base recipe), Cinnamon Apples, Toasted Cashews, Coffee & Water (of course!)

Notes:

  • The boys (and I!) love cinnamon apples. I peel and slice the apples thin, put in small sauce pan with a couple tablespoons of water and cinnamon, and cook until soft. Add cinnamon until your liking. These are deliciously sweet without any additional sugar. When we’re running low on fresh fruit near the end of the grocery cycle, this is our go-to breakfast.
  • The cinnamon apples also pair very well with sausage.
  • The cashews are black spotted because I’m lazy and didn’t wipe out my cast iron pan before toasting. Just trying to keep it real, folks. 😉

Lunch – Egg Salad with lettuce and crackers, carrots and dill dip, and a green smoothie

Notes:

  • This is my go-to lunch if I’m craving a sandwich. I make the typical filling for the sandwich, egg salad in this case, then eat it by scooping it up with lettuce or crackers. I honestly love it this way. I just don’t tell myself it’s a sandwich because it so isn’t.
  • Green Smoothie: 1 cup water, 1 whole apple, 2 kiwi, 1ish cup of pineapple, and a whole bunch of kale (I fill my pitcher to the top. I’ll take a picture one of these days). Blend until smooth. I add more pineapple if it’s tasting too “green.”

Dinner – Smoked Bratwurst, Roasted Broccoli, Wilted Leaf Lettuce Salad

Notes:

  • The smoked brats are complements of my wonderful husband. He is king on the grill/smoker. I don’t know how he made them, but we agreed, these were the best ever. They are Kirkland brand brats (Costco store brand) smoked over apple wood.
  • Roasted Broccoli (my new favorite way to eat it!) – Toss broccoli in olive oil, salt and light pepper then roast at 425 for 15-20 minutes (until desired doneness) then sprinkle with lemon juice. The lemon juice is key! It turns this veggie into delight to eat! I did substitute lime juice in a pinch one night, and that worked just fine too!
  • Wilted Lettuce Salad – Folks, this is the way to eat salad – covered in bacon grease! Recipe complements of Zach Gembis.
    • a large amount of leaf lettuce, torn/chopped
    • 3-4 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled, reserve grease
    • a large amount of green onions, chopped (4-5 store bought, 2-3 homegrown)
    • 1-2T brown sugar
    • 3T cider vinegar
    • 1.5T water
    • Cook green onions in bacon grease until starting to wilt, stir in sugar until melted, stir in vinegar & water until all combined. Pour over lettuce and bacon crumbles, stir to wilt, then serve immediately, warm.
    • Delish! We added queso fresco and cashews this time because it sounded good. You need to try this salad! You can eat a TON of greens because they are partly wilted. I never knew a warm, wilted salad could be so good!

Quick Diabetes Update

As you might know, I was completely off insulin when I started my gluten free diet. That lasted 4 weeks, and then my morning, fasting blood glucose (BG) numbers started to creep up. They were in the 170’s. My doctor and I thought these were too high so I started taking 1 unit of Toujeo (a slow acting, long acting?) insulin once a day.

This helped my morning numbers making them in the 130’s or 140’s, but it made me so dependent on food and food timing for the rest of the day. I had to be eating lunch by 12:30 (preferably 12:15 or 12) or I would be shaky and in the 70’s. I also needed to be on time for dinner (5:30 at the latest) or the same thing would happen. Even being on time for these meals (with snack in between!), I would regularly be in the 80’s or 90’s when I tested prior to eating.

I was tired or being tied to food!

So enters my dear friend, Karen, with some more good research. This article was just what I was looking for! I use “looking for” oh so lightly. More accurately, this is the information I needed but lazily didn’t seek on my own!

The article is titled “3 Ways to Regulate Insulin that have Nothing to Do with Food.”

I skimmed the article quickly for the main bullets…

  1. Exercise? Check. I work out 5-6 mornings a week (I believe I’m in the best shape of my life, believe it or not! It’s amazing what consistency will do to you!).
  2. Stress? Check. Likely. I don’t live a very stressful life unless you count trying to keep up on laundry. High stress there, folks.
  3. Sleep? Oh my. You got me there. Being off my even 30 minutes can affect your blood glucose? What? My sleep is all over the board. Maybe this is what I should try…nah…gotta be something else! Something easier…

I just finished watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (another health documentary, this on focused on juicing as a means to resetting the body and weight loss). My take away was “EAT MORE VEGETABLES!” Sigh. I know. I’ve always known. I never eat enough. Never have. Maybe I should try now.

So 3 weeks ago, I challenged myself to provide my family and I with a fruit and a vegetable at every meal. Every. Meal. This is when we started regular green smoothies. Drinking kale and swiss chard for breakfast are so much easier for us!

I don’t notice much of a change in my fasting BG, but I know we’re on the right track. We all need to eat more veggies, right?

In the documentary, one of the experts is Dr. Perlmutter, MD. I check out one of his books from the library (unknowingly checked out book #3…need to go read #1 and #2!).

This book goes a bit into the theory behind the gluten free diet but is mostly how to change your lifestyle to follow his plan. So I definitely plan to read his other two books because this stuff is fascinating! What we eat affects our whole body and the diseases or disorders we face!

My first big take away: “EAT MORE VEGETABLES!” Again? Really? Ok, already on track but realize after 2 weeks of offering a fruit and veggie at every meal that I can pretty easily offer 2 veggies and a fruit. Hm, maybe this won’t be so bad!

My second take away: get consistent and sufficient sleep. Again. Here it is by another specialist. Maybe I should give this a whirl.

I had my last dose of Toujeo Saturday, June 24 at 9am. My morning BG on Sunday was 135, pretty normal but insulin still in my system.

Sunday night I start my new bedtime routine:

  • Chamomile tea around 1 hour before bed
  • Begin the “to bed” process 30 minutes before official bedtime (turn off phone, head upstairs, nighttime toiletries, etc.)
  • Leave phone downstairs and use old fashioned alarm clock…shocker!
  • Spend the last 10-15 minutes coloring and praying
  • Go to bed right on time

Monday morning my BG was 122. (no extra insulin in my system!)

Tuesday morning my BG was 129.

It’s only 2 days in so we’ll see how this shakes out, but the initial results are encouraging!

**Update: In my rush to post this (read: kids screaming their heads off at me!), I forgot my humorous note.**

I like this doctors logic and findings. I will likely be unable to follow his diet though because of this:

The above circled list is the “approved” list of “fruits”. Those, my dear doctor, are not fruits in my dictionary. 🙂

I Can Do Hard Things (And You Can Too!)

I read a thought provoking post lately. The aim was teaching your kids to tackle hard things. The author is a homeschooler, and she challenged one of her kids to persevere and accomplish a hard task in their schooling. It wasn’t fun at times (for the mom or the child), but the sense of accomplishment and the lessons learned were invaluable to the child (and mom!).

I have up’s and down’s with this new lifestyle. Put simply: it’s hard work.

I can’t find the exact article I read, this one is interesting though, but I read an article that looked at how much time we (Americans) spend in the kitchen preparing food. As one might guess, this has decreased over time landing around 1 hour per day as of 2008. Many people choose to eat out or prepare packaged, quick meals.

The thought of how much time I spend in the kitchen has been rolling around in my head. Although I haven’t timed it (and it does vary day to day), here’s what I think I spend in the kitchen. The times below are meal prep and cooking, not cleaning up.

  • Breakfast – 30-40 minutes
  • Lunch – 15-20 minutes
  • Dinner – 1.5 – 3 hours

Generally, I hit the national average by lunchtime. I only stay under 20 minutes at lunch if we are eating leftovers (which I try to do most days!), if I prepare fresh food, that easily hits 45-60 minutes. Dinner varies dramatically based on the number of veggies I need to chop and the difficulty of the meal. While I love this cookbook. Most recipes are 2+ hours to prepare.

So, it’s hard work. Eating well is not easy. It takes a commitment of time and skill on my part, training on the part of my children (they are often in the kitchen with me!), and sacrificing “me” time (I often cook through nap time.).

But I believe it is not only worth it for our health; it is also worth it for:

  1. Our budget (WAY cheaper than eating out! Especially if you factor in long-term health effects of eating out.).
  2. My kids to learn how to prepare real, good food.
  3. My family to experience a variety of food.
  4. Me to serve my family with a good attitude during my “free” time. (This is the hardest one most days)

It is hard, but it is worth it.

What hard thing are you tackling right now? I guarantee that it is worth it. Hard things usually are.

Gluten Free Daily Menu

Here’s another “day in the life” so to speak. What do we eat on this gluten free/fresh-as-possible diet?

Well, let me show you…

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon (burnt, of course), and a green smoothie (or brown, if you will)

Notes:

  • The bacon is burnt because it always is when I cook it! Too many things going on! I actually like it burnt too so I’m not too motivated to change. Ha!
  • Green (Brown) Smoothie: 1 cup water, 1-2 cups strawberries, juice of 2 limes, 1 big bunch of Swiss chard. Chard + strawberries = brown. Luckily my kids don’t know brown to be a yucky color! I show their breakfast also so you know they eat what I eat. No special meals here!

Lunch – kimbop made from leftovers, carrot sticks and dill dip

Notes:

  • Kimbop is a Korean dish. It’s rice (plus veggies or maybe meat) rolled in kim (roasted seaweed wrap). We love it, and I like to use up leftovers in this way for lunch with the kids. The chicken is from our previous dinner of Adobo Chicken and the brown/white rice mix from that meal too. Take a small amount of each plus a little spicy if you wish (ssamjang in the middle of the plate), roll it up like sushi and devour in one bite. Yum!
  • The carrots can be dipped in the ssamjang, eaten plain, or with another vegetable dip.
  • See the kiddos love this meal too! They like to ask me to take their picture while they say some silly made up word. I can’t remember the word from these photos but it makes for genuine smiles!

Dinner – Smoked Kielbasa, Wilted Kale and Roasted-Potato Winter Salad, Strawberries

Notes:

  • We LOVE this kale and potato salad recipe. I’d made double of the dressing though. Ours above only had 1x the recipe, and it was a little dry. Although, it was probably dry because I used 2-3x the kale. 🙂 Gotta get those greens in somehow!
  • The kielbasa was homemade by a friend. Dan smoked in on our grill. I have no tips for you on this. It appeared cooked and delicious on the table, like magic!

Snack/Dessert – Fresh Strawberries and Homemade Whipped Cream

Notes:

  • Our boys are in the habit of getting a snack right before bed, so this was their snack. Delicious, no?
  • I love whipped cream, but due to the diabetes, try to keep extra carbs out that I don’t need. This whipped cream is only heavy cream plus a 1/2-1 teaspoon of vanilla. That’s it. Guess what? You’ll never miss the sugar when it’s on sweet berries like this! Yum!
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