Posted by Emily On July 19, 2017
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!
Posted by Emily On July 14, 2017
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!).
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.
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.
Posted by Emily On June 27, 2017
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…
- 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!).
- Stress? Check. Likely. I don’t live a very stressful life unless you count trying to keep up on laundry. High stress there, folks.
- 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?
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. 🙂
Posted by Emily On June 22, 2017
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:
- Our budget (WAY cheaper than eating out! Especially if you factor in long-term health effects of eating out.).
- My kids to learn how to prepare real, good food.
- My family to experience a variety of food.
- 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.
Posted by Emily On June 21, 2017
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)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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!
Posted by Emily On June 19, 2017
Backstory: I am on a gluten free diet because I am a Type 1 diabetic. I have learned that gluten irritates the gut and does not allow carbohydrates to absorb through the intestines causing raised blood glucose and the body to produce more insulin. Gluten also causes the body to produce antibodies that attack the beta cells in the pancreas thereby killing the pancreas and causing Type 1 diabetes. My pancreas is not dead yet (I’m in the “honeymoon” period), but I’m hoping to prolong that period as long as possible through a gluten free diet. Research I’ve read suggests a gluten free diet will halt the body from producing those antibodies and attacking itself.
This is not the easiest diet change in the world. It goes along the lines of Whole30, Paleo, Primal Diet, etc. Eat real fresh food. However, it does mean more time in the kitchen and more thought and planning, I get it. I hope to encourage you to eat healthier by seeing what my family is actually eating.
Here is a day’s menu from last week:
Breakfast: steelcut oatmeal with strawberries and green smoothie
- I used the “Basic Recipe” for steel-cut oats in the link above then put fresh strawberries on top.
- I rinsed by oats before I cooked them. I don’t have official “gluten free” oats. Oats are naturally gluten free, but there is a chance for cross contamination due to harvesting equipment and processing in facilities that contain wheat.
- Smoothie recipe (roughly!): 1 cup of water, 1 apple, 1 cup of pineapple chunks, 1 lime (to cut the bitterness of the greens) and a lot of a leafy green (kale, spinach, swiss chard)
Lunch: Dried cherry, cheese, candied walnut salad with balsamic vinegar and oil
Dinner: Adobo Chicken over brown and white rice
- The recipe came from this cookbook, and it is hard to find them free online because Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen requires a subscription. This is hands down my favorite cookbook. Nothing has failed, and I’ve probably made 20 recipes from it. They are more involved though, so read the recipe through before starting!
- I cut back on the adobo chilis so my boys can hand the spice. I think it calls for 3 tablespoons, and I use 1-ish.
- The rice is 1-1 ratio of brown rice to white made in a rice cooker.
Bedtime Snack: plain yogurt with strawberries and cashews (for Emily to limit carbs), plain yogurt with honey, cashews, walnuts, strawberries, and coconut (for Dan)
I do usually have a morning and afternoon snack, but I don’t have any pictures. Some ideas for these are popcorn, veggies and dill dip, fruit, trail mix, cottage cheese, etc.
I hope this is encouraging and not discouraging. My husband and I like to cook, but our culinary skills have evolved over time. Success is changing one small thing tomorrow. Vow to make breakfast (or something) better first. Conquer that then tackle the next meal. You can do it!
Posted by Emily On June 18, 2017
Dan and I love documentaries, and we owe it partially to them for our health beliefs and discoveries.
Our latest one is called What’s with Wheat? You can watch it through the link for $5.99 or for free on Netflix.
This documentary validates other research I’ve heard/read and hunches I’ve had. It’s not that wheat or gluten is evil/bad to eat. It’s what we’ve done to wheat throughout recent history that is making our bodies reject our food and attack itself. It’s the crossing of wheat varieties that aren’t related to each other, all in the name of more production (i.e. more profit!). It’s the taking off of the bran and germ to make it more palatable (i.e. stripping all the good nutrients from wheat!).
As I’ve mentioned before, God made this world to sustain life. Life for human beings, animals, and all other kinds of organisms. He made wheat, and I believe He made it good. Wheat was a part of his declaration on the third day…
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
It was good. All of it. The fruit trees were good. The carrots were good. The green leafy vegetables were good. Even the brussel sprouts were good. It was all good. Wheat was good.
But then sin entered the world, and with that the earth didn’t work the same again. God said Adam would have trouble growing plants. Adam would have to work hard at it. “Adam” is still working hard, and using science to try to make it easier. Unfortunately, we didn’t see genetically altered wheat turning against us. It sounds great to make a type of wheat that produces more berries with a thinner bran. It’s easier to processes and tastes better (or so society thinks). We missed the mark. Some of us realize it, but is there anyone who will or can stop the behemoth that is the American food system to make real, radical changes?
I’m not sure, but I can change me and my family.
One, of many, interesting tidbits was about bread making. Our method of bread making is mentioned in the film (or how we used to make bread):
- freshly ground, whole grain flour
- natural sourdough started
- multi-day process
If your bread takes longer to make, maybe we wouldn’t eat so much!
The gluttony of the American diet on wheat was something I hadn’t thought of before. Not only is wheat in all kinds of products: bread, salad dressing, cosmetics, shampoo, tons and tons of processed food, but we (as Americans) actually produce more wheat than the world can consume. Seriously? No wonder we keep putting it in everything. We’ve got way way too much of it!
The documentary touches on processed foods too. Say you buy into the wheat/gluten issues and decide to keep it out of your diet. What do you eat now? Do you go to the gluten-free section of the grocery store to buy your bread for your sandwiches?
Processed food is bad for you. All of it. I love that the documentary touched on this. One of the first reassurances I received upon hearing about my diet change was “Oh don’t worry, there are so many gluten free options now: bread, crackers, etc!” That person meant it in the best way possible, and I don’t hold that against them.
But really, yes, there are many options, and they are
- Swiss chard
Do I need to keep going? Our wheat is flawed but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to eat. In fact, wheat, should be, a very small part of our diet. There’s so. much. more. to eat.
I’m going to be posting as often as I can what we are eating. The options are endless. They are tastier, more fulfilling than anything packaged you find in the store.
Thoughts? I’m pretty fanatical these days about food, but I still love to hear what you think and discuss!