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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.

 

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.

So what do we eat?

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

Notes:

  • 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

Notes:

  • 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!

 

Spirit Led

I realized more and more how much I am affected by music. I thank my mom for playing the piano while growing up and teaching me to play it too, and growing up in a church that sang hymns. Even though I no longer play (I think I could still bang out parts of Chopstiks and Fleur-de-Lis!), I have a deep appreciation for good music and good lyrics.

We sang Oceans in church yesterday. I was struck by these lyrics:

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

God’s grace abounds when I’m in over my head. When I realize I can’t do it on my own, when I’m failing on my own, He is there to step in when I finally surrender.

I am a very driven person. I have a hard time with failure or even perceived failure.

It wasn’t until I took an actuary exam that I experienced failure academically. Crazy, right? I thought I knew so much. I had majored in mathematics in college, and I graduated with a 4.0 in my major. I must know SO MUCH, right?

I barely studied for the first actuary exam. I started flipping through the 1.5 inch thick guide the week before the exam. My heart began to sink very quickly.

This was hard. Very hard.

Want to know my score on that first exam? It’s graded on a scale of 1-10.

I got a 0.

Yes, a 0. You can, in fact, score less than 1. Ha!

It is so funny to me now, and I actually appreciate that 0 so much more than my stream of A+’s in high school and college. Through my actuary exams, I learned through failure. In fact, I’m a firm believer now that you can’t learn without failing. You NEED to fail to learn. When I used to tutor for the GED exams, this was a concept I tried to drive home.

You need to get problems wrong to figure out why the correct answer is right. It won’t stick until you’ve done it wrong (possibly many times!).

You need to fail. You need to get things wrong.

I did eventually pass that first exam. It took me 4 tries. That’s probably higher than most actuaries, but I learned so much about calculus, how to teach myself, and how to problem-solve through that exam.

On to the reason for this post: I’m back on insulin. It felt like total failure at first. I had researched so much, learned so much about diet and Type 1 diabetes. I thought I had it figured out: just eliminate gluten and all will be well. Well then I learned I still needed to watch my carbs. That was minor though, things were pretty much in line once I started that.

Then my fasting blood glucose numbers started being higher (around week 4 of the gluten-free/no insulin diet). I was consistently in the 170’s when I woke up. It’s really odd because I would go to bed around 130 or 140, and my BG would rise overnight to 170. I didn’t have any snacks still working in my system (to my knowledge). So this phenomena was odd to me.

I consulted with my doctor, and we agreed to go on 1 unit of Toujeo (a long acting insulin) per day.

1

1!

1 per day!

Are you laughing at me yet???

I am. Well, now anyway.

I am a Type 1 diabetic who is only taking 1 unit of insulin per day. I don’t know what the “unit” is measuring, but it’s very very small.

The crazy thing about this 1 unit is that I will be low for lunch and dinner if I don’t have a snack 1-2 hours before those meals. Can you believe how sensitive my body is?? I’m still a little shocked.

Ok, done typing. I have more thoughts, but they can wait until another time.

Edit: I forgot to wrap around to my initial thoughts! Ha! When I am down in the dumps over my failures, physical or spiritual, that is where God meets me. In fact, I think He’s more present in my failures than when I’m sailing through life (most likely because I’m less in tune with God then). His grace abounds in deepest waters.

I desperately want the Spirit to lead my life. To take me to the edge of my capabilities, because it is only then that I have to let go of my control and let God lead.

Spirit lead me…

Gluten-Free Results: Eczema Gone!

I wish I had pictures to go along with this post. I’ve had eczema spots on my right hand for years. For most of the time, it would only pop up during the winter. I tried all kinds of creams, using gloves to wash dishes, always wearing gloves outside, etc. It never really helped, and it never went away completely.

The last year or so, the breakouts have never gone away, even in the summer. It’s been a year-round condition for 1-2 years.

I’ve read that eczema and other skin conditions can be autoimmune in nature and irritated by gluten. I wondered if my gluten-free diet would change it.

IT DID!!!

The eczema on my right hand is GONE. G-O-N-E GONE.

No way. I’m in amazement myself. It took almost 4 weeks on a gluten-free diet. I seriously can’t believe it. Water doesn’t hurt my hand anymore! The skin is soft and irritation free!

My evening numbers have been a little high lately making me wonder if I’ll need to start low doses of insulin soon. If I do, do I keep up with the gluten-free diet? I was questioning if this was all worth it. Now, I’m thinking yes! Even if I end up on insulin (which is very likely, eventually, I’m still a Type 1 diabetic!), I’d love to keep the scaly, painful rash away!

I never thought I was allergic to or even sensitive to gluten. Now I’m thinking differently…isn’t this amazing?!?!

Update: Gluten Withdrawal

Today is the first day I feel almost normal. I still felt a little sick/nauseous this morning, but I pushed through and did a workout. 

I didn’t push myself very hard during my workout, but I’m feeling really good this morning. My BG were good too. Yay!

So for the record, it took me 6 days to return to normal after symptoms started. It is odd that the symptoms took four days to hit… maybe not. Maybe it’s a delayed response. 

I’m glad I feel better because today and tomorrow are garage sale days! Woot! Hoping to unload some stuff!

Gluten-Free – The First 24 Hours

I have very hopeful results to share on my gluten-free diet! I’ve only been gluten-free for about 24 hours, but I’m already seeing interesting, promising results.

Let’s talk numbers! This may only interest me, but I’m finding my results absolutely fascinating.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I tested my blood glucose (BG) at my brother’s house with a result of 522.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I have all my supplies (insulin, glucometer, plan for how to administer insulin based on BG prior to each meal). For the following week, my BG numbers looked like the following.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Notes
Pre- Meal BG Carbs Insulin Pre-Meal BG Carbs Insulin Pre-Meal BG Carbs Insulin Bedtime BG
Saturday 162 ? 3 280 ? 5 152 ? 3 311
Sunday 236 ? 4 114 ? 2 204 ? 4 235 Low @ 9pm
Monday 209 ? 4 95 ? 0 142 ? 2 211 Low @ 8pm
Tuesday 219 ? 4 270 ? 5 120 ? 2 327

You may not notice a theme, but the BG are too high (<150 is goal). There is also a disconnect with the BG before the meal and what I intend to eat at the current meal. With this plan, I was dosing my insulin only based on my BG at the beginning of the meal. This is protocol so as to not overwhelm the patient who is new to diabetes.

This is not my first rodeo, folks. So I pressured my doctor to add carb counting to my management on Thursday, April 13, 2017. They were still hesitant, not wanting to overwhelm me, but I won (or really we won, Dan and I). We left that appointment with my first carb/insulin ratio to hopefully adjust at each meal for the current BG and the carbs I’m about to eat.

Side note: I’m not sure my endocrine office knows what to do with Dan and I. I think we’re a bit intense for them. 🙂

Here are my results after the 4/13/17 meeting:

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Notes
Pre- Meal BG Carbs Insulin Pre-Meal BG Carbs Insulin Pre-Meal BG Carbs Insulin Bedtime BG
Friday 182 ? 2 148 148 4 182 74 3 119
Saturday 194 15 1 122 61 2 104 38 1 208
Sunday 148 33 1 131 37 1 128 114 4 136
Monday 174 22 1 93 73 2 154 38 1 155 Started working out

Overall, you’ll notice the BG numbers are way lower, mostly <150. Woot! Progress! Carb counting is obviously working, and the doctors are pleased. I continue on this course until I find the article I mentioned in my last post.

I started eating gluten-free at lunch on Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Here are my results so far:

Breakfast Lunch Dinner Notes
Pre- Meal BG Carbs Insulin Pre-Meal BG Carbs Insulin Pre-Meal BG Carbs Insulin Bedtime BG
Tuesday 123 30 0 128 30 1 97 30 0 141 AM workout
Wednesday 140 27 0 89 60 0 117 20 0 86 AM workout, 3 lows during the day
Thursday 149 27 0

So these are still higher than your average non-diabetic person, but what the what?!? To be clear, the above lunch and dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday were all gluten-free.

I also take a long acting insulin that’s not recorded in the charts above. I had 3 low episodes yesterday so I think my need for that insulin is decreasing. I usually take 7 units, and today I took 5 units.

I don’t know if this is a fluke or if my insulin will continue to decline. It’s exciting though!

Gluten

I have always believed these gluten free diets that abound today are a bunch of hooey. It really goes deep into my worldview. I believe God created the whole world for us. I believe it provides good food in season when we need it. I believe wheat is good for us.

However…

I believe in moderation. I believe in eating whole foods (so if you buy it in a box or bag at the grocery store, it is most likely not good for you).

Thanks to a good friend watching out for me, I came across this article this week:  Remission without insulin therapy on gluten-free diet in a 6-year old boy with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

What the what?!?! A gluten-free diet caused this boy’s body to stop attacking it’s beta cells. Seriously?!?! He was able to halt the killing of his pancreas by changing his diet.

A little back story: Dan and I like to watch documentaries, particularly ones on food/diet/health. We strong believe in the power of good food on the body. One of the documentaries did a study on curing cancer through diet. In summary, they were able to halt the production of cancer cells within the body by changing the patient’s diet. I was very compelled by this study, and I told Dan, “If I’m ever diagnosed with cancer, I’m finding this doctor and signing up for this treatment. Why would I not want to change my diet to save my life?”

So here I am today, with a life-threatening (if not managed through medicine or some form) disease that has the potential to be treated through diet.

How can I not try it?

Gluten-free…here I come!

Circling back to God’s goodness providing food on this earth, I am questioning parts of my worldview. Here’s where I’m at now:

  1. Sin in our fallen world – This takes several forms one possibly being that NOT all food is good for us. I don’t know this for sure, just a guess. The biggest agrument in my mind is that every culture has a basic grain that provides the basis of their diet. How did ours turn against us? This leads me into my next point…
  2. Sin nature in humans – We are greedy, self-centered people and our corporations are run by human with these tendencies. We farm for profit, and we do all we can to ensure profit: GMO’s, pesticides, unnatural crop rotation, highly processed food, unnatural by-products in our foods (high fructose corn syrup!!!), etc.

I know I’m out there in my views on food. I believe it was all created good, but we messed that up. I’d love to hear your side if you disagree.

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