For the last couple of months I’ve been part of a test being run locally on diabetics. Since I’ve been diabetic since 1997, I know a heck of a lot of it but have learned a few things here and there. It’s been an interesting process, and there’s still a ways to go.
One of the things I’ve sort of been forced to do is look at foods I’ve been eating in a different light. I’ve had to track the meals I’ve been eating every day, along with the times. I was given a book to help me “diagnose” certain things in certain foods and come up with daily totals. One week I had to measure carbohydrates and try to stay under a certain number. Another week I had to measure fat, and another week I had to measure protein.
Some of the numbers were eye opening. I was told that I was supposed to be having less than 55 grams of fat a day. That meant that what I’d been eating for breakfast, a meal I normally skipped but was told that I needed to try to eat during this study, was putting me on the wrong road immediately. Turns out 2 English muffins with butter and peanut butter was 37 grams of fat; ouch. One day I went to a restaurant for lunch and had 6 grilled shrimp, 1/2 rack of ribs, a small baked potato with butter and broccoli; that meal came to 71 grams of fat. You don’t even want to know how many grams of fat one trip to one of my favorite restaurants was, where I had a burger, fries and ice cream.
I was also told that I’m supposed to eat around 4 – 5 carb groups a day. That’s between 60 and 75 grams of carbohydrates per meal, 4 meals a day; yes, I was supposed to eat 4 real meals a day. My English muffin breakfast was at 4 carb groups, so there it was a fine meal. But that second meal I mentioned above came in at 6 groups, and the third meal I mentioned came in at 9 groups; definitely not good.
Once you start thinking about how you eat, you’re ready to make some changes. That’s probably the goal of the program in the first place, getting us actually thinking about it instead of just knowing it. There was also an occasion to view a movie online that my wife sent me called Knives Over Forks that my wife sent me via email that I had no plans on fully watching, but I’m glad I did. There was a guy in the movie who described symptoms that I often feel, and except for the fact that he also had high blood pressure and a cholesterol level that blows mine away (as in way too high), his symptoms matched mine.
I decided to change up my eating habits for awhile, just to see what would happen. The movie talks about a “plant-based” diet, which of course means more of a vegetarian diet, and that was going to be an issue since I eat few vegetables. I had to think about what I would eat. I like spinach and I like beets, both of which stuns many people because I guess it’s not a favorite of anyone else.
I decided I had to change up how I ate spinach, because I would boil it to death then add lots of butter and salt. I decided I was going to saute it in olive oil along with a few other vegetables that I will eat, those being cabbage, onions and carrots.
I also knew I had to toss some kind of meat in there to help make me full because there was no way just eating vegetables would last me longer than maybe an hour. To that end I decided to go with chicken, shrimp and salmon. I have more of the vegetables than the meat, but it’s a nice mix. Along with some spices, I’ve been surprised by how much I like this meal, and my wife has even bought fresh baby spinach, which not only cooks really fast but brings a better taste than the frozen spinach I’ve always purchased.
Obviously I couldn’t only eat this though. So I bought salad stuffs and have that from time to time, and even though the fat content of the only dressing I eat might be a bit high, since it’s the only real fat I have it’s fine for an occasional meal. I also discovered lactose-free milk, being lactose intolerant, and the dietician recommended eating bran and corn flakes if I liked it, which I always have. Since I buy 2% milk it’s only around 5 – 10 fat grams per bowl. And when I eat out I’ve been eating Caesar salads with grilled chicken, grilled shrimp or both.
Oh yeah, y’all knew I just couldn’t totally leave my sweets. So I get to have one chocolate milk a day if I want and I get to break from Friday dinner time through Saturday midnight. However, I’ve found that when I break from the other meals that I can’t eat all that much, so I’ve brought foods home and thus not had to buy a second meal out unless my wife ate what I brought home.
The question is what changes have I noticed? I still don’t sleep all that well, but I’ve only had a couple of instances where, after eating, I’ve felt bad, and none of it was due to the new foods I’ve eaten, but due to eating something when I didn’t have a choice to eat healthy, such as at a couple of meetings, and in those cases my chest burned and one meal put me to sleep 30 minutes after I got home. Not feeling bad after many meals is a major step forward.
The big two, however, are that my glucose level overall has come down, and I lost 11 pounds in less than 3 weeks; whoa! I expected the first might happen, but never thought about the second at all. Frankly, the second one is having a bigger impact on my staying good than the first, because it’s been 6 years since I’ve been able to actually lose some weight, and right now I’m at my lowest weight since 2006; just amazing. I’m 10 pounds from the weight I was able to get down to back then, and if I can continue this I’ll get there.
Oh yeah, I have done some exercising as well, but I haven’t gone overboard. I’ve maybe exercised 2 or 3 times a week, mainly walking, and that has a big influence on my glucose, and the cardio probably doesn’t hurt with the weight loss either.
I don’t want to say my buddy Evelyn is right, but I guess I have to say she was on the right track. I’m not going to become a fanatic, and I know that at some point I’m going to have my ice cream and cake. But I think this is a meal plan I can stick with easy enough because it doesn’t cost as much as what I’d been doing, cooks fairly quickly, and I like it. Still, I might have to find something else I’ll eat besides spinach that I don’t feel I need to add a bunch of butter to.
So, what do you think? Is this something you could do for yourself?