Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Diet and Food’ Category

Looking Back: Thank Goodness for Whiskey.

This is a post from February 2013 about the “diabetic diet” perceptions from back in the 1940′s, and when I came across it again this morning, I marveled once again at the power of whiskey.  See below for what old school diabetes diets were once in play.

*   *   *

I received an email from Krista, one of my oldest friends in the world (not that she’s old, but she’s one of the people I’ve known the longest), and the attached file made me laugh out loud.  Her email said, “I found this list in an old (as in published in 1924, and stuffed with articles clipped from various magazines from the 30s and 40s) cookbook that I got from a friend when she cleaned out an old relative’s house … anyway, thought you’d appreciate it.”

Oh, I did.


(link to original version, which is way bigger)

This list is an old-school “diabetic diet” list, and the contents read as follows:

Foods Allowed: 
Soups and broths not thickened with flour
Meats, fresh, smoked and cured, except liver, without flour gravy
Eggs in any way without flour
Fish, all kinds except scallops, clams and oysters
Fats, butter, olive oil, etc.
Cheese, all kinds.
Vegetables and salads, asparagus, beet greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, celery, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, string beans, tomatoes
Sour pickles, ripe olives
Cream, not over 3 oz a day
Desserts, jellies, etc. sweetened with saccharin
Nuts
Tea and coffee sweetened with saccharin and with small amount of cream
Whiskey, brandy, rums up to 3 oz a day
Lemonade sweetened with saccharin

Articles Forbidden:
Sugar and sweets
Pastry, puddings, preserves, cake and ice cream
Bread, biscuit, toast, crackers, griddle cakes
Cereals, except oatmeal in small amounts
Macaroni, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, beans, peas, corn, turnip
Fruit of all kinds
Alcoholic beverages, except as above

It’s not so much that the list of actual foods is ridiculous, but what kills me is the fact that the second half of the list is deemed “FORBIDDEN ARTICLES!”  No wonder people with diabetes can have such a strange and confusing relationship with food.  Even now, food for me is not always simply food, but becomes a combination of medicine, guilt, sustenance, and math.

Thank goodness for whiskey?

Feed Me.

“I spent [insert slightly obscene amount of money] at the grocery store this afternoon … again,” I said as I put the grocery bags on the kitchen floor.

Chris looked over and assessed the content of the bags.  “It goes into our bodies.  This is what we should be spending our money on.”

Food is an important topic in our house, ranging from its complicated relationship with my diabetes, its influence and  role in my daughter’s health, and overall how society pushes a confusing food agendaFood is a reward.  Food is a punishment.  Food is confusing as fuck and I’d rather just view it as food.

But as much as I’d like to say that I follow all the “rules” and do right by my body at all times, I slip a lot.  Unhealthy food habits creep their way into my regimen almost unnoticed at times.  (Sneaky little bastards.)  For example, about a year ago, I actively tried to cut back on the amount of coffee I was drinking, but after a few months of half-decaf and picking water over iced coffee, I found myself reintroducing that second, and then third cup of caffeinated awesomeness.  (Because that’s a huge problem for me – coffee is awesome, and I like it very much.)  But despite how much I might want to snuggle up with a giant iced coffee, it’s bad news to consume so much of the stuff.  I need to scale back.

I also have a tendency to defer to things like prepackaged and pre-measured yogurt in order to take a crack at keeping blood sugars from going nuts.  If I need a snack, it’s easier to reach for something already carb-counted, but that’s not always the best plan because I’d much rather avoid pre-packaged, if I can.

I won’t even mention the gluten-free journey, because that’s been an exercise in dedication and frustration all unto itself.

Basically, I’ve worked hard to cut out some bad eating habits, and some of them are working their way back in.  This trend needs to be met with an “Oh hell no” because I work too hard at being healthy to derail efforts by something as daily as food.  I need to revisit food logging, even for just a few days, to realign my brain with my mouth and hands.

In the past, I used an app to log food choices, but this time, I have a sharpie marker, a piece of printer paper, and a firm resolve.  I need to see my choices in black-and-white (or, specifically, teal-and-white, as the teal sharpie marker is really lovely) so I can make better choices.  Otherwise, I’ll end up swimming in an endless pool of iced coffee and protein bars.

… which kind of sounds delicious, aside from the whole “protein bars looking like poop” thing.  I think I need to stop this post now, because it just derailed.

Gluten-Free … Still.

I don’t have celiac disease.  I don’t have gluten-sensitivity antibodies.  My endocrinologist ran a slate of tests to determine if my body was pro- or anti-gluten, and nothing came back weird.  As I mentioned last September, the basic gist is that my body seems to have no trouble at all with gluten.  Except that it totally does.

For a good, long time, I felt crummy.  To revisit last summer:

“I was exhausted – falling asleep on the couch and having trouble maintaining my normal vampire hours.  I was moody and grouchy, especially later in the day.  (And I’ll just offer this up because I know you’re thinking it:  I’m not pregnant.)  My hands, on some mornings, were tingly and pins-and-needlesish.  And my stomach was angry, but in a really passive-aggressive way.  I had sharp pains in my stomach, but not all the time.  I had wicked bloating, but not intensely all the time.  I just had a permanent belly ache, and it was becoming the norm.”

I’ve been entirely gluten-free since last August, and those symptoms up there are gone.  The bloating, tender belly pain is gone, as is the majority of the thick brain fog that had settled in for several months.  (Not all the brain fog, though.  I am still space shot in ways that will never repair themselves, but gluten isn’t to blame for that.  That’s all organically me.)  No more pain.

Overall, I haven’t included a new pile of gluten-free replacements for foods, but instead am just cutting out gluten sources.  I bake our bread, so that’s gluten-free, but I don’t often eat bread.  Or pasta.  Subbing in more vegetables, meat, and fruits works better for my personal diabetes crap and preferences than replacing my diet with a bunch of gluten-free specialty foods.  Again, this is easier for me because I don’t have a problem with foods that have come into contact with gluten (I can pick the croutons off a salad without having a belly ache afterwards) and also because my response to eating gluten isn’t an immediate gastrointestinal disaster but instead a sharp bloating that, all things considered, I can totally work through for a night.

I just don’t want to feel unwell; the change is worth the effort, for me.  So I am totally gluten free.  And I am still squeamish to talk about it because it seems like stupid trend-following witchcraft and food bandwagon’ing.  “Gluten-free!  It’s the modern MUST for foodies!”  I kind of feel like a tool requesting a gluten-free meal or asking a server if they have a gluten-free menu, but the handful of times that I’ve eaten gluten in the last year have left a now-predictable and very uncomfortable mark.  I feel lucky as fuck to have figured this out, because I felt like absolute garbage before cutting gluten.

Which is what I try to remember when I’m sheepishly asking someone about the gluten content of a meal.  I’m not doing this to be trendy or snobby.  I am doing this so I don’t feel terrible the majority of the time.  I’m doing this so my kid can hug me around the waist without me wincing from pain.  I’m doing this so Chris doesn’t think his wife is suddenly 98 years old.  Whether lab work proves a sensitivity or not, my body has spoken loud and clear, and I’m listening.

 

Green Beanery.

Winter started around November of last year and continued onward with a vengeance until yesterday morning, when “42 degrees and sunny” seemed to constitute as “spring.”  The snow is all but melted (except for a few very stubborn igloos built by resourceful squirrels), so Birdy and I took advantage of the sunshine yesterday to explore our backyard.

We moved house several months ago, just before the winter came crashing in, so we don’t know much about what’s actually outside.  For all we knew, there was a hole that went straight through to Renza’s house.  We did know that there was a shed with a fenced in garden-looking area, and my hope was that it would be useable for a vegetable garden.

So yesterday, my daughter and I went out with our rakes, clippers, and yard refuse bags to find out what was underneath all the pine needles.  After a bit of raking and cleaning up, we saw that the garden was decently set up for planting.

“Good thing!  Because we have all those green beans, Mom!”

Oh hell yes we have green beans.

A few weeks ago, she and I took a crack at starting some seedlings in the house, preparing for the eventual moment when Jack Frost would loosen his grip on New England and we could plant our starter garden outside.  We bought one of those seedling trays from Home Depot and with steady preschool hands, my kid planted seed after seed from packets she picked out at the store.  (I didn’t want to stifle her excitement, so we are growing all kinds of stuff – green beans, cucumbers, eggplant, watermelon, carrots, and a woman from the ground.  It’s a festival of greenery.)

Now, several weeks later, the seedlings are starting to sprout.  We moved them to bigger pots so they could become more badass, and in a week or two, we’ll move them outside into the garden.

I’ve always wanted to have a vegetable garden, but needed a partner to help me tend the feeble crop.  (Chris is not a gardener.  He mows the lawn, rakes the leaves, and deals with any snakes/spiders/chupacabra we might stumble upon in the yard, but he’s not into weeding.)  After watching my kid diligently don her gardening gloves and rake, weed, and create impromptu shelters for any worm we came across, I realized I have my vegetable gardening partner now.

Here’s hoping I can go from seed to plate without screwing it up.  But so far, we’re having fun,

 

Egg Roll.

The trappings of Easter baskets can be a real kick in the ass for me, diabetes-wise.  Jellybeans, chocolate eggs, those Cadbury mini eggs of doom … all delicious, but rarely worth it for me because all of these high-sugar indulgences make for gross blood sugars.

Thankfully, the most mild of milds on my blood sugars are eggs.  And Easter isn’t short on eggs of the hard-boiled and highly decorative type.

Eastaaaaah.

A photo posted by Kerri Sparling (@sixuntilme) on

“Do you want a jellybean, Mom?”

“No thank you.”

“But you can take insulin for the jellybean?”  My daughter paused a minute.  “OOOH! Or you could have a hard boiled eggie instead!” And she’s fine with that suggestion, only faltering slightly when she sees that the egg dye leaked through the shell a bit during the coloring process, tie-dying the hard-boiled egg white.

“Does the color part need insulin?” she asks.

Learning about diabetes, egg by egg, bird by bird.

Looking Back: Visual Reminders.

Nothing helps remind me more about the importance of being familiar with serving sizes and what they look like than being on the road for a few days.  Meals away from the comfort and familiarity of my kitchen make for some guesswork, and these last few days have shown me that I could use a refresher on serving sizes.  Here’s a look back at a post from 2012 about keeping your eye trained as to how “half a cup” really shapes up.

*   *   *

A deck of cards.  A baseball.  A pair of dice and you only look at one of them. (Sorry for the clumsiness; I think it’s weird to write “A die.” as a sentence.  Looks odd.)  A tennis ball.   A hockey puck.

The things that health-related articles use as “visual cues” for portion sizes and serving sizes makes me wish I was more athletic, because then I’d have a really strong feel for the size of these different balls, etc.  (Sidenote:  Hey. Ever write something you want to immediately delete but then you keep it and just wish your brain was less daft?)  But these visual cue things are helpful for me, because if I don’t take note of just how big “one small apple” really is, it’s easy to lose track of how much I’m eating.  I need to constantly refresh my eyes on serving sizes, which in turn helps me better estimate carbs when I’m SWAG (aka Scientific, Wild-Ass Guessing)’ing it.

(Second sidenote:  The hamburger pictured here looks exactly like a fudge-drizzled chocolate cookie, which is making my brain very confused.)

Which is what I spent part of my morning doing today:  busting out the measuring cups in my house and reminding myself what certain foods look like when properly measured out.  I’m not shooting for serving sizes or anything FDA official.  I needed to do this purely for carb assessment reasons.  What does 35 grams worth of Rice Chex measure out to look like?  How much salad dressing is 10 grams of carbs?  Brain, be reminded of what 28 carbs-worth of banana goodness looks like!!

Birdy thought I was a basketcase this morning, measuring things out and then putting them back.  “No eat banana, Mama?”  “No more cereal and milk, Mama?”  “That chicken is very good, right, Mama?” By the time I started eye-balling the lunch meat and measuring it on our kitchen scale, she threw her hands up in disgust and went to find her Thomas trains.  (Tertiary sidenote:  Spencer, the silver, streamlined diesel train, is the same size as 15 grams worth of banana, dagnabit.)

But now my brain is brought back to reality.  Less guesstimating and more true and proper estimating, which should help me fine-tune my boluses a touch.  Reminders like this are helpful in keeping me from sliding down that slippery slope of eating 18 lb apples and bathtubs full of Golden Grahams.

(Last sidenote:  I’m sorry that only 2/3 of this post made sense.)

 

McDave from the Plane.

“Were you saving these seats for us?”

I travel regularly for work, and because I’m usually on the road without my family, I end up in various discussions with strangers to fill the time.  Since my days as a breakfast waitress in college, I’ve always enjoyed those snippets of single-serving conversations.  Airplane travel can offer insight at 30,000 feet (sometimes from the pilot).

“Yes.  I’ve been waiting for you guys for hours,” I replied, standing up so that the couple could join me in row 9.

This was my introduction to Dave and his lovely wife.  Throughout the course of the flight from Orlando back up to Providence yesterday, I spent some quality time talking with these two and over-sharing to a frightening degree.

We talked about flying, and how none of us cared for it.  We talked about the Patriots and how mother  (and his wife) are hardcore fans.  We talked about how his daughter has been an extra in several films and TV shows.  And we talked a lot about food.  After a discussion about what I do for work and what brought me into the diabetes space (see also:  diagnosed 28 years ago, felt alone, founded a blog, found some friends), Dave admitted that his own diet could use a shift in priorities.

“We could eat better,” he said.

“We could eat a LOT better,” his wife said from the window seat, smiling ruefully.

“Everyone could eat better, but our fast-food society doesn’t exactly make it easy.  You have to go above and beyond to make sure you aren’t eating junk.  Junk is mainstream!  Think about how screwed up our perception of ‘breakfast’ is; we dump sugary syrup onto pastry-esque pancakes and call it a healthy meal.  That’s not a meal … it’s dessert!”  They nodded, and I realized I was on a mile-high soapbox.  “I’m so sorry.  Food stuff makes me ranty sometimes.  Like when I think about the kinds of foods marketed towards my daughter.  Chicken nuggets and french fries and sugar cererals.  Stuff is gross.”

“So she’s never had a Happy Meal from McDonald’s?” asked Dave, half mocking me, half actually asking.

“She’s had McDonald’s food two or three times in her life, but that’s it.  And no, she’s never had a Happy Meal.”

He laughed.  “You’re missing the chance to make her happy!  But not the food – I get that you don’t want to give her the food.  I used to make my own Happy Meals for my daughters.  I’d take a toy that they hadn’t played with in ages and pack it in with their lunch.  Instant Happy Meal!”

“That’s a good idea.  I like that.”

“Yeah.  Now you can write about it in your blog, right?  I want to be in there.  People would want to read more about me.”

His comments made me laugh.  “Sure.  I’ll write about you.  But the blog post has to have some kind of resolution, right?  Where we both promise to make changes and then we hold one another accountable?  Or is that taking it too far?” I asked him.

Dave thought for a minute.  “I can do that.  Listen, my wife and I will make a change.  We promise to eat something green with every meal.  A vegetable, like spinach or broccoli or squash.  Except that squash isn’t green, so we’ll have to be flexible with the color requirement.  But a vegetable with every meal.”  He made a fist and jabbed it towards the air with conviction.  “A vegetable with every meal!”

“And I promise to make my kid a happy meal, like the one you described.”

He handed me his business card and I promised to send him a link to the post once it was live.  (Hi, Dave!)  The plane landed and we all went our separate ways, resolute in our decision to make positive changes.

This morning, as I packed Birdy’s lunch for preschool, I put one of her small, forgotten toys in the lunch bag, alongside her healthy food options (and a crappy drawing of Loopy drinking a mug of steaming coffee).  I wondered what kind of vegetable Dave managed to work into his breakfast that morning, and smiled.

What’s the point of going through life without ever making eye contact, or making a connection?  Single-serving or not, I’m better for having sat next to Dave.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers