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Posts from the ‘Diet and Food’ Category

Belly Ache.

My celiac tests came back negative.  So did my IgA or IgG AGAs (these could be exactly the same as a celiac test but I do not know all the lingo and thus, I remain clueless).  The basic gist is that my body seems to have no trouble at all with gluten.

Except that it totally does.

I don’t know exactly when it started, but I’d say about eight months ago.  That’s when the first nondescript symptoms came into play.  My weight went up a little bit, despite the same amount of exercise and generally eating the same mostly-healthy foods.  My stomach wasn’t upset so much as a little uneasy, and my abdomen felt slightly tender after some meals … and other times without any known catalyst at all.

But I’m not good at keeping track of when things “start to change.”  The only way I knew that my weight was changing was because my clothes fit a little bit differently.  My blood sugars were fine, and my overall health seemed fine.  The decline into “not so fine” wasn’t fast, but really slow and subtle until all of a sudden, I was like, “WAIT.  Just a frigging second.  Why do I feel sick all the time?”

In the last three months, I’ve been acutely aware of not feeling well, and the list of noticeable symptoms grew week by week.  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.

And I was permanently belly aching about it.  The only thing that alleviated symptoms was to cut out gluten, but I didn’t do it consistently enough or in a dedicated enough fashion to really assess if going gluten-free helped.  (Sadly lazy, but true.)  On the whole, our family is about 80% gluten-free, but apparently the 20% was enough to leave a trail of blargh.

Thankfully, my endocrinologist is thorough, so when I saw her a few weeks ago, she ran all the appropriate tests to rule out different this’s and that’s and to help establish certain baselines and other fancy doctor/patient discussion things.  My thyroid function is fine.  My A1C is fine.  My blood pressure is fine.   Nothing came back flagged as an issue.  (Except the whole diabetes thing.)  Which made me feel weird, because the absence of a concrete YES YOU HAVE A GLUTEN SENSITIVITY made me feel a little powerless, like I was just grasping at straws.

In efforts to take some definitive steps towards actually doing something, I talked with Sara(aah) about this issue, and she and I compared symptoms until I felt confident that, even if the tests didn’t flag an issue, there still could be some kind of correlation.  Whether gluten is the root cause or just a trigger, its absence makes me feel much better.  I can’t dispute that fast-becoming-a-fact.

So for the last week, I’ve been running my own gluten-free tests.  And fortunately for my body, it seems to help.  (Unfortunately for my preferences, though, because I love Italian bread and all that jazz.)  It’s been almost a full week now without a whisper of a symptom.  It’s been months since I’ve gone more than a few hours without a sore belly, so this is a step in the right direction.

My plan is to continue to go with my gut and do what makes my body feel better.  If I go against the grain, I’ll feel better.  It’s a diet omnivorous about sticking to, but I know it’s best in the long run. 

… more gluten-free puns once I cook them up.  For now, you’ll have to wheat.

 

Free Foods!

…  “You can have pickles?  Or gelatin?  Or cucumber slices!”

My mom tried to make these options sound appealing and delicious, but when I was a kid and my blood sugar was super high, pickles weren’t what I craved.  My body wanted to chug water and cheeseburgers simultaneously in efforts to cleanse the ketones and sate the high hunger.

“Can I have something else?”

“Not right now.  Those are the free foods you can have, until your blood sugar comes down.” she’d reply.

The phrase ‘free foods’ was a real one, twenty years ago in our household.”

more about free foods at Animas.

Pre-Bolusing for Snacks.

“Do you pre-bolus for your meals?”

“I do.”  (I was happy to answer this question because I actually do pre-bolus.  Pre-bolusing is my A1C’s saving grace.)

“Okay, that’s great.”  She made a few notes in my chart.  “How about for snacks?  Do you pre-bolus for those?”

“I … um, nope.  I am horrible at pre-bolusing for snacks.”

Unfortunately, hat is completely and utterly true.

Meals are easier to pre-bolus for because there’s time involved in making them.  If I know I’m cooking chicken and green beans for dinner, I have 25 – 30 minutes to let that bolus sink in before the meal is even ready.  Going out to eat at restaurants is easy, too, because I usually have an idea of what I’d like to eat, so I’ll bolus for the meal once we are seated at the table.  (Pre-bolusing backfires at times, too, but as long as I’m not in the middle of the woods, I’ll take the risk.)  A meal feels like an event, and therefore easier to accommodate.

Snacks feel like an accident.  An unplanned moment.  I don’t take an apple out of the basket and bite into it in a premeditated fashion, but more like a fluid movement without any thought involved.  (A run-by fruiting by any other name …)  It’s not until I’m done with a snack – apple, yogurt, nuts, protein bar … cupcake? – that I realize I haven’t taken any insulin to cover the carbs.  My post-snackial blood sugars aren’t grateful for the misstep.

This would not be a big deal if I wasn’t such a grazer, but when 50% of my caloric intake throughout the day is on a whim, pre-bolusing for snacks matters.  My A1C is currently in my range (under 7%) but I know if I can remember even half the time to pre-bolus for snacks, I bet my standard deviation will tighten up and blah blah blah other numbers as well.

Little, conscious changes will hopefully become habit.

 

BOLUS: Beware Of Loose, Unsupervised Snacks.

I graze.  I’m a grazer.  Visually speaking, my food choices are spread out over a gigantic field and I run through, grabbing bites here and there and never properly taking amounts or serving sizes into account.

“How many grapes did I just eat,” is a common, whispered question.  “Did I bolus for that protein bar?” is another one.  “Hey, I only had eggs and not toast – how many carbs did I bolus for, and what needs to be consumed now so I don’t hit the deck?”

I am good at going through the motions of diabetes management, but I have been slacking on minding the minutiae of late.  I don’t sit down to formal meals throughout the day (schedules are nonexistent at the moment), so keeping track of the food I’m eating has been a challenge.  Grazing makes for dodgy carb counting.

I need to mind my B.O.L.U.S:

Must Beware of Loose, Unsupervised Snacks!  When carbs are roaming around unsupervised and unbolused-for (terrible grammar, worse when spellcheck changes it to “unbloused-for”), blood sugars go high and stay there because I’m chasing my insulin-tail or I go low because I’m over-estimating.  Insulin is potent stuff, and SWAG’ing it makes for Ms and Ws on my Dexcom graph.  If I can just pay-the-fuck-attention to what I’m eating, I’ll have fewer frustrating results.  Right? RIGHT??

The more I mind what I’m eating, the more even my blood sugars will be.

Now let’s see how that theory shakes out, as I attempt it for the 10,000th time since diagnosis.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust for the Epically Lazy.

[Insert whole paragraph about how I hate to cook/am bad at cooking/have no interest in cooking/would rather paint the deck.]

I don’t normally do anything resembling a “food review” because that’s not my bag (baby).  But I’m lazy when it comes to preparing food, so if I stumble across something that makes being a lazy chef even easier, well then hot diggity damn I am going to post about it.

BEHOLD!!  It’s a generic, “Acme Pizza” looking box, but the contents are wonderful.  This is gluten-free pizza crust and it’s legitimately delicious.  Kinnikinnick, your tagline is accurate.

I can’t say the name of it out loud without feeling like I’m casting a spell, but this pizza crust is worth writing about because it crisps up nicely, is thick enough to hold a pile of toppings, and when you bite into it, you don’t wish it was something else.  Birdy and I have experimented with several gluten-free dough options (not because of celiac, but due to preference) and this Kinnikinnick pre-made pizza crust has been the best one we’ve found so far.

“This pizza is good, Mom!”

I agreed.

[This is not an advertisement, or a sponsored post.  This post is the result of going to Whole Foods, spending eight billion dollars, and for once not regretting it.  Again, friends share.  So I'm sharing.  :) ]

Looking Back: Crabs are Evil.

I’ve always struggled with the right amount of carbs for my day-to-day diabetes management (that sounds so formal, as if I plot this stuff on a spreadsheet, which I do not) and overall, my blood sugar roller coaster is less intense when my carbs are minimal (or deeply imbedded into exercise).  Today, I’m looking back at a post from 2010 about carbs, the perils of spellcheck, and finding what works for you.

*   *   *

Crabs are something that people with diabetes are constantly grappling with.  Are crabs good for us?  Should we be avoiding crabs at all costs?  If we have too many crabs in our diet, will our A1c go up?  What’s the official recommendation for diabetics as it pertains to crabs?  Has anyone ever really tamed the wild crabs?  Is anyone eating crabs, right now, as they read this?

(Note:  Spellcheck is my nemesis right now.  It always, always wants to change “carbs” to “crabs.”  As though I have anything against Sebastian and his little sea friends.  Spellcheck also likes changing “bolusing” to “blousing,” as if wearing a puffy shirt is a verb.  For the record, I have nothing against crabs.  Crabs are fine.  And, in my opinion, carbs are fine, too.  Spellcheck is a bit of a bitch, though.  /digression)  

In all seriousness (sort of), I’ve been told, time and time again, that carbs are evil.  That if I maintain a diet that’s reasonably low-carb, my diabetes will thank me for it.  But I don’t think that carbohydrates are the enemy.  In fact, they’re my best molecular friend when my blood sugar is hanging out in the trenches.  (See also:  Reese’s)

But.

I did notice, as I was gearing up for my wedding and working out more than usual, that my very low carb diet and my consistent exercise regimen made for minimal spikes in my blood sugar.  It wasn’t a perfect system, but subbing in vegetables for mashed potatoes at dinner time made for a post-prandial under 200 mg/dl, which (pre-BSparl), was a solid goal for me.  Granted, I didn’t avoid carbs all the time, but I actively avoided high carb diet choices because I knew both my weight and my A1c would pay the price somehow.  And now, post-BSparl, I’m trying to go back to that lower carb lifestyle, because that helped keep me at a weight I was more comfortable with.  (Not that I’m actively avoiding carbs now, thanks to the epic breastfeeding lows that crop up every few hours, so I’m giving myself a big ol’ bell curve on getting back into shape.)

For me, part of the carbohydrate conundrum is user error.  Pre-Bsparl, I was a bit of a lazy boluser.  I never bolused well in advance of a meal, and my post-prandials (and my overall A1C) definitely paid the price over and over again.  It seems that I need to get my insulin pushed through my system at least 25 minutes before I sit down to eat, not five minutes before.  I learned this lesson (23 years too late, eh?) while I planning for baby, and during the course of the pregnancy, it was definitely the case.  Bolusing well before the meal worked better for me.

To each diabetic their own, I think, when it comes to carbohydrate intake.  Some people are able to manage high piles of carbs without the messy spikes.  Other people, like me, might be clumsy with their insulin.  Or sometimes the decision not to carb has nothing to do with diabetes (as in my case, and in the case of my husband) – we go lower carb for weight management reasons.  But there’s no set magical diabetes diet that cures all that ails ya.  Eating carbs, or not eating carbs, is a personal decision that each individual diabetic needs to figure out for themselves.

In the Sparling house, we tend to avoid the carbs.

And we also arm ourselves against the crabs.  Because seriously, you never know.

Figwee: An App I Might Actually Use.

At the TCOYD conference in Washington, DC this past weekend, I was tasked with co-leading a session about digital tools for diabetes management (saucily named “There’s An App for That”) alongside Glu’s Anna Floreen.  Building up to the session, she and I talked about apps we use (and don’t use) and how some apps are just filler apps (see also: appholes).

There are apps I use pretty regularly, but only one of them is specific to diabetes (the One Touch Reveal app that works with the Verio Sync).  The others are health-related apps that I tweak for diabetes use.  But at dinner the night before the app session, I found out about an app that might truly help me corral some diabetes stuff (hat tip to Jeremy Pettus):  Figwee.

Figwee is an app with a silly name, but a truly useful purpose because it MAKES PORTIONS MAKE SENSE.  I’m notorious for SWAG’ing a bolus here and there, and that’s mostly because I have trouble measuring and precisely counting the nutritional content of my food.  I’ll eyeball things here and there, but if I don’t regularly refresh my eyes as to what portion sizes should, and actually do, look like, I make a mess of things.

Figwee gives visual representations of portion sizes.  With nutritional information.  And a funky sliding-bar that lets you shrink and grow the portion sizes, which is a trippy thing to play with:

Little bit of pasta?  Got it.  But are you having more?  (Gives a bird’s-eye view and a side-view.)

Add some sauce (where so many extra carbs, etc. sometimes hide):

I love this.  I’ve already used it to help me eyeball portion sizes more accurately for chicken and steak:

And the full nutritional breakdown helps remind me that I am not only keeping an eye on carbs, but also fat and protein and all the other “stuff” in food.

The app even has alcohol:

I have no affiliation with this app and I’m not being compensated to review it (and I paid the $1.99 required to download it), but I wanted to share because it’s worth it.  The photos I’ve posted are a little cropped so they don’t show the slide tool to increase the portion sizes and some of the nutritional information was a little mushed, but on the actual app, it’s all there.

I don’t carry measuring cups and a food scale, so an application like this really helps me make sense of the food on my plate.  You can download and play with Figwee, too, dagnabit.

 

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