Today, I finally got back on schedule of testing my blood sugar. A couple years ago, on my annual visit to my family doctor, she said--hmmmm, your blood test results show that your sugar levels are a little high. I thought, of course, I am always sweet. Oh, not that?
Anyway, what followed was testing six months apart to see how high the sugar level in my blood really was. Testing not only after eating but also after fasting.
When the levels came back three times in a row at over 100, she said--time to do some preventive medicine. It seems that type II diabetes (formerly old-age onset--thank God they changed the term!) was once determined when a person had repeated blood sugar values of over 120. But, medicine marching along as it does, the determination now is made to begin to W-A-T-C-H things and take interventive action when the level is repeatedly over 100. That way, maybe, just maybe you can head off the eventuality of type II diabetes.
With this determination, my life as a free-range eating whatever I wanted human came to an end. The consequences of my not changing habits is that. . .well, isn't it obvious? I could come to an end, prematurely.
On my doctor's orders, off I trundled to a local hospital with a diabetes education clinic. I learned from a diabetes nurse how to test my blood (just a little finger prick with a fancy do-dad machine and a strip to suck up my blood and then display the magic number).
I learned from a dietician what foods are and are not high in carbohydrates. Oh, there's the problem: carbs. So, now I am on a low-carb diet and have become an exceedingly boring person. I can spout off the carb value of almost any food you can name. And I can tell you how much of that food to eat, before you bankrupt the carb level. The goal is for me to eat no more than 30 grams of carbs at a meal, and 15 grams at a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Hey, I am liking this idea--snacks? I never used to get those. But, wait. 30 grams--do you know how little that is?
First thing to go, almost any kind of starch. One half cup of mashed potatoes? There's your 30 grams. Now, I challenge you--can you eat ONE HALF cup and then quit? I mean, your clenched fist is a decent way to judge ONE CUP. So, half a fist of mashed potatoes. OK. How about rice? Nope--40 grams of carbs in a cup. And on it goes--almost any form of starch--potatoes, rice, pasta (whimper), bread--all too high in carbs. So portions must be small.
And forget muffins and bagels. Bagels? Really high.
So what can I eat? Well, proteins in all forms. Meats, cheeses, even beans because they are high in fiber. Fiber is good; carbs are bad. I have become a food mathematician--take the carb value of a portion of food, subtract the fiber grams and you have roughly (no pun intended) the overall carb value.
Milk? Skimmed milk? Well, no. Counter-intuitively. I discovered that skimmed milk is HIGHER in carbs than 1% or 2% milk. Oh, hurrah. I can justify my penchant for higher fat content milk.
Fruits? Well, many of them reek of sugar. Juices, especially.
Vegetables? There you go. You can eat all you want. Oh, right, who wants all the vegetables they can eat?
But diabetes is a nasty disease, and its effects got my attention. Sugar molecules that are not broken down by insulin (that's the missing ingredient in a diabetic's system) go floating around in your blood. And since they are bigger than most other molecules floating in your blood, they tend to get down into the smallest parts of your circulatory system--those itty bitty capillaries--and get stuck. That's what does the harm--cell necrosis, which results in limb loss, blindness, heart attack--OK, OK. You got my attention. I will watch my carbs. And test my blood. Good results today--102 before eating. I will test in two hours after eating, and hope that the level is below 100, after my body kicks in a little insulin and brings the sugar level down.
Of course, now the problem is my cholesterol level!