April 28, 2012

Falstaff and Brunhilde take on a diabetic diet


If you saw our grocery cart a year ago, it would have looked completely different.

Both of us were master level in eating badly and sedentary behavior. Two bookish types, whose idea of fun on a Saturday night is listening to jazz on NPR and catching up on magazines (check out this fabulous article on my college town from last week's "Atlantic" http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/04/how-americans-lost-trust-in-our-greatest-institutions/256163/),

We are not good examples of health for anybody. (Think of the stereotypical Falstaff if his lady were from Wagner's "Gotterdammerung".)

Now we buy most of our food in the front part of the grocery store, where “Singing in the Rain” comes on the loudspeakers as the produce is watered hourly.

We are doing this because the light came on our internal dashboards. Danger, Will Robinson.

About four years ago, a heel on some too-high dressy pumps slipped on a tile floor while I was leaving lunch with my District Manager. I came down very hard on my left knee. Four years later osteoarthritis has homesteaded in this knee. While it probably will never improve, my extra weight exacerbates the pain.

My husband, who has a genetic predisposition to diabetes, ate better than me but usually followed my lead. He takes oral medications for his Type II diabetes, while one of his brothers who also lost the genetic lottery manages it with diet. Another brother was spared, probably due to physical activity, including cross-country hiking.

When the red warning light came on, we both realized it was time to change our evil ways. We’ve been on the “diabetic diet” since February.

It is not “one day at a time,” it is sometimes “one hour at a time.” Many people who see the light often become like religious converts, shouting "Alleluia" as if leaving the altar call from a Billy Graham revival. We're having none of that.

We eat fish and poultry, very little pork, and beef is a rare treat. We eat multiple, healthy snacks throughout the day. We are liberal with the fruit and vegetables. We almost always have a fruit salad in the fridge with blueberries, grapes, pineapple (canned chunks due to price) and strawberries. We eat an orange every night before we go to bed.

I wish I had known what I know now when I was thirty.

I would have cared more and taken better care of myself.

Nowhere in the handbook did it say that becoming post-menopausal would mean that my metabolism would be slower than a snail’s. I have lost about 25% of what I need to lose, sometimes as little as half a pound a week. There’s only been one week in which I’ve gained (thank you Dairy Queen for your royal grab right into the drive-up line.)

Some habits are severed, I think. I don’t think I could eat a hamburger now (though I make myself think about pink slime.)

One of the tenets of our diet is that we eat quality food. Good food is expensive, so this means we watch the sales and buy in bulk. I try to buy in-season which brings down the cost. We do buy what I call “bag-o-chicken” and “bag-o-fish” which is much cheaper than fresh. Once in a while, we’ll splurge on a tuna steak or salmon fillet. I eat no bread at all; my husband eats very little.

I have no illusion that tomorrow will be easier.

If I don’t eat enough of the good stuff, I am hungry.

When I am hungry I want a Snickers bar or cookies and that is a problem.

Once a month we declare a “free night.” Last week we went out for Hawaiian pizza which was delicious but I felt bloated and icky for an entire day. (Of course since we decided we had ordered too much and didn’t want to bring any home, I ate too much. This was really the problem.) Still battling the serving size thing.

My husband’s A1C dropped an entire point; our goal is to get him off of some of the expensive medications. I’m also swimming and walking frequently. My numbers look much better. My A1C was pre-diabetic and it has dropped down into the normal range.

Every Saturday morning our grocery cart is full of healthy foods that when assembled make for a good and filling diet.

Can we do it again tomorrow? I am not sure, but I hope so.

How annoying is it to be married to someone who wants to take a picture of the grocery cart? Apologies to my patient, understanding husband. Being married to a crazy person isn't easy, especially when she really just wants sugar (and she means REAL sugar.)