Designing a Healthy Lifestyle for yourself...

By Caroltoo Latest Reply 2012-03-19 21:58:04 -0500
Started 2011-12-20 02:09:49 -0600

"What's the trick" someone asked today when they heard James Baker and I both have A1c readings of 5.7 and we are doing this with diet and exercise, and without medication. I'd like to share my response. Perhaps James, Kevin, and others will also share their lifestyle comments in similar postings.

"What's the trick" was a simple sounding question, with a not so simple answer. It really is a lifestyle, not a trick. It can be hard work, but the payoff is incredible. Here are some of the pieces that brought my glucose reading from 396 to normal:

1. Food choices: primarily low glycemic index fruit and vegetables, lean meat, fish, cheese, mostly almond milk, olive oil and other MUFAs (avocado, almonds, etc.), quinoa and lentils. Lots of fiber in the fruit and veggies. Lots of water and some tea and coffee. (no soda). Seasonings are pepper, turmeric, garlic, onion, ginger, cinnamon, french herb mixtures, curry, primarily, but have lots of others I use occasionally.

2. Food selection & preparation: cook from clean, natural, whole foods. I use organic because I have allergies to many chemicals that are in our food supply. I use filtered water for the same reason. I do not use prepackaged, precooked, prepared foods. I cook like my grandmother used to, starting with raw, not boxed.

3. Cooking: use raw, when possible; I also do many stir fry and omelets in olive oil in a cast iron skillet; I also bake, broil, and grill.

4. Supplementation: D3-2,000-4,000IU; alpha lipoic acid-600mg 2X daily; biotin-5000 mcg; CoQ10-capful (mine is an easily absorbable fluid); Mega Red-1 capsule; and Vitamin code raw vitamins per package instructions. From time-to-time, I use other supplements as need arises.

NOTE: I am glucose intolerant, so have damage to villi of the intestine which affects digestion/absorption of nutrients, so I do add in vitamins I might not need otherwise. It is also why you will not find wheat, rye, barley, or oats in my meal plans, but you will find quinoa and some lentils and corn.

5. Sleep: 8 hours/night.

6. Exercise: walk 3 miles most days; also swim, play tennis, jog while pushing my 220 pound husband in a 40 pound wheelchair (that is aerobic, let me tell you!), use a cardio-fit or treadmill when its raining, have an assortment of bands, tubes, medicine ball, and weights for specific exercises when I need a change.

7. I do not use medications. My A1c is now 5.7.

8. Increase your self awareness. Listen to what your body is telling you and act on it. Care for and about yourself.

9. Practice stress reduction and positive mental health. This is, I think, one of the main reasons I am successful. I have major stressors (husband has Alzheimer's and is dying; I've been out of work for a year so I could care for him; may have to sell and move because of our finances being tight because I am caring for him—-these are big issues and decisions that will affect the rest of my life and are not to be made lightly), but am able to maintain a calm and rational attitude despite the stress.

I meditate, pray, focus on the good things in my life. I simplify what I can. I bask in the natural beauty of Hawaii and drink in the serenity from any source I can find in my life. One of my mottoes is: if it isn't life threatening, it is negotiable. This helps me keep peace with my husband despite his failing mind. I look at the big picture and evaluate my choices rather than doing what I have always done.

My son (in TX), friends (Hawaii and on d.c.), and pets are also sources of support. I reach out to others (even strangers) with a ready smile, friendly comment, and laughter. I try to share my joy with others. The sharing is also healing for me, because it helps me focus on what I have, not what I have lost or am losing. When I need to, I grieve, and then I move on with life. Life, after all, is for living and we only get one chance.

41 replies

jigsaw 2011-12-27 09:02:58 -0600 Report

It's amazing how many ways you and I manage our diabetes in similar ways. We eat similar foods, take simiar supplements, stir fry in cast iron etc. I am probably a bit more lenient with my diet and exercize then you. My a1c has never gone below 6.0, however I am satisfied with my numbers. Great job Caroltoo and loads of helpful info!

Caroltoo 2011-12-27 10:29:54 -0600 Report

Thanks, Al. The similarities struck me too as I was reading your recent discussion. I have my days when I am more lenient with diet also. Yesterday, for example, I ate rice with my shrimp jambalaya. First time I have had rice in months, but have found a black rice called Japonica, that you really have to cook well because of the attached fiber, but it worked. My PP reading was 120 which just amazed me, so I had it again for dinner yesterday and woke with a BG of 105. So I do some forays up into the higher GI carbs when I can find one that doesn't inflame my gluten intolerance. Frankly, when that acts up, it's worse than the diabetes and also runs the BG up so it's really a no-win situation.

digitaldoorbell 2011-12-20 22:20:00 -0600 Report

This is an excellent post. I do almost all of the same things and have similar results. I take no meds for diabetes and control it by diet and exercise. My BG is usually in the high 80's to 90's and have an A1C of 5.5 or lower.

I do have peripheral neuropathy, so don't take as gospel that you only develop that with high BG and long term diabetes (I had neither).

I do drink soda. They make Zevia, which is soda with Stevia rather than the other chemicals that we read so much about.

Try one or two of the suggestions posted. If they work, try one or two more.

jigsaw 2011-12-27 09:09:22 -0600 Report

digitaldoorbell—-Congrats on your a1c and bg! Thats really great! Not sure about your comment about peripheral neuropathy though. What other than high bg do you think would cause it.

kaiya2465 2012-03-19 11:17:01 -0500 Report

Peripheral Neuropathy can be caused by trauma also. I did not acquire PN from being pre-D, hope this helps just a little.

digitaldoorbell 2011-12-27 11:07:39 -0600 Report

Actually, my neurologist assures me that as a general rule "high" numbers are the precursor to neuropathy; it isn't always the case. In fact, I am told, some people develop neuropathy prior to developing diabetes. The comfort that we all take in avoiding neuropathy with low numbers is an over simplification but a reasonable general rule. Believe me, I wouldn't wish this on anyone and caution everyone to do all the things you read about regarding self care.
While I take no diabetic meds, I am forced to take medication for neuropathy. I have been doing a lot of yoga and I just bought a recumbent bicycle. I am convinced this can be managed too and I am cautiously optimistic.

Hope you are having a great holiday season. Thank you for asking.

jayabee52 2011-12-20 15:10:57 -0600 Report

Another of us heard from! My "trick" is in many ways similar to Carol's but in some ways a bit different.

The differences are that my kidneys are failiing. While carol has problems with eating gluten containing products. I cannot eat potatoes, nuts, fruits and beans due to their high potassium contents. Other than that I follow a high protein/ lo carb diet. I check periodically with my renal Dr on the protein intake and Dr gives me the go-ahead to do what i am doing. He says I am getting adequate protein.

I live rather simply in Las Vegas NV, where my middle son is. I had been in Las Vegas for about 15 years prior to moving to the SF bay area to be with my "Jem". but when she passed from this life I looked about considering my options, and the option of going back to LVNV won out.

For exercise I like getting out and dancing when I can. There are a lot of opportunities to do that here. That is the only way I can get my endorphins pumping and forget my burning neuropathy for a bit and get some enjoyable exercise.

I have a strong belief in God and the way the Christians view Him. I go to church nearly every Sunday. I pray, read the Bible & attend bible Study.

I am saddened by the loss of my bride "Jem" after such a short time together.
I am not however devastated and eventually I pray that God would see fit to put me together with another lady, "till death us do part". I am mot dwelling in the past but am moving on in my life also.

It for me was a matter of being ready and the time came together where I was at the right place mentally where I could embark on my experement of managing my diabetes without medications. It has been tough and interesting at moments but it was always worthwhile.

Caroltoo 2011-12-20 22:56:24 -0600 Report

Thanks for sharing this, James. I knew I could count on you. I thought from some of our conversations, that we were very close in approach.

Young1s 2011-12-20 13:37:28 -0600 Report

I knew about some of this through reading your postings, but there's nothing like an indepth account of the journey to fully understand what a person goes through. I applaud you for your strength and endurance.

I could get on board with most of this, with the exception of the food selection and preparation. I know it's a necessity for you but boy does it sound difficult. I was thinking about my cupboards. I have a bunch of prepackaged, canned, etc…, foods that I can't imagine not using on a regular basis. Don't misunderstand me, I use as much fresh foods as I can get my hands on but I still turn to these other items. I just use healthier versions of them (if there is such a thing). For now, I can't foresee a time that I am not going up and down the middle aisles for something. Who knows though, maybe that'll change some day.

Be blessed.

Caroltoo 2011-12-20 17:58:27 -0600 Report

I enjoy cooking and my refrigerators are my cupboards. Seriously though, without the allergies, you can probably do something similar by reading labels carefully and cooking fresh when possible.

Young1s 2011-12-20 18:41:32 -0600 Report

I know you're probably right and I do cook mostly fresh. It's the quarter of the plate that's a starch is where the rest comes in. I'm still able to have them in moderation, so my family and I have potatoes, rice, or pasta with just about every dinner. I know I can make my own pasta. One of my favorite Italian chefs on TV demonstrates how to make it from scratch all the time, I just haven't attempted it yet. But for the most part, if it can be made from scratch, I try to do it. Mostly because it tastes better. However, on those nights when I'm not in the mood to cook anything at all, those prepackaged foods come in real handy.

Caroltoo 2011-12-20 21:42:54 -0600 Report

Wonderful. Wish I knew how to make pasta. In moderation, those carbs are good and good for you, Patricia. I just get my carbs from the quinoa, corn, and lentils because I'm gluten intolerant and wheat makes me sick. I use the occasional red potato—love um and know I react less to the red. It's not an all or nothing thing, it's all about moderation and doing what keeps you healthy and happy.

Set apart
Set apart 2011-12-20 06:13:49 -0600 Report

Wow this is great thank you for sharing your ideas you have now motivated me to do even better. My job entails always helping and caring for others so I have to take time to care for myself. The fact that you are dealing with so much is a display of your faith in the higher being God! He only gives us what he knows we can handle you are amazing! blessings!

Caroltoo 2011-12-20 22:54:27 -0600 Report

I hope it gives you some new ideas, but I also want to reassure you that you are doing very well yourself. Probably a little tweeking in what you are doing will get you down that last point, but meantime, pat yourself on the back. You are on good safe ground with what you are doing.

Set apart
Set apart 2011-12-22 06:05:12 -0600 Report

Thanks I think k I usually have great willpower. This last week was exhausted my husband called friends were at the house waiting for me to pick something up for dinner. It was already 6:00 hadn't planned on feeding others thought I could have something simple. I grabbed the pizza deal with wings, etc. Got home everyone having a good time and my friend had made us a delicious cheese ball. I was weak and stressed ate 2 small slices, along with a few wings, and crackers and cheese ball. Next day @ 149 fasting not good! I guess I just wanted to be part of the group! Do you ever do this?

Caroltoo 2011-12-22 11:47:55 -0600 Report

I think when we realize what is at stake, it is very motivating to stay on course with the new lifestyle. Yes, there are definitely situations where I adapt too. Last Monday for my birthday I ate a yummy steak, some grilled vegetables, and 1/3 order of pasta (no-no for both my diabetes and my gluten intolerance). I ended with a shared piece of decadently delicious cheesecake (graham crust is another no-no for the same reasons). This is all documented in my photos, so it's not even a hidden sin. We have to LIVE as well as survive. It's not a problem unless we find we are doing it often and it is no longer the exception. Your BG's will tell on you and are a good guide to when you have it back under control. For Type 2s, a lot of this is just moderation and common sense, so don't beat yourself up over a couple pieces of pizza.

Young1s 2011-12-22 15:26:31 -0600 Report

Exactly. I was explaining to my doctor yesterday why my levels, as of late, have been more up than down…Cake. I was enjoying too much of it so it was no longer an exception. Along with the fact that, even though I was testing, I wasn't recording my numbers in my journal. Long story short, after finally writing them down, I saw how frequently my highs were occuring.

For me, it's the visual aspect. If I see what I am or am not doing all laid out in front of me, it keeps me motivated and in line. With the numbers just stored in my meter, it's basically out of sight, out of mind. So okay I lost my senses for a moment there but it's not the end of the world and I'm back on track now.

Young1s 2012-03-19 10:25:14 -0500 Report

Well Carol, I clearly hadn't learned my lesson from the last time (when I posted the reply above) because I had a piece for my mid morning snack last Friday and my BG's shot through the roof. 354 to be exact. Took me til 8:30 that evening to get it back down to close to normal. Needless to say I am off cakes of any kind for a long, long time. Not worth the near hospital visit. I'll just have to find a safer way to satisfy my sweet tooth. It still amazes me though because I never craved sweets so much before being diagnosed. I wonder if it's purely psychological?

Caroltoo 2012-03-19 12:45:36 -0500 Report

You may not have craved them, if you ate them when you wanted them. If you were eating a lot and then stopped, that's when you notice the loss and begin the craving. It can be psychological, but can also be a real physical/chemical addiction.

Young1s 2012-03-19 15:08:38 -0500 Report

Before being diagnosed my snacks of choice were chips (all varieties), crackers and occasionally cookies. But not as much as the chips and crackers. However, I could drink a 2 liter bottle of soda a day no problem. Now that I drink practically nothing but water, I guess my body is looking for a sweet substitute.

Caroltoo 2012-03-19 16:24:37 -0500 Report

Looks like you have identified the culprits! Coke has lots of sugar, as Al pointed out to us, and the high glycemic index carbohydrates you listed are processed into sugars also. You may not think you are perfect yet (I think that's called being human.), but you have made enough really substantial changes to alert your body to the fact that it is going to have to get along with a whole lot less sugar.

In the book, The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet, the authors suggest doing without all carbs for 3 days, then slowly introducing them back into the diet for one meal a day, then all 3 meals but limited quantities, as a way to break this sugar/carb addiction and move on to less compulsive and happier eating.

Young1s 2012-03-19 17:28:37 -0500 Report

Interesting thought. You'd be essentially rebooting/rewiring your body's eating habits? I guess I really have made some great steps in the right direction, as far as my diet is concerned. Yet another thing I need to keep in mind when I start coming down too hard on myself.

Caroltoo 2012-03-19 18:24:13 -0500 Report

Going back to a baseline and starting over. I tried it about 5 years ago and it has worked for me.

Do keep reminding yourself of all the good changes you have made. You are miles ahead of where you were a year ago! You can keep tweaking the process as you go, but don't let that diminish the impact of what you have already done! You are doing great!

jigsaw 2012-03-19 15:45:43 -0500 Report

Many many many moons ago I used to drink regular coke ! Subsequently, I discovered that there are 12 to 14 teaspoons of sugar in one can ! hOLY MACKERAL !!

jigsaw 2012-03-19 18:53:39 -0500 Report

After all, it is highly addicting stuff ! Add all that caffiene to the sugar, and I'm surprised there aren't more wired people with spiraling eyeballs running around !

Young1s 2012-03-19 16:23:23 -0500 Report

I know right!?! I was watching some program where they actually scooped out the amount of sugar and poured it onto the table. Half way through I'm thinking okay this is crazy, this has to be it…and then they kept going. Unfortunately, that didn't stop me from drinking the liter of soda a day, but that visual has stuck with me to this day. I'll hold onto it as a nice reminder of what I'm putting in my body if I ever think of starting on regular sodas again.

jigsaw 2012-03-19 19:11:06 -0500 Report

Let me be totally honest ! The biggest motivator that works for me is facing the reality of it all. I really don't mean to sound harsh, but when I look at what diabetes can do when not managed, it motivates me and shakes me from denial. Not trying to beat a dead horse, I know that you are aware, but I can't help being concerned !

Young1s 2012-03-19 20:33:21 -0500 Report

I appreciate the concern Jigs. And given the mini protest I had 2 weeks ago, over my testing situation, I'd say the concern was warranted. But I'm done with the pity party. I decided I have to do what is going to work for me so that I can at least have that sense of control over my BG's again. With that comes paying better attention to what I'm eating and how it's effecting me. It's like I say to my kids concerning their schooling and homework/grades, no one can do the work for me, it's up to me to put in the time and effort it takes to reach my goals. So yes, I'm fully aware of what I need to do and no more tantrums over minor issues.

jigsaw 2012-03-19 20:45:45 -0500 Report

I understand, I'm not afraid or ashamed to admit I go through some of those same episodes myself. I'm proud of you though, because I know you'll pick yourself up, hop back on your horse, and ride high in the saddle once again !