The Diagnonsense

I was 7-years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was in the room when the doctor and his entourage came in and told my parents. I had no idea what diabetes was, or what it meant. My mom cried, my dad nodded, and all of a sudden my life was completely different.

My mom kneeled down in front of me and tried to explain to me that an organ inside my body, called a pancreas, wasn’t working anymore, and that I would have to start giving myself needles. I was so mad. I remember thinking, ‘but this is my body! I can make it work again if I have to!”

I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, learning how to live with diabetes. I remember the day they brought in a cabbage patch doll that they used to help kids learn how to inject insulin. It was heavy. I remember wondering if insulin did that to the doll, what would it do to my body?

The nights in the hospital were lonely, the days filled with nasty hospital food, friendly staff, and lots of learning. When I was finally discharged from the hospital I was told that I would have to monitor my blood glucose for the rest of my life. I had to test my urine every time I went to the bathroom. I was angry and I felt betrayed by own body. It was scary and lonely.

My mom bought a scale to weigh my food and I had to portion out all my meals. My parents were very supportive, and asked that everyone in the family (at the time I lived with both my grandparents, my uncle, and my brother and sister) to do a blood test. I appreciated the effort, but part of me thought, “yeah, but they don’t have to do it at every meal.”

I don’t know how long I tested my urine for, it could have only been a week, but to me, it felt like months. Anyway, I remember being so angry and humiliated that I couldn’t even take a pee without this stupid disease interfering. I remember thinking, at 7-years old, that I would rather die than suffer the humiliation of having to take another pee test.

I barely finished grade 2, and when I started grade 3, the teacher asked us to write about our summer in cursive writing. I remember staring at the page, not having a clue what to do while all the other kids began writing about their summer’s. I cried.

That was a hard year for me because I had to get used to living with diabetes, and I had to relearn most of 2nd grade while simultaneously learning grade 3. My math skills were never recovered.

The first time I had low blood sugars at school, I didn’t remember what it was called. I tried to tell my teacher that I didn’t feel well. “I’m having one of those things…” She looked me over, pronounced me fine, and sent me outside for afternoon recess. I was scared because I had been warned about this at the hospital, and that if I ever felt this way I needed sugar to get my blood glucose up as soon as possible. My best friend ended up scouring the school yard, asking every single kid for anything that I could use to get my blood sugars up. I told my mom about it when I got home and she called the school. The next day the teacher pulled me aside and told me that I had to let her know next time I ever felt like that. “But I tried!”

It was a hard year, and I cried and felt sorry for myself, a lot. I was angry and resentful. I’d missed too much school the year before, and I has having a hell of a time learning grade 2 and 3 together.  I don’t remember a lot of this part, but my dad assures me I was becoming depressed. Both my parents felt so bad for me that they discussed sending me to camp Banting. (Fredrick Banting discovered insulin, and there’s a summer camp for diabetic children to go to where the food is portioned out and everyone who attends has diabetes.) We weren’t poor, but my parents didn’t have a lot of money for me to attend a camp like this. My grandparents pitched in and they sent me to camp. At first I was homesick and all I wanted was to come home. Then, I started to make friends and there were a lot of fun activities. We practiced archery, went swimming, went on nature walks, and did crafts. They sold “diabetic friendly” Crispy Crunch bars at the general store. (READ: aspartame laden.)

It was nice to know there were other kids out there who had the same disease as I did. They lived with it, they knew what it was like. We got to talk about it. It made me feel better about what I was living with. It also made me realize that there was nothing I could do about having this disease, and I had to change my perspective about how I dealt with it.

A couple of years later, I became a rebellious teenager and while my mom was busy weighing and measuring my food, I was at school trading my carefully assembled lunches and doing everything I could to get my hands on whatever junk food I could. If I couldn’t eat it at home, I sure as hell would try and eat it at school. By the time I hit high school, my favourite treat was a diet coke and chocolate bar.

A couple of years later, even though I was pretty active (I was still eating a SAD diet) I started gaining a lot of weight, really fast. I was tired all the time and waking up for school was increasingly difficult. I went to see my doctor, who diagnosed me Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  I was put on synthroid to deal with it and that was that.

It was around this time that I started looking in to being a vegetarian. My best friends were all vegetarians, and I thought they were crazy. I went to the library to find books about why being a vegetarian would be dangerous, but I found just the opposite. There was so much research on why it is a safe, responsible choice that I decided I would try it. I was vegetarian for almost 10 years, even vegan on and off. I thought I was saving my health.

At first it was wonderful, I felt great, had more energy than ever, and what I considered the best thing; I was part of an elite group of people that took pride in their health. During that time though, I was never able to get rid of my winter eczema, I still had a hard time with my blood glucose levels and near the end, I started gaining more weight.

Which brings me to now. I’ve found paleo, even better, autoimmune paleo, and it has changed my life. I am finally in tune with my body and the food that I eat. I’ve lost 25 lbs, and I’m trying to lose more. I eat clean, and healthy and I consistently have normal blood glucose levels. I’ve reduced my cholesterol (not enough for my doctor’s liking), triglycerides. I still have work to do with my A1C (average blood glucose over a couple month period) but I like to think I’m a work in progress.

I honestly wish I had known about paleo when I was first diagnosed with T1 diabetes. I think it could have helped me so much. I wish all children diagnosed with T1 diabetes were told about paleo. It seems ridiculous that we’re taught in the hospital to eat 50-60% of our calories from carbohydrates and to mitigate that with insulin when there is a much easier approach.

Funny, now that I think about it, whenever I went to see the nutritionist at the hospital, I always wanted to trade my starches for proteins! I always did love my meat!

 

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21DSD Day 5 – Lunch

I made the most delicious lunch today. In my previous post, I mentioned how much I missed slathering mayo all over everything. Well, that definitely includes tuna! I found some already-cooked lobsters at the grocery store yesterday, so I shucked all the meat out of it, and mixed that with some canned tuna and the bacon mayo that I made this morning. I added some more dijon mustard, cucumbers, cilantro, green onions, and kalamata olives. I also sprinkled it with garlic powder and pepper.

I served it on romaine lettuce leaves as a wrap and it was so crunchy and satisfying!


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As for the detox, I’m feeling really good so far. I haven’t experienced any headaches. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling well in the morning, but I think that’s because I had a severe case of hypoglycemia in the middle of the night. Anyway, it resolved itself by the evening and today I’m feeling great, lots of energy.

 

I’m still having a pretty severe eczema outbreak on my hands. It seems to be focused only on the back of my hands and, ironically, my nipples. Strange, but true. I’m really hoping it’s going to start clearing up soon, especially since I haven’t eaten any of my trigger foods. Other than that, I’m enjoying the food on the detox, I don’t find it all that different from my normal paleo eating. I guess the diabetes comes in handy for limiting the amount of sugar I eat. Woot!

Here are some pictures of my hands to help you get a better idea of what I’m dealing with. I’ve been slathering (I love that word) coconut oil on them to relieve the itching. I’m avoiding my steroid creams for the detox but if it gets any worse, I’ll consider using it.

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This is my right pinky and ring finger. It’s suffering the worst of it because that’s where my original eczema break out started when I ate eggs over the holidays.

 

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This is the back of my hand. It’s just red and itchy. I didn’t put any filters on these pictures so you could see it as ‘naturally’ as possible.

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This is also an original eczema break out spot from the holidays. Eggs and me aren’t friends anymore. This makes me sad because I could eat eggs all day. This is also a spot that’s become itchy and red since starting the detox. It was healing, as was my pinky finger, until I ate eggs New Year’s day. Everything else hasn’t stopped itching since the start of the detox. It’s still itching now. I wish it would stop and go away.

Enjoy your lunch!

My Autoimmune Protocol and Some Poop

When I went through Diane Philippo’s Practical Paleo, I never really thought to look at the autoimmune conditions meal plan. I was perusing through it again today, and I actually read through the conditions that it can help, and low and behold, type 1 diabetes is on it. It’s also on the blood sugar regulation meal plan. Things to avoid while on the autoimmune protocol: ALL DAIRY. Well shit. I wish I had looked at that sooner.

I also listened to The Paleo View’s latest podcast on autoimmunity today, and I learned so much. In fact, this has been a day of learning for me. I’ve also figured out a way to personalize a meal plan for myself.

First thing’s first, my fasting blood sugars have been perfect for 2 days in a row. Yesterday 4.7, today 4.6. This is awesome. I am being incredibly diligent with what I’m putting in my body and it’s finally paying off. I went as high as 9 yesterday, and while that’s not what I’m aiming for, it’s a lot better than the 20’s I was hitting a few weeks ago. I’ve also noticed that after eating just protein (like salmon or chicken), my blood sugars are highest about 4 hours after, instead of 1-2 hours after a meal that has carbohydrates (in the form of vegetables).

Obviously I have a violent reaction to raw milk, and most likely all milk. No more milk for me, or dairy. Obviously no wheat or gluten either. No nuts and seeds. No cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, mustard, turnips, or rutabaga.

This seems a little strict at first, but I definitely think it’s worth it in the short term to tackle my health with some nutrient-dense, gut healing foods.

I also wanted to mention page 75 of Practical Paleo, which discusses poop. I have never had an ‘ideal’ poop. They are either ‘Ms Rocky’, or ‘Ms Runny’. I don’t poop everyday. If I’m lucky I poop every other day. Otherwise it could be every 2-3 days. This has always been the same whether I was vegan, vegetarian or now paleo. If I switch it up with my diet, I go more often, but then it tapers off again to this same routine.

I’ve discovered this is most likely due to my thyroid, which causes constipation. I’m really looking forward to focusing on eating for my thyroid health, which in turn will help with my diabetes and any other gut troubles I may be having.

We went out for sushi tonight. I ate a ton of sashimi and I brought my own wheat-free, GMO-free tamari sauce. My friend laughed at me. He thinks the best way to lose weight is to count calories and watch what you eat. He has no idea what it’s like to feel like your body is attacking itself. He tried to laugh at me about not even eating rice, which is ‘basically harmless and has little, if any, nutritional value’. I was like, exactly. Not only that, I explained to him that when I eat sushi, I have to give myself triple the amount of insulin to handle the sugar load. The white rice on its own spikes my blood sugars pretty high, but they also add sugar to that rice. If that’s what it’s doing to my body, that I can actually monitor with a glucose monitor, imagine what it’s doing to yours? No thanks. I’ll just stick with the sashimi. Speaking of which, I’ve always gravitated towards sushi, and salmon in particular, and I just discovered today that they are high in iodine, which is a key mineral for thyroid function. It’s interesting how many foods I am intuitively drawn to that just happen to be good for certain things like blood sugar control or thyroid health. Salmon, onions, garlic, eggs.

My sister told me today that she didn’t think the amount of bacon that I eat could possibly be healthy. I told her that I advertise a lot of bacon eating on facebook, but that I don’t actually eat as much as I talk about it. I haven’t had any in over a week. She replied with, “a whole week without bacon? gasp!”

I tried to show her the post that Diane Sanfilippo questioning whether bacon is a Health Food or Delicious Devil in Disguise. She told me that there was no way I could convince her that bacon is a superfood. It’s almost funny because she’s worrying about my health as seriously as I’m worrying about hers. She’s a long-time vegetarian, and I honestly doubt I’ll be able to change her mind. I’m concerned for her because she eats so often, yet is always hungry. Keeping in mind that we live across the country from each other and I haven’t lived near her in years. However, I still worry like crazy that she’s hurting herself without realizing. I think it’s almost comical that she’s worrying about me in the same way.

“how healthy do you really feel…?”

I responded with, “healthier than i have in a long time, blood sugars are regulating, lots of energy, weight loss, blood tests from the doctor are awesome, saturated fat is good for you, it’s not the devil it’s been made out to be, i’ve eliminated all processed foods from my diet, if you read the science behind it, you’ll understand, this is so healthy”

I know the mindset she’s in, and I know that if someone had tried to tell me about paleo a couple of years ago, I would have laughed in their face. I wish I had known about it sooner. In fact, I had just started eating a bit more meat and finally accepted that I was no longer a vegetarian. I looked up online “ideal human diet” and that’s what led me into the wonderful world of paleo. The science behind it works intuitively, and I know this is the right way to eat. Which is also the same thing I thought when I was a vegetarian. I want her to come around, but there’s no way I can force the issue. I’m hoping I can show her how delicious and healthy these foods are when she comes to visit in September.

Tomorrow I have to get up early to go my first meeting for work. I’m off to bed early tonight! I will post some recipes soon, I just need to make something with  more than 3 ingredients!

 

I’m an Elitist

My husband told me tonight that I’m an elitist. I (half) joked that my snack was better than his snack. I had home made liver paté smeared on cucumbers with raw goat milk cheese. It was accompanied by garlic stuffed olives and a delicious 2008 cab-merlot and some wonderful company. My best friend Maddy. He had BBQ lays chips. An entire bag.

I was really insulted, and I think maybe it’s because it’s a little bit true.

I have a really hard time doing anything halfway. Go big or go home, I’m either in or I’m out. When I was a vegetarian (gasp!) I used to scorn the consumption of meat. I talked myself into how positively disgusting meat smelled. However, I was always tempted by it, and when I gave in to temptation, it always tasted as delicious as I remembered it being.

I guess the same is true about paleo. I crave ice cream. I enjoy chips. I miss the convenience of fast food. But I don’t eat these things (especially for the next 30 days while I do this thyroid meal plan) and it’s hard for me to forgo something without delineating exactly why it’s not good for me, and you.

I can’t imagine how hard it must be to live with someone who nags you constantly about what you eat, which is why I won’t do that to my husband. He’s made his choice, and that’s fine. However, I think he feels more guilty about it than I am angry because he told me I was on his case all day about everything he ate. Which is funny, since he slept in until noon and I got him a sandwich from the deli for his lunch. When he said he wanted a calzone for dinner, I told him to feel free and get himself one. I happily made Maddy and I some deviled eggs, which were delicious and quite filling. I never said a word to him about his choices.

I know that he knows that he’s not eating healthy. I know that right now he doesn’t want to worry about the food he’s eating because he thinks it makes him happy. I know this has nothing to do with paleo, but with him being in control (even though his eating is out of control). I have faith that at some point (hopefully soon, but I’m willing to wait) he’ll realize that he’s not doing himself any favours by gorging himself and eventually he’ll come around. He even told me that he can’t un-know what he’s learned about eating healthy. Right now he just wants to eat what makes him happy, which unfortunately is junk.

Anyway, I’m trying to be there for him, and I think that’s all I can do at this point. It just sucks that he’s telling me that I’m on his case about his eating when I’m not. In fact, I’m more worried than anything. He’s gaining weight and doesn’t seem to notice or care how much his eating is affecting him. Like I said, I have hope that at some point he’ll hit his rock bottom and realize that this gorging has to stop. I love him and I’m worried about him. I’m also worried about the message this is sending to the kids. I don’t want to be so strict with them that food becomes an issue; I don’t want Martin to eat whatever he wants whenever he wants because I don’t want food to be an issue.

All that being said, I made the kids a lovely paleo dinner tonight. I cooked them organic hot dogs in a coconut oil, sliced with an egg over-easy on top. Rowan calls these eggs he can pop. He loves to pop the yokes, and he’s only recently decided he likes eggs, so I’m over the moon about that. He’s a super picky eater. I also served it with half an avocado. Rowan usually just picks at his dinner, and it freaks me out because unless I force feed him, some nights he won’t eat at all. So many issues revolving around food in this house!

The one thing I have to keep in mind though, is that I’m doing this for my health. I believe in this the way to a healthier life. I don’t want to be that mom that can’t play at the park because she’s too old/tired/sore etc. I want to be active and fit and healthy. I want to eat real food and cook up a delicious storm in my kitchen! I want to feed my kids well and have them make healthy choices when it comes to what they put in their bodies!

I asked River (who will be 5 on Monday) if I could make her a cake for her birthday. She was very enthused by the idea. I made her a gluten free lemon cake with maple cream cheese frosting and blueberry syrop in the middle. I made it refined-sugar free, with raw honey and maple syrop. Everything was sourced as locally/organically as I could. Yes there is sugar in it. Yes this is for her birthday and is considered a treat. I don’t mind though! I don’t mind her enjoying a delicious, gluten free cake for her birthday! I wouldn’t say it’s healthy, but I would say it’s a hell of a lot healthier than anything you could buy at the store.

This is a long, slow process, but I know eventually they’ll come around. I have my convictions of good health and I just have to lead by example. It’s tough though. It’s really tough when every meal I make the kids groan, “is this another paleo meal?” Or my favourite, “I don’t like that.” That seems to be Willow’s reflexive answer to anything I talk about making for dinner. Anyway, I had the kids look through Eat Like a Dinosaur and Practical Paleo for recipes that they would actually enjoy eating. It’s easier to have them on board. Willow’s almost 10, so she’s definitely old enough to be helping me in the kitchen.

Elitist or not, I know paleo is better for you than any other SAD diet out there. Whether it’s primal, paleo, or tweaked in whatever way to fit into your life, real, whole foods is still better than anything from a package. I just wish my husband could see that.