Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Walking Science Experiment


Since I'm all about controlling my blood sugar these days, I spend a lot of my time planning out my food, discovering new foods, and looking at the ways I react to certain foods.  This post is a random list of what I've learned so far.

  • As I mentioned in my last post, although my doctor told me that spot-checking my blood glucose levels wouldn't be useful at the level that I'm at, I have found that it has been a huge help.  So thank you, Amazon, for selling affordable test strips.

  • In my last post, I also said that rice is a no-no.  I did a second test where I had just HALF a cup of brown rice, along with other things in a meal (protein, fat)... unlike last time when I had white rice in isolation.  Yet still, it did seem to raise my levels, so now I'm pretty much avoiding rice altogether.  This is useful information.  I've read that basmati rice might be an option since it's lower glycemic, so that will be the next test I do.  Yes, it sucks... being Asian-American... rice is huge.  I've been eating riced cauliflower and quinoa instead for now.  On that same thread, I suspect Japanese food will need to be limited since it contains a lot of "hidden" sugars.

  • Pasta seems to raise me a bit, but at a more manageable level.  I don't eat pasta very often to begin with, so this isn't super useful information, but it's good to know I can pick at some without ill effects.

  • I haven't done too much testing on sweets (baked goods in particular) yet, and the main reason for that is because a) I've found many alternatives to sweets (more on that later?), and b) I find that eating sweets begets cravings for them.  The first month after my test, I was pretty strict about my sweet/carb intake, and although I had a rough period where I craved things, that passed, so I don't want to trigger them again.  Now, there have been weak moments, mostly when we are at events, where sweets have not spiked me since I just nibble and eat other things with them.  This is good news.

  • Finally, I ate a lot of yogurt, some of it sweetened, in the past year, so I wanted to see if this was what was contributing to my poor results.  Well, I finally got the courage to test this (those Fage Crossovers are the BOMB), and nope... it's not that.  Very good to know, but I'll be saving those for treats since again, the sugar within might beget cravings.

  • I have switched to sprouted and einkorn (primitive wheat) bread, which I tolerate well, but I haven't really eaten other breads yet.  I will be sure to test other breads as I try them, but honestly, the sprouted breads are so tasty.  Bagels are a monster -- I'm not sure if I will test those or not, unless I get really desperate.  I used to love bagels, but it was another one of those items I cut in recent years since I have long known how carb-y they are.

  • Back to the first bullet-point, my advice is to take charge of your health.  My doctors have not addressed my test results and probably would not until I plunge into full-blown diabetes.  They cared when I was pregnant and cared about my son when he was born, but otherwise, we are kind of on our own.  I think this is typical of doctors as a whole and not just mine, likely because of costs and limited understanding of these types of things.

This is very preliminary, but aside from rice, I think that if I just spread my carb intake throughout the day, I might be all right.  It does make me wonder why my official numbers have been high, but maybe it was more related to timing than anything else.

I should add that a few months into moderating my carb intake, I've felt pretty good overall.  Yes, there are rough days, but overall, I think I have a little more energy than before.  It does kind of burn me out to put so much thought into tracking and timing and testing.  For example, if I've eaten a smaller meal and get hungry shortly after, I can't eat again until it's time to test my glucose levels if I'm testing a good.  Also, going out is more complicated, and I find that's where I'm making the most "mistakes."  I'm hoping all these things get better with time, and this close tracking/monitoring period is going to be temporary until I knock the training wheels off.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing if I can move the dial back, but along the way, I'm doing something good for myself.  Perhaps this is all just one of those veiled blessings.

On the note of blessings, Happy (early) Mother's Day to those in the motherly roles in life!  Mothers make the world go 'round!  Although I typically don't really celebrate myself on this day because we're busy celebrating the older generations, I'm so lucky to have so many to celebrate with right now.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Diabetes, part 2

This is NOT a topic I had wanted to come upon again, yet here we are.

In a post that I linked above, I talked about my unexpected run (hah) with gestational diabetes and how this is something that is now underlined in my medical history.  Last year, I vaguely mentioned that my yearly follow-up test didn't go in the direction I had wanted, but I figured that this was a function of a lack of sleep and its associated effects on my hormone (and carb consumption) level.

Now, I had not been perfect throughout life, leading a high-ish-carb existence as many do.  However, after pregnancy, I got used to eating a modified diet already.  I pretty much quit eating candy because somewhere in my mind had an apprehension of that.  After nursing, I stopped eating oatmeal and fruit in the morning in favor of Greek yogurt, eggs, and protein powders/bars.  In this past year, I've had boba drinks (a cultural staple, ha ha!) maybe twice, and I always get them "half-sweet" or even unsweetened.  My Starbucks orders were 1 pump or sugar-free, and I don't even go nearly as often as before.  I tracked my intake for months as well.   I don't get out as much as before and to top that off, work from home mostly now, so access to baked goods, sweets, and any of my other beloveds went way down.  Physical activity hasn't really ever been a problem because I've prioritized exercise as my "me-time."

So this is kind of how my test results have been over the years:

  • Pre-pregnancy: Unfortunately, was never formally tested, but all worksite biometric screenings (random blood sugar pricks) came out fine.

  • Very beginning of pregnancy: Normal A1C (average blood sugar over a 3-month period) result, which leads me to believe that I did not have blood sugar issues prior to this point.

  • Last third of pregnancy: Majorly failed glucose tolerance test and controlled diet for remainder of pregnancy -- from my glucometer, I did see I had a legitimate issue controlling blood sugar after eating certain foods/amounts.

  • Two months post-partum: No tests done on me until this point -- A1C went up by .1 from initial pregnancy number, 2-hour glucose tolerance test (the "gold standard" test) passed, worksite biometric screening was fine

  • One year post-partum: A1C went up by .1 again, now at "pre-diabetic level," although worksite biometric screening went fine

  • Two years post-partum (present): A1C unchanged

Although there was no change from last year, I considered this present result a blow because I couldn't rationalize it (aka., blame it on lack of sleep) at all.  But I guess rationalizing it doesn't matter.  I could tell myself that A1C tests can be off (by as much as .5), but it doesn't change the fact that I had legitimate issues controlling my blood sugar for a period and have a huge elevated risk of diabetes in my future.  I don't know if it's a matter of "when" instead of "if," but I don't want to go down that route.  I got a taste of life with diabetes and know far too many who deal with it regularly.

I'm back to micro-managing my intake.  I'll track for a while until it becomes habit and take controlled breaks from tracking, but I think I will need to keep breaks to no more than a month just to be sure I don't veer off.  I even started doing random blood glucose checks since I still have my meter and found cheap-ish strips on Amazon.  My doctor would not write a prescription since she said my "prediabetes" (quoted) was minor.  Uhhh.....  One night recently, I decided to eat a measured cup of rice for dinner with nothing else, and... holy post-meal glucose!  That, to me, justified everything I have been doing.  I had lots of issues with rice and beans when I was pregnant, so it was no surprise... though still shocking... to see a number that high.  Another hour later, it did go back down, so it does seem like whatever is going on is abnormal but not so abnormal that a doctor would jump -- though they should!

Just as when I first faced this while pregnant, I was very "woe is me," but after these couple of months, I feel this is an opportunity for me to be healthier and address things like the endless cravings I am used to having.  Back to the whole rationalization thing, I've accepted things and am not overly embarrassed anymore, because whether any of this is my fault or not, the end result is the same -- eating less of the things I shouldn't, anyway.   While I can blame my old eating habits (since I have no family history), I know there are plenty of people who eat worse and have no issues.  But regardless, again, blame won't change anything, so I can only just accept full responsibility for myself from this point on.

Sorry for the wall of text and the TMI.  I think this post is a backdrop for reviews I do here and on YouTube going forward, and maybe there's another in-between person like me who might be able to relate to all of this.  Stay tuned for some follow-up posts about what I've been doing and my progress.  I will be formally tested again in the next couple of months, so let's see what happens.