Health, Diabetes and Happy Cooking
The easiest diet is, you know, eat vegetables, eat fresh food. Just a really sensible healthy diet like you read about all of the time. ~ Drew Carey
Well if you have read this blog regularly you know that I struggle with blood sugar regulation and at times lose that battle and end up in the range of being categorized as a Type 2 diabetic. Over my last year traveling I quite frankly ignored this reality. I ate what I wanted, I drank Coca Cola’s with abandoned and even though I was still quite active it meant my blood sugar was thoroughly unregulated. I paid the price in that my numbers when I finally got back to paying attention were higher in June than they have ever been. This is of course is a problem for a number of reasons, the most pressing for me of course is that I have a heart condition and diabetes, along with my genetically driven high blood pressure increases the risk of a heart attack.
Now for me I have two conditions that are beyond my control. First off I have a congenital birth defect, a bifurcated aortic valve, that has led to an aortic aneurysm and eventually will lead to open heart surgery within the next 5 years. The second is the fact that my high blood pressure is primarily a result of a genetic condition inherited through my mother’s side of the family. Happily modern medicine has done lots of research on this and there are medications, because my grandfather died of this condition in 1969.
However that leaves my diabetes, the predisposition also runs in the family, this time a gift from my father’s side of the hereditary tree. But a pre-disposition is just that, it makes it easier me for to become a diabetic but it still needs my help. The fact is three things more than anything else contribute to me having poor blood sugar, my eating habits, my weight and my level of activity.
I’ve always been a fairly active person, even at my least healthy point in life. A point in which I wasn’t working out regularly and weighed 250 pounds, 60 pounds heavier than I currently am, I was still active. I remember a really awesome winter hike in the Smokies back than with my friend Andrew. We pounded a 14 mile round trip up to the summit of Mt. Leconte with about 8 inches of snow on the ground. That was around 1998, and in the subsequent twenty years a lot of things have changed. In a couple of successive step downs I got my weight from 250 to 230, about 5 years later from 230 to 215 and two years ago from 215 to 200. Since coming to my new home and job I’ve dropped to 190 and my goal is to be at 175 by the end of this year.
At the Everest Rock Bar after the white knuckle flight to Lukla on the trail to Everest
So I’ve been steadily improving my weight and starting in 2010 as part of my preparation for hiking to Base Camp at Mt. Everest, I began working out regularly at the gym, not just walking and hiking like I did previously. But the simple fact for me is that my eating habits have always been my weakness. I love Coca Cola, just about the worst thing I could drink for me. I love pizza, bread, pasta, rice, potatoes all which are not exactly things found on a low carb diet. I know I’ll get at least one comment of how all it really takes is just to eat these things in moderation and I’ll be fine. Unfortunately for me, that’s just not reality, but is a fallacy I’ve been willing to accept for a long time. I often say that humans have two superpowers, rationalization and denial and I have certainly employed both when it comes to eating.
So all of this has led to where I find myself now, pretty much up against the wall in terms of my blood sugar. If I’m not able to get this under control in the next couple of months I’m going to end up adding one more medication into my life. And given I’m already on five related to the conditions I can’t change, I really don’t want to add a sixth for something that is essentially within my control. So it means it’s time to get very, very serious about this.
So I’m being a bit militant about my diet right now. This has meant adding more vegetables but not starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn. It’s meant mirroring some aspects of a Ketogenic Diet, but not going full Keto, adding some fat, but adding a lot of fat is not the best idea for someone with a heart condition. I’m also actually cutting down on my meat consumption a little, I eat meat most days but not everyday, and not a lot of red meat, but I’m cutting back a little. So this means more vegetable fats, more leafy vegetables including salads and completely avoiding the high carb foods I love. For the meantime I’m even forgoing my normal cheat day. Finally the plan also includes intensifying my cardio workouts. I typically workout 4-5 days a week but I’ve added two days of running into the mix. I am not, nor do I enjoy running, but it’s the easiest way to up that intensity. And finally to make that stick I’ve set a goal and actually running a 5k, so on April 11th I’ll be doing the Big Bunny 2020 5K in Cupertino. I figure no matter how slow I am I should be able to outrun the children. For those of you who know me well, I’m sure this little announcement is a shock. I’ve always said I only run with a ball in front of me or a dog behind me.
One of the necessary and fun parts of this little journey has been looking for new things to cook. I’ve really become enamored with Delish.com they have some great recipes and I’ve been experimenting. I love to cook and always doctor and personalize recipes to my own taste but I’ve tried to the following in the last week and have been really happy with them.
Zucchini Au Gratin
Spaghetti Squash with homemade sauce
I’ve also been playing with some new ingredients like Shirataki Noodles, and used them with shrimp scampi.
So you may be asking what does this have to do with happiness? The thing is that we have things in our life that reduce our happiness and poor health is one of those for me. So what’s important in this process is the idea of constantly getting a little bit better, whether it’s your health or your happiness. First, you have to figure out what the issue you is you want to address, you have to decide it’s something important enough to change so that you have the desire to do so. Then you have to make a plan and work the plan, all with the goal of just doing a little better today than you did yesterday and very importantly, forgiving yourself if you don’t and then recommitting and getting better tomorrow. If you can do that my friends you’ll have happy days. ~ Rev Kane