Nuts, bolts and successful Type 2 strategies.

download

Many people have inquired about the specifics of how I personally control my condition. Breaking with my usual focus on the behavioral aspects of management, I thought I’d share more about the nuts and bolts that I find helpful, or essential. Because something works for me, there’s no guarantee it’ll do the same for you.

At the end of this post I’ll share a link to an amazing nutritionist, health consultant and food wizard, whose recipes and extensive knowledge turned things around for me.

So this is a summary of the best and most effective ways I maintain being fit and healthy, not just despite having Type 2, but because of it.

Choose what you want, try it to ascertain the results, and leave the rest!

 

Food

Starting off with food, as it’s the most central issue for us all. For those who are serious about containing their diabetes and attempting to forestall any complications, it’s unwise to think “I’ll get to the food thing later”.

I started out being serious about it. From the moment I was diagnosed, which foods are ‘safe’ became an obsession. Over the top maybe, but I saw it as one area I could make wise choices, with significant benefits down the road. For those who struggle with delayed gratification, this will be a more difficult motivator.

Time to hit “reset”.

I refer to myself as a functional cook. I can prepare tasty meals, but it was more a chore than a joy. I never followed recipes, preferring instead to be creative and cook up what was around. The results ranged from fine to uninspired.

Aside from all the nutritional research I’ve delved into, I’ve eventually whittled it down to several rules I follow.

Due to weight loss and low carbs, I’m no longer resistant to the hormones ghrelin and leptin. I eat only when physically hungry and stop when full. This helps manage portion control. I limit any protein to 2-3 ozs and learnt to eyeball it (around the size of your palm).

14604751

I eat plant-derived carbs, from non-starchy veggies, and full fats as a source of energy. Mostly this means the lowest carb full fat dairy like greek yogurt, half and half or coconut milk (regular cow’s milk is too high in sugar (lactose) content. I use extra virgin cold pressed olive oil and either coconut vinegar, lemon or lime for salad dressing. When baking or cooking, the  I only use organic virgin coconut oil, or organic butter.

I avoid all grains and flours, so instead I bake with almond or flax meal, coconut flour or psyllium husk.

One “secret helper” I’ve used occasionally if there is limited food choice, or the ingredients unknown or possibly suspect, is white bean extract capsules. They block carbohydrate absorption. I don’t use them as an excuse to eat carbs, but sparingly if that’s the best option at a restaurant.

 

Sleep

One of the triggers in developing Type 2 was significant sleep deprivation over a

imagesperiod of time. Due to severe menopausal symptoms, my sleep patterns were abysmal. At most I slept 4-5 hours down from my normal 7.5-8. Night after night I woke up due to ‘power surges’ of heat and energy causing my central nervous system to become aroused, and my body temperature rising and falling well outside a comfortable range. Sweating to shivering hourly…

 

This required a literal cooling down – I kept a damp cold face cloth next to the bed, windows wide open year round, light bedding and minimal contact with my partner, who tended to run hot.

Even as my body eventually cooled, turning shivery before normalizing, my mind was equally aroused, with thoughts torpedoing around that further pushed sleep away. After 18 months of this misery, I mentioned it to my MD who asked me why I was suffering like that? Not having a good answer, she prescribed sleeping pills. Never having tried them before, reluctantly I took them as clearly I needed to sleepBut knowing them to be addictive, this wasn’t a long-term solution.

Fast forward to today, what still works so well even though my sleeping has greatly improved as the flashes have decreased, is taking 1000 mg L-Tryptophan. This is an amino acid that’s a precursor (triggers production) of Serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep (and appetite). It works! I also add 360 mg Magnesium Taurate which helps as a muscle relaxer, further ensuring sound sleep.

So I take both 30 minutes or so before bedtime, and sleeplessness is history. Consequently, given the connection between sufficient sleep, blood glucose level and appetite, all are better regulated.

 

Exercise

Diabetes happened despite my regular daily workouts for years. As I learn how imperative exercise is to my new regime, I kicked it up several notches in intensity. Working well initially, it helped to sustain lower BG readings. But after several months, I noticed a troubling change.

images (1)

Typically, I’d test before, during and after exercising to gauge the impact. As a trend upwards to higher numbers began to show, initially baffled, eventually I traced it to the effect of intense exercise releasing cortisol, or adrenaline, which pushed up BG levels! Who’d have thought it! Backing down slightly to a moderate workout, this no longer happens.

Now, I fine-tune my exercise needs to fit with the balance of BG needs daily.

To avoid boredom, I mix strength or resistance training (very important as toned muscles vacuum up excess glucose carried in the blood due to being unable to enter the cells) with cardio, yoga, dance or hiking.

 

Stress

Often, things well beyond our control happen. How we respond is crucial. To strengthen my being able to let things go, or not ruminate on them, I stepped up my meditation practice.

Yoga and Diabetes Research

My favorite advice on how long to sit is a Zen master, who when asked, replied “Sit for 10 or 15 minutes, unless you’re really busy. Then sit for an hour”. Perfect antidote for this ADD time we live in.

I reinforced the ritual around sitting daily, so it didn’t require a decision to be made each time. After choosing the time and place that works and keeping my cushion and bench there, I just “show up” as part of my morning routine. Once I settle in the familiar posture,  immediately I notice my mind becomes calmer, more focused.

This results in increased concentration, a slower respiratory system (a feeling of being calmer), more deliberate chosen actions, less emotional reactivity, and better decision-making as patience kicks in. Any mental or physical agitation or restlessness dissipates, and I’m able to instead purposely move through tasks tending to each one effectively.

No more spinning, flitting ineffectively from one thing to another.

If a stress-inducing thought arrives in my mind, I internally respond by a “Not now” or “I’ll deal with that later”. It works well, until the stress builds up again. Repeat again and again until it becomes a ‘call and response’ automatically.

This is just a snippet of what’s worked for me. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to make some healthy changes by introducing new habits or items to your pantry. It’s by no means inclusive, just a taster…

I promised to share at the beginning the website of an amazing nutritionist, here’s where you can find amazingly healthy recipes and nutritional knowledge that won’t spike BG! What could be better…?

 

What’s worked for you? Can you share your own tips?

Mindfully Managing the Holidays – my interview on the Discuss Diabetes Blog

It’s hard to believe the holiday season is fast approaching! This time of year presents many challenges for those of us living with Type 2.

Discuss Diabetes Blog

I recently spoke with Laura Kolodjeski of the Discuss Diabetes Blog about how we can use mindfulness to continue eating for maximum health and wellness – even during the holidays!

Click here to read the interview. How do you manage the challenges associated with the holidays? Leave a comment to let us know!

How my disappearing symptoms left me upset. Last of the 4 part series on uncommon symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.

This is the 4th and last post of a series intended to highlight less obvious symptoms of Type 2. You can read part 1, part 2 or part 3 in the archives.

If you or anyone you love has evidenced such symptoms, please seek medical advice immediately.

nutrition label

 

Following my doctor’s advice after a neurological assessment she conducted in response to both cognitive and physical conditions I was experiencing, I struggled throughout the weekend without carbohydrates. I questioned, read nutrition labels and learned a little, took risks but mostly didn’t know what I should eat.

 

I tried but failed to feel OK with this brave new world.

 

But, rather than my expectation of suffering and feeling deprivation through the weekend, instead and to my great surprise, 48 hours minus carbs caused magical and bountiful rewards to rain down upon me. So unexpected were the results and so utterly taken aback, I barely knew what to make of it.

 

Miraculously, come Sunday evening after a weekend where I didn’t drown in deprivation, the earlier dread had given way to astonishment. Although it took a while to sink in, I couldn’t help noticing that virtually all the frighteningly disparate symptoms I’d dealt with simply disappeared, evaporated, were history!

 

Whatever I managed to do in eliminating carbohydrates from my diet had not merely had a positive effect, but one that brought startling results.

 

Most of the GI tract problems that caused great discomfort cleared up. I was able to digest food easier, no longer experiencing the sensation of blocks of concrete resting there for hours.

I noticed my brain is more its old self, back to typical ways of processing information and making associations between information both new and old. Vanished was the awkward, disjointed and frustrating sense of disconnect between thought and speech. I welcomed back my ability for articulating what I thought.

My energy roared back in full swing, with the marked absence of fatigue that had hounded me for months. Even my quintessential sense of humor, diminished along with other aspects of myself, made an appearance!

 

Less tangible, but no less remarkable, was my awareness of these reversals. My ability to  have awareness and be mindful had returned after having been subtly diminished over those miserable few months.

 

All that remained of my symptom-rich ordeal was a faint numbness on my left shin still persisting. My droopy right foot slowly began to behave itself, incrementally mirroring its counterpart on the left. Elated at returning to a more gracious walking style, nevertheless cautiously I figured I could put up with clumpy shoes for a little while longer before breaking out my strappy heels.

 

My eagerness to return to fashionable shoes gave me pause for a moment, acknowledging the vanity behind that desire. As I reflected upon the physical changes over the prior few months, and the impermanence demonstrated, I was amazed at how I’d taken my body for granted throughout my life.

 

Much as I delighted in this latest turn of events that moved me closer to being symptom free, I pick up on a creeping sense of feeling vaguely disconcerted, encroaching upon the inner core of relief and joy that developed.

 

Starting off in a mild way, a growing sense of disturbance was speedily rising full steam ahead through to a depressing burst of insight. If the multiple symptoms had pretty much dissipated within the space of a weekend, and the only obvious change over those two days being the absence of carbohydrates, it’s difficult not to draw a positive correlation between these facts.

no carb

Eating carbs results in nasty symptoms; don’t eat carbs, nasty symptoms dissipate.

 

As I connected up the dots, my sense of elation flipped into disappointment, as it slowly dawned on me that my symptoms were related to my favorite food group.This is an emerging truth I tried to resist.

cartoon

 

Instead, I recalled again the words uttered by my doctor. I replayed them over and over internally, clinging for comfort to her intimation that I won’t have to say no to all carbohydrates forever.

 

That was my interpretation of her comments based upon my recollection of what she’d said. Watching my mind try to pick and choose its way through the facts, I felt in a birds-eye position to marvel at the way it innately pushed away from the unpleasant, and clung to the pleasant.

 

At this point, I felt universally connected to all human beings everywhere, since this is the quintessential human experience of how the psyche naturally clings to what’s pleasant and recoils from what’s unpleasant. The third option, neutral, is usually passed over without registering.

 

I softly murmured to myself, cheerleader-style, “This carb-free period is just for this weekend before the fasting blood glucose test”. I clung to this recollection knowing that it was a delusion, yet derived comfort from it.

 

And I needed all the comfort I could find. The proverbial carpet of carbohydrates was pulled out from under me. I could barely entertain the idea of going forward avoiding all carbs. The massive paradigm shift that it inferred left me reeling.

 

Yet, the remarkable disappearance of such disquieting symptoms, over the course of one weekend, which can only be attributed to an absence of carbohydrates, was irrefutable.

 

Tips

Commit to reading nutritional labels on packaged food. I arbitrarily decided initially that 10 carbs per serving was my cutoff point.

Remember to subtract the grams of fiber to ascertain the actual amount of carbs.

Everything changes, impermanence…this too will pass!

Accept what is happening in just this one moment.