Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

Aside

I’ve been MIA for a few weeks switching web hosts and working on my website.   But now I’m up and running again.  I plan to blog more consistently now.  I’m going to try and hold myself to that!

In my blogging “downtime” I’ve also been working on my website http://www.modernprimalexchange.com.  My initial vision for this website came after I realized there was no central resource for the paleo/ancestral/primal community (you can call it whatever you like).  My goal is for it to become a comprehensive list of all things primal: doctors, co-ops, dietitians, restaurants, books, links and more.  Some may think this is an ambitious undertaking but my reason for doing it anyway is three-fold.

One, as with all other “fad diets” (I don’t consider eating primal a diet, rather a lifestyle), I feel the focus ends up on marketing and making money.  This is not to say there isn’t money to be made off of this up and coming health market but it is very different.  It is not a get rich and get out kind of deal.  There are a lot of real people out there starting to take notice of the health benefits paleo affords and these people want true and quality products and services with the intention of receiving this long term.  Also, There are some great things happening in the paleo community but I as a mother of two small children cant participate in a paleo based event that lasts for three days and costs me just under $1000 just for registration.  That to me just isn’t realistic.  Connecting with those who make the same lifestyle choices as me should be much easier and much cheaper.  My fear is that by doing this, the paleo/primal movement will pigeon-hole itself and become just another trendy/fad weight-loss scheme.  We all know it is much more than that.  We should be setting it up for success.

Reason number two.  After being told I was Type 1 diabetic I thought about a lot of things.  I could continue to eat the was I was eating and allow diabetes complications to slowly kill me over time or I could choose to be proactive.  I chose the latter.  As any diabetic knows, it is not just a disease cured by taking insulin.  It is a daily battle with my own body.  Having two tiny innocent children I had to stop and think about what my actions will teach my children, from a health perspective as well as regarding character.  I would never wish diabetes on my children and if there is anything I can do to prevent my children from going through what I go through everyday then I will do it! Nuff said.  Thus, I am vocal.  Creating http://www.modernprimalexchange.com is part of my voice.  Who knows if anyone is listening.  But who am I if I choose to stay quiet?

Three. As I mentioned above, my children get a sense of my character not just by what I say but by what I do in conjunction with those words.  It is my duty to my children to lead by example.

With that said, http://www.modernprimalexchange.com is my passion.  It may be rather empty now but I am patient.  It will come together one day at a time and grow into something wonderful and useful.  Obviously the title of this post applies here.

If you know of any great low-carb doctors, or awesome CSAs in your community, or would really love to share an amazing book others should read, please let me know and I will gladly put it up on the site.  Here is your chance to get involved and participate in this growing health movement!

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Out With The Old, In With The New

Once you are diagnosed diabetic, Type 1 or Type 2, there is no longer just a yearly checkup with your primary physician.  Instead, you must now add to that a visit to your endocrinologist about every 3 months for an A1c, as well as see a dietitian to ensure that you are managing your diabetes well. 

I am very fortunate to have insurance that allows me to see doctors within the Cedars Sinai group here in Los Angeles.  I saw doctors in this group before I was diabetic and I also gave birth to both of my children at Cedars Sinai Hospital.  They have always provided excellent service. 

I like my endocrinologist, who, lucky for me is also my primary physician.  I don’t think that is common.  I also like my dietitian.  Every time I see them for an appointment they are at a loss for words at how well I am managing my diabetes (I am guessing there is a vast majority that does not???).  I can see the shock on their faces.  I pretty much run my appointments.  My main purpose for seeing them is to make sure I get my prescriptions. 

I remember my appointment with my dietitian to discuss applying for the pump.  As usual she asked me a bunch of questions and how I was doing.  But when I got to the part where I told her I  don’t eat grains she promptly chimed in to say “Well you can have grains.  It is good to include whole grains as part of a healthy diet.”  Whoa.  I could have schooled her right there but I decided to save her dignity as a health professional.  Afterall, my goal was to see her so that I could get an insulin pump. 

My next visit with her was after I had received my pump and been using it for a couple weeks.  It is standard for you to come in to see how you are doing and to possibly make basal rate and/or carb ratio changes if necessary.  Because the pump was new to me I had a lot of questions for her.  My last question, however, was a complete curve ball.  I asked her what she thought of paleo.  (Most who are close to me know that I follow a primal way of eating and that I truly believe it has helped me immensely in dealing with my auto immune disease, Type 1 diabetes.)  Man did I have her stumped with my question.  She stumbled over her words saying “Well I haven’t really heard anything about that.  I’ll have to look into that.”

As much as I like her, I thought to myself how the heck can you be a “practicing” dietitian who is not keeping up with current health news and reports?  I must amdit thought I half expected this answer from her because she is older and I imagine has been doing this for more than a couple decades.  So I left and left it at that.

About a week ago, I recieved a letter in the mail from her.  It was announcing that she had made the decision to retire and would no longer be my dietitian.  This was a standard letter sent to all her clients.  She was very instrumental in getting me on my insulin pump in a quickly manner and I am very grateful for that, yet there is part of me that thinks this is a good thing.  This tells me that the generation is changing and with that the current health and diet paradigms too.  We need new health professionals that realize and put into practice a new way of thinking about diet and health.  Health professionals that know you DON’T need whole grains and starchy carbohydrates for proper bodily funtcion.  Not only that but health professionals who know what “paleo” is, ones who will take a more whole body approach to diagnosis and treatment and ones that don’t look at me wide-eyed in amazement at how well I am managing my diabetes because that should be the goal.  I am very excited to see how this change takes place and you can bet that I will have my own part in this upcoming health revolution.

Get Back On Track!

I admit it. I’ve been bad the past couple months. Bad with food that is. I kept making excuses for why it was ok to eat the chocolate chunk cookie every morning and the pound cake and other goodies they keep bringing into the work lunchroom. They tasted so good but that is so short-lived. Then the guilt sets in. And the rollercoaster of blood sugar levels doesn’t make me feel any better. So I feel down and then I eat some more. Talk about spiraling downward day after day. Living with diabetes I have found is a daily battle. It’s not just about maintaining my blood sugar. It’s also about maintaining my sanity in the process.

After all of this sugar debauchery, I put my foot down. I mean I have got to pull myself together! After my diagnosis I hardly put anything with sugar in my mouth and my A1c went from 8.3 down to 5.5! My last check up was not as good at 6.3. Where did I lose my way? So last week I made a change. For the last several days in a row I have eaten without needing to bolus. I havent had one single crash and my blood sugar hasn’t gone beyond 130! That, my friends, is the power of high-fat, low-carb eating. I am no scientist but the proof is right there. Sure there is always going to be that day when everything is totally wrong, including your blood sugar. Those just can’t be avoided sometimes, but I definitely want to be strong enough after having a bad day that I can wake up the next morning and get right back on track! How about you?

It Is Not Just “My” New Diabetic Life

When someone is newly diagnosed with a chronic illness it is often overlooked how immediate family members and close friends are affected.  I, for example, was very proactive about making the necessary lifestyle and dietary changes required to maintain my diabetes.  This was no easy task but especially harder because I was married with two very young children.  My life was turned upside down and in turn theirs was too.  Of course, there have been bumps along the way.  I suddenly went through the kitchen and tossed everything grain in the trash.  Yes that includes cereal, cookies and the most beloved staple in a Korean home, white rice.  I would watch my husband who is not diabetic walk into the kitchen scouring the fridge and the cupboards only to come out with a sad, defeated look on his face.  I mean I had to give the guy credit.  He was making the same changes I was making too but without the same reason.

It bothered me to think that I might become some sort of food nazi so I would watch him eat a hamburger on a lovely golden brown bun and eat all of the delicious panchan with soft sticky rice, while I on the other hand would eat my hamburger wrapped in iceberg lettuce and skip the rice completely.  I knew that when he went to work he would eat as he liked at lunchtime and of course whenever we would meet friends outside of the house it would certainly contain a fair amount of carbs.

All the while, I have tried to stay communicative with him.  Let him know what it feels like when I have a low or conversely when I am high.  I keep him informed when I research something and learn something new.  Sometimes I think to myself, “this is going in one ear and straight out the other.”  Surprisingly, I see changes.  There has been more than one occasion where he has skipped the rice not only on my behalf but because he now understands why it is not good for you.  We have a better kitchen routine down too.

So now the reason for this post.  I was going through the fridge today, as I usually do on the weekend.  Sometimes when I am feeling uninspired I will cheat and buy some of those low carb yogurt cups from the grocery store.  I know, I know, they are not ideal but I admit I cheat here and there.  Last time I picked some up I mistakenly chose a couple of the regular non low-carb version (35 grams of carbs!!!!).  I told my husband they were all his.  But to my surprise when I looked in the fridge today there is one of the two left.  It made it a whole week without being touched.  I’ve even suggested for him to eat it when he goes looking for a snack but no go.

Sure I guess it could be that he just hasn’t been in the mood for it but I’d like to think that my husband has really been there with me on this health journey.  And that maybe some things were not just going in one ear and out the other.  It is a silent sign and one that is encouraging and reminds me that I am not going through this alone.  Thank you honey for doing your best to understand and learn with me.  Thank you for not eating the yogurt cup in the fridge.

For those of you who are newly diagnosed remember that it is a big change for you and also for those close to you.  Just as it will take you some time to change your routine and sort things out it will be that way for others too because we are all in this together.

Ethics 101

I currently work for a very corporate company and in a recent meeting my boss was mentioning business ethics.  Of course this concept is everywhere these days.  Go to any true corporate website and you will most surely find a page dedicated to informing you of their corporate responsibility.  Nowadays, as a society, we highly value a company that can not only make billions in revenue but also abide by ethical standards.  Of course how transparent these companies are is to be debated. I am not going to get into that here.  What I will say is why aren’t we taught human responsibility?  And no I’m not talking about spending $1.00 a day to save a child’s life in a third world country.  Is it too much to ask to save your own?  What I gather is that it is corporate’s responsibility to do right by us and its our individual respnsibility to….to take care of everyone else???  Now don’t get me wrong; I am a hippie at heart and love humanitarianism (my dream has always been to be an attorney that practices international human rights law for refugees), however, how on earth are you able to take care of someone else if you are not properly taking care of yourself? 

OK. So where am I going with this?  Ethics needs to be retaught.  We need to learn the ethics of doing right by our bodies.  We are all caught up in what we need to do for others or what others are doing around us that we completely neglect our selves.  If becoming diabetic has taught me anything it is that I MUST TAKE CARE OF MY HEALTH. FOR ME.  NO EXCUSES. And then for everyone else.  It’s just like how the mother should put the oxygen mask on first and then proceed to save her children.  You can’t do anything if your body and health are not right.  I am a mom so this really hits home with me. 

Take a look at this: in this month’s Diabetes Forecast Magazine I read “Type 1 diabetes is on the rise, according to researchers who studied 20 years of data on Philadelphia children up to age 14.  The frequency of diabetes diagnoses rose by a third in all kids…In kids under age 4, the rate of diabetes diagnoses rose by 70 percent”  70 percent!!!!!  It then goes on to say, “The researchers aren’t sure why diabetes may be increasing at such a rate in younger children.”  (Are you kidding me? You can’t even postulate that it has something to do with our incorrect food pyramid, carelsssly promoted processed foods and lack of play?)  And children are not the only ones being diagnosed Type 1.  I am proof.  The number of adults being diagnosed has also increased. 

I’m not here to preach but why aren’t we making a change?  We value ethics so how is it so easy in one sentence to say that a disease has risen 70 percent but then write it off by saying we don’t know why this is happening.  The answer is right in front of us.  Let’s start focusing on our selves.  Focus on what we are eating instead of chalking it up to “I had a stressful day so it’s ok” or “The food pyramid says so” and how we are moving/exercising instead of “I’m too tired” or “this is just my body type.”  Let’s also teach our children, the new generation, the ethics of nutrition and taking care of their bodies so that living a satisfying life doesn’t just come from good grades and becoming some well-to-do company man.  Have your own personal mission statement and begin by taking a minute to look in the mirror and hold yourself accountable. Because in the end you know it is the right thing to do.

Peanut Butter Heartbreak and Allergy Misconceptions

I say it over and over again that for so long I really had no clue about my body.  But that’s because I really had no clue.  I could say my body has been an experiment but actually my life has recently been an experiment on how to live harmoniously with my body.  I realize now that it’s talking to me. Helllloooooooo there!!!! It’s been saying to me.  Luckily I finally pulled the earplugs of naivety and denial out of my ears.

After being diagnosed Type 1 diabetic obviously there was a major adjustment to my diet.  OK no more rice for me but reasonable carb, high protein peanut butter heck yes! It was my “treat.”  When I was feeling bad it was there to comfort me…until I started realizing it was doing more harm than good.

All of a sudden I felt like I was in high school again.  My face was breaking out, my back and my chest too.  Since I had changed so many things I was eating it was a difficult process of elimination.  It wasn’t until I eliminated everything else that I realized it was the peanut butter! My precious peanut butter!  Low and behold when I removed it from my eating repertoire my skin cleared up.  And that was that. No more peanuts.  Clear beautiful skin.

When I tell people I am allergic to peanuts 98% of the time they ask me if I go into anaphylactic shock.  Seriously?  What are we learning about health growing up?  Oh yeah we’re required ONE semester of health.  Not everyone’s allergy manifests in the same way and not every allergy manifests via anaphylactic shock.

Another example, I am allergic to sulfa drugs (no Coldeeze or multi-vitamins for me), Cipro (used to treat UTIs) and the dye Red 40.  When I ingest these I break out with small hives on my feet and ankles.  I remember getting sick and taking a bunch of coldeeze only to wake up with itchy feet.  Hmmmm could it be althetes foot? Ewwwww.  I sprayed the hell out of my feet to no avail until I realized it was an allergic reaction.  When I went to the doctor they didn’t believe me saying that allergic reactions come out on the trunk of your body first.  Needless to say I never went back to that doctor.

Back to peanuts.  I have always loved peanut butter as I think you can tell.  I used to eat it all the time growing up.  In retrospect I doubt I would have had the “acne” I did in high school had I not been eating peanut butter.  I wasn’t listening to my body.  I always chalked it up to hormones never a faulty immune system.

If there is anything you can take away from this post it is this:

Take the time to pay attention to your body.  The soul and the body must be in tune with each other.  It is not simply your physical vehicle.  Don’t let your ego think it is more important.  If your body is doing something out of the ordinary don’t be so quick to write it off.  Stop and take the earplugs out.

Secondly, don’t doubt your feelings and thoughts when it comes to your body just because a medical professional tells you you are incorrect or because status quo states otherwise.  You and your body are one; you’re on the same team.  Set yourself up with confidence in your life and you will always feel like you are winning.

My One Year D-Anniversary

Today is my one year D-Anniversary with diabetes.

What a year!  When I look at where I was a year ago I’ve come a long way.  Just like so many milestones happen in the first year of a babies life, I’ve experienced a lot of my own diabetes/health milestones this past year.

I actually look forward to the years ahead as this new healthful me.