Read before eating

Today I want to talk about how to make safe eating choices at the supermarket as a diabetic. Did you ever notice the healthiest foods are at the outer part of the store? All the processed garbage tends to be in the middle. You never see a logjam at the produce area, meat department or dairy sections. There are some healthy choices in the center of the store, but you have read the labels of the food you’re eating. There are foods you should avoid, and there’s always the temptation to fall back on bad habits, unless you just keep reminding yourself of the damage that can be done to your body. In my case specifically the eyes and feet.

The most important thing you can do is read the labels of every food you’re buying. My diabetic doctor always says if it’s a paragraph long, don’t eat it. Processed foods contain so many additives,preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup, which are a definite mistake for a diabetic to eat. Watch out also for products with high carbs, salt and sugar in their foods.

Foods with high carbs will raise your blood sugar. Avoid white breads, bagels, and cakes. If you like bread, and want a healthier alternative, try whole wheat of whole grain breads. They’ll keep your blood sugar levels under control versus white breads that will raise your blood sugar levels. The portions you eat should be kept to a small amount. Everything in moderation.

Secondly, stay away from frozen foods with a high salt content. Many diabetics like myself have high blood pressure, and eating processed frozen foods aren’t a good choice for meal time. I also use unsalted butter when preparing to cook my eggs or eating a whole wheat english muffin.

Finally, it goes without saying that foods with high sugar content should be avoided. The good news is that fresh fruit is always an option. The best fruits for controlling and not spiking your blood sugar are Apples, all berries, and grapes. Stay away from dried fruits. They will spike your blood sugar levels. Fresh fruit is always better, but as always watch your portions.

They’re are many sugar free frozen desserts available. Try to eat the ones with Stevia and monk fruit as sweeteners. They are plant based. Halo top is a great ice cream with Stevia with many varieties.There are also sugar free candies that also use these sweeteners. Russell Stovers makes great tasting chocolate candies with Stevia. They also have many different flavors. Just remember to watch your portions.

I hope these suggestions are helpful and remember eat smart.

My next blog will deal with more healthy tips for safe diabetic living. Stay safe and healthy!

Pandemic diabetic panic?

Today I want to discuss how the pandemic has changed our lives for better or worse as a diabetic and for prediabetics. I was once on my way to diabetes without even knowing it.

If you’re diabetic like me, you’ve been warned by about Covid 19 and how it can be fatal as a diabetic by your doctors. I was fortunate to get my vaccine shots and feel safer for getting them. Worrying about Covid is just another problem we diabetics don’t need. We have enough trouble keeping our sugar in check , exercising and eating properly. The idea that Covid could make you seriously ill or dead isn’t a pleasant thought.

The way I’ve coped with being a diabetic during Covid is just to be extra vigilant with washing my hands, staying away from large crowds, wearing a mask and most importantly not deviating from my self care of my issues from diabetes. If anything living as a diabetic during Covid should make you want to take care of yourself even more. Sometimes in life we need a shock or pause from our everyday routine to make us remember why we have to fight diabetes everyday so we can hope for a better tomorrow. Basically I’m glad to be here and haven’t gotten Covid. My message would be don’t let this virus stress you to the point of overeating, cheating on your diet or getting super stressed over this. Keep fighting!

The last thing I want to talk about today is sort a trip down memory lane before I was a diabetic. Unfortunately I had no health insurance for many years before being diagnosed, so I had no doctors in my ear telling me to be careful. I recently spoke to friends of my family who have been told they’re prediabetic. Their attitude towards this diagnosis is troubling. They continue to eat too much, are gaining weight , and really haven’t thought about the health complications they could face. Take it from me, you don’t want diabetes. My troubles with my feet and eyes have been documented on past blogs. If I had seen a doctor years before my diagnosis and I was told I was prediabetic, I would have tried harder to lose weight and seek help. I didn’t see a doctor until it was too late, and I’m fortunate I can still walk and see today. So if your prediabetic, don’t treat it lightly,listen to your doctors and seek help ,I’m grateful for all my doctors, nurses, therapists, friends and family who supported me throughout my life as a diabetic.

My next blog I will talk about making the right selections at the supermarket to help your diabetic lifestyle. Stay healthy and safe!

Climate change and diabetes

I have been reading many articles and books about climate change in the last 3 years. I’ve read two books by Greta Thunberg on the subject. No one is too small to make a difference and Our house is on fire. Both are great reads on the threat of climate change to humans and animals. Diabetes has been affected greatly by climate change. There are two main issues I want to bring up today that I’ve researched.

The first affect that all diabetics should be aware of is the rising temperatures of our planet. One of the major health issues diabetics face(myself included) are many cardiovascular diseases. High blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes can strike a diabetic quicker than people without the disease. With temperatures on the rise it can cause breathing issues and more stress to your heart. That’s why it’s so important that we lower emissions, stop deforestation, stop polluting our oceans, preserve our wildlife, find cleaner energy sources to sustain our planet. The polar icecaps are melting far too quickly, which is directly causing temperatures to rise. We need to preserve our ecosystems to help preserve our futures.

The second problem would be the lack of medical supplies available due to inclement weather. Type 1 and some type 2 diabetics rely on insulin to get through each day as a diabetic. The steady increase of hurricanes, coastal flooding, and extreme snowstorms can affect the availability of insulin, metformin, and many other life sustaining drugs.

These are just a few examples that directly affect diabetics. The solution isn’t a simple one. Change can only happen first through education. I’ve read books and have seen interviews with Greta Thunberg and her most powerful thought is change will only happen when we start treating climate change like a crisis. Talk to your congressman, local and state representatives, and read about your Presidential candidates stance on climate change. Read articles, books and watch programs about climate change to help understand the crisis we face on this planet. Respect our planet, and we’ll have a fighting chance.

I just wanted to share with you the research I’ve done and to give you a different perspective on diabetes. I will continue to educate myself on the subject of climate change and the affect on diabetics.

My next blog I will start to talk about how the pandemic continues to change our lives. Stay healthy and safe.

A fighting chance.

Today I want to discuss way to battle depression as a diabetic. I follow many pages on Facebook that are for diabetics, and many of them deal with depression.

We’ve all been through our ups and downs after being diagnosed with diabetes. In my own case it’s been several toe amputations, rehab, and blurred vision. Through it all I’ve kept a positive attitude and I know that attributes to me surviving and fighting this disease. One of my favorite guitarists of all time (Jimi Hendrix) once said” Any day I wake up is a good day”. I agree. If I wake up and can still walk and see, that’s a bonus.

I continue to keep my A1C at 5.5, my feet are still functional, and my vision is stable. The question many fellow diabetics ask me all the time is how do you do it day after day. My answer is simple. The alternatives aren’t pleasant. I’ve seen first hand people losing limbs and going blind at my doctor’s offices. Sometimes I’ll hear my foot or eye doctor explaining to the patient why they suffered their loss of limb or vision. Their A1C is too high, lack of exercise, and most importantly continuing a poor diet. So how does these factors tie into depression? Here’s my take.

I’m around many diabetics whose A1C is way too high, by having a poor diet , lack of exercise and have the attitude that they take their medication and that will keep them alive. Wrong! They also develop health complications that they blame on just getting old. In many cases they have stable family lives and take them for granted. I envy people who have a wife, children, and even grandchildren some days, but I lose respect for them for not taking their diabetes seriously. Instead of being depressed for not having these relationships, I’m proud that I have done the right things for the last five plus years to help me stay alive and be able to spend time with my family and friends who helped me so much when I was really sick. The point is respect those who respect you. They’re the people you want to be around in life.

Think about why you can still walk or see. I’ve been very fortunate to have excellent doctors, nurses, trainers, family and friends supported me through my difficult times. I’ve also had friends I may never see again due to my lack of awareness of all their kindnesses. I’ll always regret that, but I’m grateful I knew them, and their positive memories keep me going on tough days. One of the best things in life is having someone who really cares about you and respects for who you are, and not just what you own.

I hope these thoughts give you some help in dealing with your own problems. Hang in there, believe in yourself and those closest to you who care.

My next blog will deal with how climate change can effect diabetics. I was hoping to talk about this today, but I felt like I needed to to try to help if I could my fellow diabetics suffering from depression. Stay safe, healthy and positive!

Photo by Harry Cooke on Pexels.com

Smart choices

Today’s blog I will talk about healthy meal choices to keep your sugars stable. I first want say I got both Covid shots with mild side effects. During this health crisis I hope everyone will do the human thing and get vaccinated to protect yourself, your loved ones and the general public.

So let’s talk healthy meals, or better yet unhealthy choices you can’t afford to make as a diabetic.

First off, no more fried foods or processed meats. Try to eat grilled chicken instead of fried. Real burgers are fine for holiday cookouts, but avoid the fast food variety. Stay away from processed lunch meats with hoagie rolls or white bread. Try wheat or whole grain breads with real meats or fish.

Read the ingredients of what you’re eating. If it’s a large paragraph, avoid it. Watch the salt content in your foods, as diabetics are more susceptible to heart disease and strokes.

Ear healthy fruits and vegetables with your meals. Watch the portion size. If you crave ice cream try Halo top. They have a large variety of choices which are sweetened with Stevia. Make your snacks healthy like nuts(not honey roasted), low fat string mozzarella cheese, and 2 sugar free candies. Russell Stover make great candies with Stevia for diabetics.

Lastly try to eat every 3 to 4 hours if possible. Don’t skip meals, you might over eat the next meal which can make your sugar go high.

My next blog I will talk about how climate change can affect diabetics. Stay safe and healthy!

An apple a day…

Today I want to talk about what fruits I’ve found that are diabetic friendly and help control your sugar.

I eat three servings of fruit usually six days a week, not counting holidays. I eat strawberries, apples and grapes to go along with each meal.

Let me first talk about strawberries, or any berries for that matter. Berries are good for diabetics because they don’t spike your blood sugar, are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. They are definitely a healthy carb. I have eggs 4 to five times a week with strawberries, and blueberries are a nice compliment to a serving of whole grain oatmeal.

Small to medium apples are a healthy compliment to any meal. They’re loaded with fiber, and with the right portion, won’t spike your blood sugar.

Grapes are also a healthy dessert for a diabetic, if you follow the portion size. 12 grapes are plenty. If you eat the normal portion, your blood sugar won’t raise.

The fruits I would stay away from are oranges for their high sugar amount, bananas have a high amount of carbs, and will also taste like you’re eating pure sugar, compared to other fruits. The worst fruits of all are dried fruits like raisins, or dried cranberries, which taste like you’re eating candy, and will spike your blood sugar. If you have raisins for example, limit your portion. It goes without saying to stay away from chocolate covered raisins, which are high in sugar.

Summer fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe,and pineapple are ok if you have a small portion. They are contain essential vitamins, with watermelon containing the most sugar.

The most important thing is to make healthy fruits a part of your diet. Watch your portions!

My next blog I will discuss if I had any side effects to my second covid shot, and continue to talk about healthy meal choices. Stay healthy and safe!

Something sweet

Today I want to talk about what benefits there are to natural sweeteners versus the artificial ones. One of the worst thing for me when I became a diabetic was not being able to eat sweets like I used too. Sugar filled candy and desserts were a big reason I was diagnosed with diabetes. Now I have to eat mostly sugar free snacks and desserts. The difficulty is finding the healthiest and least chemical based ones. I’ll go through the ones I’ve used and the effects they’ve had on me.

The most popular would have to be aspartame. You’ll find it in sugar free gum, cookies, and of course soda. Diet soda with this chemical actually does more harm than good to a diabetic. It makes you hungry, and is very addicting. I chew sugar free gum with this in small doses. Diet soda I try to limit to once or twice a month. You’ll also see sugar free cookies and cakes at your supermarket with this chemical in it. You’ll also notice that all these products are loaded with lots of ingredients. My diabetic doctor always says, “If a product has a large paragraph of ingredients, don’t eat it.”

Splenda is another artificial sweetener that has similar affects. It makes you crave more sugar and can raise your blood sugar levels.

The best sweetener is natural. Stevia is basically a natural sugar from a plant. It’s safe with no negative side effects. I’ve found several products with this ingredient to be a good snack or dessert.

Halo top ice cream has this ingredient, along with pure cane sugar. as apposed to processed sugar. Like any dessert, watch your portion! This brand has many flavors to satisfy your ice cream craving.

Russell Stover also makes sugar free chocolate candy varieties with Stevia. Again, stick to the serving size. They even have a Stevia chocolate Easter bunny this year for the holiday.

Monk fruit is also a good natural plant based sweetener, which you can find in certain ice creams like Enlightened. This company also offers plenty of varieties.

In the end even the healthiest sweetened products should be enjoyed through moderation.

My next blog I will discuss the best fruits I’ve found to help with my diabetic diet and lifestyle. Stay safe and healthy!

Sleep less, exercise, feel better

Today I want to talk about how too much sleep for a diabetic can tire you out. Diabetes naturally makes you tired. It could be your medication, lack of exercise, or in my case anemia. There are ways to feel better and have more energy.

Exercise should be the first priority for a diabetic. A simple walk in the park, or around the block will help you sleep better and give you more energy during the day. I also do leg, back and feet exercises before I go to bed with with an exercise flex band.

I also have neuropathy in my feet, so any exercise will help keep the blood flowing, and limit cramping during the night.

Stay away from fried foods, alcohol, and most processed foods. A healthier diet will also help you have more energy, and sleep better.

If you still feel drowsy, check with your doctor about your medication, or if you have anemia, which is a blood disorder which can cause fatigue.

Lastly, try sleeping 7 to 8 hours at night, instead of 9 or 10. You’ll feel much better not oversleeping. Check with you doctors if still feel fatigued for treatments available. Oversleeping can also be a sign of depression. If you feel sad or depressed, seek help from your friends, family or therapist.

My next blog I talk about artificial sweeteners that are the best I’ve found as a diabetic, and the effects the bad ones can have on you. Stay safe and healthy!

You’re your only hope

Today I want to continue to discuss ways to relieve stress as a diabetic during this pandemic. I talk often about joining online diabetic groups on Facebook and other platforms. These are great ways to voice your opinions and help others get through their problems.

At the end of the day though, you determine your diabetic fate. Through exercise, education, religion(if you follow one) and faith in yourself ultimately plays a big role in your physical and mental health.

I don’t exercise as much as I should, but walking in the park a few times a week helps me clear my head of problems. You can also park further away in a shopping center parking lot to get some added walking time. Go on YouTube and look for exercise programs, since in my opinion gyms right now aren’t the safest option during this pandemic.

Educate yourself about diabetes through talking to other diabetics, reading online blogs, and asking questions to your doctors. From the first day on my diagnosis, to surgeries, rehab, and health setbacks I also wanted to know ways I could stay healthy and maybe someday beat this disease.

If you’re a religious person say a prayer before going to sleep at night thanking all your friends and family who continue to support you. Pray for peace, the sick, and the departed. If you can’t attend church or your gathering, join your place of worship online.

The most important thing you can do is have faith in yourself to do the right thing. I’m a guitar teacher. I always tell my students the day you’ll know you love to play is when practice becomes less like work and something you look forward to do. You have to want to stay healthy, and get better. Nobody can force you.

My next blog I will continue to share what I’ve learned about diabetes, and how it’s helped me and hopefully can help others.

Stay safe and healthy.

Healthy Distractions

Today I want to talk about the mental stress of being a diabetic during this pandemic. We all have our share of problems. I lost some toes, and am constantly receiving laser treatments and shots to the eyes to keep my vision steady.

During this pandemic, our stress level goes up every day. We have to worry about the coronavirus along with our diabetes. This can be very stressful. I’m now going to discuss healthy ways to combat our stress and anxiety.

Embrace your passions. There has to be one thing you love to do. I love playing and writing music. I teach guitar, and it really helps me forget about my health problems. Learning or teaching a new song makes me happy. I love to explore how the musicians made the music and what equipment they used to create their particular sound. I also will be revisiting a guitar piece I was composing when I was in college.

Read a good book. Find a subject that interests you, and learn about it. If the subject you’re reading about takes your mind off your health issues, and gets you interested in the person or subject you’re reading about, this is a good thing.

Follow your favorite sports team. I love hockey. My favorite team is the Philadelphia Flyers. Sports is a fun escape from reality. If you know a lot about the sport, like the rules or player stats, this will keep your mind occupied..

The last and most important stress reliever is to be grateful for what you have. I’m grateful I can still walk and see. If you dwell on what you don’t have, you’ll just make yourself miserable. I saw a story on the news today about a blind chess player. She wins competitions often against people with sight. She recalls being made fun of when she was younger, and as soon as she discovered and mastered chess, she feels empowered. She claims people don’t ridicule her as much because she’s smarter than they are. Confidence in something you’re good at goes a long way. No matter what your disabilities may be, you can excel at something if you put your mind to it.

My next blog I continue to talk about ways to alleviate mental stress as a diabetic during this pandemic.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Stay healthy, romantic and safe!