Two for one

Tonight I want to discuss a common everyday routine we as diabetics perform everyday. We prick our fingers two to three times a day to check our blood sugar reading. I check mine in the morning and and usually at the end of the day. On a Sunday I may check it before breakfast and before dinner. My numbers have remained solid for the past three years with an A1C ranging between 5.0-5.5. I’m proud of myself for keeping my numbers at a safe steady rate. It has helped my overall diabetic health issues immensely.

There is however a frustrating part of checking your blood sugar. Sometimes you may receive a high reading in the morning with one finger and then a lower reading with another finger. You may ask yourself how is this possible?

One possible reason may be your finger may be dirty or contain food residue from something you just ate. So wash your hands throughly before you check your sugar.

The second possible reason could be your meters battery is low or could be giving you a reading that may differ at least twenty points in a given direction. I read this in an article from a diabetic page I follow. Talk to your endocrinologist on your next visit. You’ll have your blood work completed before your visit to compare your meter readings with your bloodwork.

The other reason could be the sample of your blood could differ from drop to drop. Did you ever notice when you squeeze your finger lightly your blood may be watery, but when you squeeze a little harder it’s thicker and more solid looking. I read on a online blog entitled One drop.today where the blogger described how your blood glucose molecules change with your blood flow.

In the end don’t panic! On your next visit to your diabetic doctor bring your meter and compare the meter readings with your bloodwork. The best advice I can give you is to eat regularly. Three meals a day, with each meal two to four hours apart. If you have a small snack before bed this also helps keeping your numbers stable. I’ve found the nights I don’t have a snack my reading the next morning may be higher than normal. Try to stick to a steady meal plan to keep your numbers stable.

If you have to check two fingers to get the better reading for your own sanity, by all means go ahead. Just remember your bloodwork is the most accurate blood sugar reading you’ll get.

My next blog will deal with neuropathy and how seasonal weather changes can affect you.Stay safe and healthy!

Say no to fasting

Tonight I want to discuss why I don’t fast with my diabetic diet. I have some friends who fast as a part of their daily routine. I’ll never understand the logic behind this. I’ve heard it’s because the medications they are on. I’m no doctor, but results speak for themselves. My A1C is 5.5. and I eat three meals a day and a snack five times a week.

The people I know who fast struggle to get their A1C below 7.0. Their doctors have told them to eat when they’re hungry. There’s one flaw in that theory. If you only eat twice a day, you’re extremely hungry by the second meal, therefore you’ll eat bigger portions and your sugar will be all out of whack. You also may have more fatigue, blurred vision, or become dehydrated quicker.

The biggest problem I had when I was extremely overweight was eating larger portions at night after work. Many times I would eat seven hours between meals from lunch and dinner. This is one of the main reasons I was diagnosed with diabetes and had so many health complications like toe amputations and blurred vision

In the end I’d say talk to your endocrinologist about keeping a consistent meal plan, like eating every three to four hours.This will keep your blood sugar on steadier levels and help avoid health complications. It’s worked for me, and I hope it works for you.

Stay healthy and safe! My next blog will continue to talk about staying healthy in a diabetic lifestyle.

Choose wisely

One of the most important things a diabetic can do is meal planning. Eating regularly and healthy can stabilize your blood sugar. I cook and prepare my meals for the whole week usually on Fridays.

I go grocery shopping that morning, and cook in the afternoon. While you’re at the supermarket read labels on every item you choose. Look for items with low sugar, low fat and low salt.

I always start in the produce department, and choose the same fruits every week. Strawberries, blueberries, apples and grapes. I also watch the portion size when I put these items in my lunch and dinner, as well as when I eat strawberries for instance in the morning.

The next items I usually get are water and low fat snacks like nuts(peanuts, cashews and almonds),that aren’t honey roasted. Popcorn you make in a air popper is a healthy snack also once a week. I also buy sugar free candy with Stevia in it.

The next thing I do is pick a main course for the week. I usually choose chicken, pork or fish. I never fry these items, just bake or grill them. I try to buy enough of an item to get five meals out of them. So spread your portions out for the week.

I then choose side dishes like veggie pasta, vegetables, brown rice and once a month pork and beans. Again you should be able to make these sides last all week. I usually get frozen veggies, but as always fresh are the best.

If I buy a dessert it’s usually sugar free ice cream with Stevia or monk fruit in it. Try to limit your ice cream to twice a week at most.

The last thing I get is my breakfast items like eggs, low fat cheese for an omelette like mozzarella. I also buy low fat mozzarella string cheese as a snack item. I always buy unsalted butter for cooking and as a spread to help with my cholesterol and lowering my blood pressure. The only english muffin I buy for breakfast are whole wheat, which I have on weekends only.

Once I have cooked on my items at home, I then portion out each meal into small containers for each day. Try to portion each item according to serving sizes. I’ve been following this plan since I’ve got out of the hospital and rehab for almost six years now, and my A1C has been in the 5.0-5.5 range. This plan is based on a six day work week, with one day eating at home, except for lunch on a short work day. It’s helped me stay relatively healthy and avoid further surgeries and setbacks. So give it a try.On the weekends try to treat yourself to dinner or lunch via takeout or dinning with a local small business restaurant. You have go off your normal schedule at least one day, but remember the next day get right back on your normal diet.

I hope these tips help and look forward to continue to share my advice and experiences as a diabetic. My next blog will continue to stress healthy habits as a diabetic. Stay safe and healthy!

Lowering your A1C

One of most important stats for a diabetic is their A1C. This determines how high your blood sugar is and there are ranges you and your doctor can keep track of. I see my doctor twice a year and have bloodwork done to see how I’m doing.

I was first diagnosed with diabetes in 2016. When I entered the hospital my A1C was 9.0. Currently it’s 5.5. It took a complete overhaul of my diet, rehabilitation, several operations and amputations on both feet for me to lower my sugars.

The first thing you must do is change your diet. No more fried foods,processed foods,fast food, sugary desserts, or excess alcohol. Say hello to sugarless candy or desserts, a healthy meal plan with chicken , pork and fish. Make vegetables and fruits apart of every meal when possible. If you must snack, eat nuts, low fat mozzarella string cheese and sugar free candy. Stay away from dried fruits as much as possible.

Holidays can be challenging for your diet. You can treat yourself to small portions of holiday desserts, but get back on your diet the next day.

I also try to treat myself to lunch out on Sundays with healthy choices. The most important thing is to do it for yourself and your family and friends who support you in your fight against diabetes. Check your sugars two to three times daily. Consult your endocrinologist for when to check your sugars. I check mine before and after meals. Find a good meter to check your sugars with. I use the one touch Verio flex. Check out the prices of test strips and lancets, and how much your insurance will cover.

I hope these suggestions help, and would be glad to answer any questions and would like to hear your stories of your diabetic journey.

Stay healthy and safe. My next blog will continue to talk about ways of making diabetes bearable.

Comfortably Numb

Today I want to talk about neuropathy in the feet and how I have dealt with it. I’ve had many operations to both my feet due to damage caused by diabetes. I’ve lost toes, and I was lucky to have a good rehabilitation program to learn to walk properly again.

Unfortunately the nerve damage in my feet was severe and like many diabetics I suffer from neuropathy. My feet are numb most of the time, so I have to be extra careful when I bang my feet into something by accident. I always check for swelling, bruises or blisters on a daily basis. I have regained some feeling in my right foot, which my foot doctor said would happen, but for the most part my feet are stiff.

There are several exercises and bedtime routines I have found that help your feet feel less stiff, and help me sleep better.I always due a few sets of foot exercises before I go to bed. The first one I use an exercise band. I put the band under my right foot with my slipper on and perform two sets of leg lifts. Repeat the process for your left foot.

I then roll my feet up and down one at a time without the band. Two sets of 34 reps per foot. These exercises help with circulation and less stiffness in my feet.

I then prop my feet up on two pillows. I usually do this if I have swelling in my feet, but I’ve found it also takes some of the stiffness away, which in turn helps you sleep better.

Walking is also a good way to relieve stiffness. I understand everyone has different degrees of neuropathy , and that these exercises may or may not help. Everyone deals with neuropathy and its pain in their own way. These exercises work for me, and I hope they can help you.

My goal with my blog is help others through my experiences. I will continue write about things that help me with my diabetic life.

Stay safe and healthy!

A healthy state of mind

The most important factor in fighting diabetes and all the life changing surgeries and diet choices is to keep a positive attitude. I follow many online diabetic groups and I read many stories from people who have given up, or find living with diabetes is more than they can handle.

In my case I lost several toes and have problems with my vision as a result of diabetes. I was in a rehabilitation facility and had to learn how to walk again after losing several toes. I started in wheelchair, then a walker, a cane, and finally I learned to regain my balance and walk again. I have stated my times on previous blogs about how grateful I am to my trainers, doctors and nurses who helped me gain my independence again. During the whole process, I never doubted I would be able to walk again. I am fortunate to have great friends and family who continue to support me to this day. In the end though, you have to believe in yourself and keep telling yourself you want to live and be able to walk..

The most important thing you can do for yourself is eat right, try not to cheat, and keep your A1C in the 5 to 6 range. Remind yourself daily about the alternatives if you cheat regularly and your sugars are high. You can lose a limb, go blind, and most importantly lose your independence.

People find inspiration from many different places. In my case I have great friends and family. There are also so many things I’d like to do in my life still. I’d like to get a job helping my fellow diabetics with similar issues I have dealt with. I’d like to fall in love again and get married someday to a great girl, and enjoy a happy life. Staying healthy and doing what ever it takes to take care of myself is essential.

Everyone has their own idea of happiness, a better job. relationships, and a sense of accomplishment. It’s up to you to fight diabetes, and not to let it ruin your life. Find the one thing in your life that makes you happy, and keep that thought with you everyday. It could be a great memory from your past, a favorite song, or a person in your life that inspires you.

I’m a music teacher and guitarist. Music has saved me many times. I love it. Find your number one reason to want to live well and keep it on your mind when you feel down. Stay positive!

My next blog I continue to talk about more ways to maintain a healthy diabetic life. Stay healthy and safe.

Make it yourself

Today I will continue my anti fast food and processed food rant. Most of these foods are high in salt, sugar, fat and are prepared fried. Basically, take them off your menu.

The average fast food burger joint prepares burgers with less meat, and more filler. Then there’s the french fries, milkshakes, and don’t forget the chicken nuggets, which are fried. All these foods are high in fat and sugar, so say goodbye to the slop, and prepare your own foods.

Cook foods like grilled or roasted chicken, roast pork, or grilled fish. Instead of fries and a shake or soda, prepare vegetables, and drink lots of water.

Prepare these meals up to at least four days a week, so you can control your portions, and there will less of a temptation to pick up something fast and unhealthy.

Make fresh fruit part of each meal as a healthy dessert. Watch the portions! If you enjoy Ice cream, try a healthy choice like Halo Top, which uses a natural plant based sweetener like Stevia.

Processed foods should also be avoided as much as possible. My diabetic doctor always says, if it’s the ingredients are a paragraph long, don’t eat it. There are some processed foods and snacks that are low in sugar, or naturally sugar free with plant based sweeteners like Stevia or Monk fruit.

The best snacks would be low salt peanuts, cashews, and almonds. Try a low fat mozzarella cheese stick. If you crave something sweet, try a plant based sweetened candy like Russell Stovers, which make many delicious chocolate varieties sweetened with Stevia. Watch the portions!

You should treat yourself once a week to a healthy lunch or dinner out. Make sure you don’t go overboard with the sugar or salt, and make sure what you eat has a fruit or a vegetable in your meal. Purchase your food from a small business instead of a chain, the food will be prepared safer and healthier, and small businesses could use the support!

I hope these suggestions are helpful, and will help you make healthier choices in your diets as a diabetic.

My next blog will deal with more healthy diabetic lifestyle choices. Stay safe and healthy!

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.