On the morning of March 22, 2011 I got a call from my doctor’s office after having routine lab work done as part of my yearly physical. The nurse on the other end read off my blood values and then said something that would rock me to my core, “Your blood sugar is very high and you essentially have full blown diabetes.” Several days later I consulted with my doctor and he confirmed the bad news, I had Type 2 Diabetes. But he told me that there was some hope. My fasting number that day was 157 and he said that was not a terrible number, it wasn’t good – but I had a chance to reverse it. He started me on a medication called Metformin. He also gave me a glucose meter so I could track my blood sugar levels. Well, I was determined to battle and conquer this ailment, but the war was slow in starting. I had a lot of bad eating habits, I had a lot of bad exercise habits – as in, I didn’t. So from March through November I worked to start weaning myself off a lot of my dietary bad habits and educating myself on good habits. I slowly began to realize that I wanted to pursue a pescetarian diet (a vegetarian diet which includes seafood). My numbers didn’t change much over those first eight months, my fasting numbers ranged from 145-165. In December 2011 I began slowly integrating elements of a pescetarian diet into my regular diet. On December 28, 2011 I officially became a pescetarian. I began eating smaller portions, controlling my carb intake by limiting myself to 60g of carbohydrates per major meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and integrating three snack times which would not exceed 15g of carbs. So all total for the day my allowance was 225 grams of carbohydrates. It was rough at the start, but I kept telling myself “I gotta do this! I gotta kick this things ass!”
In January 2012 I began to see a very good drop in my morning fasting numbers, they went from the 145-165 range down to around 125-135. As the month progressed, the numbers got better and better. On February 2, 2012 I recorded my first sub-100 number (it was 99). But that was just one day. The numbers went back up to the 120s after that, with some being between 115-120. It wouldn’t be until March that my numbers would start consistently being under 115. In May I met again with my doctor and we went over the lab work. He was so happy with the results that he took me off the Metformin. My numbers would continue to improve as I continued to stick tough to my diet.
But what about exercise? Well I hate to say it but I never did any consistent exercise during this time. Only now am I beginning to integrate exercise into my life. In fact my New Year’s resolution for 2014 is to workout three times a week.
As time progressed and I continued to hold fast to my diet and not allow myself to lose control, my numbers continued to drop. In November 2013, this year, my doctor essentially declared me at or below pre-diabetic levels. My A1C had gone from 7.1 in 2011 to 5.8 this year. From February 2011 to present I have tracked my fasting glucose levels in a spreadsheet. Below is a graph showing my entire history from the start of tracking on a consistent basis to now.
My parents always told me something I have lived by, “You can do whatever you set your mind to do.” This was a perfect example. While the war will never be fully won, and diabetes will always be a part of me, the key is to control it and never let it control you. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t days I broke my diet and grabbed a big ol’ Whopper from Burger King. But the important thing is knowing what the consequences will be and taking steps to deal with them. I have found I can get my diabetes under control by doing what I call a “reset day”. On that day I batton down the hatches, tighten the belt and simply do everything, all day, BY THE BOOK! No extra carbs, no treats, just what is dictated by my diabetes diet.
So what do I usually eat? Here’s a sample of a typical day, conforming to my diet:
BREAKFAST: 1 Fruit on the Bottom Greek Yogurt, 1 glass of Fat Free Milk
MORNING SNACK (about 2 hours after breakfast): 1 serving of Fat Free Pringles Potato Crisps
LUNCH (about 2 hours after snack):
Vegetarian Flatbread Sandwich
1/2 8 Grain Flatbread
1 tsp Mediterranean Style Hummus
lettuce, tomato, onion, green pepper, dill pickle slices, banana peppers
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Vinegar
1 dill pickle on the side
1 glass Fat Free Milk -or- 1 bottle Spring Water
AFTERNOON SNACK (about 1-2 hours after lunch): 1 serving of Fresh Strawberries
DINNER (about 1-2 hours after snack):
Teriyaki Marinated Salmon
1 bottle Teriyaki Marinade
1 Salmon filet (medium sized)
Marinade the Salmon for about 4-6 hours. Remove from marinade and discard marinade. Bake salmon at 375 deg for about 5 minutes, then broil for 3-5 minutes or until Salmon flakes easily. Times vary depending on thickness of the filet. Serve with steamed broccoli or vegetable of choice. Top Salmon with a dash of sesame seeds.
1 glass of Fat Free Milk
PM SNACK (about 2-3 hours after dinner): 1 serving of yogurt covered pretzels.
So as you can see, the diet is really good. Of course you can use whatever ocean faring fish you wish. I stay away from most freshwater fish.
In closing I would like to thank Dr. Reza Golesorkhi of Potomac Internal Medicine for all the years he has worked to keep me healthy and for giving me the support I needed to kick diabetes in the ass.