Category Archives: Diabetes journey

What I ate: First trimester

Everyone knows that the first trimester of pregnancy can be tricky when it comes to food. Even though I didn’t feel great, I really feel like I got off pretty easy. I never threw up, and though I definitely didn’t always feel like eating, there were only a few times when my stomach got the better of me and Andy was forced to fend for himself for dinner.

My biggest issue with the first trimester was the heatwave that settled in over Portland for most of the summer. We don’t have air conditioning, and the house got pretty toasty. Thankfully, I wasn’t in my 3rd trimester like my poor neighbor. Again, I was lucky!

The most unexpected thing I experienced was waking up during the middle of the night absolutely starving. Like my stomach was eating my spine starving. I started keeping LaraBars on my nightstand so I could have a quick snack. It didn’t take long though for those LaraBars to just not be enough to fill me up, so I’d have to get up and grab something (usually cheese) from the fridge. Andy was particularly amused at this because he would wake up to me crunching loudly from the other side of the bed.

Here’s a general list of things that worked, and didn’t work my first 12 weeks or so:

Yea’s
– Cheese. I couldn’t always eat the same cheese from week to week, but I could usually find some kind of cheese that didn’t make me regret getting up in the morning.
– All-fruit popsicles. These were especially good when the weather was pushing 100 degrees.
– LaraBars. See above.
– Nuts. Occasionally.
– Ice cream. Sometimes. It wasn’t always my thing, but more often than not it worked!
– Fruit. Sometimes. Again, sometimes I wanted it, other times I didn’t.
– Rice cakes. I broke my no grains rule because I just needed something light to eat. These did the trick for a couple weeks. Now that I’m no longer queasy all the time, these have gone back on the no list.

Nay’s
– Eggs. Couldn’t even stand the smell of them cooking. This one took some time getting over. There are still times when eating them turns my stomach a little bit, but it is getting better.
– Most animal proteins. I just really didn’t want to eat meat, which is something my body probably could have used. Ask me sometime about the night of sausage and eggs…
– Salad. It was so hot that I never wanted to turn on the stove, so salad was oftentimes my go to for dinner. That being said, it just didn’t do it for my stomach, and a lot of times I’d pick out the things I could eat (namely the cheese) and call it good.

Mostly the first 12 weeks were spent trying to sort out what my body actually wanted. I would get all fired up about a particular food, run to the store and buy it, and by the time I got home didn’t even want to look at it. It certainly wasn’t an easy period of time, but Andy was endlessly patient and we pulled through together.

Exciting results

Okay. I lied. I’m a horrible person. I told you I’d be back more regularly and then you didn’t hear from me for almost a month. I’d like to say I have a good excuse, but I don’t really. Right after the last post we went on a family vacation, and I’ve spent the last three weeks trying to get myself back into a normal routine.

But today, I wanted to share Andy’s most recent lab results. It’s been 2+ years since his last appointment, so we weren’t quite certain what to expect from his numbers. Since he’s maintained the same basic diet and lifestyle we weren’t too worried. And for good reason! Look at the numbers in the image at the top of the post! Not only is his A1c well in the normal range, it’s actually gone down since the last time he had it checked! Plus, his cholesterol and triglycerides (not shown) are all phenomenal.

I couldn’t be more proud. Maintaining our current lifestyle isn’t always easy. I tell ya, that 4:15 alarm clock sure goes off pretty early so he can get out the door for a pre-work walk every day. But Andy has shown a commitment to his health that I really admire, and I wanted to brag just a little bit.

If you’re on a health journey right now, I want to encourage you to keep at it. You may never reach a finish line, but the journey and the results will be well worth it!

 

Apologies and announcement

You may have noticed (all 2 of you who may have been reading this blog) that it’s been a significant while since we’ve had new content. My apologies for this long absence!

The truth of the matter is Andy and I are expecting a bundle of joyfulness in the new year and for the first three months of the pregnancy I felt like boo. At first I tried to just push through, but as the weather continued to get hotter and my nausea showed no signs of abating, I just had to stop posting. On top of that I started working again part time, and I’ve had to make some adjustments to cope with a big case of the sleepies.

But I am determined to put my excuses aside. Andy and I still feel compelled to share our story here on His Abundant Provision, and while I may not be posting 7 days a week, I will be updating the site on a more regular basis.

We’ve had some encouraging news on the health front this week that I’ll be sharing a little later, and the Weekly Meal Plans will be coming back. I’ll also be sharing a little bit about how I’ve been eating (barely, though my appetite is finally starting to come back piece by piece) and how I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible for the last 2 trimesters. I’ll be giving final updates on Garden 2015 and every now and then you might get some nursery updates (because I’m super excited to get moving on that).

All in all I’m excited to be back and look forward to sharing more of our journey with you!

The curious incident of wheat in the night

In September of 2012, after reading Wheat Belly (and after several suspicious allergy attacks), Andy and I decided that we were going to take the plunge and live a wheat-free lifestyle to the best of our abilities. We cleaned the cupboards, throwing away anything that could possibly contain wheat. Our cupboards were shockingly bare.

A month and a half into our wheat-free living, Andy invited me to a rare work dinner. I agreed half-heartedly, knowing that I’d be severely limited in the food I was able to safely eat.

Perusing the menu at the restaurant, I found a salad that looked safe enough. Andy made a bolder move and asked for a burger with broccolini instead of fries. After a few moments of deliberation, he decided to not inconvenience the chef further and asked if the top bun could be left off, leaving the bottom bun in place. He figured he could eat safely around the bun and it wouldn’t be an issue.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to eat around a piece of food that is stuck to another piece of food, but it’s next to impossible. Even though he was as diligent as he could be, Andy couldn’t help but have a small bite or two of that bun.

By the time we got home (it was a lovely evening, by the way), Andy felt awful. His brain felt fuzzy, he was nauseated–he just felt off. And he looked puffy. Like he’d eaten a large pizza from Pizza Hut puffy. And trust me, there wasn’t a lot of food on his plate. In fact, my salad covered more surface area than his burger and veggies.

Since he’d never had this type of reaction to eating meat and veggies, we know the burger and greens weren’t the issue. It must have been the bite or two of bun.

Having such a severe reaction to so little wheat merely reinforced what we already knew. Wheat was not for us.

Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to remind us that the path we have chosen for our health, as difficult and sacrificial as it may seem, is really the easiest and best way to feel the best that we can.

One foot in front of the other

I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me a year to join Andy on the walk that he discovered the summer of 2011 as he was searching for ways to lose weight and eliminate his Type 2 Diabetes.

Knowing that Andy enjoyed the solitude of his walk, I never tried to invite myself along, merely enjoying the aftereffects of the endorphins when he walked in the door. But, after complaining about my sluggish energy level and feeling like my metabolism had slowed down, he invited me to go for a late winter, early morning walk.

I was thrilled—and a little worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

It started snowing as we walked out the door. My toes were soon numb, but we were off, so why think about it? Just put one foot in front of the other I kept reminding myself.

Through the snow falling on my eyelashes, I began to admire the beauty and perfection of Andy’s walking route. It wasn’t easy—this wasn’t a neighborhood stroll, mind you—this walk was designed to help you lose weight, build muscle, and get your blood flowing. There were uphills. There were downhills. And just enough flats to keep your lungs from bursting.

Pretty soon I realized that my walking shoes were rubbing a hole through at least one heel, if not both. Clearly I hadn’t gone walking for a while.

Andy saved the hardest part of his walk for the very end. A three-tenths of a mile uphill climb may not sound like much, but after walking 2+ miles up hills and down at 4.5 miles per hour, my feet were not enthusiastic at the prospect.

At the top of the hill, my childhood asthma decided to make an appearance, but by that point I felt the joy of success. Not only had I kept up—I hadn’t slowed Andy down at all. In fact, this may have been his fastest walk in quite some time.

My admiration for my husband grew three sizes that day. This was not a walk for sissies. This walk demanded tenacity, determination, and grit. He walked twice a day through sore muscles and blisters. Through 5 AM wake up calls that always came a little too soon. It required sacrifice and dedication. And he did it. At least twice a day as the weather permitted—7 days a week.

The importance of looking out for #1

In a perfect marriage, you and your spouse would always walk side-by-side, hand-in-hand, tackling whatever life throws at you as a team. You’d always say (and mean) I love you before turning out the light, and the toilet seat would always be in the down position.

But let’s face it, there is no such thing as the perfect marriage. The toilet seat is up more often than not, one or both of you will be too tired or angry to utter those three special words, and sometimes one of you will need more holding hands.

There will be times when you will need to be your spouse’s support system (emotional, mental, and sometimes even physical), and you just can’t expect much support in return. And that’s okay. That’s one of the reasons marriage can be so awesome—they support you when you need it, and you support them.

But what happens, when your own strength begins to fail and they still need you to hold them up?

Andy’s Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis began a period of struggle within our marriage. He was dealing with anger, embarrassment, fear, frustration, and a myriad of other emotions. I was struggling with my own frustration and fear, but I knew it was important to be strong for him. I started making dinner more often. I encouraged him to exercise with me—all the while spending hours online trying to figure out a way to keep our current lifestyle from disappearing into a world of broccoli and kale.

I was exhausted trying to stay positive and uplifting when all I really wanted was to dive into a gallon of ice cream (it didn’t even need to be good ice cream) and drown my sorrows.

I can remember one day, I just needed to feel like everything was normal so I went to Taco Bell and got a soft taco and a 7-layer burrito. I stuffed both in my purse and sneakily ate them in the kitchen while Andy was watching TV. It wasn’t healthy—emotionally, or physically—but it was what I needed at the time.

It’s important to remember as you’re struggling with your spouse, or friend, or parent, or sibling as they go through the early stages of a Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis, that sometimes it’s okay to take a step back and do something for yourself. Go buy yourself some nail polish, get a massage, go for a walk, indulge in something you really love. And don’t feel guilty. You’ll feel renewed and stronger. Strong enough to keep being the strong one for a little while longer.

In the years that have passed, our lives have returned to a better form of normal. Our meals are healthier, we spend more time being active, and less time watching TV. We’re happier inside and out. We’ve gone back to walking side-by-side, hand-in-hand. And we’ve realized that all the struggle was worth it to see Andy come out on the other side stronger than before.

The night dinner went wrong

I’m not even going to pretend to be coy–I am not a flexible person. I am a list maker, a schedule planner, and if I have plans please don’t change them, I may freak out. Just ask Andy. I’ve gotten better since we’ve been married, but early on a simple unscheduled change to my plans would send me into a tail spin. It wasn’t pretty.

A while back I was all set to try out a new recipe–Pistachio Kebabs on rosemary skewers (from Yummy Supper) served with Middle Eastern cauli-rice pilaf. I had already made some slight changes to the initial recipe–it was the middle of February and I didn’t feel like standing outside to grill, so the “skewers” were going to become meatballs. Andy doesn’t like a lot of rosemary, so I was going to mince up just a few needles and mix it in. Everything else was the same.

I was going strong. I had plenty of time before Andy would be home and back again from his evening walk, and even though the recipe itself was new, I know how to make meatballs so I wasn’t stressed. I shelled the pistachios, chopped the herbs, cooked the onions and set them to chill, and went to grab the meat from the fridge. This is where something went horribly wrong. The meat that I had pulled out of the freezer 24+ hours ago was still frozen.

I took a deep breath. I hoped I was wrong and it was just the stiff butcher paper that wouldn’t give when I squeezed. I removed the wrapper, placed the meat in the bowl with the herbs and onions and took another deep breath. It wasn’t the paper. After the first 1/4 inch the meat was still frozen solid. I took a fork and tried to break it apart. It didn’t work. There was no way I was going to be able to make this frozen meat soft enough to make meatballs for dinner.

And this is where I should have freaked out. In the past, something like this would have been a disaster. At best, there would have been tears and anger. At worst I would have thrown the whole thing out and told Andy we were going for take out. With our current lifestyle and income, throwing out an entire meal’s worth of ingredients just isn’t an option.

I started thinking… I had already planned to make Middle Eastern cauli-rice pilaf, so what if instead of meatballs, I just sauteed the frozen ground beef with all the herbs and pistachios and mixed it into the pilaf? A Middle Eastern rice bowl if you will.

It wasn’t the meal I originally intended, but it was worth a try. Anything was better than throwing the food away. So I got to work. And you know what? It was a good meal and I discovered some things I would do differently next time, like make sure I add the pistachios after everything’s been cooked. They got a little soggy and disappeared. Also, it could have used a little extra parsley and a little more cumin.

Growing in patience is never an easy thing. I know that it’s been God’s work on my heart throughout this journey that got me to the place of acceptance and flexibility when a meal didn’t go as planned. His patience with me is abundant indeed!

I’ve only made this recipe the one time, so I know I should add it to an upcoming meal plan. If it’s as good as I remember, I’ll post it here so you can enjoy it as well.

 

June 5th: Weekly meal plan (and off next week)

This week’s meal plan is a little different than most. Between a wedding on the weekend and our anniversary vacation (8 years!!!), I don’t have a real meal plan to share.

Our vacation rental has a full kitchen so we’ll definitely be doing some cooking, but I want our meals to be really flexible.

We’ll be back in full force the week after next and hope you have a great week to enjoy the sun–I may or may not be laying by the pool when I’m not riding bikes.

Confessions of a sugar addict

(That was my kitchen table the day before Easter with Andy’s family. Four different desserts, and I ended up with marshmallow on the ceiling.)

A while back I shared my tale of a sweet tooth. Today, I wanted to share a little bit more about my relationship with sugar.

First, it makes me very happy. Almost euphorically happy. I LOVE sugar!

Then it makes me unhappy. My blood sugar drops and I get angry. I HATE sugar (and just about everyone around me at the time).

If I’m strong enough to push through the sugar low without indulging in any more sweets, within a few hours (or up to a day or two later) my eczema will flare up. Phew, I’m feeling drained. And why do my hands itch so much? If I’m really on a bender, I may even develop a cold sore (mine are triggered by stress and sugar).

If I’m not strong enough to push through the sugar low and I go in for more, I start the cycle over again, my eczema gets even worse, and it takes even longer for the inflammation to go down. Nothing makes me feel more like a child than the inability to not scratch my hands when they break out.

Physical manifestations of sugar aside (the eczema is pretty awful), it’s the mental and emotional extremes that really take their toll. Not just on me, but on Andy. When my blood sugar drops, I get quiet. Like really really quiet. The “it’s always the quiet ones” quiet. You’ve probably heard the word “hangry”, well I embody that term.

When my blood sugar drops I say things that I wouldn’t normally say with very little care how the other person (usually Andy) might take them. This leads to a lot of hurt feelings, the occasional fight, and when my blood sugar finally returns to normal (this could take hours or even up to a day or two) a heaping pile of guilt for my words and actions. I’ve become very good at saying “I’m sorry.”

I’d like to say that at this point in our health journey I’ve learned my lesson. I’d like to say that broccoli and I are BFFs. But that’s not true. I still indulge on a somewhat regular basis. Definitely not as often as before Andy’s Type 2 Diagnosis, but definitely more than I should.

I don’t share my story out of guilt or shame, but more as a reminder to myself (and anyone else) that this health journey we’re on is just that–a journey. Some days are going to be a stroll. Others will be an easy jog. Still others will leave me gasping for air at the end of the day. Andy and I have both learned that forgiveness of self is one of the hardest things to do, and that every now and then an indulgent break is okay.

How I learned to cook

I am a rule follower. I can’t help it. Andy is not. Sometimes I joke that his philosophy on rules is: “I hear you giving me a rule. Now I will find a creative way to break it!” See that smirk in the image above? Yeah, that’s the look.

I’m also Type A, “technically creative” (I’ll explain my theory on creative people later), a list maker, and mentally–if not physically–organized.

When Andy and I were first married I didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. We ate sandwiches. And take out. When I did cook, it was primarily some kind of pasta recipe I’d seen on a food blog. I wasn’t adventurous. I wasn’t creative. The food was “filling”, but not overly mind blowing. But, for the most part, Andy didn’t complain.

When I lost my first job, cooking took on a whole new meaning. I dove into food blogs and decided that if I wasn’t working I was going to cook. I started making from-scratch mac ‘n cheese, biscuits ‘n gravy, chicken ‘n dumplings (apparently I had a thing for food with an ‘n) and it was amazing. My trick to the excellent food was following the recipe. To a capital T. Chicken ‘n dumplings, in particular, was a several hours long process where you simmer a whole chicken for over an hour simultaneously creating stock and the chicken needed for the dish. Andy used to ask why I didn’t just get a rotisserie chicken and boxed stock. I told him because that’s not what the recipe called for. I didn’t cut corners.

After Andy’s Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, and even more so after we went grain-free in 2012, I realized that unless we wanted to eat nothing but salad I needed to let go a little in the kitchen. I needed to cut corners, I needed to swap this ingredient for that. And you know what? It didn’t kill me. It wasn’t easy, but it did make me more confident in the kitchen. I started using recipes as inspiration rather than as gospel. If I didn’t have a certain ingredient–an issue that in years past would have resulted in a kitchen panic, or a speedy trip to the store–I looked in the fridge and used what I did have.

Becoming more confident in the kitchen also made cooking easier. I used to make big fancy meals from celebrity chef recipes because I didn’t think I could make good food without their help. The truth is Andy and I both prefer simpler food, and as good as that chicken ‘n dumplings was (seriously, so good!), we’re much happier with cauli-rice bowls.

Don’t get me wrong, I still troll food blogs and cookbooks for ideas. And I do still cook from recipes. But if I feel like the dish needs more cumin than originally called for, I’m going to add it. If I forgot to buy cilantro from the store this week, I leave it out. And it’s not the end of the world.

Here are a few of my “relax, it’s all cool” tips for chilling in the kitchen:

– Swap out one veggie for another. If you don’t have, or like, zucchini swap it for broccoli, cauliflower, or even bell peppers. Or vice versa. Cook with what you like and you’re more likely to like what you cook.
– Only have garlic powder? Use it!
– Don’t like a particular spice? Don’t use it, and add a little more of the spices you do like!
– Use ground turkey (or chicken) instead of ground beef.
– Like the idea of a potato saffron omelet, but haven’t quite nailed the omelet “flip”? Make potato saffron scrambled eggs.
– 2 words: Crock-Pot. (Okay, one hyphenated brand name, but you get the idea.)
– Make it a salad. BLT salad is amazing. You can turn practically any type of sandwich into a salad. Cheeseburger salad anyone?

Do you have any other tips for relaxing in the kitchen? I’d love to hear them!