Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘pre-diabetic

Not There

with 2 comments

It has been 15 months since I began paying attention to how much sugar I was consuming on a daily basis and trying to achieve a level closer to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of limiting sugar to only 5-10% of my daily calories. Prior to that time, I was consuming the daily total and more by the completion of my breakfasts. By the end of the days, I was likely hitting somewhere around quadruple the recommended amount.

dscn5149eFor more than a year I have been measuring the amount of cereal and yogurt I serve myself to keep the serving size small enough to provide no more than 10 grams of sugar per meal. Based on a 2000 calorie per day diet, I was aiming to stay below around 200 of those calories to come from sugar.

One gram of sugar contains 3.87 calories.

One trick with my plan is keeping the total calories at the daily target of 2000. The average American diet all too easily exceeds that amount. So, by wanting to reduce my sugar intake, I found myself also bringing my total calories down. That is not something I ever bothered measuring before this effort.

I simply knew that I should aim for a balance of obvious healthy choices. At the same time, an addict will respond to urges that exceed what they know to be healthy. I was addicted to sugar.

Not only were the lab results for my blood work revealing I was pre-diabetic, I was uncomfortably pudging out. The love-handles and belly bulge, the flabby arms, and my usual full face were ever present and slowly expanding.

My main goal was to appease the pressure from my doctor to get my numbers down for glycosylated hemoglobin, or HbA1c. After a year of working on it, I was looking forward to this year’s physical to learn the results of my efforts.

Much to my surprise, I’m not there yet.

Two years ago, my HbA1c reading came in at 5.8. My clinic seeks a level of <5.7, so I was just barely outside their “normal” range. Thus, the diagnosis of “pre-diabetic.”

My results this time, after a year of attention to my sugar intake, came in at 5.9.

Humpf.

Doc says there may be some genetics involved, as well as the fact that as we age our pancreas function deteriorates. I figure it’s because I had eaten so many of Cyndie’s sweet caramel rolls over the years, it will take me longer than a year to purge the glucose from my system.

So, my HbA1c may not have come down where the doctor wants to see it, but in the past year I have pleasantly reduced most of that flab that I never liked and I’ve dropped 8 pounds since my last visit to the clinic.

I’ll claim that small victory and keep measuring my sugar grams in search of a lower number for the level of my hemoglobin-bound-to-glucose next year. I want to keep my diet below the daily amount of recommended sugar to help my body as much as possible.

My poor pancreas isn’t gettin’ any younger.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Craving Again

with 2 comments

It has been about two months since I watched the movie, “Fed Up,” and decided to do something about the amount of sugar I was ingesting every day. I decided to work on reducing the sugar I was consuming by focusing on nutrition labels and paying attention to serving size and the amount of sugar in each serving. By simply doing that for a little over a week, I noticed a physical reaction and experienced some surprisingly intense withdrawal symptoms.

I think the dramatic physical response helped to bolster my motivation to stay vigilant about seeing this through to a point of achieving a lasting break in the pattern of consuming an unhealthy amount of sugar.

It isn’t easy.

Just when I was beginning to feel as though I was satisfied with the new routine I have established, I discovered a significant resurgence of cravings.

It’s not the first time I’ve been through this. Several times in the past, I have made attempts at not eating sweets. One thing that always happened was a robust urge to eat breads. Even though I recognized that I was exchanging sugar for more complex carbohydrates, I didn’t tend to restrict that urge. I figured the struggle to avoid sugar was hard enough. I didn’t want to take on two things at once.

Well, it wasn’t two things, really. It’s all part of the same issue I’m facing. My blood tests repeatedly revealed my glucose levels to be pre-diabetic. This time, I am working on a more thorough, and a more informed, change in diet. After only a few weeks, I began to notice a reduction in body fat.

I suppose it didn’t hurt that I went on a bicycling trip for a week, and then sweated through the process of putting up over 250 bales of hay.

I also noticed an increasing level of satisfaction from my reduced portion sizes. By regularly making healthy, low-sugar choices, I was discovering a new appreciation for not-so-sweet alternatives. It was refreshing and felt very rewarding. It gave me hope for the possibility of my satisfaction being met by a healthy, balanced menu.

But it wasn’t a cut and dried sure thing. There is a bit of a gray area. There are high and low tides. My diet isn’t rock solid, by any means, and the sweetness I am getting swings above and below the optimum. More than once I have caught myself feeling precariously hypoglycemic.

Then there are the days when the cravings rise up. They can be insidious and particularly tenacious. If I ignore them, they don’t generally go away. I need to work the program. I allow myself some modest treats. There is a slippery slope there, though, and I am cognizant of past experiences where I have succumbed and chose to give up altogether.

I feel like the difference for me this time is that I am better informed. Between my new understanding and the experience I’ve gained in the past, I believe I have the tools and inspiration to endure my cravings and thrive on a healthy diet for much longer than ever before. I hope it’s for the rest of my life.

I need to keep thinking big picture. What I ultimately crave, after all, is optimal health!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

July 27, 2015 at 6:00 am

My Addiction

with 6 comments

Hello, my name is John, and I’m an addict. Studies with laboratory rats have found that the substance of my addiction happens to be more rewarding and attractive than addictive drugs like cocaine.

fed-up-movie1I am addicted to sugar. I have known this for a long time, but only now have I come to understand to what degree, and how futile my previous attempts to self-regulate have been. I have my children to thank for recommending I watch the movie, “Fed Up,” which has informed me more clearly and concisely than other sources that have come my way up to this point.

For the past 6 years or so, I have been receiving news from two different doctors who have performed my annual physical examinations that my blood tests show me as being ‘pre-diabetic.’ I wasn’t completely surprised, because I knew I had a sweet tooth. I try to eat a generally healthy diet, and I usually get plenty of exercise, so I figured it wouldn’t take much to produce better results the next year by eating less sweet treats.

I love ice cream so much that I figured that was something I should be careful to control. I can often times avoid candy, though I do have trouble with occasional binges. When I give in to the urge, I usually give way in and go for broke. Other times, I just subtly slip myself one or two treats, one, two, or ten times a day, so I don’t notice how many I have truly consumed.

DSCN3077eI never really counted calories, let alone paid attention to the actual number of grams of sugar I was ingesting. The annually increasing paunch that is expanding my middle, seen clearly in this shot Cyndie captured of me with the Morales boys in Guatemala a couple of months ago, was easily dismissed as a function of my age and lackadaisical attitude about what I was eating.

I now understand that I have been consuming a dramatic amount of (hidden) sugar every day in foods beyond simply just the desserts to which I have succumbed. The food industry has taken every advantage to push their products on the under-informed world by making processed foods sweeter and thus irresistible to the inevitable cravings for more which result.

The sugar industry is in business to make money, not to keep us healthy, and the public policy of my government is supporting the obesity epidemic in this country with subsidies. On average, I bet I have been eating between 3 and 4 times the recommended healthy amount of sugar daily, and I have been doing so despite the fact that I don’t drink soda pop (one of the most evil of sources for sugar calories) or put ketchup on my food.

One of the worst things I do is exceed serving sizes as indicated on food labels. My vice after ice cream is cold cereal and milk. It is no surprise that there is a lot of sugar added to processed cereals. Whatever the label shows, I usually consume twice that or more, because I rarely stop at one bowl.

NutritionLabelOur nutrition facts food labels indicate how much sugar there is inside, but the food industry has successfully steered the government away from forcing the added reference of what percentage of the recommended daily allowance would be. It’s there for fat, carbohydrates, sodium… but not sugar.

If I should be limiting myself to less than 25 grams/day, I can easily exceed that at breakfast alone, with multiple bowls of cereal, orange juice, and toast. I usually have two slices. Ever look at how much sugar there is in bread? Double that, because a serving size for the nutrition label is commonly 1 slice.

The movie, “Fed Up“, has given me new incentive to address my addiction to sugar. I don’t know how anyone in America who isn’t thinking about this issue can possibly avoid exceeding the healthy amount of sugar per day, given how much processed and packaged food has become a part of our eating habits.

I urge you to see this movie, with hope that it will help spread the word about how pervasive sugar has become in processed foods and the consequences of not paying attention to it.

Here is the trailer to hopefully inspire you to seek it out:

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Written by johnwhays

June 4, 2015 at 6:00 am