Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Insulin-Resistance Dietary Basics

I've mentioned briefly my diagnosis of insulin resistance. Yesterday was my first appointment since being diagnosed in late November. In that time, I've officially lost 20 pounds by following the guidelines my doctor laid before me. Eric asked my doctor when he thought I might plateau out, and he said he could see me still dropping even more weight, perhaps up to another 15 to 20 pounds. My husband claims his interest was solely to learn when he should give me the blank check to replace my wardrobe -- perhaps not until May -- but I digress.

Since some have asked, here are the basics given my insulin resistance. The numbers I list are specific for me after my doctor examined my bloodwork, so my protein-to-carb ratio may not be the same as yours if your doctor put you on something like this. I should also give the disclaimer that since I am not a doctor, if you're serious about following something like this, talk to your doctor and get tested to see if you would even need to make such concessions.

- Eat as many non-starchy vegetables as you want (the big three starchy ones are peas, corn, and my beloved potatoes)
- Dairy products are fine (this doesn’t include things like chocolate milk and ice cream because of the sugars, but I have found a couple low-carb ice creams that meet my requirements)
- Never eat carbohydrates on their own; they must be accompanied by at least 1 gram of protein for every 2 grams of carbohydrates
- No more than 30 carbohydrates in a two-hour period
- I think I’m supposed to shoot for about 120-130 grams of protein each day, but I haven’t been monitoring this amount (I believe the average is typically around 60-70 grams)
- Fiber is good. On the nutritional label, the fiber and sugar alcohol amounts can be subtracted from the total carbohydrate number (sugar alcohol isn’t completely absorbed, so it’s not often factored into the net carb number, although if you were really strict, you could count half of the sugar alcohol grams towards the total)

And there you go. There can be more details (limit things like nuts, eggs, etc. and other fatty proteins so cholesterol doesn’t go crazy), but these are the basics I’ve been following pretty religiously since Thanksgiving.

My doctor was impressed with my success, but I should add that I had the motivation since I have a lot on the line; when I've described my routine to friends who were intrigued about the weight loss, several realized they don't themselves have the self-control. I don't want my condition to develop into something like Type II Diabetes, and I wouldn't want to have to suddenly get in line should I become pregnant in the future, so my incentives are pretty strong.

On that last note, he said given my strict adherence, he would have no qualms encouraging us in a future pregnancy, provided we were emotionally ready (and provided we allowed 12-18 months to ensure that my body has completely healed from surgery). We're not at either point yet, but I was buoyed after my appointment, grateful to see my hard work had paid off.

It's still intriguing to me that I should be losing weight by eating what I take to be the same caloric content, or sometimes more so (instead of an apple by itself, I have to add string cheese, for instance). My doctor doesn't care about the weight loss, other than as proof that I'm following the guidelines. But I see it as evidence that I have this figured out, and I've made it a daily habit.

And so that I'm sure I'm not in a position to be faced with an unhealthy amount of carbohydrates without protein, I've taken to carrying edamame, peanuts, and/or protein bars in my purse (yes, currently all three have residence, and for a day, they even had wheat nuts as company).

So now you're informed, but I don't expect you to follow suit; I probably wouldn't have had the self-control before I had my insulin-resistance diagnosis. In fact, the first week, all I could think about was all the carbohydrates I was missing and wanting.

If you're interested in learning more, the South Beach Diet book (Phases 2 and 3 rather than 1) and the Insulin-Resistance Diet book are decent resources.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Defense of More of the Same

I'm struggling with how to share my life with the cyberworld.

When we lost Katherine, people we had known for years began sharing their own stories of loss. They cried with us, revealing their own pain over the years. They wrote letters detailing their own darkness.

And it has made me think why we don't have more opportunities to be transparent. Here I've known them for a while, to varying depths, and they've been keeping this hidden.

I think I can understand what happened, though. It's twofold.

There comes a time when people around are tired of hearing, are thinking it's time to be over the pain. I suspect these reactions are from those who haven't experienced a close loss. They are the ones trying to get us to some future state.

I'm not saying I've encountered much of this, but I'm sensitive to the potential, and so I'm just as likely to keep my own counsel as I am to bring up some emotional experience.

Also, I think we deserve some of the blame. We fear they don't want to hear about more of the same and we don't give ourselves the opportunity to take the time needed to heal. Or we don't give our friends the credit that they do want us to be honest with them.

In this, I realize I'm ignoring the fact that we don't often open up and share the most pivotal moments of our life with those around us every day, for whatever reasons.

So I guess the conclusion I'm coming to is that I will try to be authentic. Sometimes all I have in me to write about is what we're experiencing in the aftermath, and other times I might return to what I'm knitting or my love of coffee. I'm still balancing how much detail to go into and what I should just keep private in my own writings. But much of life is finding a balance.

So I'll share two stories, the first shocked me, and the second was a comfort.

It's customary that when a child is born to someone in our department, a birth notice is posted around the building. This happened for Katherine, but they were promptly pulled a week later. An email wasn't sent, but the word spread throughout most of the building that we had lost our daughter.

However, a couple weeks back I was in a common room at work when another employee, grabbing some coffee, asked me, "How's your little one?" This is someone I've rarely talked to and don't often see, so I was surprised that those were the words that came out of his mouth. He hung his head and froze when I told him she had died in August, and then I retreated to my office. I assumed I had broken the news to the last person, so this revelation six months later caught me off-guard. I took a couple deep breaths, but I couldn't still the shaking until I cried it out. I remained jittery for much of the day.

On the final note, over Christmas a friend's father shared that his parents had lost their firstborn, a daughter. He said that while he had never met his older sister, he felt that she was a part of the family growing up. I hope for the same with us. I'm not sure how this is implemented, but I'm grateful for the photos and reminders we have around us, and I know those will play a role.