Meet Herb

It actually isn't a battle. One of the things I've learned in my short time as a Type II Diabetic is that though it's not always easy, it is possible to live with the illness and live well.

We're still playing around with medication levels. Still trying to find the dosage that works best for me. And that I think is the real key. It's not about what works for Mary, Joe or Amin, it's about what works for me and my lifestyle.

And what works best for me is to let the medication do what it's supposed to do. At first it was a point of pride. I was going to treat this disease with diet alone and not rely on meds to keep my levels right. NOT a good idea.

Let's start at the beginning. As my dietician Ann would say, "fat is not the enemy, sugar is the enemy." Can't tell you how many times she repeatedly told me I could "eat the whole damn roast" and as long as I kept the carbohydrate intake low my sugar levels would be great. The problem here is that a) I'm Italian and b) sugar isn't my downfall, breads and pastas are. NEWSFLASH: breads and pastas are as bad as sugar-laden foods. Well, almost. It only took about a week of diet monitoring to learn that if I was to have low sugar levels and not rely on meds I would be able to have less than 15 carbohydrate points (or grams) with each meal. 15 points is one slice of bread. Doesn't sound too bad does it?? Then you discover all the foods that have carbohydrates in them and how they will affect that level.

For instance . . . 1/2 cup rice, six crackers, one small ear of corn, 1/3 of a bagel, 1/2 a potato . . . all of these have 15 carbohydrate points. One small orange, 1 cup raspberries, a peach, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup cranberry juice (my personal favourite), 1/2 cup of carrots, squash, peas, beets grapes, ten cherries . . . all these have ten carbohydrate points. Also with 10 carbohydrate points: two teaspoons of sugar, syrup, honey or molasses, one tbsp jam or jelly, 2 hard candies, 4 jelly beans (who on earth eats only 4 jelly beans???), one small piece of liquorice, 2 marshmallows, 1/2 a Popsicle, 2 tbsp sweet relish, 1/2 cup regular (not diet) pop.

On the up side, there are a lot of foods that have little or no effect on your blood sugar levels. All of the protein foods for starters, including eggs, bacon, canned fish and cottage cheese. Fats and oils. Cabbage, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, zucchini, cauliflower, celery, onions, yellow or green beans, bean sprouts, spinach, other greens, radishes, peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts (yummm!!), asparagus (double yummmmm!!!), mushrooms, parsley, rhubarb, tea, coffee, water and diet pop. Not really all that bad.

Like I said though, the key for me was that most meals include at least 30 to 40 carbohydrate points and although less than that is certainly attainable, it's not always possible with working full time and the pace of life in general. That's when Ann (the dietician) stepped in and said, "Let the medications do what they are supposed to." She basically told me that there was no need for me to suffer through it all. So now I take the extra tab if I know I'm going to have extra carbohydrates in a meal. I'm not into overdoing things anyway, I have a healthy fear of dying young. Still have a point of pride about "doing it on my own", but I don't feel quite so constrained.

The medications I'm on are basically "fooling" my system into thinking that my insulin is ok. See, my type of diabetes is the type that, whereas I have lots of insulin in my system, it's slightly flawed and the blood cells refuse to accept it so it can't help in the break down of the sugar. What the Actos (this is the medication I have to take once daily) does is help my insulin to break down the carbohydrates. And the extra tab I take, Gluconorm (this one I take as needed before meals), basically goes in and tells the cells to accept the imperfect insulin and let it do the job anyway. May sound a bit juvenile, but trust me, it paints the picture exactly right. More carbohydrates equals more Gluconorm. It's a simple equation and by making it so that it's up to me how I take it, the doctor has given the power over my disease to me. And that is a great feeling too. The disease does not control my life, instead I control the disease.

I'll continue to keep you posted from time to time on how I'm doing. Meanwhile, keep up the healthy habits and remember that I love to hear from my readers.

Broiled Fish Dijon

A blend of garlic and mustard complements the richness of the swordfish. And it's so quick and easy, you'll be out of the kitchen in less than half an hour.
  • 6 swordfish steaks, about 1 inch thick, 5 to 6 oz each
  • 1 1/2 pounds small zucchini (about six) cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • paprika
  • 2 tbsp drained capers

Rinse the fish and pat it dry, then arrange the fish and zucchini, cut side up, in a single layer on an oiled rack in a broiler pan. Drizzle with the lemon juice and broil 4 - 6 inches from the heat for about five minutes. Meanwhile, combine the mustard and garlic. Turn the fish, spread with the mustard mixture and continue to broil until the zucchini is lightly browned and fish is just done (about five more minutes). Sprinkle with paprika and capers and serve accompanied with a salad.

  • Yields: 6 servings with 4 grams of carbohydrates in the whole recipe!!!
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes