Feeling Woeful about Pre-Diabetes

Feeling Woeful about Pre-Diabetes March 23, 2012

In December I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic.  My doctor tends to be hyper-conservative, chasing every possible abnormality, so I chalked it up to her being over-reactive–after all I wasn’t fasting before the appointment.
But then I talked to my physician brother-in-law, and he told me that these days the test measures your blood sugar over the past 3 months and doesn’t need to be a fasting measure, so it’s much more accurate.  My numbers mean I’m definitely pre-diabetic.
I’ve spent the last 12 years working my butt off trying to avoid this diagnosis—I’ve tried to keep my weight down, I’ve exercised between 4-7 times every week, I eat a healthy diet, and here I am, still on the verge. 
Looking up what I could learn on the internet, most articles said something like 95% of diabetics can measurably improve their health by losing weight and exercise unless they have these other factors:
  • Being Asian (check)
  • Having a family history (father, uncle, grandfather–check)
  • Having had gestational diabetes (check again)

As I whined to my new nutritionist on Monday, she said, “But at your age everyone has something going on—they’re overweight, they have high blood pressure, something starts going—you just have a weak pancreas. . . and kidneys.”  (I’ve also had an auto-immune kidney disease these past 20 years—thank God that’s been in remission!)
“Will it help if I lose 10 pounds?” After all, my male relatives were all chubby.
“No, not really.”
So in order to give my pancreas a break, I’ve started the diabetic diet which means low-carb.  45 grams at breakfast and lunch, 15 for an afternoon snack, 65 at dinner, and 25 an hour after dinner.   Here are the amounts of certain foods that count as 1 carb exchange (15 grams):
  • Milk (1/2 cup)
  • Beans, peas, legumes (1/3-1/2 cup)
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • Raw veggies (1 cup)
  • Cooked veggies (1/2 cup)

·         Because we don’t want to overtax my kidneys, I also need to eat low-protein diet, which means 5-6 oz. of protein/day max.
Cilantro, also known as Chinese parsley, was the one
food in the world I couldn’t stand growing up–literally
had to pick it out of dumplings and stir fry.  I’ve been
training myself to eat the stuff because it’s in so many
delicious cuisines–East Asian, Indian, South American,
Mexican, Middle Eastern, etc.  
What do I get to eat?  Well according to my new diabetes handbook, “free foods” that I can eat in whatever quantity I want include:
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Cilantro

Cilantro?  You’ve got to be kidding.  Cilantro’s an herb, not a food.  And I’m one of those who genetically has an aversion to this pungent green.
A couple weeks ago, even though I knew my new diagnosis, in CA for the Multiethnic Conference I begged a colleague with a car to take me to the closest See’s Candy where I stocked up until the next West Coast trip. 
Monday night, I couldn’t find carb numbers for my favorite candies, so I emailed customer service.  Within 2.5 hours, they responded:
  • Dark Almond (3 pieces):  16 grams
  • Dark California brittle (2 pieces):  19 grams
  • Dark Marzipan (2 pieces):  18 grams

I guess I can splurge on a chocolate or 2 at dinner if I eat a dinner with 3 oz. chicken breast and 1 1/2 cups of cooked vegetables (45 grams).
Plus all the cilantro I can chew!

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