Monday, December 26

My Very First Diabetic Christmas

I had a great Christmas. I had great food. I had great company whom I made the great food for.

Alas, I was not a great diabetic.

I had intended to be, but as the song says, 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.' I am so frustrated with Diabetes! I want to eat what ever the hell I want to eat! I want to bake all of the things you are supposed to bake at Christmas and more importantly, I want to eat them! I want stuffing! I want egg nog! I want the sweets! I am starting to HATE the South Beach daily emails I receive in my Inbox. The ones with titles like 'Beach Friendly Holidays' and 'Guilt-free South Beach Christmas'. DELETE. DELETE.

Confessions of a daredevil diabetic:

1. I made egg nog with vanilla icecream, Jack Daniels, and sweetened condensed milk and I DRANK IT!
2. I made homemade stuffing with WHITE bread and I ATE IT!
3. I made a batch of heavenly lemon bars with sugar and butter and I ATE THEM TOO!

Oh, I feel sooooo naughty! BUT I AM NOT SORRY!!

No, I am not.
Did I feel sick at all? Yes, a little.
Would I do it again? Most likely.

Strangly, Diabetes has created in me an intense desire to forge a healthy relationship with my body. To understand it better. To work with it. To fine tune it. To make it strong. So why do I punish it with sugar and starch? Good question. Scary answer. RAW LUST. Lust for food. I simply LOVE creating things in the kitchen. Here is a change: I can make smart food choices from the menus at restaurants, a picture perfect diabetic, but left alone in my kitchen, I am trouble brewing. Cooking fascinates me. The fact that I can open a cabinet and take out a bunch of unrelated ingredients and within an hour or so have homemade baguettes with fresh pasta and homemade pesto is AMAZING to me. I love doing it! CREATING. Cooking is my art. It is something at which I excel. It has become my passion.

So really, here is the deal. My analysis. My 'two cents'.

My head is around this whole diabetes thing, but my heart is slow to follow.

In my head, I understand the enormity of the condition. I understand the importance of having harmony and peace within my body. I understand I have to take responsibility and make smart choices.

In my heart, however, I find a certain freedom that blossoms when I am cooking. I feel alive. I feel sharp. I feel satisfied. I feel challenged. And I feel sad when I don't have total freedom in food. The very thing that once had unbridled potential, now suddenly has limits. I am heart sick you could say.

And I suppose it just takes time. Time to embrace a new lifestyle. Time to learn new methods. Time to discover wonderful things with all of the right food combinations. And I know that there are all sorts of SCRUMPTOUS diabetic meals just waiting to be created by me. But the heart is slow to follow. It tends to dwell on the days of old. It tends to linger, just a little, behind my head.

Does that make sense? It does to me. And reading what my head seems to know sure seems to make my heart feel better.

Wednesday, December 14

The Truth About Pizza

As I pay more attention to the things I eat and their effects on my blood sugar, this is a truth I have learned of late: anytime you see an article with the headline 'The Truth About....', there is a VERY high chance that the article is going to tell you why that thing is so bad for you. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, it is usually something like 'The Truth About Fried Foods', or 'The Truth About Potatoes '. If you don't want to feel guilty from that point forward, DO NOT read past the headline. Usually, by the end of the article, you are armed with all of the reasons WHY dairy products will indeed cause your untimely death. Now, since becoming a person with Diabetes, I have learned which foods I can have that will keep my blood glucose low and I have also learned which foods will cause it to climb completly out of control. Sadly, pizza is one of these 'out of control' things. Now, I LOVE pizza. I cannot look back on my life and remember a time without it. Seriously. The earliest time was when I was about 5 or so. I remember my parents had a friend who owned a Pizza Inn restaurant. I remember eating pizza there. I remember the smell of the place. I also remember that for many years after that, whenever I saw a Pizza Inn, I thought my parents friends owned it. Later on, when I was about 11, we had moved to Houston. I walked to a Pizza Inn near our house with a friend, and proceeded to tell the manager that I knew the owners and they wouldn't mind if we were given a free pizza. He was very kind and smiling, and he did indeed give us a free pizza. I looked very cool in front of my friend, but it turned to embarassment later on when I found out that Pizza Inn's are franchises and our family friend only owned the ONE store. I guess the manager just felt sorry for the arrogant and mis-informed 11 year old, and looking back on it, the 'manager' was probably the owner. I remember having pizza parties. They were all the rage back then, right up there with roller skating parties. Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor. I even have a picture of me in my little cheerleading uniform with my mom and sisters and a person dressed as a giant RAT (who was supposed to be Chuck E.) at a Chuck E. Cheese pizza party. Then, for awhile, we all loved Mr. Gatti's. Then Godfather's. Then I remember when Pizza Hut came out with a stuffed pizza. I so clearly remember eating that. As I grew older and became involved in drama, we had the cast parties at my house and we always had pizza. In college we had Pizza Hut at least once a week. A large pepperoni, thin and crispy, cooked just so the outer edges of the pepperoni were slightly brown and crisp. OHHHH, just thinking about that sends me into complete ectasy. I LOVE PIZZA! Until recently, I had never had frozen pizza. There was no point, since I lived in America, a vast land of endless pizza eating opportunities. (Well, I had tried pizza rolls back in the 80's, remember those?) Then I married a Norwegian and moved to Norway. Here, everything is expensive. You can get pizza, but it is really not any good and it costs a small fortune. As a result, the Norwegians have a HUGE assortment of frozen pizzas. Like I mentioned before, I have been sort of a frozen pizza snob. They were just sub-standard in the world of pizza. Not being able to afford a 40 dollar pizza, and faced with no other options, I had no choice but to try a frozen pizza here in Oslo. I remember pouting about it in the grocery store. My husband assured me that they were really good, so begrudgingly, I chose one called 'Ristorante Speciale'. It had mozzarella, mushrooms and pepperoni, the all important thin crust AND the mandatory Italian sounding name. So, we bought them and trudged home with our frozen pizzas. Suprisingly good. That is what my verdict was. I'm not sure if it was because it had been so long since I had had a 'thin and crispy' pepperoni pizza, or if it was really that good, but irregardless, it became clear that my pizza eating would go on uninterupted here in Norway.

Then came Diabetes. Pizza and Diabetes are like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, Tom and Jerry, God and the devil, you know, arch enemies. Not just plain old enemies, but ARCH enemies. After having pizza, my blood glucose is so CRAZY high that I often think, 'surely my meter is broken' and test again, but no, it's not broken, my glucose is just CRAZY high. So, what's a girl to do? I truly cannot imagine not being able to eat pizza. Well, I decided to try 'alternative' recipes for pizza. Here is a summary of each of those attempts.

1. Dr. Lindbergh's Low Glycemic Pizza
Here in Norway, Dr. Lindbergh is kind of like the South Beach doctor, Dr. Agaston, except he is not a cardiologist, but an endochronologist. He is a Diabetes doctor and has created an entire diet based on a Low GI approach. Slow carbs they are called. I think elsewhere in the world he is called 'The Greek Doctor', because he is originally from Greece. Anyway, he came out with a frozen pizza for those of us trying to lead a healthy and responsible lifestyle. Well, I tried it. It tasted like cardboard. As I ate my 'special' pizza and my husband had his 'normal' pizza, I found myself getting very grumpy. His looked and smelled 1000 times better, and I knew from experience, that his tasted better. Maybe if we had both been eating the 'special' pizza, it would have been ok, but the low GI pizza simply could not compete. It was not a good experience. But my glucose reading 2 hours afterwards was NORMAL.

2. The Zucchini Crust Pizza
I got this idea off of a South Beach Diet forum. It sounded very promising. So, I whipped up my pizza crust made of zucchini and egg, baked it and topped it with pizza toppings and voila! I had pizza! Except it wasn't. It tasted more like pizza toppings. I think if you are one of those people who just likes the toppings, this is a GREAT alternative. (I have never understood those people who leave the crust when eating pizza. I LOVE the crust. I am a crust girl and am always the one who says 'Are you going to eat those crusts? No? Can I have them?') It was a great idea, but just didn't give you that pizza eating feeling. Plus you had to use a knife and fork. Again, I tested my blood glucose two hours afterwards and it was NORMAL.

3. The Low Carb Soy Flour Crust Pizza
When I found this recipe, I was very excited. The author said that everyone who tried it was saying stuff like 'this is soooo much better than normal pizza!'. I knew it was too good to be true, but I am a sucker for the faint possiblilty that it just might be better. No. It was not. I ended up just scraping off the toppings and eating those. Maybe European soy flour is different, or maybe, it's just mind over matter. Even more annoyingly, 2 hours later, my blood glucose? Yep, NORMAL.

How annoying right????? I think we can all conclude from these experiments that it is the crust on the normal pizza that causes the whacked out blood sugar! The toppings are all the same. Why oh why, must the crust be evil? That is my very favorite part! Clearly it is not the toppings. It's the flour. The beautiful, soft, innocent looking flour. So what is the conclusion? Must I go through life with only my memories of pizza to sustain me? I think not.

Here is my solution. I think this whole Diabetes thing is about a lifestyle. Especially for us Type 2's. We must have a lifestyle change in how we eat. So, that is what I have done. Well, for the most part, that is what I have done. My theory is, if I am good and eating right for 29 days out of the month, there is NO reason why I cannot have a treat on the 30th day. 29 days of good clean eating surely must outweigh one day of NASTY eating right? So, I look forward to day 30 (or sometimes day 31). That one day, enables me to EMBRACE the other 29 or 30. Knowing, that if I can just get through those, my reward awaits me. PIZZA. Real pizza. With a crunchy, crispy crust!!! So, in order to have it, I must make sacrifices elsewhere. What's your 'pizza'? Don't let Diabetes steal your joy in food! Instead, find a way to incorporate your favorites into a new healthy lifestyle. It is worth it and you will be amazed at how much better your favorite food will actually taste when you are not having it everyday!

So, the truth about pizza?? Well, the truth is that there is just no substitute for the real thing.