Diabetic diet is healthy for everyone
My mother began dealing with high blood sugar in her mid-80s, as did her mother. I have been on various pills to lower my numbers, watched my diet (off and on), and exercised (again, off and on) for about 15 years.
That does not mean I was in my mid-80s 15 years ago, and am now nearly 100. It does mean that apparently I must have been a really quick learner, for it appears I’ve taken the fast track to Type 2 diabetes.
After a routine visit to my family physician at the first of the year, he called to talk to me about the results of my blood work. The good news? All of my levels were within normal range with the exception of my blood sugar, or glucose. The not-so-good news was that my blood sugar readings were completely out of control. My average for the previous three months was more than three times what it should have been.
Having added oral diabetes medications one by one over the years, I was not totally surprised, but the numbers were sobering. I began taking insulin two days after my doctor told me it was time.
With advice from my daughter Jenny, a licensed and registered dietitian who works for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association in Columbus, I continue to work on my plan for healthy living. I’ve found living and eating like a diabetic, by the way, does not have to be synonymous with boring or bland eating, not going to restaurants, giving up everything you really like to eat or never again having a cold beer on a hot day.
It has been a month since the night I sat in my kitchen by myself (all momentous occasions in my house happen in the kitchen) getting acquainted with the unfamiliar apparatus that makes up an insulin injection. I couldn’t quite get my head around the fact I was about to start taking insulin, never mind actually giving myself an injection. I am, after all, the same kid who ran away from home and hid under a neighbor’s house to try to keep from taking a “shot” when I was 6 years old. It didn’t work then, nor did it work a month ago. That stuff just sat there quietly on the kitchen table and waited me out.
It was daunting to begin this latest dance with diabetes. Insulin-dependent diabetics have two basic choices: you take the shot or you don’t. If you do, you get to live longer and better. So, where’s the choice?
The anticipation is by far the worst part of taking insulin — just like starting a lot of other things you’ve dreaded. My biggest revelation so far is that the shot doesn’t hurt, no lie.
Both technology and diet have come a long way since I hid under that house. Today I heard a food expert quoted as saying, “If we all ate like diabetics we’d live a lot longer.” This recipe is an example of flavorful, healthy eating.
COD WITH PANCETTA AND BUTTER BEANS
1 cup fresh or frozen butter beans
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 fresh sage leaves
3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
8 thin slices pancetta ham
4 thick cod steaks, skinned
12 cherry tomatoes
Salt and ground black pepper
Place butter beans and water to cover in a large skillet on medium high heat. Lower heat and stir in leeks, garlic and 4 sage leaves. Simmer 45 minutes, or until beans are done; add more water if necessary. Drain beans and return to the pot. Stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil and keep warm.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap two slices of pancetta around the edge of each cod steak, tying it on with kitchen string or securing it with a wooden toothpick. Insert a sage leaf between the pancetta and the cod. Season fish with salt and pepper.
Heat a heavy frying pan, add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil and sear the cod steaks two at a time for 1 minute on each side. Transfer steaks to an ovenproof dish and roast it for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes; drizzle over remaining olive oil. Roast for 5 minutes more until the cod steaks are done but still juicy.
Serve on a bed of butter beans with the roasted tomatoes. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Eating like a diabetic involves balancing one’s carbohydrates, protein and fat. We eat smaller meals and small, healthy snacks during the day and before bed.
Recommended reading for information and recipes is “The Ultimate Book of Diabetic Cooking” by Bridget Jones. To request information, contact the Central Ohio Diabetes Association at (614) 884-4400.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.