Friday, March 23, 2012

Feeling Woeful about Pre-Diabetes

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!


Anonymous said...
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LKT said...

Hi, Kathy!

We've been dealing with the pre-diabetic stuff in our household too, so I hear you, though I don't have the added onus of other factors. So frustrating when it's not under your control. control what you can.

If it helps, here are some of our new tricks:

1) Orowheat Double Fiber Bread 18 carb, 5 fiber, 13 net carb per slice
2) Mission Carb Balance Whole Wheat tortillas (we use the small, fajita size): 13 g carb, 10 g fiber, 3 g net carb.
3) Cauliflower rice Sad, I know, and it's not rice, but it certainly works if you've got something with a sauce and you just need to put it on something. We use it mostly with Indian food. Recipe:

Another resource I like is Alan Shanley's book "What On Earth Can I Eat?" If you go to his blog,, he has a discount code for the ebook.

Can I say that one good thing about this whole situation is that I eat a heck of a lot more bacon and eggs than I used to. Bacon....mmmm.

Best wishes, and keep me posted.
Laura Toepfer