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.
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:
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!