It’s Love Your Body Monday! I’ve been so encouraged to hear weight loss stories from many of you and how this series has helped and encouraged you to start living healthier. I love your successes, so please send them to me or leave comments on this post.
Some of you may have decided that 2016 is the year you get fit and healthy, and you don’t know how happy that makes me. As a reminder, my first career was as a Registered Dietitian in hospitals. I thought I would be the Florence Nightingale of Dietetics and patients would be so happy to learn that many of their health issues could be resolved by changing their diets and lifestyle. There I was a naive young woman fresh out of college and a yearlong internship ready to save the sick and help them live healthier happier lives.
But I hit a brick wall. Patients didn’t want to change their diets and doctors didn’t support the R.D.’s counseling. Patients would rather take a pill then alter their diet. The R.D.’s were always the meanies taking away their “one pleasure in life.” Repeatedly, I would see patients return to the hospital because they refused to take ownership of their health. It was a rude awakening and a thankless profession.
Fast forward to today, when the public and the medical profession are more respectful of the cause and effect of food on the body. As evidenced by an article, “The Diet Prescription,” in the January 25, 2016 issue of TIME magazine. Studies are now proving something that I have been saying for years: Just because diabetes runs in your family or you show pre-diabetes indicators for Type 2 diabetes, “diabetes development is not inevitable.”
This is so important because: In the US, more than two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese and extra body fat is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes! Here is a direct quote from the TIME article:
“I think people intellectually know that eating healthy and being active is good for you, but I don’t think they understand what an impact it has on preventing Type 2 diabetes for those at high risk,” says Ann Albright, director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the CDC. “It really is the most effective intervention for delaying or preventing Type 2.”
The article said for those who already have Type 2 diabetes, diet and exercise alone cannot reverse diabetes, but they can reduce the severity of symptoms. But you will read a true story by Anita Sherwood at the end of this post, which proves that it is possible to reverse Type 2 Diabetes through diet and exercise!
Doctors are not trained in behavior modification and so they don’t always know how to help you change your eating habits. They do know how to write a prescription. I can’t tell you the number of overweight people I’ve seen with knee replacements and I ponder, why doesn’t their doctor tell them to lose weight to help the success of the new knees?
Doctors Writing a Prescription for Nutrition
I was delighted to read in the Time magazine article about internist Dr. Monica Peek who has found that the way to get her patients to take notice of changing their lifestyle is to pull out her prescription pad and write: “I recommend the following nutrition for this patient…” And she says the patients started taking her seriously. It’s so simple! In fact, the subtitle to this article was “A deceptively simple approach to Type 2 diabetes is showing promise.”
But here’s the rub: the patient has to want to avoid diabetes badly enough to start eating healthy and exercising. Many think they’ll just start taking a pill and they can keep eating the way they always have. Maybe if the doctors told them that some of the complications of Type 2 diabetes can be extreme fatigue, blurry vision, sores, and foot problems, which can led to amputations, they would take diet and exercise more seriously. Potentially, there can be a damaging of blood vessels and nerves that can progress to vigilant monitoring of blood sugar levels, counting carbohydrates, timing meals, taking multiple blood lowering drugs with their own side effects, and sometimes requiring insulin injections.
I don’t know about you, but losing weight and eating food my body needs to be healthy sounds a lot easier, less painful, and a much better alternative. But Dr. Peek admits: “‘We can prevent a lot of chronic diseases if we eat better and exercise more,” Peek says. “But people don’t always think about it in that way.’”
So here’s what I’m suggesting friends: Let’s start thinking about it that way!
I know many of you have had doctors tell you that your blood sugar is too high and you need to cut back on sugar intake and lose a few pounds. Or one of your parents has Type 2 diabetes so you’ve just resigned to eat what you can while you can before the “inevitable” happens. Or you’ve already been diagnosed so you think, what’s the use? But let’s change that thinking today!
Here’s a Start:
- Be Honest with Yourself. It’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re “eating healthy, but it just doesn’t help.” I heard that so many times as an R.D. and I would look at the overweight person in front of me and cry inside that this person was in denial.
Or friends and family will say, “I’ve eliminated all cholesterol or sugar from my diet, but it just doesn’t help.” Then I watch them slather butter on their bread, gravy on their biscuits, ice cream on their pie. You get the picture. Denial!
God made our bodies so there is no fooling Him. When I was a little girl, my mother used to warn me: “God sees everything you do.” So train yourself to think, “God sees every bite.”
- Avoid desserts and fill up on salads and proteins. During the holidays, I was at several parties where people were discussing their “pre-diabetes” and high blood sugars and how they were going to control it by diet and then headed right over to the cookie and candy table. That’s feeding diabetes, not preventing it.
Our church, like many churches, puts out cookies or donuts and coffee between services. It’s so tempting, and I feel bad as I watch those I know who shouldn’t be eating them, head over to the snack table. Don’t go over to the table or bring your own healthy snack, or talk to your church about putting out healthier choices. The latter probably isn’t going to go over very well at your church, but it would be helping so many people.
The same applies for work breakrooms and small group snacks.
- Don’t buy sugar. Then you won’t be tempted to cook with it!
- Don’t buy sweets, desserts, sodas, chips. Avoid all “empty calories.”
- Eat less carbs. Maybe sweets aren’t your downfall, but you eat lots of bread, crackers, and starches. Switch to lean meats, steamed veggies, salads with olive oil and vinegar dressing, and a piece of fruit for dessert.
- Avoid alcohol. It’s straight sugar.
- When eating out, choose wisely. Then cut the meal in half, ask for a to-go-box, and put half of your meal in it to take home for another meal. Love Your Body On Vacation discusses how to eat out or away from home.
- Read labels. Sugar in many different forms is in almost every processed food, even in foods that sound healthy. Ingredients ending in “ose” are added sugar. Brown rice syrup and honey is still sugar.
- Keep a food journal. Write down or keep it electronically. Record every morsel or liquid that passes your lips. It counts if you eat it standing up, in the car, on the run, talking on the phone, cleaning the kitchen … if it goes in your mouth, it turns into calories.
Be aware of what you’re putting in your mouth and ask yourself: “Is this bite that’s going to be gone in a swallow, worth the risk of Type 2 diabetes some day?”
- Pray and ask God to help you and ask family members and friends to help keep you accountable.
You can do this!
You’re never too old to make healthy changes and benefit from them. The TIME article noted a three-year trial of overweight and prediabetes people who changed their eating and exercise habits: “Lifestyle changes were especially impressive for older people; those 60 and older reduced their risk of diabetes 71%! That’s huge!
If you’re overweight, it’s only a matter of time before your blood sugars start reflecting it; but the good news is this also works in the reverse. The more weight you lose and exercise you increase, the faster your blood sugars will decrease.
Anita Sherwood Shares Her Type 2 Diabetes Reverse Story at 74!
My dear friend Anita was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1997, but she says, “Who knows how long I had it before then.” Here’s her amazing story:
When I first went on medication for my Type 2 diabetes, I thought hurrah, now I can eat whatever I want and just take this pill! Over the years, I tried to watch my diet and be careful what I ate, but I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been. I’m 5 ft. 2 1/2 inches tall and weighed 143 pounds, which is too much for my height.
Then at the age of 74, I read a book that told me about the damage to my body diabetes was doing and how it could compromise my later years. I had started experiencing blurred vision and restless leg at night. I paid attention when the book said I might even be able to get off diabetic medication if I stopped eating sugar, lost weight, and started exercising regularly. I wanted to enjoy my next season of life, so I committed to try it.
The result: Four months later, I lost 15 pounds and my blood sugars are normal!!! I went from 150 blood sugar with medication to 100-97. (99-65 is normal range) My doctor said I rebooted my system and my pancreas is kicking back in and I can soon be off all medication if I maintain my diet and exercise.
I feel and look younger wearing skinny jeans like I wore in high school! I sleep all night, my restless leg and blurry vision are gone, I can reach down and tie my shoes easier, my cholesterol levels have improved, and I’m full of energy!
Here are the changes I made:
- Drink 2 quarts of water a day. 1 quart before noon.
- Eat on salad plate instead of dinner plate and eat slowly, taking time to chew my food thoroughly.
- Always have a bag of washed fresh raw veggies to nibble for snacks and homemade broth-based soup for mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks.
- Eliminated all carbs except 2 cups of air popped-corn in the evening and ¼-cup raw oats made into oatmeal for breakfast.
Breakfast- one egg, ¼ cup raw oatmeal cooked with nuts and craisins.
10:00 1-cup homemade broth-based soup.
Lunch—Cottage cheese or plain yogurt with fresh fruit or salad.
Afternoon: 1-cup homemade broth-based soup
Dinner—Meat (usually chicken) 2 servings of veggies and salad or stir-fry.
When we eat out, I have a cup of my soup at home first, then I choose lean meat, veggies, and salads.
Exercise: Swim laps three times a week, volunteer at a 2nd hand store with lots of walking on Mondays, and work in my yard.
Over the past four months, slowly the weight came off and the sugars came down. I realize this is a lifestyle change. This year I will be 75 and my motto will be: I’m now 75 and it’s great to be alive!
Share with us ways you’ve found to also stay healthy and share Anita’s enthusiasm: It’s great to be alive!
Quotes are from “The Diet Prescription,” by Mandy Oaklander/Chicago, TIME, January 25, 2016.
To read more about Dr. Peek’s Food RX program.
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