Hectic but Calm

Last Tuesday Ben had the long awaited blood test. Tuesday evening, I had the honor/horror of outlining the contents of my previous post to a... a... a mathematician. JB, Ali, their friends and friends' friend, (a weaver!), Ben and I went out to dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. This eatery has been there forever but for some reason we'd never tried it and, boy, were we glad we did. Slightly costlier than our usual haunts, but they do cheaper lunches, and plenty choices without carbohydrate, or we can just decline rice. Oh, the fresh veg and flavorful herbs!

Friday at the end of the day Ben had his fateful appointment with Doc Karl. I had hoped we'd get another month's reprieve/parole for the diabetes medication but wasn't so confident about cholesterol meds. It turned out, Ben's hemoglobin A1c/HbA1c/glycohemoglobin value, (average blood glucose for the three months up to testing,) was 48. In December this number was 65; one is put on medication in New Zealand above 55, deemed diabetic above 46, prediabetic above 40. And of course Karl wants it below 40 when Ben is tested again in May. But considering the ease we've had in the change of diet, increase in Ben's exercising/walking, his weight loss, (OK, could be more, but still 6kg with no pain, first 4kg within days,) our shrinking portion sizes without even trying, we think it's doablet. (Even I lost some weight, although my weight always fluctuates, so the loss is between 2 and 4.5kg, but I am approaching the lightest I've been in 22 years. That includes the couple of years when I went to the gym three and four times a week and was measured all over every month.)

I've been reading more about the Fast/"intermittent" fasting/5:2 diet; on two days a week of our choosing we eat quarter of the calories of other five days, not fast completely, and on those five days we will eat what we've come to call Doc Karl's version of the Blood Sugar diet foods, (no carb and much fewer fruits than in the book,) which I think is based more on the ketogenic diet, but if it gets too complicated I'll loose my cool so I'm sticking mostly to Dr Mosley's rules with Karl's proviso. Ben prefer this to eight interminable weeks of 800 calories per day, and I agree.

Ben's cholesterol also went down, so no brain-boiling meds, but Karl would still like to see the good HDL go up, so we're helping matters along with a bit of Omega 3 supplement for a while. But that's all we need to do for the next three months. Ben just might eliminate all symptoms of diabetes. I can't tell the difference between being cured of diabetes, a term I hesitate to use, vs. not having any symptoms, and he'll have to be mindful for the rest of his life because of his family medical background, but hey, if we can eat relatively normally and stay healthy with no threats of blindness, bypass surgeries or amputations, we're all in.

Even Doc Karl seemed a little different; be it because the numbers are good, because Ben's a bloke, or because I finally got on board Intermittent Fasting he recommended me 30 months ago when we first met, I thought he was chummier. I did look into it,I swear, after getting over the word, "fasting", but I could have had to eat only a subset of what we used to eat because there was no way Ben would give up carbohydrate, (rice, Japanese noodles, and hash browns!) if he weren't on parole, and frankly thinking of possibly cooking different things for myself was onerous.

In case you hadn't noticed, I've calmed down because Ben has stopped resisting/negotiating; his numbers were way better than we both expected; no meds; we've both gotten used to the foods we can eat and started experimenting anew; we taste more flavors in foods we thought we knew well; and for myself, because we eat/cook in smaller amounts I'm more careful and I have a higher hit, errr, success rate in making yummy dishes, and after Friday I can concentrate on my weight loss, which is monumental compared to Ben's. He's already made the upper threshold of where he wants to be; me, I'll get back to you around Christmas for an interim report. I've even had some head space to do some mixed media last week. Truth to tell, when Ben went back to work in January, I had hoped to get back on the loom, but the new diet was harder to get my head around, (and of course once we got our heads around, it's another, "What was all that fuss about?",) but I can finally see myself weaving again soon.
I swear, these guys have become OK. I had my first since my student days last weekend, but they're not as soul-crushing as I remembered. Previously we only bought half bunches of celery and had a hard time using them all up before they turned soft and brown, but this full bunch is going to disappear in two days.
Esther and Jake came bearing gift on yesterday; plums from their tree! It's called elephant heart plums, and they chose relatively unripe ones for us so they don't all go bad at once.
Today I took the ripest one-third and did my variation of the slow-roasted pasta sauce today. So intense and flavorful, I'll probably do some more so we can enjoy the fruits for a long time this coming fall/winter.
The previously "normal" amount of food we bought, even veg, is too much so we're buying a lot less but more varieties at once. Except tomatoes; we both grab fresh whole tomatoes when we're hungry for fruits. We feel OK to spend some money on fancy vinegars, infused oils, and organics. I have a problem with coconut products because of deforestation, but Ben caught on to the many benefits for diabetics so we got this. In this particular case, however, I wanted him to get the white-lidded non-organic version, but, well, it was his choice. Doesn't the pink lid alarm you, though? To me it looks like super-instant drain-cleaner or rodent-poison container. Oh, dear.

Also on Friday I ran into Jay from the old Red Gallery at Volume and we had coffee and parted promising to do it again very soon. I regained one of my important mentors. I also had lunch with Suter/Plum Esther and Tapestry Weaver Pat to introduce them to each other. I was late because I went back to Volume after coffee to buy one book, and by then the two looked like they'd known each other a long time. I'm quite sure Jean is long back from Christmas in Australia, so I must get together with her, too. Today I got a call from Andrea who is working in two art places in town; when I left my job at the Polytechnic, it took me six months to get back out again so I was going to give her until April, but she has been out and about and I'm sure we'll see each other soon. This weekend, JB, Ali, and we are invited to our neighbors'; he's a writer and she's a painter.

We are having the coolest and comparatively moist "hottest summer ever" and, though summer doesn't end until March, I'm am feeling more upbeat. Life is looking up, we have nice friends, and how can I not mention, food is delicious.

EDIT: If you or your loved ones have Type II Diabetes, especially if the patient is under 50 or was diagnosed within the last eight years, it may be worth looking into and discussing with your doctor either/both of these diets. (Blood Sugar does target diabetics and prediabetics; 5:2, the older diet, I think initially targeted weight loss, although I know less about the latter.) I don't know Atkins; these diets are low/no carb, but not high fat, just some fats allowed.  (I have read about cases where these diets worked on Type I, but that's a whole new ball game I'm unwilling to touch with a ten-foot barge pole, :-D)

Diabetes New Zealand still advocates eating a variety of wholegrains as was the case 14 years and a week ago when Ben was diagnosed. At first we followed every one of their points obediently, ate pasta and good grains, and Ben ate "small amounts, often," so he was never too hungry. And what Doc Karl, Ben, and I agreed was we wasted 14 years on misinformation. And I am so glad Ben changed doctors.

Now, this is the tricky bit and I'm retelling what we learned from Doc Karl; "fasting" in this context allows one's stored fat to burn, therefore reducing/eliminating the fats inside your organs (and elsewhere); for diabetes, pancreas and liver being most crucial in allowing pancreas to control insulin properly. Then it's the cholesterol inside veins that lead to heart diseases, blindness, and even limp amputation. This goes against what we heard about breakfast being the most important and/or don't skip lunch because you'll be hungrier, or Ben having to graze, but all we can say is with these diets we didn't get hungry after the firsts couple of days. We eat breakfast and supper, and Ben munches on nuts and a fruit or a tomato around lunch time and/or late afternoon, while I might eat a little leftovers, celery, or skip altogether. We decided to put our trust in Karal and Mosley for now. It's this fasting bit that we urge you to discuss with your doctor as depending on where the patient is with diabetes, medication or insulin, and/or other conditions, this could be a very bad idea in your case.

Carbohydrate is sugar. Grain is sugar-plus. Fruits, with their wonderful fibers, vitamins, cute faces and sensational colors, flavors, and smells, do contain a lot of sugar. Sugar, unless used by the body, turns into fats and accumulate. This is why exercise, or just walking, is important, Meg. (Also fats increase the chance of age-related head problems; I don't know if they can be grouped as dementia any more but you know what I mean; that's the one that scares me the most.) My reading taught me this several years ago and I had the nerve to tell off more than one health professional. When I baked bread, I mixed half a dozen types of grains, but the bulky stuff was mostly seeds and nuts. And finally, my bread-baking days are over. About ten days ago I ceremoniously poured my sourdough down the drain. If I see a totally grain-free and edible bread, I'll just beg some off of Andrea; otherwise, keeping sourdough as a pet was too tempting.

I would usually not recommend any diet; I hate diets; I don't believe in most; and have laughed them off most of my adult life. I thought they were for patient, determined, admirable people, not me. I have had weight/obesity problem since childhood, but the last 10-15 years I just couldn't be bothered and had resigned to die fat. What I can tell you is, in our limited experience of the last three months, we were not hungry and our portions decreased without trying, but Ben's numbers improved and lost some weight.

To clarify, we have had hankerings: I've wanted to have sponge cake and/or chocolate fish, but I never touched the choc I look at every day in the pantry. Ben wanted rice badly, and we cooked rice once, three kind of brown/black/red variety, about half the regular amount, washed the sticky bits afterwards, and ate half of that over three days and stuck the other half in the freezer. It's still there. We cooked the last of our new potato babies and mashed, and again, we ate that over three to four occasions. We make kumura (sweet potato) mash, using one potato each time, and eat it over three to four meals. We even ate sticky Japanese rice cake for breakfast on Friday, but cut it up so we had two small pieces with seaweed rather than feel sad about having only one.

There is another option. Doc Karl is also keen on the new (??) ketogenic diet coming out of the US. There is still not enough info except online here, and supplements, etc., have not arrived but he thinks the science looks good; I don't know how this is related to Mosley's 5:2, either, but they are related. The name to google in this case is Dr/Prof (??) Longo. I'd be interested to know what you find out ifi you do, but for now, we're sticking to Mosley as we've already started and we don't need anything special, just regular food.

Sorry this got a bit long, but I do want to communicate good news, especially if it's easy. :-D


  1. I have friends doing the 5/2 'fasting' diet and she recommends it highly. I haven't been brave enough to try it - yet.

    1. Laura, we're glad we didn't jump right in as we would have been out the other door by now. In our case, because Dr Mosley wrote both on the Blood Sugar and Fast Diets, and because I already had the Blood Sugar book, it was a relatively painless transition. Being allowed protein and a little bit of fat really helped. And because you do not fast, but only reduce. And at the risk of sounding like an infomercial, if someone as attached to food as I can do it, with a lifelong weight/obesity problem, almost anyone can. What we liked about Doc Mosley's writing was he gives you lots of leeway, so you can start slow and ease yourself into it, or just do 6:1, or mix it up. Ditto with the 800 cal diet; you can go 1000 or even 1200 cals, depending on your height and goal weight, but for longer. It's not the "Do This or You Shall Die" decree and I think it made even Ben OK with it. And you don't know him; he is the most stubborn individual when it comes to certain things, and rice has always been one of them, I discovered. But before you invest any money into anything, checking out the website and thinking about it doesn't hurt or cost too much. At any rate, look into it and discuss it with your doctor, and best of luck whatever you do.

  2. I won't clog your blog but I have had a lot of exposure to Keto diets and intermittent fasting. Atkins has been debunked (tho I ate Atkins happily for several years and have never been thinner or healthier, but all the meat hurt my soul), anyway I have books n stuff and if you want to talk about it yoy know where I am

  3. So glad you're both doing so well!! Also glad I'm not diabetic, or I'd have nothing to eat, being vegan and gluten-free. Grains are my mainstay, with veggies, of course. Have a wonderful week. xo

  4. Yes, I was going to say... Celery. :-D

    1. Congratulations to you both for progress with this diet! My first day in new job tomorrow, I need to pack a salad box for lunch.

    2. Thanks, and the best of luck to you, Dot.


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