Wednesday, August 28, 2013

More processed, more problems.

I've noticed that the more processed a food is, the more difficulty I have keeping my blood sugar in the place it needs to be. This goes even for foods made at home.

For example, a typical lunch for me might be a big salad consisting of several types of greens, tomatoes, avocados and nuts with balsamic vinegar and oil. A blood sugar after this kind of lunch is perfect.

However, the other day I made a home-made grain free pizza recipe like the one in this link. Things were still relatively home made, but the pizza included home made pesto as well as home made almond meal as the base ingredient. Despite these things being home made, they were prepared using a food processor machine. The name is right in it. Whenever we process something, we make it more dense than it naturally was. Even though this pizza is extremely friendly to the blood sugar and I will eat it any day, it is comparatively not as friendly as the raw salad. Blood sugar 1 hour after eating the salad= 95; 1 hour after the grain free pizza= 120. Despite the fact that this pizza is not made of grains, the processing still makes it more dense.

I've noticed this with even "raw" foods that when purchased and prepared at a restaurant or out and pre-packaged will yield higher postprandial blood sugars. A salad from Au Bon Pan with a packet of their dressing will yield 1 hour postprandial sugars higher than a salad prepared at home with oil and vinegar.

I notice this eating foods generally considered "unprocessed." Foods generally considered processed cannot compare to raw ones. If for example you are going to eat a home made regular pizza versus pizza made at a restaurant versus a frozen pizza, you can bet that the postprandial blood sugars will increase respectively; none of them will compare to a raw salad prepared at home. There's just something about processing foods that makes them less friendly to blood sugars. When a food is processed it becomes more dense and you end up eating more than you need.

In short, whenever possible, make it at home. Keep it simple and eat only what you need.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

What is Yoga?

Talking strictly about an extremely low carbohydrate diet can certainly produce amazing results for the diabetic, but without exercise, its really only a small piece of the puzzle.

But I am not talking about just running or playing soccer- as I described in This Post, the energy in the body is an amazing patchwork of interactions that comes together as a whole. When we are talking about diabetes, we have to think about specific exercises that target the root problems. The sciences of yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine offer us explanations of where these energies should be and how to get them there.

Body is matter, "energy" is etherial and non-specific. However I think that Paramahansa Yogananda in his book Autobiography of a Yogi* gives us an important reminder of how not Other "energy" can be when he writes, "The Western day is nearing when the inner science of self-control will be found as necessary as the outer conquest of Nature. The Atomic Age will see men's minds sobered and broadened by the now scientifically indisputable truth that matter is in reality a concentrate of energy." The "indisputable truth that matter is in reality a concentrate of energy" is Einsteins famous E=mc2. This is the reminder that all mass is in fact energy and just because we experience it as body does not mean that it is not also energy- digestive energy, electricity, kinetic energy, mind energy and light.

So when I talk about exercise, I am really talking about a kind of exercise that will allow you to navigate the indisputable bridge between matter (body) and energy (mind). In order to find real healing, we must work to create this mastery. Their remains then the fact that we can find a way to convert healing mind energy into physical manifestations. Interpret this as you see fit.

But what is yoga? Yogananda gives as a more specific definition that Yoga is " a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts, which otherwise impartially prevents all men, of all lands, from glimpsing their true nature of Spirit. Like the healing light of the sun, yoga is beneficial equally to men of the East and to men of the West. The thoughts of most persons are restless and capricious; a manifest need exists for yoga: the science of mind control." Yoga the exercise in physical postures and practices is the control of non-material mind energy. What those specific practices are I have given here. There were countless specifics taught, the one I have outlined is the one I learned from my teacher and practice.

So when someone talks about Yoga, it is much, much more complicated than "just stretching" as I heard someone put it the other day. This is an entire system of how to willfully transfer between material and mind energy. Such a mastery may occur quickly, or slowly. However, the ever increasing awareness promised by Yoga practice will create higher and higher levels of the ability to discern the energies of the body and mind and to direct them in the most beneficial ways in healing yourself and others and discovering that energy's source.

* Autobiography of a Yogi, Thirteenth edition 1998, Self-Realization Fellowship, Los Angeles. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Added sugars add nothing: foods where sugar is secretly hidden

Since I began eating in a way that has allowed my body to heal, I noticed just how many of the food I have cut out have so much unnecessary sugar added. What I've discovered is that the unsweetened versions of these foods taste, in may cases, better than the standard sugared up ones you typically buy. Here are some examples:

Almond Milk- the almond milk you generally buy in the store, such as Almond Breeze Vanilla or Chocolate, has about 15 grams of pure sugar per serving. However, the unsweetened version has literally only 1 carb! Once you begin buying the unsweetened version, you realize that you can actually taste the almond-ness of the beverage and that it tastes quite good. If you accidentally buy the sweetened version and expect the unsweetened,  it might even make you gag. The extra sugar they add to it is added likely because we have come to expect it as Americans and cannot handle any subtlety in flavors. Once you learn to appreciate it without the simple pleasure of overwhelming sugar, almond milk becomes a tasty alternative to high carb cows milk, as well as versatile in baking or simply as somewhat of a treat on its own.

Yogurt- yogurt has an insane amount of added sugar. Chobani greek yogurt, strawberry low fat yogurt = 30 grams of sugar per serving! Not only is there no fat to soften the absorption of all that sugar, but that is about the equivalent of drinking 2/3 a can of coke. Absolutely too much. However, the unsweetened versions of plain greek yogurt in a standard serving have only 8 carbs. If you buy the full fat version, this little container of greek yogurt becomes a super powerful breakfast. With close to 15 grams of protein, a ton of fat and little to no sugar, an unsweetened greek yogurt can fill you up for a long, long time. Truthfully, I will admit that unsweetened yogurt is not the tastiness. But it's pretty simple and reasonable to soften it by added some low glycemic index berries like blackberries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries- just a few though. Berries are lower in carbs as far as fruit goes and just a few berries will not add many carbs and can make unsweetened full fat yogurt a useful product.

Chocolate- Hershey's chocolate is awful- it is highly processed, full of artificial flavors and full of added sugar= 26 carbs! (24 g pure sugar). Again in my opinion, it totally ruins the good flavors and potentially helpful nutritional value of real chocolate. Lindt chocolate makes an excellent 90% dark chocolate bar. In this, we are talking about only 3 grams of sugar per serving and the added bonus of 5 grams of dietary fiber. What is more, is that this purer form of chocolate actually has 4 grams of protein as well as significant amounts of fat. Once you begin eating this almost completely cocoa version of a chocolate bar, you realize what a bastardization of chocolate anything you buy at the candy counter really is. If you can handle it, eat simply 100% cocoa baking chocolate as a treat. This is also a bit bitter, but at the same time, you can appreciate it's flavor as well as know that it does have some nutritional value for you. Cocoa is reputed to have anti-depression properties as well as high amounts of antioxidants etc. etc. Of course, even on a ketogenic diet, pure chocolate can still have a lot of fat! It works well as a treat when you feel like you want to chow on something grossly unhealthy to have just a little bit of 90% or pure cocoa.

Ice Cream- not much explanation needed here. It's full of added sugar. Granted, ice cream does have significant amounts of fat and protein that help slow the absorption, but its still too much. Instead, So Delicious makes no sugar added coconut milk ice cream that it is amazing. Coconut milk has copious amounts of the "long chain fatty acids" and other healthy fats people talk about currently, and when they are frozen, their texture is amazing. Its more creamy than real ice cream! Without added sugar, you have simply the flavor of the coconut milk and perhaps some vanilla bean chopped into it. Again, this food can be used nutritionally- good fats and little sugar. It's still a treat, but its a far cry from your standard cookie dough or cookies and cream ice cream cone. ( and oh yes, of course, don't eat it in a cone...)

Peanut Butter- Skippy is awful. Hydrogenated oils, preservatives and of course, added sugar. If you buy a peanut butter where the only ingredient is simply "peanuts" then the only carbs in it are the fibrous material of the peanut. These peanut butters again, I find superior to conventional ones. The oils separate out from the peanut butter, but if you stir them well then keep it in the refrigerator, they won't separate out!

 Barbeque sauce- BBQ sauce and many other condiments are made basically of high fructose corn syrup. 2 tablespoons= 15 grams of sugar! Read the food labels when buying condiments and make sure that sugar, corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup are not on the label. If they are, DO NOT BUY THEM.

Canned soup- A secret culprit, canned soup, especially brands like Campbells, is going to have added sugar. Again I think it ruins the taste. There are plenty of canned soup options that do not add any sugar (not to mention those that don't add chemicals we cannot pronounce and other things that are decidedly not food).

Jelly- Jelly, even the good ones, is a high carb food that really should be avoided. But if you must have jelly, read the ingredients. Whenever I go to a diner and look at the little jelly packets, the first ingredient is almost always high fructose corn syrup. The flavor of the jelly- for example strawberry- might not even appear until the end of the list of ingredients, and frequently as an artificial flavor. If you are going to buy jelly, buy 100% fruit preserves where, if the flavor is strawberry, the only ingredient is strawberries!

Protein powders- Protein shake mixes will almost ubiquitously have some sugar added. This is a shame, because a lot of people like to use these mixes as supplements or as meal replacers because they are easy and have a lot of protein in them. You will probably have to go to a specialty store, or at least the specialty aisle in your supermarket, or more likely, order it online to find no sugar added protein powders.

Tomato sauce- It's similar to canned soups- tomato sauce like Ragu or Prego have unnecessary sugar added. Read the food labels and find one where the ingredients are only tomatoes, garlic and maybe some oregano and pepper. Anything with corn syrup or sugar is a not, in my opinion, a food any longer, but a sugary drug-like imitation of one.

The theme here is that whenever we buy a "food product" ie. something that comes in a wrapper, we have to read the label. If we don't, the biggest name brands of foods are likely to have added sugars. Just buy buying the unsweetened versions, we can cut out huge amounts of carbs from our diets.

Paleo pancakes

Breakfast is definitely that hardest meal to find low carb options. I usually opt for some nuts or two eggs sunny side up, but occasionally its nice to participate in a bigger breakfast. Here is a recipe for grain free, no sugar added pancakes that are, in my opinion, actually better than regular pancakes. They kept me full for hours because of how much fiber and good fat they have in them! They are weighty in protein,

2 eggs
1 tablespoon chia seeds + 3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 to 3/4 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup mashed banana (1 large banana or 1 + 1/2 smaller bananas)
2 + 1/2 tablespoons almond meal
1/2 tablespoon shredded coconut (not essential to the recipe but tasty to add)
coconut oil for the skillet or some other oil to keep from sticking

Soak chia seeds and water together and stir to create a gooey substance. Mash banana in a separate bowl then combine all ingredients together and stir until well mixed.

Place about 3 tablespoons worth of the substance onto the skillet and using a fork press out slightly to the sides. Let each pancake cook thoroughly on one side before flipping. They take a bit longer than normal pancakes to cook, and it is best to let them get well cooked before flipping so they don't break apart.

Thats it! Paleo pancakes

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A problem in the education of newly diagnosed type 1's

There's something wrong with diabetes education. Even after a complete change in lifestyle, some core beliefs about diabetes that are false spring up on me at unexpected times.

I met someone new at my friend's party the other night and we got to talking somehow about diabetes (even though at this point he didn't know I had it). He said something along the lines of, " I mean, you just can't walk around eating sugar and carbohydrates whenever you want, its just not healthy and probably keeps people with diabetes with the disease!"

Now this man said exactly what I believe, almost verbatim. But I had this immediate knee-jerk reaction where the words "that's not true, we can eat whatever we want" almost came out. But I caught myself and noticed that I had this vestige of a reaction implanted in me even though my core beliefs are absolutely opposite to that now.

The problem is in the education. We are taught that we are "normal" and can "eat whatever you want". Not true. Its the same as someone having a peanut allergy- they can't eat peanuts because peanuts make them sick; we can't eat sugar or too many carbohydrates because they make us sick.

I've become increasingly concerned about how we educate newly diagnosed type 1's, and think its time that we find it appropriate to say, no you can't eat that, and that's okay. You can be as strong and happy without it (in fact, probably more so), and no one is "normal." We could brainstorm ideas of how to go about teaching this, but something must change.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I read a quote in Autobiography of a Yogi  by the early 20th century French physiologist Charles Richet that read:

"Very strange, very wonderful, seemingly very improbably phenomena may yet appear which, when once established, will not astonish us more than we are now astonished at all that science has taught us during the last century"... 

"It is assumed that the phenomena which we now accept without surprise, do not excite our astonishment because they are understood. But this is not the case. If they do not surprise us, it is not because they are understood, it is because they are familiar; for if that which is not understood ought to surprise us, we should be surprised at everything- the fall of a stone thrown into the air, the acorn which becomes an oak, mercury which expands when it is heated, iron attracted by a magnet."

"The science of today is a light matter. Those amazing truths that our descendants will discover are even now all around us, staring us in the eyes, so to speak; and yet we do not see them. But it is not enough to say that we do not see them; we do not wish to see them- for as soon as an unexpected and unfamiliar fact appears, we try to fit it into the framework of the commonplaces of accepted knowledge, and are indignant that anyone should dare to experiment further." 

The last portion is my favorite: when something unexpected happens we do not wish to see it. It is an outlier. Impossible. A fluke. There must be some explanation for the outlier that fits into our current model.

I propose, and I'm not alone, and it makes complete sense, that beta cells can regenerate. The auto-immune response can be arrested. It is simply an inflammatory reaction, caused by a million things, but I would fathom that we can turn it off. Unexpected, unfamiliar, impossible by what we now accept as science, maybe. But the fact remains that our bodily cells are in constant regeneration and beta cells are no exception.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My diabetes history

Prior to my diagnosis in 2009 (my junior year of high school) I spent much of sophomore year of high school putting myself in the most anxious and depressed state I've ever experienced. I was dealing with what I didn't know at the time was pretty bad OCD. As I wrote in this article about body-mind and OCD, I am certain that the auto-immune response that began the type 1 diabetes was directly related to this period of intense anxiety. The stress I was putting on my body was incredible, and it originated from mental anguish.

From fall of 2008 into winter of 2009 I experienced the typical symptoms- excessive thirst, frequent urination, insatiable hunger, significant weight loss and changes in vision. I continued to add to my own mental stressors through OCD and wrong attitudes. When I say wrong attitudes, I mean the artificial and destructive stress I thought I had to experience because of school. I grew up in a town where it was expected that you got A's and went to a very good school if you "wanted to have a good life". 98% percent of my graduating class went to a 4 year college or university. It was indeed a great school, but the mental attitude was self destructive. The occurrence of Type 1 Diabetes in my home town is strangely high...

I remember finals for the first semester Junior year at the end of January 2009. I distinctly remember trying to study and being incredibly stressed out trying to ensure I knew everything and staying up later than I should have. I remember driving to Cumberland farms to buy red bull and vitamin water energy drink to stay awake (chock full of sugar). What I was certainly feeling the time was severe hyperglycemia. On top of the energy drink, I remember one night where I drank a Dr. Pepper that tasted just so amazing that I had to drink another. My blood sugar must have been through the roof at this point.

A week after finals, my youngest sister noted that I was drinking a lot, eating a lot and peeing a lot and that one of her friend with diabetes did the same thing! My mom told me that my youngest sister might be right. I looked up symptoms on WebMd (a bad idea in any situation- basically you can make yourself believe you have anything) and determined that it must be diabetes. I decided to go for a long run on the treadmill because if it were diabetes I had better get started on the thing I knew diabetics were supposed to do- exercise. The next day we went to the doctor who saw the symptoms quite apparently and then went to Children's Hospital in Boston and that was that! They tested my blood sugar- only 445 mg/dl, and looked for insulin antibodies. Then they said it was type 1 diabetes.

I did really well with learning all of the stuff and from the day I went home, I was the only one that gave myself injections or tested my blood sugar. Occasionally my mom would hold my arm or something, but I was in sole control. I hated having to tell the school nurse what doses I was taking because this was my thing and I could control it. I would rarely take injections in the nurses office. I bolused where and when I needed to, tested my blood sugar anywhere I needed- in the middle of class, in the middle of a test, in lunch- where ever.

I started on pretty normal doses, and then once I got adjusted, I was taking minimal doses. It was quite strange. There was a period where I was taking almost nothing at all and going low all the time. That confused my doctors and they did the antibody and c-peptide test again. Still type 1 diabetes. Things got more typical, and I'll skip the boring part of living with diabetes as per the usual and get to a few years later in college.

At the start of college, I was taking more normal doses, though on the lower end. Maybe 30 units of bolus a day and not too much basal. Toward the middle of freshmen year, the OCD I had experienced in sophomore year of high school returned, and my health and relationships with people suffered. I still had relatively good control, but my high blood sugars were closely related to bad OCD. After summer of freshmen year, I got into some literature on "mindfulness meditation". These approaches helped me to understand that I do not have to live my life in anxiety or fear. The OCD diminished greatly and my blood sugars began to improve.

I noticed that on days where I had a good meditation practice and felt unattached from my negative thought patterns, I would go low. I started having late night lows where I would wake up in the 40's at least once a week. As a result, I made the decision to cut my basal rates. At this time, I also began eating much healthier. I began to stop eating any food that came in an air sealed package and switched any grains I ate to whole grains. Conditions continued to improve and I made the decision to cut my carb ratios as well. I was taking minimal insulin again. There were days when the meditation was consistent and my thoughts were calm that I took 2, maybe 3 total units of insulin.

I decided to seek out some more intensive training in meditation. I asked my former boss from the job I worked all through high school if she would coach me (I knew she had studied yoga and meditation). She sent me instead to a teacher in NYC where I went to school. I met this teacher, explained my past experience with OCD, diabetes and how meditation seemed to be effecting it all, and in a few weeks of attending her Kundalini yoga class, she told me that there was an anonymous donor in her studio that would make a donation for me to study intensively with her. I began going to class every Tuesday from 6-10 for an 8 month period. 2 hours was a yoga and meditation class and the second two hours was classroom instruction in the philosophy of yoga.

I began practicing the Kundalini yoga and meditation practices consistently, and in March of 2012, I stopped taking insulin. My doses were just so low, that they were basically non- existent. But the real kicker was when we had a guest teacher come to the Kundalini class one night. He is and MD, a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and a QiGong instructor and scholar. He turned me on to the works of Weston Price, DMD who published the book Nutrition and Degenerative Diseases (1939). I read parts of this book and became convinced that I should no longer eat any grains. I threw away the end of my last loaf of bread, got rid of my rice, quinoa, oatmeal and cereal and stopped buying milk. Now I really didn't need any insulin.

For the first few weeks without these old staples of my diet, I went through some withdrawal symptoms. I can attest to the fact that sugar is a drug. I had headaches, sweating, irritability and general feelings of discomfort. They subsided shortly, and I was left with a grain free, milk free and insulin free life with diabetes.

The months of April 2012 through August 2012 were filled with lots of study and lots of trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. I also began seeing an acupuncturist at this time. Periodically, I would test myself to see if I could eat the old foods I used too. (Now, I wouldn't want to because I'm convinced they're not a suitable diet for anyone). I worked at a pizza shop and would occasionally test by eating some pizza. The results were varied. I would often go straight to work on a Saturday after an acupuncture treatment. At these times, I could eat a pice of pizza and have my blood sugar be 90 an hour after. Other times, I would try eating a power bar, and find my blood sugar to be 190-220 a little bit after. Instead of taking any insulin, I would try the watermill exercise that I mentioned in this article, or go for a walk or sit and do a short yoga Kriya (complete set of exercises) that I learned from my Kundalini yoga teacher. Here is a website with many Kundalini yoga Kriyas.

I invariably found that certain exercises would bring it down to normal range- 80-120- fairly quickly, ie. less than 20 minutes. The watermill exercise which I learned in a QiGong class is one of these. I was in the process of learning how to control Qi, or universal life energy, in my body and put it in the place it needed to be. If I didn't want to to QiGong or a yoga Kriya, I would go on a 15 minute walk. As I would walk, I would stretch along the inside of my right foot at the big toe all the way up my groin. This is where part of the spleen (pancreatic) meridian flows in the Traditional Chinese Medicine system. I would imagine electricity ie the Qi I mentioned before, flowing freely through this channel and stimulating my pancreas to do the job it was supposed to do. When I would return from the walk, the sugar would be in normal range.

I stopped performing these little test for myself with food that I used to eat, and simply ate and continue to eat my completely grain, sugar free and as raw as possible diet. In September 2012 came the next big development in the state of my diabetes.

In Kundalini yoga, the practitioner is encouraged to take part in their own daily personal practice called Sadhana. This practice occurs early in the morning and lasts quite a while. I have detailed the practice here in the daily regimen. I was very resistant to this actual practice since the time I began studying the yoga. I thought that it was unnecessary, and that I was in school and it was impossible to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and do 2.5 hours of yoga. It just seemed downright not needed- and besides, I wasn't taking any insulin so what I was doing was working.
         All of this was just the chattering of an untamed mind. Discipline itself is the teacher. You have to have a discipline- a measuring stick- in order to make changes. I still had occasional bouts of OCD, and still fought too hard on a daily basis to keep the sugar down by performing exercises periodically. Once I began this practice, things became much easier. There is one breathing exercise outlined in the article mentioned above that is reputedly supposed to get rid of OCD symptoms in 90 days if practiced for its full time. I can attest to this fact. After 90 days of practice, I truly felt that I no longer had OCD and that it would never come back. I continue to practice it and it continues to make me stronger. The other exercise, Sat Kriya workout is reputedly supposed to have curative effects on the digestive system. I also can attest to this claim.
         When I first began practicing this daily regimen, after the exercises, my blood sugar would perhaps be a little higher than I wanted it- over 120. But, the conditions rapidly improved. I test in the morning when I wake up, and when I first began the daily practice, I would wake up around 120. Pretty good for a diabetic without insulin. Soon it was down around 110 in the morning, then for a long time I would wake up at 100. Then after about 2-3 months of daily practice without missing, I would wake up in the 90's. After another couple of months- in the 80's. Now I wake up in the 70's on a consistent basis. If I fast, my sugars drop into the 60's. I've even seen it in the 50's a few times before my liver kicks in and gives me some glycogen. In any event, normal non-diabetic fasting blood sugars.
        With the consistent practice of the daily regimen and sticking with my specific diet, my postprandial blood sugars are rarely over 110. Two hours after eating, low 80's. Consistently.

I gave myself somewhat of a Glucose Tolerance Test the other day. I will almost never anymore eat an ice cream or cookies or anything like that, but I was with my friend and he wanted to go to Friendly's ice cream. I got a "kid cone" which I thought would only be a few bites worth, but it was truly a double  scoop cone. About 65 carbs. I decided to eat the whole thing as a little test. 1 hour after, I was just below 160, an hour and a half after I was 130, and 2 hours after I was in normal range at 100. I couldn't have done that  year ago, so something has changed.
          This is not something I would do regularly. The literally insignificant benefit of eating the ice cream is not in any way worth the trouble it causes later. The experience of eating the ice cream is inherently empty and not worth it. I would have been just as content to be with my friend. But, seeing what actually happens when I eat those foods is interesting.

I have spoken to my endocrinologist, and there is no doubt that I had remaining beta cell function after diagnosis. He thinks that my actions have helped to arrest the auto-immune response and perhaps allowed for some beta cell regeneration.  I think that this is likely the case.

As it stands now, the way I live my life with diabetes is completely different than the way I led it under the normal standard of care. In many ways, I feel past diabetes. I feel like I used to be diabetic. I also feel like I used to have OCD. Neither of these are things that cause me suffering any more. That to me, is what healing is all about. Even if I still had to take insulin or had obtrusive thoughts akin to OCD, with the mindset I have now, I would say that I live a post- diabetic, post OCD lifestyle. There was pre-diabetes I remember clearly, then there was the life with diabetes. Then there is this, something completely different.

As I look back at the pre, during and post diabetic life, I know that diabetes was the best thing that ever happened to me. If there was a "cure" today, I would not take it. I have simply learned too much about my own body and my own mind which have allowed me to open up to the final frontier, my own soul. It continues to be my teacher. Now that I have learned at least partly what to do with myself, it is teaching me how to help others; teaching me my role in life. Diabetes was my alarm that signaled the deep psychological problems that were taking place, and my signal to help myself. It has helped me to learn, understand and begin to transcend my own body and my own mind. I have learned that I am not my thoughts; I am not my body; I am not a disease; I am not a set of conditions; I am simply am as I am. Inherently, all conditions are meaningless without their association to other things, and because of diabetes and OCD I've been able to realize that. I don't know where things will go from here, but I do know that I now live a post-diabetic life.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Chia seed pudding

Chia seeds are a new "fad food" but despite the fad, I find them a super convenient and filling food! Here is a recipe for Chia Seed Pudding you can make and use for breakfast! They are super high in fiber, but have significant amounts of protein and fat to fill you up.

2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat all ingredients in a sauce pan but do NOT bring to a boil or let bubble, stirring frequently until small streaks of steam begin to come off of milk. Once heated, refrigerate for a few hours where it will firm up, and it is ready to serve! Add some blueberries or blackberries if you want to add a tad bit of sweetness to it.

Exciting news about diet and type 1 diabetes

I could attest to these findings!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Snacking at a party with diabetes

It's a lot easier to control what we eat when we do our own shopping and cooking at home. But when we go to a party, the temptation to "just have a good time" can get in the way of not eating the foods we know will make us sick. So here are some thoughts on snacking at a party.

In short- don't eat the stuff you know will not help you! Are you actually hungry when you pick up that brownie?

 It seems like having some beers or munching on chips and salsa is a good way to have fun, but if we think about the real reason for a party/ get together, it comes down to interacting with the friends or loved ones we are meeting up with. If we expend some effort, we can teach ourselves how to let go and have a good time without alcohol or unnecessary foods.
       I was talking with a friend, and we both agreed that the most enticing thing about drinking alcohol at a party is its time-stripping effect- when drinking, it feels as if time doesn't really exist and you forget your temporal obligations. I proposed that this suspension of concern for past or future events can also be conjured consciously without the use of alcohol and other drugs. He concurred, but we both agreed that that kind of mindset takes time and effort to train. So my advice in that realm- get started!

When it comes to eating food at parties, it more likely than not becomes a means of escape the same way as recreational drugs and alcohol. The sensations that occur when snacking on brownies or ice cream are certainly drug-like, though more subtle and fleeting. But the fleeting nature of all these sensations is exactly the reason to avoid the snacking. The momentary benefit of a pleasurable sensation is not at all worth the trouble it will cause in controlling blood sugar. Aside from that, there is the fact that all sensations are fleeting! They will all come, and they will all go. In essence, they are all empty and have no inherent meaning other than that we prefer some over the other. If we can alter our perception about which we want and which we don't want, we can remove our attachment from them. This does not mean that we do not experience them in their entirety- we are still engaged with what is happening, and do not deny either presence. But what such an attitude does allow us to do is to engage with the more important things.

Practically speaking, we might, especially at my age in college, want to go to gatherings that are all about drinking and eating. But this doesn't mean you don't go. You can go and strip yourself of all judgement, go and suspend your worries, and go and have a good time without any of that. You can be silly, dance ridiculously, and do things your mother wouldn't want you to do all on your own accord.  Sometimes I bring seltzer water and celery if I feel like I'm going to want to snack and not reach for the cookies or booze, but I always bring an attitude of silliness and my reediness for fun. If you so desire, you can even play flip-cup, Kings and beer pong and have one of your larger friends drink for you.

It doesn't really have anything to do with a moral abstention if you don't want it to be that way, but more with the question: Do I need this? Is this actually useful? 

Instead of gorging, or "having fun" with something that will ultimately cause an un-fun situation, we have more of our consciousness to focus on the people we are with. If having a meal together where food is freshly prepared, we have the chance to come together and share nurturing our minds and bodies with healthy food and meaningful interaction. That's not to say that if someone does make something out of their consideration for their guests that is not something you should eat, that you shouldn't eat it. Perhaps you can have a very small portion to show your appreciation and reciprocate their concern for you. It's a compromise that might be worth making, but its a compromise. It doesn't mean forget and ditch the entire effort to put only things that will help you in your body. In a way, your friends concern and consciousness in their creation might outweigh the strictly nutritional components, and you consuming it together is an act of mutual appreciation. With adjustments in outlook and in cooking nurturing food, eating together can take on another level of significance when it is not simply about the pleasurable sensations created by the drug-like effects of sugar, but pleasurable on a whole new level when friendships are deepened and the soul nurtured.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New to the blog?

If you're new to my blog, check out Creating the right conditions for self- healing as a good introduction to the kind of information you can find here! Please comment and leave suggestions/ questions or general reactions. I want to hear from people.

Info from my endocrinologist

With recent blogging, I frequently encounter some reasonable disbelief, even hostility on occasion (as per my post Polarities in reception), so I decided to check in with my endocrinologist to get some more facts about my diagnosis and see what he thinks about my whole not having to take insulin anymore situation.

I e-mailed him asking if it was possible that I don't actually have type 1 diabetes. I had heard that perhaps up to 20% of Type 2 diabetics have insulin antibodies and even perhaps 15% of non-diabetics do.

To my inquiries he told me the following:

-When I was diagnosed, blood sugar was 445 mg/dl, serum insulin low at 3.3 uU/ml and A1c of 10.5%.
- there were both GAd and IA-2 insulin antibodies
-I was not overweight, nor have I ever been insulin resistant
-No, I do not have Type 2 diabetes. It is Type 1.

His best guess is that:
- the beta cell destruction may have been arrested
-some degree of beta cells have been allowed to regenerate
-I test positive for C-peptide (meaning I make insulin)

From what I have learned in my study of yoga and diet, the diet I eat now is full of foods that are non-inflammatory (wheat, one that I cut out, is one of the inflammatory food that contribute to auto immune responses), and the yoga further decreases inflammation and stress hormones through its attention to the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. (for more on this, see this article)

So there are the facts, and some speculation as to the situation via my endocrinologist.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A typical daily menu for a "vegetarian paleo diabetic"

When I am at school, I often times find myself eating foods just to power myself without getting too creative. Here, I will post a menu of what I might eat on a day where I am just eating to keep powered, and what I have made on a day where I get the creative juices flowing!

A Typical "just eat for power" day:
* note, when I say handful of mixed nuts I mean a goodly sized handful
            when I say assorted veggies and hummus, I mean a goodly sized portion of veggies!

Two eggs sunny side up with asparagus and peppers cut and mixed in. Cheese perhaps added on top.
Glass of unsweetened almond milk
A few bites of chia seed pudding

2.5 hours after breakfast:
Handful of raw mixed nuts and some veggies and mixed nuts

More mixed nuts, assorted cut up veggies and hummus with raw sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds mixed in
Nice big salad with alll the fixings (could if you wanted add tune/ chicken or something like that)


a whole avocado cut up with lemon, pepper and olive oil

3 hours after lunch:
Celery and peanut butter
Handful of nuts/ seeds

Vegetable "mash up"- yellow squash, zuchini, eggplant and shitake mushrooms stir fried with lost of olive oil
Unsweetened almond milk

bake a piece of fish/ chicken serve with lots and lots of lightly steamed vegetables with olive oil

2.5 hours after dinner/ bedtime snack
Celery and peanut butter (is my favorite snack ever)
a few slices of cheese and some olives
a handful of veggies and hummus
a spoonful or two of peanut butter

A "I'm feeling creative" day

Regular or egg white omelet with avocado, tomato and brie or cheddar cheese


home made paleo breakfast loaf with peanut butter on top and unsweetened almond milk:
click here to view

2.5 hours after breakfast
chilled steamed broccoli with sliced almonds and olive oil
handful of nuts
flax seed crackers/ kale chips

whole avocado with lemon, pepper and olive oil

Kale salad with red cabbage, asparagus, brussel sprouts, broccoli, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and balsamic vinaigrette

2.5 hours after lunch:
seaweed salad or side salad with some peacans

My favorite brussel sprout recipie: click here to view
Cauliflower "mashed potatoes" (there are some great recipes on google)
side dish of steamed kale or chard or a nice side salad of arugula, goat cheese, cucumbers, etc.

Paleo pizza: Click here for recipie

mixed berries (low GI)

Typically, I don't eat meat. You might call it a "vegetarian paleo diet." This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how I address the diabetes, but more of a personal choice. Because I don't eat meat, I end up eating a little bit more cheese. You might have good luck using meat in your diet to increase options.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Polarities in reception

This blog is new, and in making attempts to spread it's content, I have encountered what appear to be two polarities in it's reception: curiosity and indignant disbelief.

Last year, I performed a survey for Children's Hospital Boston for college students with Diabetes. To finish the survey and get your gift card, you had to join this social networking website- website for those touched by diabetes. I also joined another website called I thought such a websites would be an ideal place to post interesting tid-bits about my recent explorations into diabetes. The reception was largely unforgiving.

I always aim to make the content of my posts informative, with an attitude of self exploration. I try and share an experience and then encourage others to experiment and find out for themselves. I do not make  it the main point to convey that my dietary and yogic experiences have allowed me to stop taking insulin. Many say that they have tried yoga as well, or that they have changed their diet as well, but remain adamant that there is absolutely no way that this could be possible. I don't know what to say to such responses, unless I've been hallucinating for the past year and a half and don't know what is actually happening, then I'm pretty sure that I haven't stuck a needle in my body to inject insulin in a year and a half.

Inevitably, this becomes part of the discussion, whereby I am accused of making claims that I have cured myself, and berated for spreading false information, and accused of saying things that will cause others to hurt themselves.

When I meet someone in person, I am hit with the following list of questions:
1) When were you diagnosed? (2009)
2) Are you sure you're type 1? (Yes, my endocrinologist is sure of that. Not obese, not insulin resistant)
3) Do you have insulin antibodies? (Yes, both GAD and IA-2)
4) Did they do a C-peptide test? (yes, it was out of normal range)
5) Is it LADA? (No it is not. I was 17 at diagnosis)
6) Its probably just the honeymoon phase, right? (Partly, but the situation has improved since diagnosis)
7) What's your A1C (4.5)
8) Did you ever take insulin? (yes, for 3.5 years, I used a pump)
9) You don't even take a long acting insulin? (no.)

I get hit with all of the questions of how its impossible that I have had to stop taking insulin, instead of all the questions about how it is possible. This blog attempts to post information regarding all of the ways in which I think it is possible.

The first polarity is: indignant denial 

The other polarity is extreme curiosity and openness. From other blogs where people are experimenting with the paleo diet and other alternative medicines, I get hit with all of the questions about how it is possible. From these people I get words of encouragement to share more, and continue on. Often times I see  or hear stories about how similar things have also helped them. There is great faith in self exploration and in self- healing abilities. These people are a joy to encounter.

But the other polarity, the more closed one, is not bad to encounter either. The thing I espouse the most is your own systematic and non-judgmental observance of reality. I espouse self experimentation. If something doesn't work (ie. eating lots of carbs) then stop doing it because you know it doesn't work. You have to confront your own mind and get rid of your preconceived notions. It is only because of fear that someone will not try their own experiment.

It goes the other way too. It's important to be equally unattached to alternative methods. If something is not working for you, perhaps you do need to take your conventional meds until you find something that does. It is still about unattached observation of reality.

At the end of the day though, your self-healing abilities are unbounded. You can encounter the greatest strength and joy all within, regardless of which methods you seek. All you have to do is be willing to go deep and be open to unfamiliarly and scary.