Lessons learned about diabetes and health part 3

This brings us to one of the most important aspects of diabetic cooking – adding flavor. Bland food will never replace the drive for processed food. Adding flavor and using fresh/whole foods will help this change. Learning to use a variety of flavors and cooking techniques will help drive the necessary change from bad food to healthy. We use the rice cooker, microwave oven, toaster oven, cast iron cookware, pressure cooker and slow cooker a lot. One big change we are making is learning to use an induction burner for much of our cooking. It is more efficient and will probably be the standard in new stoves within ten years.

I use a rice cooker as a great way of cooking whole grains such as wheat berries and steel cut oats. The higher the fiber content is, the slower the carbohydrate adsorption. Cookware coated with non-stick coatings make me uncomfortable because the coatings wear off and need to go somewhere. That somewhere is often in our stomachs and intestines. Baking, broiling and microwaving are easy ways of cooking efficiently and low fat. I bake a lot of foods that would normally be fried. Often to speed up a stir fry, I will precook the vegetables in the microwave. We have a freezer that is stocked with vegetables that we froze and our cabinets are full of foods we put up this summer. I even made no sugar added marmalade from a wide variety of fruits.

Garlic and hot sauces are wonderful seasonings as are the multitude of herbs and spices which can be grown in a garden. A wonderful way to cut back on sodium while enhancing the flavor of food is to cut garlic salt by half or more with garlic powder. Ginger can be preserved in sherry or whiskey. Cinnamon sticks in whiskey is a great way of having an easily usable form of cinnamon. Vanilla beans in sherry, vodka or whiskey is great. Hot peppers can be put into olive oil. Coconut oil and almond oil are great in bread and similar. Peanut oil is a good oil for stir frying. Extra virgin olive oil is full of flavor. A spray bottle of your favorite cooking oil will cut down on the amount used. Celery, onions and most “wet” herbs can be dried easily and stored for extended periods in canning jars.

Shoes and always keeping the feet covered to me is counterproductive. I am a bare feet person, even in the winter. I understand the reasoning of diabetic counselors that injuries to the feet may infect due to the circulation problems often associated with diabetes. However, keeping the feet always encased seems to be the fastest way to fungal and bacterial infections I can think of. Instead, keep them bare whenever possible so they can be dry and be exercised. I feel this improves balance and circulation at the very least. This is a personal decision and may be dictated by the environment a person inhabits.

Blood monitors and A1c kits I have found useful. There are generic blood monitors which do a reasonable job at low cost. I test my blood usually before breakfast and after exercising. My goal is to have readings below 100mg/dL when waking up and below 90mg/dL after exercise. The only caveat I have is to make sure hands and kits are warm, not hot or cold. I have found that if the hands or monitor/test strips are cold the readings are higher than expected. If the monitor/test strips are hot the readings will be lower than they actually are. After a walk on a cold day I take a shower to warm up my hands before testing. A1c kits help with the long term monitoring. I test in the week before my quarterly checkups. I prefer readings in the 5.5+/- range and definitely below 6.0. Bulk kits are relatively inexpensive.

Now let’s talk about the positive ways we can deal with diabetes. First, exercise daily for at least a 30 minute session. Walking can be done almost everywhere and almost any time. Next, eat whole foods, not canned, processed or foods otherwise adulterated with chemicals and excessive processing. Follow that with controlling your drug routine. Decide which drugs are necessary and which are excessive. Know what works for you. Then go out for a walk.

To repeat, take the TV to the recycling center and go for a walk. Diabetes is defeatable and does not have to be a health disaster. That is your decision. Either be a pill popper and medical experiment or take control and defeat it.

Richard Gardner lives in Upper Bern Township. His passions are ecology and history because with these we are able to understand our world, our place in it and our future.

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