51

One day this past week I decided to keep track of how many times I think about my blood glucose level.

I was curious about how much of my brain power / time / energy that managing my diabetes takes on a daily basis.

51.

FIFTY-ONE!!!

And this was on a day when my blood glucose levels were actually pretty stable – no wild swings, no shake-inducing lows or nausea-inducing highs.  When that happens, I’m pretty sure the number would be higher than 51.

I knew the number would be significant – I mean, why else would I be curious enough to count the actual number? – but the total kind of surprised me.  Considering I sleep about 7 hours a night – that is three times every hour that I’m thinking about diabetes while I’m awake!!

I have had diabetes for so long (going on 34 years) that it has become second nature to me – analyzing the highs and lows, figuring out how much insulin I need, etc.  But to really see how often I think about it is amazing.  This disease really does take a lot of time and energy to manage.

Considering that, I think I’m just gonna cut myself some slack next time I forget something.  Ha!

 

 

13-year Old Approved Gluten-free Products

We are getting close to our 3-year anniversary of my son being gluten-free.

(You can read our celiac story here).

As I think back over these past few years I realize how far we have come in both our understanding and acceptance of this way of eating. 

And truthfully, we have spent what seems like a ton of money trying things that we ended up throwing away because of poor quality or taste.  There has been a lot of trial and a lot of error in terms of buying stuff my boy will like and will eat.  

I am very thankful that there are so many more certified gluten-free products now available that weren’t even just a few years ago!  Although we live in a small town, we do have stores locally that carry a variety of gluten-free products. 

So I’m sharing the following list- especially for those of you who have kids who are just getting started on a gluten-free diet.  I hope to save you from having to buy lots and lots of different products before you find one you like!  In each category of food shown below, I think we’ve tried at least 3 different brands and this is the one we like best.

(Now I am going to preface my sharing of this list with the following- I know very well that none of these products are all that healthy!  The healthiest gluten-free diet would be full of whole unprocessed foods:  lots of meats, veggies, etc. blah, blah, blah. We get it.  BUT hey, this is real life and everyone (and especially my 13-year old) needs some store-bought products every once in a while whether it’s for convenience or just a treat.  And I’m ok with that!)

Here you go…


And a list with where it’s cheapest locally:

Kashi Gluten Free Cinnamon Waffles (Walmart)

Annie’s Gluten Free Rice Shells and Creamy White Cheddar (Walmart or Target)

Nabisco Good Thins Corn and Sea Salt Crackers, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Hungry Jack Complete Gluten Free Funfetti Buttermilk Pancake& Waffle Mix (Walmart)

Annie’s Snickerdoodle Bunny Crackers (Target)

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free S’moreables Graham Style Crackers (Wegmans)

Goldie Girl Cookies Gluten Free Mint Slims (Walmart)

Luna S’mores Bars, other Flavors available (Walmart or Target)

KIND Peanut Butter Breakfast Bars, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Snyder’s Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks, other flavors available (Walmart or Target)

Freschetta Gluten Free Frozen Pizza (BJs)

Lance Gluten Free Sandwich Crackers, both Peanut Butter and Cheddar Cheese Flavors (Wegmans)

Live G Free Gluten Free Brownie Mix (Aldi)

Live G Free Gluten Free White Bread (Aldi)
I hope this helps you!  Feel free to share any favorites products that you have!

Trim Healthy Mama – How to Get Started

So this post is for those friends and family who’ve asked about my dietary changes… if you’re not one of them you may want to skip!  🙂

One of the things I’ve struggled with for my entire life is my weight.  About 9 years ago I was successful at losing about 40 pounds by counting calories and exercising – the type of weight loss plan recommended for years and years.  I maintained that weight loss for about 3 years (I’d stop counting calories, gain about 10 pounds, then start over again to lose it).  Then I stopped counting calories for good and the weight crept back on.  Honestly, I hated constantly counting calories and spending so much time focusing on my food.  It depressed me to think about having to live that way forever in order to keep the weight off.  I think all that focus actually encouraged an unhealthy relationship with food – I would become obsessed about what I was going to eat next and started a lot of emotional eating when I was stressed or upset.

Last year my nephew was getting married and my sister wanted to have a family weight loss contest.  Perfect motivation.  Around the same time, I started hearing about the book Trim Healthy Mama and because I was altering our family meals so much already trying to eliminate gluten from my son’s diet, I thought I’d try it.

The basics of the plan:  eliminate sugar and processed wheat products, eat every 3 hours, every meal/snack should be based on a protein, and don’t mix fats and carbs.  In other words, each meal/snack will have protein and carbs, or protein and fats.  Easy, right?

Ha ha, I know it doesn’t sound easy, but honestly this is the “easiest” way I’ve been able to lose weight, ever.  It quickly becomes second nature, and even though it’s a huge change to my diet I feel as though I can eat this way the rest of my life!  I’ve lost nearly 35 pounds in 16 months – which isn’t a fast pace for sure, BUT – the other changes have really been more important than the weight loss.  I have more energy.  I am completely satisfied with what I’m eating – I don’t feel at all deprived.  I no longer turn to food for emotional satisfaction (which is HUGE for me).  I don’t have cravings for sugar-laden foods.  My diabetes is under much better control.  And I feel like for the first time I have a healthy relationship with food.

Here is a link to the Trim Healthy Mama website, where you can learn more.  The original Trim Healthy Mama book is huge and there is a ton of great info in it.  (FYI, Just recently they came out with a new, more condensed version).  Ordering the book is highly recommended because at least at first, changing your diet completely can be hard!  The authors of the book go into a lot of detail about why this way of eating works, and as a diabetic it just makes so much sense to me!  They are Christians and their faith is also a part of the story.

Here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Buy a book and READ it.  You can get the original Trim Healthy Mama on the Trim Healthy Mama website or you can get the new Trim Healthy Mama Plan at your favorite online bookstore.
  2. Ask questions!  I’d be happy to answer any, and the THM Beginner facebook page is also a good resource.
  3. Start out simple.  Don’t go crazy buying a bunch of special ingredients you’ve never used before.  Simply try to separate your fats and carbs for a few days.
  4. Look through your well-used recipes or meals and choose those that are THM-friendly or that can be made THM-friendly by either leaving out or substituting ingredients.  You’ll be surprised that many are!  And remember a meal can be as simple as protein, veggies, and if you have kiddos, you can add something for them that you won’t eat.
  5. Know that you may experience some withdrawal symptoms from sugar within the first week.  I had a headache and felt pretty cranky for about 5 days and then it was gone.  And amazingly, with it went all my cravings for sweet stuff.  I couldn’t believe it!!
  6. Once you get used to separating your fats and carbs, then you can branch out and buy some special ingredients to give you some variety.   The first ones I’d recommend – truvia (or some other stevia or erythritol-based sweetener), almond flour, and almond milk.  These are pretty readily available, too.
  7. Know that when you first start using those ingredients you’ve bought, things might not turn out right.  Baking with low carb flours and stevia-based sweeteners is completely different.  My hints:  I always use about 1/3 to 1/2 of the sweetener recommended in a recipe to start out with, then taste before baking and add more if needed.  I also find that the low carb flour recipes that come out the best usually have something in them to add more moisture – like sour cream, zucchini, etc.  Just know there will be a learning curve!!

If it’s something you’d like to look into more, there are a whole bunch of bloggers who have been amazing resources for me.  Here are a few:

Gwen’s Nest – she has a Quick Start Guide which is really helpful when you are just diving in!

Mrs. Criddle’s Kitchen – she has some great recipes that my whole family loves

The Coers Family – another site for delicious THM recipes

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions!!

 

trying something new

So July kind of stunk (mostly) because of an unexpected hospital stay early in the month. I had what was to be a simple outpatient surgery late in June (don’t ask, it’s a long story) and about 24 hours later was in the ER with sepsis.  No fun.  It took me nearly all of July to recover.  On the bright side, since I spent so much time on the couch, it gave me plenty of time to practice a new hobby- hand lettering.

I’m hoping to use this to make some decorative signs and gifts.  This is definitely something that needs to be practiced.   I’ve noticed the more I do it, the better it gets.  And bonus- I think it could help with scripture memorization, too!  Bible journaling, anyone?

image image image

 

I bought an art journal and pens to practice with and here are some shots of my practicing… What do you think?

Our Celiac Story

So one of the things that has caused so much change in our household over the past year is my son’s health.  Here’s the story – if only to help another family who might be going through the same thing.

In the Spring of 2013, my (then) 9-year-old started complaining of stomach pain, pretty consistently although not daily.  However there were no other symptoms – just pain.  In July he had a check-up in which his pediatrician could find nothing wrong.  In September he had his yearly physical, still with occasional complaints of stomach pain.  The pediatrician suggested we try a dairy-free diet in case he might be lactose intolerant.  We did that and there was no improvement.  Around October, the complaints of stomach pain were nearly daily and a new symptom was added – severe anxiety.  About stuff that was normal for our family – going out to eat, traveling in the car anywhere more than 15 minutes away, going to Grandma’s house.  If we even suggested doing any of these things he would either throw a temper tantrum or just get really upset and cry.  We didn’t know how to handle this and did the best we could.  Because there were no actual physical symptoms, we really thought it was a behavioral issue.  By January, the stomach pain and anxiety were extreme and interfering with our family’s daily life.  I really started to wonder if the pain and anxiety signaled a psychological problem.  However, I also noticed that when he returned to school, his adjustable-waist pants needed to be tightened -which I knew wasn’t a good sign but thought it was just because he’d been picky about eating.

So back to the pediatrician we went.  He had lost 6 pounds since his appointment in July (which is a lot for a 10-year-old who only weighed about 65 pounds anyways!).  The pediatrician ordered some blood tests and we got results a couple of days later that his antibodies were elevated – indicating celiac disease.  The pediatrician recommended we put him on a gluten-free diet and set us up with an appointment to see a gastroenterologist.

We put him on a gluten-free diet right away and saw improvement within a week.  Less pain and the anxiety nearly disappeared.  Amazing!  I was so thankful!  I started to do research online about celiac disease.  As an auto-immune disease, it is closely linked with Type 1 diabetes.  Both Dave and I have extended family with celiac, and as you know we also both have diabetes in our families.  The other interesting thing I found out was that canker sores are a symptom of celiac disease.  My son had had very frequent canker sores for about 2 years prior to this!

It took two months to get in to see the gastroenterologist and my heart just broke when I heard what they said.   They told us that he would need to be on a gluten-containing diet for TWO MONTHS prior to an endoscopy and small intestine biopsy in order to accurately diagnose celiac disease.  Now, I had seen in my research that a gluten-containing diet was necessary (and in fact I had called our pediatrician to ask about this but they said it shouldn’t matter (wrong!!)) but I thought they would say maybe a week or two.  And my son had been doing so well on the diet that I really didn’t want to put him back on gluten until it was necessary, and I thought one or two weeks we could handle.  But TWO MONTHS???

And, not to mention, this is a 10-year-old we were talking about.  He knew enough about what had been happening that he wanted no part of going back on a gluten-containing diet.

So I made a hard choice, that at the time I felt like my only choice – to try to sneak some gluten into his diet.  Because I knew he would just refuse to eat if he thought something had gluten in it.  And let’s face it, you really can’t make someone eat something.  So this is what I did for two months and it was awful.  A new symptom arose – headaches.  Daily.  The canker sores came back.  The stomach pain came back.  Not to mention the guilt I felt for giving my child something that I knew was making him feel sick.  Ugh.

Fast forward to the endoscopy / biopsy – it went smoothly.  However, the results came back with no small intestine damage and so they couldn’t diagnose celiac conclusively.  It was such a disappointment!  We left the gastroenterologist with a recommendation to put him back on a gluten-containing diet for 6 months and then come back and retest.  CRAZINESS!

After a long conversation with our pediatrician (which included my disappointment in his recommendation to immediately go on a gluten-free diet prior to diagnosis), we decided to move forward with treating as though he has celiac.  We also got genetic testing done, which confirmed that he has the gene for celiac – just another part of the puzzle.  I feel that the positive antibody testing at three different times, the genetic testing, the family history, the symptoms, and the improvement we see on a gluten-free diet is enough evidence for me that he has celiac – even though a positive biopsy is the gold standard for diagnosis among the medical community.  He is currently on a gluten-free diet and rarely has stomach pain / headaches / canker sores although anxiety is still a part of his life.

Looking back, although I am definitely disappointed in not having an actual diagnosis (honestly, I am concerned about things like college – without a diagnosis will we be able to require them to provide GF meals??), having that period of having to eat gluten again was probably good for my son because he is super-compliant with the diet now.  At first he was not cooperative – didn’t want to eat GF stuff – as soon as the gastroenterologist told him he HAD to eat it for 2 months, he didn’t want to touch it.  Reverse psychology??  ha!

The lesson we learned that I’d want to share with other parents is this – if celiac is possible – do NOT just “try” a gluten-free diet!  Get the testing done first!

Here is a link to my favorite celiac disease resource if you want more info:  http://www.cureceliacdisease.org/

And an infographic of celiac disease symptoms, thanks to http://www.glutendude.com

An update.

So.

It’s been a while, eh?

Even as I sit here staring at the keyboard, I’m not sure I have words to type.  I have wondered over the last 15 months if I would blog again.  LOL- I’m still not sure.

Life kind of knocked the wind out of me in 2014, and it has taken me a lot of time to catch my breath.

2014 in a nutshell: besides all the usual goings on of a family of five, the biggies were that I got a part-time job, my son was (mostly) diagnosed with celiac disease, same child transitioned from private elementary to public middle school, and I started eating a whole new way.

Ha.  Not so bad, I guess, looking at it in hindsight.  But these were huge changes for us and, well, overall I’m not sure I like change.

As an overview – the part-time job is good.  Home-based and flexible, which is just what I needed.  It calls upon a bit of my knowledge from my past career life – and it’s nice to have a bit of extra spending money.  But it was a change after having been primarily a stay-at-home mom for 10 years.  There is a balance that needs to be found – especially when the kids are off school.

The celiac disease will probably need to be a whole post on it’s own.  Long un-diagnosis story, unsatisfying ending, but my kiddo is feeling a lot better now on a gluten-free diet, and that’s what really matters.

The middle school transition for my son who likes change even less than me?  Well, let’s just say God took care of it in a big way – and I’ll leave it at that.

And last – a whole new way of eating – Trim Healthy Mama.  I started hearing about it early in 2014 from a friend and began making changes to my diet in April 2014.  One of the biggest motivators for me was that we had just started a gluten-free diet for my son and since that was completely changing what I was buying, cooking, and baking – I figured I might as well change what I was eating, too.  I have been eating the Trim Healthy Mama way now for over a year and I love it.  I feel better, my diabetes is better controlled, I’ve lost 30 pounds, and I am totally satisfied.  That’s a huge success.  I have tons to say about this but I’ll leave it for another post!

So I finally am feeling like the huge transitions have subsided and we are at an equilibrium again.  As I sat in church this weekend, we sang the song “Anchor” from Hillsong Live:

I have this hope
As an anchor for my soul
Through every storm
I will hold to You

With endless love
All my fear is swept away
In everything
I will trust in You

There is hope in the promise of the cross
You gave everything to save the world You love
And this hope is an anchor for my soul
Our God will stand
Unshakeable

Unchanging One
You who was and is to come
Your promise sure
You will not let go

Your Name is higher
Your Name is greater
All my hope is in You

Your word unfailing
Your promise unshaken
All my hope is in You

I just stood there as we sang, and I felt so incredibly thankful for God and His unchanging nature.  He has been an anchor for my soul in this year of huge changes.
Life throws so much at us!  If you’re in the middle of changes – hold on to God.  He is worthy of our hope and trust.

 

Made to Crave online book study

Hi friends,

I know I’ve mentioned before my struggle with my weight.  I’m at a point right now that I really need to do something about it.  

I read Lysa Terkeurst’s book Made To Crave about two months ago and was completely convinced she was reading my mind.  I read it through very quickly, but I know I need to go back, read it again, and take my time.  A blog I’ve been reading has just started a book study of Made to Crave, and it’s perfect timing for me.  

I thought some of you might be interested as well.  

Here’s the link to the blog post explaining the study, and a link to the first post about the book intro.

I haven’t decided yet if I’ll blog regularly about this… I may just join in from time to time by commenting on their blog.  If you haven’t read the book, I know that the Nook/Kindle versions have been pretty inexpensive lately – it might be a great time to buy!

I’d love to know if you’ve read the book (or want to!) and if you’ll be joining along in the book study as well!!