Thursday, September 22, 2011
I need help critiquing my dad's diabetes diet. He has recently decided to work more on his diet, rather than medication. Avandia is causing heart and kidney damage. So he went to see a dietician. The dietician recommended a 'low carb' diabetes schedule. My impression is, it is not low carb at all. It would drive my blood sugar through the roof, and I am not diabetic.
She wants him to eat 160-200g carbs. 20g breakfast, 45g lunch, 45g dinner, and two 20g snacks. That is 150g carbs. She said to eat less starch (I agree), more veggies (great), and portion control (sounds ok to me).
Personally, I think this is a bit high. However, my dad is in his 70s, and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to cut back carbs suddenly, the same way I did. My body is younger, and could tolerate the withdrawals, shock, and adjustment better. I favor a tapering approach. He can try this 150g schedule, and see if it helps lower his blood sugar, so he can taper off the Avandia. I hope we can eventually get him off the Avandia completely. Maybe after he does this for a while, he can cut the carbs back a little more, to about 100g per day?
For those of you who were able to reverse your diabetes without medication, is this how you did it?
He asked me for recommendations on how to count his carbs. Unfortunately, I am hesitant to recommend Spark to him. The so called "Truth about Carbs" article I saw recently would just scare and confuse him. With great regret, I think I am going to tell him to sign up for Daily Burn or MyFitnessPal. They have an easy tracking interface, and multiple settings for low carb plans.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Pizza often ends up on a lot of dieting no-no lists. Not good for low-fat dieters. Too many carbs for low-carbers.
I learned to cook because I wanted to make foods I like, using good quality ingredients. Good ingredients make good health, is my philosophy.
So why not pizza!
The most troublesome part for pizza is making the dough. Images of pizzerias tossing dough in the air are impressive. And intimidating. A good dough also needs to be kneaded, and time to let rise.
Well, I cheated. I bought pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe's.
I'm not a super strict low carber. My weight problems were due to trying to follow the food pyramid guidelines for 8-11 servings of grains per day. That was ridiculous, especially at my size and weight. Now, I eat maybe 1-2 small servings per day with results I am happy with.
I have never been a fan of thick crust pizzas. I like my pizzas with a super thin crust. It should be just substantial enough to hold the "stuff" on my pizza. I didn't know this until recently, but apparently this is how Italians actually make pizzas. American pizzas use a lot more dough.
I took half of the dough in the package, and rolled it very, very flat. I lightly oiled my cookie sheet and transferred my dough on top.
There are lots of sauce variations for pizzas. Pizzas with tomato sauce. Pizzas with bechamel sauce. Pizzas with bbq sauce. Pizzas with no sauce. I like my pizzas with tomato sauce.
The base of my tomato sauce is a lot like my spaghetti sauce, and I start it off the same way. Saute onions and garlic in oil. Add a couple tablespoons tomato paste and stir until melted. Add a can of whole tomatoes and heat to bubbling. Then puree in a blender smooth.
To make my pizza sauce, I added a couple of laddles of the pureed sauce back into a saucepan, and added more tomato paste to make it a very thick sauce. I spread a layer on top of the dough.
My favorite part of pizza is the cheese. A perfect pizza to me has that yummy mozzarella that stretches and pulls when I bite it. I used a blend of cheeses.
I added a layer of a 4 cheese blend with parmesan, asiago, fontina and provolone, enough to cover the sauce. I added another layer of mozzarella on top of it. The four cheeses add lots of flavor, and the mozzy adds that stringy pizza texture. Yum yum.
I sliced green bell peppers very, very thin and added it on top of the cheese.
I added a layer of salami and pepperoni. I like Applegate farms. They don't use any nitrates for preservatives.
The prebaked result:
I baked it in my oven at 350F for about 30 minutes, until the cheese was melty and toasted.
Taken out of the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before digging in! I cut mine into 4 pieces. I served this with a side salad, balsamic-red wine vinegar salad dressing, and a glass of red wine.
Because this is a thin crust pizza, it was not structured enough to eat flat. The stuff on top was heavy. We ate it by folding a slice in half and taking a bite!
Nutrition: (4 pieces)
This isn't going to win many awards and accolades for low calorie, low fat or low carb. The nutritional content is actually pretty similar to a slice of Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza. The benefit I am getting here is the quality of the ingredients. My cheese blend tastes very 'cheesy'. My tomato sauce tastes very tomato-ey. My pepperoni and salami have no nitrates. With the help of the ready to bake dough, I had it prepared and cooked in the same amount of time as delivery.
If I had to make an improvement, it would be I should have blind baked the dough before adding the ingredients on top. My crust came out a little softer than I would have liked.
Friday, September 16, 2011
The number 1 way that most of us can improve our health and reduce medical costs is to lose weight. So why are weight loss treatments not considered expenses covered by healthcare?
I was just going over the list of items that I can expense to my Health Savings Account. Weight loss plans are specifically excluded. The reason is because the IRS considers it a "cosmetic" procedure. I'm now considered in the normal bodyfat range, so statistically, my weight loss is "cosmetic". I have decreased my risk of chronic disease. The extra weight I want to lose is for vanity reasons, but also performance reasons. It's just easier to hike or bike if I'm not lugging around extra fat.
However, when I was 160lbs, the weight I needed to lose was for health reasons. I was about 42% bodyfat at that weight, which increased my risks for diabetes and heart disease. At that weight, it seems the policy is more discriminatory. The implication being, I was fat and lazy, and I just needed to stop eating so much food. Therefore, weight loss solutions are not covered because it is a crime of gluttony.
Very wrong. And partially explains why America continues to get more obese, despite aggressive campaigning to eat less, move more. It is not tackling why people are fat. I see it so many times when I read various blogs on Spark. People blaming themselves for their weight. "I just can't control myself." "It's genetics and I just can't lose weight." Most of it is self flagellation where they blame themselves. In essence, they are convicting themselves of being gluttons.
Perhaps they are pursuing the wrong treatment. Maybe a calorie is not a calorie. Maybe it is not a simple thermodynamic equation of calorie in - calorie out.
Maybe we are complex biologic organisms. Maybe it is biochemistry of excess fat storage hormones.
This is easier to see in the case when certain medications are taken. Pharmaceuticals either stimulate or emulate hormones in our bodies. Take the simple case of birth control pills. Birth control pills emulate progesterone, which prevents ovulation. In order for ovulation to occur, luteinizing hormones trigger the release of eggs. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland never gets the signal. So no luteinizing hormone is released, and no ovulation occurs. The chain that triggers ovulation is disrupted.
Is it not so hard to recognize that fat is controlled by a similar chain of hormones that trigger events for storage and release?
In the case of people who take certain medications that causes rapid weight gain, it doesn't matter what they eat. The pharmaceuticals causes a surge of hormone emulation that causes weight gain. This in turn causes a number of different health issues.
And thus, we are in a cycle where health insurance and HSA/FSAs don't cover treatment for weight loss. They only cover the almost inevitable diabetes, which is then treated with more medications that cause more biochemical tampering.
Monday, September 12, 2011
I went to the dentist last week for a cleaning. While I was there, I asked about teeth whitening. They recommended getting a dental mold made, with a whitening gel. It is very pricey, though. They said I don't have any issues that would prevent me from having teeth whitening done, so I decided to look into cheaper options.
There are whitening kits in the supermarket that ranged from $20-60 dollars. I happened to find a "Whitening Booster" that said can be used with regular toothpaste. It was only $4. At that price, I didn't think it would hurt to try.
The active ingredient is hydrogen peroxide. You put a little on top of regular toothpaste, and brush as normal.
My teeth have minor yellowing from coffee and wine drinking. After just one use, I did notice my teeth were brighter. Not white-white, but I didn't expect that after just one brushing.
One the other hand, it exacerbated existing my tooth sensitivity. So I'm going to have to wait a few weeks in order to try again after my gums have healed up a little more.
I also finally broke down and invested in an electric toothbrush. I had a coupon, and it was a good price on a Sonicare at Costco. My dentists have been recommending for years that I get an electric toothbrush because of my predisposition to developing tartar, and gum recession. I figured getting one fresh after getting a dental cleaning would be a good time to maintain that super clean state. My teeth feel cleaner than a regular toothbrush, but that may be due to improper brushing on my part. After my deep cleaning a few years ago and borderline periodontal disease, I think I overcompensated on my brushing. The dentist thinks my current gum recession is due to brushing too hard. Not brushing enough, get tartar/gingivitis. Brushing too hard/too much, get receding gums. Sigh. The dentist said the electric brush might help because it won't allow too much pressure. After using it for a week, my teeth still feel super clean, like that 'just after the dentist cleaning'.
The model I got at Costco came with a UV sterilizer, so I can sterilize the brush head between cleaning. Keeps any bacteria that cause gum problems from colonizing my toothbrush, and reinfecting my gums.
My hygienist also gave me a medicated mouthwash to help bring down the bacteria colonies in my mouth so my gums can heal. I use it at night just before bed, so bacteria doesn't have 8 hours to cause trouble.
I haven't been so great with flossing in the past. Mostly because my gums were inflamed. I was also deterred because floss would snag on tartar buildup. After a professional dental cleaning, though, the floss glides smoothly, and without gum irritation. I got the "Glide" brand floss. It really is amazing how smooth that brand is. It does make a difference. It is more pricey than the other flosses, but if it is smooth and less irritating, I am more likely to use it. Which will save me in the long run if it stops my gum recession. I'm carrying a small pack in my purse so I can use it after dining out. Gaps in my teeth tend to collect food particles, which isn't doing my gums any favors.
Next cleaning is in 6 months, so we'll see if all these measures were worth the investment.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
Note: This is an off topic blog today.
9/11/2001. I was no longer a full time student in college, and had dropped down to part time. A year earlier I started my first full time 'real world' job on an IT support team for Worldcom in downtown Denver. I worked on the top floor of my building, the 42nd floor. Not the tallest building in Denver, but it was high enough to see over most of the buildings for a beautiful view of the Rockies off in the distance. On winter days, our floor sat above the smog line, where we could see the infamous Denver "brown cloud".
Telecommuting was just starting to be the 'new perk' for IT workers. Our group had two telecommute days per week. I worked from home Tuesday and Thursday. I didn't choose Friday as a TC day because I wasn't going to miss "casual Friday" and donuts!
September 11, 2001, at around 7:30am mountain time, my boyfriend woke me up with the strangest news. A plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. My brain barely processed it. That was all he said before he walked out, stunned. No details. My first reaction was to think there had been an accident. I thought maybe a small private plane crashed into it in an emergency. I rolled out of bed, and shuffled into the living room where my boyfriend was watching CNN.
That was when I saw an enormous amount of black smoke billowing out of Tower 1. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It certainly wasn't a small plane that crashed into the tower. It was a 767. I was still thinking it was an accident at this point, an emergency landing gone wrong.
I had been awake for about 10 minutes. While watching the footage, I saw the second plane appear off the side of the screen. To this day I cannot watch the footage of it without feeling the same horror and helplessness as I watched it happen live. My confusion turned to bewilderment. It was clear this was no accident. What was going on? Why?
They started showing footage of people jumping out the windows. I cried and prayed people were getting out of the building.
Then the towers collapsed, and I knew my prayers had not been answered. There was not enough time for people to have evacuated the building. Especially the people on the upper floors. I cried for them. Those people woke up, kissed their spouses and kids, went to work, and their fates were sealed. Just as I would have done that day.
My boss sent a pager message to all of us saying to stay at home. It was a telecommute day for me, but I could not have gone into work anyway. Working in a skyrise building, once prestigious, now seemed ominous. At that time, no one in the nation knew how many more planes were going to be used as flying missiles. Pentagon. Flight 93 in Pennsylvania. FAA had grounded all planes. The only planes flying in the skies were military jets.
We spent the entire day watching all the news channels. Like everyone else, I wanted to know why. Why would anyone do this? Who was responsible? How could a sneak attack like this slip through our intelligence?
I'll never forget the pain, horror, fear and bewilderment of that day. However, I will also never forget the moment of solidarity. When the world united, for just a moment. When the world agreed unanimously, no matter our differences, terrorism is universally reviled. I'll never forget when the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace played the Star Spangled Banner. I cried, and my soul cried. The pain, loss and mourning I felt crossed oceans. I felt less scared, for just a minute. As I write this, I am in tears, remembering.
For a moment, I felt the earth move. There could be no better way to honor those who died, than to stand together. The world changed. We were all different. We were all shattered people, trying to make sense of it all. Trying to figure out how to make the world side up right again.
When I returned to work, I took a moment to stand outside my building, looking up to the 42nd floor. It looked different somehow. I rode the elevator to my floor, and looked out the window. I didn't look out to view the Rockies, like I did so many times before. I looked straight down. The planes hit the 93 and 99th floors of the WTC. My floor was less than half that height. I thought, if I had been in the WTC, would I have been able to make it down all those stairs in time?
I walked by the second tallest building in Denver on my way to lunch, the Qwest Tower. 709ft, 52 floors. Still not as big as the WTC. I tried to picture the tower twice that height. Skyscrapers, long coveted as the symbol of capitalist fortune and prosperity. Now I saw it as a vulnerable death trap. If there were ever to be an accident, firefighter ladders would not be able to reach my floor. If the stairs were blocked off, we would be stranded. Not something I had ever given thought to before.
I guess I was not the only one to think of that. After I returned from lunch, the building manager inappropriately decided to test the fire alarms. Everyone on the floor jumped up from their desks, everyone looking at each other like, should we run? A few people did scurry towards the door. The PA came on telling us it was just a test. Great. Think they could have told us before hand, instead of inciting panic? It was all too fresh in our minds.
Then I started to cry. I realized that if I had been in the WTC, I probably would have died. When the fire alarm went off, I did not go straight for the door. I tried to save my work, check my email one last time, and shut down my applications. I would have walked slowly down the stairs, thinking there was no great hurry.
I put myself in the imaginary shoes of someone in the tower, climbing down the stairs, having even less idea of what was going on than when I was watching it on TV. How long does it take to climb down 42 floors? How long would it take if it were full of people? How much longer would it have taken if I took time to close down my applications and computer? Walking down 42 floors would have taken even more time, as I was overweight at 160lbs and not in good shape.
How the world changed post 9/11. The dotcom era crashed. Worldcom and Enron crashed in scandal. My boyfriend and I lost our jobs, and we broke up. The moment of world wide solidarity broke into bitter division and war. 9/11 was a world wide earthquake that shifted ideologies and economies. I am not so old, but I remember the world before 9/11 as "the good old days". Before 9/11, I lived in a world of relative peace and prosperity. The Cold War was over. Nuclear winter tensions were relegated to the pages of old science fiction books. I had a full time job with benefits. Back then, I imagined 2011 would be my 10 year employee anniversary. Instead, I went on a rollercoaster that would take me to unemployment, the edge of bankruptcy, broken hearts, unfinished college degree, and obesity. I moved away from my beloved, familiar home of Colorado to Seattle. I rebuilt my life, and met my fiance. In another unexpected event that came from the housing crash of 2008, we found ourselves in Savannah, GA.
The saying goes, "You can't judge a day by its morning". It would seem you can't judge a decade by its year, either.
RIP. I remember it all in vivid detail. A stain in my memory and soul. I will never forget.
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