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“pre-” (“there is no such thing as pre-!!!”) diabetes and me and Paula Deen

January 23rd, 2012

Oh, Paula Deen, Paula Deen. Jamie and Bobbie… You get over here, too, please, so we can have a little chat.

The Op-Ed pieces are arriving, so here’s mine along with the rest of the flood. She has known for three years she has Type 2 diabetes, and the woman who shares her life, “Y’all, I have to tell ya…” didn’t tell us.

Then she makes a deal with a pharmaceutical company to rep for them, and her son gets his “low-cal” cooking show going and… there ya have it, y’all. Step right up and have a fried treat. Only in moderation. (cough, choke.) Here, try this:

Compose yourself
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Fried Twinkies are just never a good idea. Not even on a dare. “Once you’ve had one, you’ll never go back.” For that matter, donuts instead of buns on a cheeseburger? Equally lousy idea. Cheeseburgers, just your standard cheeseburgers, are a lousy idea all by their lone. Having one once in awhile is OK. If by “once in awhile” you mean “maybe twice a year.” I still prefer mine the way I did when I was a kid — no cheese, no bacon, light on the condiments and lots of pickles, lettuce and tomatoes. Then I would eat about half the burger (one patty, not two or three or four) and feed the rest to the dog.

After we lost Good Dog Gus, the first time we went out for a burger I started to set mine aside for him like always. Steve asked, Who u gonna feed your burger to now? (He eats veggie burgers, as do the kids.) (OK, make that veggie nuggets for them, or just french fries and ketchup.)

I like her shows and her family’s cookbooks, but damn. I like them in a i am hypnotized by you gah, gah, gah way.

* It is possible to make greens without ham and bacon grease.
* Just eat a damn Twinkie if you want one — don’t fry it up.
* Ribs? Once a year, if that, gaaahhhhhh…

Anthony Bourdain called her “the worst, most dangerous person” in America. Yeah, obesity and diabetes and just generally livin’ large and congratulating ourselves for it truly are the worst problems in America, in my opinion. That kind of thinking leads you to health problems, a huge deficit and war. Deen retaliates by saying, “…not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”

You’re worried about the grocery bill? Stop eating meat and substitute beans and rice. Anytime I buy meat, fish or chicken at the store, I go into sticker shock and swear I’m never buying it again. Yesterday, for instance, I was craving salmon cakes. Ten dollars for two of them. And salmon grows here. It isn’t like I’m having it shipped in from Europe.

Why not have some beets, instead? They’re cheaper… and really pretty.

Beets me!
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Costs? Budget? Don’t forget to budget in the health costs of cigarettes, sodapop, junk food and Pixie Sticks. Who can afford $500 a month for diabetes medicine? Get some exercise, eat right and try to rein that diabetes in if you can. It’s treatable, so much of the time. (No, I am not a medical professional, that’s my disclaimer, what do I know? But that’s what I’ve heard. The docs say that losing even 5 percent of your body weight can get your blood sugars under control. Also, people who are cutting back on or cutting out meat/dairy/eggs seem to be having luck combating diabetes.)

For those of you concerned about my innocent, growing children, “You must feed them meat!” Yeah… that. I would, you know. If they’d eat it. If they weren’t vegetarians. We do multi-vits and cook using cast-iron. Their calcium, protein, B12 and iron levels are just fine. We try to eat right and mostly do OK with it. We could do better.

I do feel a little defensive sometimes, when I hear the voices of critics, or my Dear Late Granny in my head. (I finally finished the recipes and story for her cookbook/memoir, by the way. Go me. It only took me… uh… six years? Lots of bacon, fear not. Feel free to omit it. Also lots of veggie recipes from Steve, me and our family and friends. And 100 dessert recipes. Gawd. I’ll post the link when we’re done editing and get it bound — probably a month or two down the road? #famouslastwords…)

Back to Bourdain… he seems to prefer street food in Vietnam to $650 bottles of wine. When he’s asked, Aren’t you worried about getting sick? He says, You’re more likely to get food poisoning from a buffet in America. True that.

You know what makes you sick? Eating a whole ton of greasy, fried everything. It makes your tummy sick, your skin sick, and it can make you bloated, fat and miserable. I can speak freely now cuz God love her, she’s gone, but I used to be one unhappy chick after I ate a big Sunday meal at Granny’s. Someone would scoop out three-fourths of the bacon grease from a pot of beans, and she would add in another two cups the next time she walked by.

My mom and dad cooked everything simply, without a lot of salt and hardly any grease. We joke that we’d have two or three baked pork chops on a plate, pass them around and around, and there would still be two left over. We didn’t have a lot of money and ate out only occasionally. My friends were all fast food and candy junkies. Doritos, frozen pizza, sodapop and deep-fried burritos left me grimacing. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, though, and liked to bake.

This, by the way, is not moderation:

cake pops

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I have had a thyroid condition since I was 12 or 13. It alternates between hypo- and hyper- (cold/hot, down/up, sluggish/restless) so I never had to worry about my weight much until I hit my thirties. Even though I only gained 25 pounds with my first kid, I lost 50 after. Doesn’t that sound great? Nope. God, I was sick. The doctor had my thyroid dose racheted way too high, and between that and nursing my baby, I was dropping a pound a day. I used to joke, Want to lose a pound a day? Ask me how.

I almost bled to death and was exhausted. With our second baby, I gained 33 pounds, and took better care of myself, after. (Both kids were 10-pounders, but I didn’t get gestational diabetes. We grow ‘em big in our families.)

The sugar blues hit during the first pregnancy, once the morning sickness lifted (I was actually sick for most of both pregnancies, except for the first and ninth months). Mad, mad cravings like I’ve never had before. Pepsi, Orange Crush, ice cream, cookies, cake. Dreaming about sugar, baking more than I’ve ever baked in my life. Then we shifted into “kid diet”: mac and cheese, goldfish crackers, apple and grape juice, birthday cakes, Easter candy, Halloween candy… Next thing you know, I’m swooping down into sugar crashes, not eating enough vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and I’m comforting myself with white wine or vodka. (We bloggers have not done anyone any favors with our “Mama deserves a drinkie” mentality. We’re the new version of the drunk ’50s housewife, partying with her friends and waiting for the men to come home.)

I’ve put on too many pounds.

So I quit drinking last April — it was becoming a crutch, I was worried about diabetes, I didn’t want to set a bad example for my kids. Thyroid/diabetes issues seem to go hand-in-hand, all that hormonal/endocrine stuff ties together. I finally had the surgery I’d been putting off. Two years later, I work out almost every day (half hour yoga, plus an hour on the treadmill, water aerobics — when I make it there– and walks around our hilly neighborhood). I have loads of energy and don’t end up in the ER anymore for health complications (knock wood twice, good Lord).

Every time I have had my blood sugar levels measured, even when I’m feeling my crummiest, “oh you’re fine! and besides, there is no thing as being pre-diabetic… you’re either diabetic or not! and you’re not!” Afterwards, I used to celebrate by stopping by *$$$ for a 500-calorie fancy drink and a 500-calorie slice of poundcake (or gingerbread, scone or cooky). Then one day I read the calorie card they keep behind the counter and now I only go there once in awhile instead of constantly.

Smoking? I quit 26 years ago this coming June. I had smoked for 10 years. I’ll be 50 in two years. You do all that math.

We eat better now, we don’t eat out that often, and I’m trying (trying) to reach for a piece of fruit instead of a cooky.

Finally ripening
(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Oh yeah, and I’m hooked on those “House Hunters” shows now more than the food shows.

I’ve lost almost 20 pounds, and would be happy to ditch 5, 10, or 15 more. Grateful that it’s not a bigger number than that, but if it was? I’d deal with it. Look, I’m not telling you all this personal information to be all nyah-nyah — I’ve worked hard, and I’ve faced some pretty tough challenges with all of this health crap. You know when I reach for more snacks? At night, when I’m watching TV and mmmmm big steak mmmmmmm onion rings mmmmmmm ice cream sundaes.

As a society, we’re bombarded with this. I want to feel good, not crummy. That’s what motivates me. I want the same for Steve and the kids.

So Deens… I don’t think you’ve ever set a good example, foodwise, and I don’t think you’re helping much, now. Give some credit to those of us who are trying. C’mon… step right up.

1 Comment

  1. LIB says

    Nancy–WAY TO GO! Couldn’t agree more!

    Chris had scary numbers at the doc’s: pre-diabetic, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Doc wanted to dose him up with this and that. He said,”Let me see if I can change those numbers with lifestyle change first.”

    He changed the way he eats(smaller portions, more veggies, treats [including beer] only occasionally). He added exercise to his day. He has lost 45 lbs! And those numbers at the doc’s? All within normal range now. Keep your meds, thankyouverymuch!

    January 30th, 2012 | #

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