Very Old, Very Healthy Diabetic

...or die trying.
I was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 33 with NIDDM or Type 2 diabetes. I come from a diabetic clan. I even married a diabetic. Are you on the diabetes road, too?
This is my goal: to become a very old, very healthy diabetic by day to day choices regarding eating, exercise and medical management. Walk along with me...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Newsflash: not all vegetarians hate meat.

When I tell somebody that I'm a vegetarian, or that I eat like a vegan, or whatever phrase I'm willing to say out loud on that particular day, one common response is this: "Oh, I could never be a vegetarian. I like eating meat too much."

Well, duh. I like eating meat. Why do you assume that I dislike the taste of meat?

I also gave up (mostly) eating chocolate cake for dinner after my diagnosis as a diabetic. Do you think I dislike eating chocolate cake? Noooooo, I very much enjoy eating chocolate cake. And I very much enjoy eating meat. Especially a nice rare steak with my favorite A-1 steak sauce. That's still a great meal, although I should only eat it on a high feast day, such as Christmas.

(And when I say 'gave it up', I don't mean that strictly speaking. I am more of a lapsed vegetarian. But, at the moment, I get to blame that on my husband. He's so helpful. I'm hoping to be a stricter vegetarian/vegan in the future. I believe he's planning on grilling sausages for our dinner tonight. Oh joy. Grease, plus salt. Well, we ate broccoli and rice for dinner last night. Perhaps it will all balance out.)

I don't skip meat because I dislike its taste in my mouth. I'll skip it because I dislike its effect on my health. I'll choose something else because meat contributes few nutritional components that I can't get elsewhere. It has no fiber. It has no phytochemicals. It may contribute to the development of cancer in those who eat it. It carries lots of fat and cholesterol. And yes, even white breast chicken without skin has fat and cholesterol.

Cholesterol, something your body makes anyway. Why eat any cholesterol? Did you know that almost all animal foods contain cholesterol? And that few, if any, non-animal foods contain cholesterol? (So, when that rice & carrot side dish touts itself as 100% cholesterol free, don't think that's anything to turn cartwheels over.)

And protein? There is protein in almost everything you eat. Americans get an excessive amount of protein in their daily diet, IMHO. Diabetics have some specific risks associated with eating too much protein daily: kidney disease. When you eat all that protein, which your body cannot use that day, and cannot store, you ask your kidneys to remove it and excrete it. If you are eating enough calories, even from non-animal sources, dietary diseases from lack of dietary protein are unknown to medical science. (That's according to Dr. McDougall. He talks about it extensively in his books. Also the recent PCRM study discusses some of these issues.)

You don't even have to combine protein sources-that's a myth that arose in the 1970s. Your body will put them together for you.

Did you know that many nutritionists believe that excessive protein intake may contribute to osteoporosis and osteopenia? Your body has to remove that excess protein (in the kidneys) and uses calcium for that chemical process. But all this is explained at other sites talking about the nutritional advantages of vegetarian & vegan diets. And you can go research it for yourself. Decide for yourself what is best. (But I believe this is best.)

Now, I've been hanging out with the veg*ns for a long time.

Okay, now I feel the need to explain that word "veg*ns". That asterisks stands for missing letters, so "veg*ns" stands for "vegetarians" and "vegans". Vegetarians may still eat eggs, cheese, dairy and honey-animal foods that do not require the animal itself to die for you to eat the product. Vegans do not eat any animal source food, which includes eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, etc. An older term for this way of eating is "strict vegetarian". It means you have to read labels: whey is in many many things and it's an animal product. They often extend the vegan philosophy to other areas of their lives, and, thus, will avoid animal products in other contexts: shampoos, make-ups, paint, clothing, wool, silk, leather, shoes, etc.

As I was saying, I've been hanging out with the veg*ns for a long time. And I am aware that many do seem to have unusual food phobias. I remember a discussion at VegSource years ago where some were discussing a particular new meat substitute, specifically an imitation chicken meat product. I forget if it was chicken nugget style or something else. People were asking whether it was any good, should I try it, that sort of thing. One person posted that she had tried the product, but could not finish eating it, because the texture was too close to the real thing for her. I thought that was pretty odd, and IMHO, an example of a food phobia. But, it was real for her and that's OK.

And I still buy the A-1 steak sauce. But I prefer eating it on a baked potato. It's two thirds of the old meal, and I still find it very satisfying. Old meal: steak, A-1, baked potato, butter, and sour cream. New meal: 2 baked potatoes and A-1. Okay, so it's about half of the old meal. It's still pretty good. And the fat content is greatly reduced.

One's taste-buds do adjust. Change is possible. Skipping meat does not mean losing out, especially if one approaches this dietary change as a creative challenge.

You can eat more healthfully today than you did last week. You might even like it!


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