This won’t be easy.
As hard as it was for me to give up milk and dairy products, probably giving up starch and sugar will be harder. But I think I MUST do this for my health, because I’m afraid I’m killing myself by eating these foods.
For the past several years I’ve noticed my legs are starting to swell. Sometimes it’s worse than others. Sometimes they’re like water balloons, and I have to lie on my back with my legs elevated to help them drain. It feels very uncomfortable, and it’s embarrassing, and worst of all I think it’s indicative of weakening kidneys or veins. These may be early signs of oncoming diabetes. That thought terrifies me. Both my parents have diabetes, and one of my best friends has lost a leg to it. It’s no laughing matter.
I haven’t been able to place exactly what the cause might be up till now. No websites that talked about edema ever mentioned giving up starch and sugar. They only ever said to give up salt. But recently I figured that if I’m becoming diabetic the thing I need to stay away from is anything that will spike my insulin response. I need smooth, stable blood sugar, not a roller-coaster ride of zoom and crash. So for a few days I’ve been eating only meat and vegetables and fruit and I’ve been staying away from bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, etc. And miraculously, the swelling in my legs is almost completely gone today.
It feels so amazingly good to have my real legs back!! I never would have thought how delicious it is to look at my foot and see the skin revealing nuances of veins, muscles, and tendons. I never would have though how sublime it would be to stroke my foot and see the skin wrinkle beautifully instead of mashing in like a chub of sausage. My legs can bend now without feeling pressure at the knees that used to make me feel like a balloon animal. My calves have regained their loose flexibility and appropriate floppiness when I jiggle the relaxed muscle in my hand. I missed that so much!
This is the result of me giving up “evil carbs” for one or two days. I know now that I must give them up for life.
I also know that I will occasionally cheat. I still have pizza parties promised, and birthdays to bake cakes for, and holidays that simply wouldn’t be the same if I had to be utterly stingy with my diet. The thing is, I’ve decided that for me starch and sugar will from now on be treated like alcohol. Something to be shared at celebrations, but not consumed alone, and ALWAYS in moderation. And since I can’t have much of it, whenever I do have some I want to NOTICE and deeply enjoy every mouthful. No more unconscious eating for me.
And then, just as now when I sometimes cheat and have a bit of milk or cheese, I have to know the next day I risk suffering. I have to know it’s a trade-off, or at least a gamble.
This isn’t a low-carb diet in the sense that I’m counting carbs and trying to lose weight. Losing weight would be groovy, but what I really want is to delay the possibility that I’ll become diabetic, which I see literally looming ever closer with each drop of insulin I force my body to produce.
I’m sad because I know pasta, bread, rice, sugar, and all forms of simple carbs are cheap, tasty, and easy to store, and changing my diet may well end up being expensive, troublesome, and boring. I plan to take up canning again to increase my availability of meats and vegetables, because I want the best and I cannot stand the thought of eating factory-canned stuff much. It all tastes like metal to me. Home-canning happens in glass jars, so I know it’s more pure and I also control exactly what goes into it. That’s for me.
I’ve heard eating fruits may be problematic for diabetics, and fruit juice is definitely out. But I’ve also heard if you eat a fruit whole there are enzymes and fiber etc. not found in processed foods which slow its glycemic impact on your body, so I’ll keep an eye on those and see what my own reaction is.
One food at a time, I’ll build a menu of choices to live with.