Tuesday, October 24, 2017

How Change Can Affect Us

Over the last few years my self-awareness has heightened. I no longer let life blind-side me. I do not know what will happen in the future, but in the present moment I am consciously experiencing everything. I learn from it, I respond to it and attempt to come out a stronger, better, happier me. I find that this awareness means the Universe is so much more abundant in what it has to offer. All of it has always been part of my Universe - only I was traveling through it with blinkers on.

Around the end of May, I was introduced to the idea that it is possible to be East Indian and not eat grains. Everyday Indian cuisine has a staple of grains - mainly rice and wheat. The base of every meal is either cooked rice or some form of unleavened bread (roti, naan, paratha, puri etc.). Then there are beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy, eggs, fish, and meats. Whether we are vegetarians or not, grains are a major component of every meal. Since being diagnosed with diabetes, twenty years ago, I have restricted my overall intake of carbs including rice and wheat, but never considered giving them up completely. Till now.

For a few weeks before the germ of the grain free diet plan came into my purview I had a few episodes of hyperglycemia alternating with hypoglycemia. Nothing had changed in my diet, exercise, and neither was there any change in stress. Maybe I was moving towards being a brittle diabetic despite being on an insulin pump and being so careful with my diet. I knew that carbs played an important role in the management of my diabetes. I also knew that reducing my carbs would give me room to fine tune my insulin intake. That is when the plan of going grain free ventured subtly into my world.

I decided to try it - at least till I could bring my blood sugars to normal again. It meant finding resources that would make it sustainable at least for a few weeks. I needed recipes, a shopping list, an affordable store and a willing partner in my husband. Fortunately I have a friend who is extremely resourceful with information and the barrage of recipes she WhatsApped (that must be a word now) me only excited and motivated me to dive wholeheartedly into it. Wheat flour was replaced with almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, and combinations of these. Rice and breads were replaced with savory legume crepes and tapioca flour pancakes, making rice unnecessary. I had to change my meat and vegetable recipes to be drier so I did not need the rice and I increased intake of coconut oil, butter and ghee (clarified butter) and ensured I had at least some animal protein for every meal. I was fuller with less food and stayed satiated longer. I added a few servings of vegetables, and to satisfy the sweet tooth I ate very small servings of fruit. I made sure not to deprive myself of flavor or texture so I could stay on the meal plan, and it worked. It is now just about 20 weeks that I have been completely grain free - not carbs free - grain free. I have eaten no grains, no potatoes and no refined sugars and I am still excited and happy with the plan. Cutting grains out caused my carbs intake to reduce and so I am taking less insulin.

Breakfast:  Cheese and vegetable omelette / fresh 2 minute almond flour bread in a cup in the microwave / fresh 2 minute almond flour banana walnut muffin in a cup in the microwave / fresh 2 minute strawberry coconut flour muffin in a cup in the microwave / fresh home made bean sprouts with fresh yogurt / mixed nuts with a serving of fruits / cheese with a serving of fruits.

Lunch: legume crepe;  (these with a serving of fish, meat or egg and a serving of vegetables and some chutney made with almonds and yogurt) / home made dahi vada / steamed vegetables with curried fish / spicy roast chicken with raita.

Snack: nuts / vegetable fritters / cheese / occasinally a fruit - berries, grapefruit or melon slice / almond flour cookies / chick pea flour cookies. (Only home made cookies - yumm!)

Dinner: Naan made from a combination of Tapioca flour and chick pea flour or crepes accompanied with a fish or meat and a vegetable. A cup of yogurt is a must.

Dessert: Almond flour peach cobbler / carrot halwa with full cream, pureed dates and chunks of walnuts / nuts and dates no bake cookies / coconut and dates no bake cookies / home made sugar free custard ( sweetened with pureed dates or coconut palm sugar) (These are occasional - not everyday)

I have 1 cup of green tea, 1 cup of coffee and one cup of kefir every day. I add a few pieces of ginseng root in my green tea and a teaspoonful of cinnamon powder to my coffee every day. Turmeric has been part of my diet all my life. I also take a shot of fresh ginger juice and fresh lime/lemon juice every night.

The first things I noticed with going off grains - knee pain.....gone. I had developed a pain in my right knee for almost a year now that had been deteriorating. Bowel movements.......never been better. Sleep..... more restful and wake up fresh. Bloating...... gone. Cravings..... gone. Smiling......more. Irritable....less. Insulin dose.....reduced. Blood sugar levels......normal. I do not take any medication other than insulin and occasionally homeopathic remedies for any symptoms that may come up due to injuries or physical strain etc. I had been prescribed Statins and BP meds as part of management of diabetes and I requested my physician to let me wean myself off them and he agreed based on the fact that my blood sugars have continued to be within normal range for the last many years now. For those of us who understand the relevance of HbA1c levels - when I was first diagnosed the level was at 22.2%. Over the last 6 years (ever since I have been on the insulin pump) my levels are at 5.8% to 6.0% consistently. It means I have less chemicals going into my system and therefore less toxicity. My kidneys, heart, liver, eyes, peripheral nerves are all functioning like a normal 60 year old body. I am living proof that Diabetes can be managed and that food can be our friend if we eat and drink right. I know exercise is just as important, but I lead a very sedentary life and am not motivated enough to change that .... yet.

Changing my diet has not been difficult and the results only more motivating. It is as if I needed the change. My body gave me the message - fluctuating blood sugars; almost concurrently the Universe presented me with a solution - diet options; since my awareness is heightened I went with the solution. Instead of pumping meds for the pain and upping my insulin I changed what and how I eat and it worked to my advantage. Nutrition is a very important element of health care. I had given up all prepackaged processed foods and that had helped with  an overall feeling of well-being. Eating grass fed meats and cutting out vegetable oils also helped and now replacing grains has taken it to a higher level of well-being.

Making choices with awareness and knowledge; being conscious of the effects of change; adjusting life style to ensure physical and emotional health, are all part of a well rounded life. I have learned how to adapt to change and not be set in my ways and I am reaping the benefits today. Change is a good thing and an integral part of life. Some change happens in a void and there are some that we choose to make. Results too are sometimes predictable and sometimes not, that is what makes life so interesting and embracing change gives us the opportunity to grow and to learn.

The one change I am unable to make - adding exercise to my life style. The Universe has not given me any signals that make that possible at this time. My blinkers are off - but ...... :)

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