I am a little late to the show on this subject, but I really wanted to make sure that I was speaking my mind in the most respectful way possible when I comment on the media surrounding Paula Deen & Type II Diabetes.
Let me back up….
I have been pre-diabetic for 4 years (that I know of, it could have been even earlier if I had gotten tests done). I feel weird when I have had too much sugar, I get headaches when my carb intake is too high, and there are times when I just feel….off.
When I found out I was pregnant in March of 2010 I was ecstatic! I remember when I went in for my first appointment with my midwife weighing in at 273 pounds. After doing all the usual first appointment tests and such we started to talk about my weight.
The dreaded weight talk.
This is not the first time I have had this conversation with a medical professional. I braced myself for the honest truth, because I knew what was coming. She told me that she would like me to try to stay as close as I could to the weight I was carrying at that time. I felt overwhelmed by what she was asking me, and I thought to myself ”How on earth am I suppose to do that!? I could barely keep myself from gaining weight in regular circumstances, and now I have to stay the same through my entire pregnancy?”. She even told me that I could lose weight if I wanted to. Of course I wanted to, but at that time I was looking for any reason to excuse my poor eating habits.
I went on my merry way, and enjoyed my food. At 26 weeks I had only gained 3 pounds, and I was pretty proud of myself. This was also the time that they tested me for gestational diabetes. I had heard a lot of icky things about this test, and so I didn’t know what to expect. I drank a 12 oz drink that tasted a lot like Sprite and I thought “that wasn’t so bad”. The nurse told me that I should wait to hear from my midwife, but the readings that she was getting from my blood work had her saying that I would definitely be back for the 3 hour test.
I went in for the 3 hour test later that week, and it was pretty brutal. For those of you who have not had this test done it goes like this: You drink 12 oz’s of a horrendous tasting drink that probably has 10 times the sugar a regular soda has in it. It was the worst tasting drink I have EVER tasted. Then they take your blood every hour for 3 hours and take your glucose readings. In other words, they stick you with a needle every hour, and when you really only have one good vein they continually stick the needle in the same place and it becomes quite painful by the fourth prick.
I started feeling sick around the first 45 minutes. I got light-headed and felt like I was going to throw up. I couldn’t drink any water because they didn’t want me to dilute any of the sugar concentrate, so I just sat in the waiting room feeling sicker, and sicker. It took me two hours to start feeling normal again.
I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. I was devastated. And I was told that if I didn’t lose weight after the pregnancy there was a good chance that I would have Type II Diabetes to deal with.
They immediately sent me to a Dietician and I learned how to document my blood sugar levels, 4 times a day. Once when I woke up (they needed to be below 90), and two hours after every meal (they needed to be below 120). I tracked my blood sugar like it was my job. I could NEVER get my morning reading to be less than 90, and so my midwife put me on Glyburide. I started to slack on my eating and my sugar level’s were all over the place.
Then she threatened me with Insulin injections. In case you didn’t catch it previously, I HATE needles, let alone STICKING MYSELF WITH ONE. I started eating better foods, more often to keep my blood sugars balanced throughout the day.
After my pregnancy I started to get the same feelings that I had when I was pregnant. Whenever I had too many carbs or sugar, I would feel sick. I was scared that I had developed Type II Diabetes. This is about the time that my health insurance dropped and so I haven’t been to the Dr. to be checked, but I have noticed a HUGE difference since I started eating better in June of 2011. I still take blood sugar readings occasionally to make sure that I am on track, and I will say that ever since I started the plant-based diet my readings have been lower than I have ever seen. the interesting thing is that my diet is made up of 60% carbs. I no longer believe in low carb diets. I believe in weighing and measuring your portion sizes, eating whole grains, lots of vegetables and it seems when I do that I can’t go wrong.
Back to the controversy with Paula Deen. I have to say that I am disappointed. I have been taught my entire life to lead by example, and I haven’t been a very good one for the past few years healthy living wise, but I do know that if I had that much influence (like being a celebrity) I would do my best to set a good example. People are watching what I do, and I want to speak my values and standards with my actions. I really wish the world of celebrity was the same way.
I cannot imagine living my entire life the way I lived those last 4 months of my pregnancy, nor could I ever see myself telling people that it is ok by promoting a drug for a pharmaceutical company.
Type II Diabetes is a preventable disease and can be controlled by diet and exercise. It is completely unnecessary to contract this disease, and I will do everything in my power to not have to go through that sickness again.
Please share your thoughts in the comments!