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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Levan restaurant

Like a true Negrense, I love food. Food is sacred and not something to be dealt with haphazardly. And because we are the sugar capital of the Philippines, we know desserts like the backs of our hands. Yup, we know the good life, and when life comes collecting, we have to pay.

Our family has lived with diabetes for as long as I can remember. My grandfather had it, and early in our childhood we were accustomed to seeing him use Equal instead of sugar in his coffee. Ironic, since he was in the sugar business.

His son, our uncle, also had diabetes early on. He dealt with it by exercising, cutting down on carbohydrates in his diet, and taking a daily dose of insulin.

My brother does not have diabetes, but has a rather strange blood sugar disorder (I am not quite sure how to call it, so doctors, feel free to correct me). He is not allowed to miss meals, because his blood sugar level will drop and he could faint or fall asleep and not wake up.

Bar Gurion Chocolate SouffleMy Independence Day souffle

When I found out I was pregnant with the BooBoo Bear, I became more cautious with the food I ate. Then I had my sugar test at around 20 weeks and it was (tadaaaa!!!!) normal.

At this point one would think that an intelligent creature would maintain what it was that they were doing to keep their blood sugar levels down.

Apparently I am not an intelligent creature because, despite my family history, I went to town on the Nutella and all things chocolate.

Brewhouse dessertMy blood sugar is high but my EQ is low

So at around 30+ weeks I looked like I was lugging around a giant watermelon and my body was threatening to go into labor. Needless to say, my doctor was NOT very happy.

Gestational diabetes only occurs when a person is pregnant, but once there, it raises their risk of having the actual thing later on in life. It also increases the baby’s risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes.

The solution was going cold turkey. I was placed on a horrible, horrible diet that threatened to drive me mad. I was in a foul mood for days until my body finally adjusted to the diet.

The dietician called it the “Mediterranean Diet.” I don’t recommend it to anyone, because it has to take certain things into consideration such as your body mass index, general health, nutritional requirements and such things. But for more than a month I subsisted on a few slices of (diabetic-friendly) bread a day, one egg, some 5% cheese, quinoa or brown rice, a small slab of meat, yogurt, fruits and veggies. Lots and lots of veggies.

Diet

Good thing I like veggies.

What surprised me the most was that I actually survived living on very basic food. Who knew the human body, a pregnant one at that, needed so little in order to survive and function?

I didn’t think I would make it to the finish line. I did. Eventually. But now I understand why my grandfather was so recalcitrant and would dip his fingers into some cake and ice cream when no one was looking.

I can’t even begin to imagine what life is like for people who have the full blown disease. At least in my case, I knew that once I gave birth it would all be over. I know I still need to take care with what I eat though, so no more midnight excursions for dessert. No more full course meals (except maybe after a day of fasting?). No more ice cream marathons (yes, I’ve been naughty!).

Everyday is still a challenge. I’ve set my limits and, thankfully, I’ve kept to them. For now. Crossing my fingers.

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Food Inc.

Have you ever wondered what goes into your food? Or do you, like most people, assume that if it is packed nicely it must be decent enough for you to eat and feed your family?

I’ve posted before that we have become very conscious of the food we eat, but watching the film Food, Inc. brought everything to a whole new level:

The film (particularly its concept of “notional food”) reminds me of this scene from The Matrix where Cypher meets up with Agent Smith with the intention of betraying his colleagues. In that scene, Cypher eats a steak with relish, knowing that it wasn’t really steak and that his brain was only programmed to think it was, but enjoying it nevertheless because coming to terms with reality was just too much for him.

In the simplest of terms, this is the premise of the movie: that we have been programmed to accept the food we eat as it appears, even though the actual content goes against the nature of what it is supposed to be. The topics tackled in this film are not for the faint of heart. It can get pretty gruesome, but it is worth watching for anyone who respects his/her body and is concerned about the well being of their families.

Admittedly, we don’t live in America, so I guess we can consider ourselves less exposed to such practices. We are also fortunate enough that the country we live in has stringent food safety and health standards. But sometimes, the kind of food (or food products) featured in the film still find its way to us (and the general population).

This phenomenon is not limited to the food sector. You can find similar trends in other areas in the economy. In this day and age of (mis)information, it is easy enough to get overwhelmed by advertisements (“Buy this and you will be happy!”), apocalyptic scenarios (“If we don’t buy this we will all die!!!!”), and other marketing gimmicks. Fortunately, the upside to the Age of Information is that it is easier to find the answers. We just (1) need to be more discerning of the information we receive and (2) take the initiative to find the answers that elude us.

I won’t pretend to have the answers for all these complicated issues. There are no cut and dried solutions for the world’s problems. The best place to start would be with ourselves, hence our (my family’s) decision to change our eating habits. It hasn’t been easy, but the effects on our health have all been worth it.

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The $500 Challenge

I know, I know…… I used to be 23 years old and 109 pounds (Yikes! Malnourished much?), and now I swung to the other end of the spectrum. How could I have let myself go like that????

It would be too easy to blame childbirth. And the truth is, I went to a normal (svelte, in hindsight) 115 after I gave birth to the Shnufflebubby.The real culprit here are all those Jollibee, Greenwich, Sbarro and Goldilocks nights with Dutch Kitty after work when we were still in Manila. Here, it was year 2008 and 2009, otherwise known as the year of Ben and Jerry and Haagen Dazs, respectively. (Vanilla Caramel Brownie, please!)

I know it really had to stop, and I did stop it, but those ice cream pounds really sneak up on you. And oh, yes, I forgot all those ice cream lunches I had with Best Buddy Bert behind the office. Good thing the ice cream gal moved away (Noooooooo!!!! Homemade ice cream, come back!!!!!! Voted number 2 best in the city! Yummmmm….. Wait, where was I?)

Oh yes. Moving right along…..

Anyway, the pounds were all there and even if I stopped all those sinful (sinfully delicious, anyway) things, the pounds weren’t going away by themselves. I’ve tried jogging (ok, ok, semi-jogging, with a lot of walking in between), and it did work for bit. Then winter set in and it was just impossible to get up in the dark and go out in the cold.

Now spring is here, and visually I am glad to note that I look a lot less bloated than this time last year. (Yes, I was even heavier than before.) So back to wogging (walking-jogging).

To make things interesting, the Vru and I also have a wager. Twenty-five pounds by July 31 or $500. I shall eagerly await her remittance =D

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