diabetes


Dave: I’m a male food addict and my problem is Dave!
Reader: Hi, Dave and welcome!

I was just thinking of the lyrics of a Paul Simon song from many years ago, Still Crazy After All These Years, and decided to slightly modify it’s title for the purpose of the subject of this post. When it comes to being imperfect (not to mention crazy), some of us male food addicts have great difficulty accepting ourselves as the flawed individuals we are. The truth was, is and ever shall be: We are “imperfect”, yet we can recover. To some degree (especially when it comes to food and other aspects of self-care) we are definitely “crazy”, yet we can become more sane — one day at a time (I love the concept “going sane” as an alternative to “going crazy/crazier”).

An obsession/addiction to be “perfect” or “the best” has often sabotaged my recovery effort — and still can at times. I would think the most common manifestation of self-defeating perfectionism has to do with those times we eat “a little more” than allowed by our food plan and use that imperfection to say to ourselves, “The heck with it…I might as well eat everything in sight!”  What started out as a fairly insignificant event then becomes a self-destructive excuse to justify a much larger food intake disaster. Some addicts insist they don’t have “a self-esteem problem.” But I insist that someone who really loved themselves (or at least loved themselves more than they love food) wouldn’t use imperfection to beat themselves up and justify self-destructive behavior.

Here’s one way to “turn it (our imperfection) around.” When I eat “a little more” than the optimum amount of food on my food plan, it serves as a reminder than I use this “event” as a time to Pray (to God), Reflect (within myself) and Share (what happened with other addict) so I can LEARN from my imperfection. And yes, I can also love myself — imperfections and all.

I’m glad that I’ve found a flexible food plan that allows for “imperfect moments”. The days of rigid food plans that only encourage self-destructive actions went by the wayside for me back in 2001, when I re-joined Weight Watchers and began following their Points food plan. DISCLAIMER: I am not saying the W.W. Points food plan is the “only” acceptable food plan for addicts. I just know that with it’s help I’ve released around 140 pounds as of this writing. I would like to point out that due to guidance from two health care professionals I work with, I do not follow the current version of the Points plan, instead I follow a previous version where fruits were assigned a Point’s value and not counted as having “0 Points”. As a diabetic I have to count all carbohydrates I consume, so the idea that carb-rich bananas can be valued at 0 Points like 0 carb Green Beans, well that doesn’t work for me. Your results may vary. I do eat bananas since I do not demonize carbohyrdrates.

The W.W. concept of “FlexPoints” gives me a “Plan B” so if I don’t want it to be, imperfect eating doesn’t have to set me up for a disaster known as a “food binge”. If I want an excuse to go on a binge, that’s one thing. But if I want to “get back on track ASAP”, then FlexPoints become a valuable tool for my recovery. The challenge is to be able to “love myself enough” to CHOOSE to not use my imperfection as a ticket for self-sabotage. We male food addicts are powerless over food, but we are NOT powerless over our choices!

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I came sooooo close to OVEReating last night! Thanks to God’s marvelous grace I was able to remain faithful to following my food plan — as written — during and beyond the “crisis” (e.g., the period of over 30 minutes when I wanted BADLY to eat more out of obsession than actual physical hunger).

The “crisis” involved my mental obsession to eat a medium size Ice Cream Cone dipped in Chocolate that I wanted to purchase at the Dairy Queen located around the block from the laundromat I was using. Because I ollow Weight Watchers POINTS Food Plan, NO food is “off limits”.So the three questions I pondered that helped to convince me to NOT eat the DQ treat were…

  • Do I have enough POINTS remaining for this day to “cover the cost” of the DQ item?

Since I didn’t know the POINTS value of the item I was obsessing about, I figured that (based on what I had already ate yesterday) I probably did NOT have enough remaining POINTS to cover the amount needed.

  • Was the likely amount of POINTS a “good investment” for a food item that has almost NO nutritional value?

Of course not! In general DQ food (both hot and cold) is pretty low in nutritional value and such is the case with the item I was craving last night.

  • For the number of POINTS I had remaining to consume yesterday, didn’t any other food appeal to me that wouldn’t cause me to spend more POINTS than I had?

YES!!!  It came to me what I could eat (a food I really liked, but wasn’t nuts-o about like I was the DQ item)…a Baked Potato topped with some 7/16 oz. of a fat-free sauce I had with me in my minivan was what I choose. The nutritional value of a potato is pretty impressive: they are a great source for Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron and Niacin, Thiamin and Folate! So yes, potatoes have carbohydrates, but what’s wrong with that? We ALL (even us diabetics) NEED carbohydrates to live. The DQ cone I was lusting after had lots of carbs, but NO significant nutritional value.

I  thank God for the ability to STOP AND THINK BEFORE I eat insanely. I was able to THINK SANELY last night, instead of acting out. I know that it was God’s grace that gave me the ability to both think and act sanely!

Carbohydrate phoics will disagree with my choice of eating a baked potato. My comment: Who cares! It’s a choice my food plan allows me to make AND I ended up STAYING on my food plan just fine yesterday.

Apart from the foods involved in last night’s “crisis”, the more significant issue for me is HOW EMOTIONAL I GET WHEN IT COMES TO  FOOD!

  • The mere though of consuming DQ treats gets me aroused to the point of making me feel (sorry, I don’t know any word to describe the power of the obsession for some foods) what I call “horny”!
  • Thinking about NOT eating some foods (like DQ foods) can cause me to feel deep sadness (almost like it becomes a grief issue).
  • The guilt and shame I’ve known over the years associated with OVEReating has (past tense, thankfully) been very intense at times.

“Earth people” (= non-addicts) surely don’t experience this broad range of INTENSE emotions when it comes to food that we addicts experience! To the “earth people” food is JUST food. To we addicts who’s drug of choice is food, you would think food was our lover and best friend!  It isn’t?  😀

In any case,  Once again I want to thank God for the grace to eat sanely — despite the “intense crisis” I faced (and survived) last night. Here’s a video clip that expresses my gratitude for God’s grace that “carry’s me” when my own strength is weak (or even non-existent). As Alcoholics Anonymous literature reminds us, “God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”

As I’ve written on this blog previously, I believe the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan (these day marketed under the name “Momentum”) is the most wonderful food plan I’ve ever followed — bar none.  It may not work for you, but it IS the food plan for me.

While I could go on and on about what I like about the WW food plan, the balance of this journal entry will focus on what I do NOT like about the organization/business behind the food plan. Please note that NONE of the concerns I’m about to share are keeping me from attending WW meetings or are giving me an excuse to not eat sanely with the guidance of the organization’s food plan.  These are issues that simply irritate me about WW.  Hopefully I’d rather write about these things instead of using them as an excuse to abandon my recovery effort.

These are the issues that bother me the most about Weight Watchers…

Nutritional Hypocrisy/Inconsistency. In the current version of WW program literature, including the literature pertaining to the WW food plan, time and again members are directed to choose  “filling foods” — including whole grains.  Yet NONE of the Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) frozen food items that I’ve purchased contain whole grains!  Every single item that contains grains of any sort contain bleached flour, which is less filling and far less nutritious than the whole grain alternative.  If you have found a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) item t hat includes whole grains, please let me know so I can purchase such an item!

True, whole grains cost more than bleached flour. So is this a matter of WW trying to maximize profit by including cheap ingredients, thus minimizing nutritional quality?  If so, I say SHAME on Weight Watchers!

I want to acknowledge the folks who produce Healthy Choice frozen food for finally including whole grains in some of their products.  If Healthy Choice can afford to make this change, then so can Weight Watchers!

Some Weight Watchers foods are barely healthier than junk foods. Apart from the WW Smart Ones (TM) foods that you can buy at the grocery store, WW sells several food items — NOT labeled as “Smart Ones” (TM) — at their meeting locations.  Yes, many of these foods that carry the Weight Watchers name do contain lots of vitamins and minerals.  This is a good thing.  The bad thing is that many/most of them also contain high levels of refined sugar, making them slightly healthier than their junk food counterpart.

An example of a WW food item that must be loaded with refined sugar is their Smoothies.  I just love the taste of their Creamy Chocolate flavored Smoothie.  Yet I was horrified to learn a month ago that this item (made with water, instead of milk) caused my blood sugar to go sky high (310) and remain extremely high (over 250) for nearly four hours!  Being a diabetic food addict, this IS a cause for concern! 3 Musketeers candy bars don’t cause my sugar to go that high!

I found out about the impact of the WW Smoothie on my blood sugar as the result of being tested by a Continuous Glucose Monitor, a device that checked my blood sugar every five minutes for nearly 96 hours.  The only major spike in my sugar level came immediately after drinking the WW Creamy Chocolate Smoothie, which I made with water.  (NOTE: When wearing one of these monitors, you write down what you had to eat and when you ate it, so blood sugar levels can be traced to what one had to eat at a particular time.)

While I’m NOT a “carbohydrate phobic”, as a diabetic it is wisest for me to severely limit my intake of refined sugar.  So I’m not looking for a fight to pick with WW, this IS a legitimate medical issue: WW food needs to be more nutritious, especially for diabetics!

Anti-Male Sexism.  While I salute WW for offering their “Weight Watchers for Men” material through the paid side of their corporate website (Yes: WW has FINALLY acknowledged that men exist and that we have unique needs!…and it only took ’em nearly 40 years to figure this out!), they are still marketing themselves almost exclusively to WOmen…even when it comes to printed material they are sending to their current members.

Evidence of WW sexism came in the form of an item they mailed to me both this past spring and again during the summer months.  Arriving with my monthly membership pass, the Meeting Ideas Card seemed to offer an excellent way to reinforce positive ideas taught at WW meetings: members are asked to write down the “best idea” they heard at a particular meeting for four consecutive weeks.  At the end of the fourth meeting members turn in their Meeting Ideas Card to WW staff and in exchange are sent a coupon for a 30% discount from Chadwicks. I’d never heard of Chadwicks (www.chadwicks.com). No wonder: Chadwicks sells ONLY WOmen’s clothing!  I would think a coupon for a men’s clothing store would be MUCH more appropriate for me…unless I’m a drag queen!?!

Another WW member actually suggested that I shouldn’t register a complaint about this matter, but should instead give my coupon to my wife (sorry, I’m gay — I don’t do drag, but I’m gay) or to my girlfriend (again: sorry, but I’m gay) or to a “female friend”.  Hmmm.  If WW were offering a 30% off coupon to say Casual Male XL (a big/tall men’s clothing store), I wonder how this female WW member would feel about giving her coupon to her husband, boyfriend or a “male friend”.  She would probably — and understandably — feel slighted.

Toxic Slogans. I recently discovered on the back of a Weight Watchers Smart Ones (TM) food package the following slogan…

“Smart Ones.  Taste so good, you want to be good.”

Don’t get me started!  I’m NOT a “dieter” anymore and dieting mentality does NOT cut it with me!  WW material clearly (and repeatedly) puts down everything to do with dieting (Their slogan “Stop Dieting. Start Living.” is but one example of how WW bashes diets), yet their marketing slogan cited above is a textbook example of the self-defeating way dieters think!

I am NOT a”good person” at ONLY those times when I follow my food plan.  Rather I follow my food plan (i.e., which allows me to eat healthy) BECAUSE I”M ALREADY A GOOD PERSON who is DESERVING to eat in a healthy manner.  And when dieters (like I used to be) don’t “eat perfect” we often feel guilty…we feel like we are “bad” and such feelings/thought almost always lead us to act out with even more unhealthy eating behavior.  Thankfully my “goodness” and my “badness” (indeed my self-esteem) are NO LONGER dependent on what food (or how much food) I’m eating, let alone dependent on the number on the scale!

So I plead with WW to knock off the manipulative, self-defeating slogans that promote the thinking that all too often leads to self-sabotage!

Cheap and getting cheaper all the time. Once WW became listed on the stock market several years ago, I almost immediately noticed a decrease in the quality of the the program materials they print.  Two-color Membership Cards became one color.  Their booklets became smaller, which caused the print inside those booklets to became smaller.  Their recipe cards are no longer printed for distribution at meetings — but you can download them and print them (with your paper and your ink) from their website.  You get the picture.

Well WW latest act of cost cutting was do away with name tags at meetings!  Good grief, what do these cost?  One or two cents?  Please!

The name tags help facilitate discussion between the meeting leader and members during meetings and between members before and after meetings. Sure, discontinuing the use of name tags is a small thing.  But a disturbing thing to me as I see WW continue to offer less and less to their members — yet the cost of WW membership has not declined.

I’m not going to drop my WW membership because of the issues I’ve cited here.  I just needed to vent about them, rather than overeat over them. Not that we addicts ever needed an excuse to overeat.  😀

All of my previous blog entries that have discussed my experience with following Weight Watchers POINTS food plan have included only very positive of comments about this moderate, balanced guideline for eating.  But now I’m gonna’ spill the beans about a very real problem with this food plan: It is NOT optimized (in terms of the number of Target POINTS it allows each day) for person who weigh much more 340 pounds.  For those of us who weigh over 400 pounds, the upper limit of 44 Target POINTS/day just isn’t enough!

In fact, at that amount I’ve recently re-gained some weight.  When, following my dietician’s directions (she is also a certified dibetes educator), I added MORE points AND my weight LOSS resumed!  Yes: the less food I ate, the more weight I gained AND the more food that I ate the more weight I’ve lost.  I’m sure this sounds nuts to many of you, but it is TOTALLY TRUE and I have the documentation to prove it.

I don’t know about any other addict for whom their drug-of-choice is food, but to not just up my hands and walk away from Weight Watchers, while following their food plan AND re-gaining weight, took a lot of God’s grace along with maximum effort on my part!  Have you ever noticed that weight gain/re-gain is the PERFECT EXCUSE to overeat?  Duh.  But what does that accomplish?  Only MORE weight gain/re-gain!  I also don’t think I’m being unreasonable for Weight Watchers to have offer a food plan that IS optimized for somone MY size.  After all, they take MY money (and plenty of it, IMHO), so they SHOULD give me my money’s worth by offering a food plan that is totally healthy and apporiate for someone my size.

The botom line:   If you are following a food plan that is not optimized for someone your size it will slow down your metabolism and undermine your body’s ability to lose weight.  Before throwing in the towel and resuming insane overeating, I strongly suggest that you consult a dietician to make sure you are eating enough food each day so you can lose weight (and lose weight safely).

In my humble opinion, it’s past time for Weight Watchers big shots (e.g., management) need to pull their heads out of their butts and re-write the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan formula so it can be easily fine-tuned for persons in ALL sizes…not just the not-too-fat crowd that it seems the company is obsessed with marketing itself to.  Shoot, I’ve probably SPILLED more food than many W.W. members have overate!

Then again, W.W. is no worse than most of the “diet industry” that targets WOmen who probably need to lose to no more than 20 – 25 pounds.  What might work for them probably will NOT work for us morbidly obese, middle-age MALES.

At least I have a dietician/diebetes educator who is on-the-ball enough to know what changes needed to be made to my food plan.  And thankfully she did NOT advise me to eat less in order to lose weight.  😀

I have some great blood chemisty numbers to share with y’all! When it comes to my cholesterol and triglyceride levels, I have much to be thankful for.

My latest Lipid Panel results are as follows (with the normal range for each result in parentheses)…

  • Triglycerides: 130  (0 – 149)
  • Cholesterol, Total: 162  (100 – 199)
  • VLDL Cholesterol: 26  (5 – 40)
  • LDL Chosterol: 98  (0 – 99)
  • LDL/HDL Ratio: 2.6  (0.0 – 3.6)
  • HDL Colesterol: 38  (40 – 59)
"Watch out!...Big stick!...I'll give you a lovely piece of candy if you don't cry!!!"

"Watch out!...Big stick!...I'll give you a lovely piece of candy if you don't cry!!!"

So all of my numbers are within the normal range, EXCEPT my HDL level. This is the GOOD cholesterol, which is just two points lower than the bottom of the normal range. I’m told that more physical exercise can improve this number.

The mere fact that all of my BAD cholestorol numbers and my triglyceride level are normal is no small accomplishment, considering I come from a family where these numbers run high-to-very high. My mother’s cholesterol level was around 500 around ten years ago!  Her twin brother’s bad cholesterol has to be treated with medication.

I credit my excellent blood chemisty numbers to sane, balanced eating  — which can be directly linked to my following the Weight Watchers’ POINTS food plan. The POINTS plan is all about balance and moderation. It isn’t the ONLY food plan for us food addicts to consider, but for ME, it is the best one I’ve ever followed.

I share my latest blood test results because another one of my “numbers” is causing me great frustration these days.  Yes, my weight is staying stuck again. Plateaus drive me CRAZY — they always have! Prior to recovery the number on the scale was the ONLY measure I had to judge my success. I’ve since discovered that MANY numbers should be considered when assessing my progress.

I mentioned in a recent post that another one of my blood chemistry numbers was greatly improved now that I’m working on my recovery on a consistent basis. My A1C level, which shows how well my diabetes has been controlled over the previous three months, is the best it’s been since I was diagnosed as being a Type 2 diabetic nearly two and a half years ago!

In addition to blood chemistry, even the fact that I can manage to loose inches around my waist while the number on the scale remains virtually UNchanged, tells me that the scale should NOT be my sole measure of progress.

The bottom line, from my perspective, is that the RATE of my weight loss is NONE of my business — not is it the business of any other addict. I’ll let God and the health care professionals who take care of me be concerned about this matter. In the meantime I will choose to focus on the “other numbers” that offer me encouragement.

Carbohydrates...YUMMY!!!

This past Friday I met for the first time with a diabetes educator (who also happens to be a dietician). The main item on her agenda item to modify the Weight Watchers POINTS food plan for me so it gives me more direction in terms of how many grams of total carbohydrates I should consume each day. The more appropriate my carbohydrate intake, the better control I should have over my diabetes.

So yes, I’ve actually been ORDERED (by a health care professional no less!) to EAT CARBOHYDRATES…In fact to eat 330 grams of carbohydrates EVERY day!!! <I just heard an Adkins Diet devotee or some other carbohrate phobic SCREAM in terror of the mere thought that even so much as one gram of carbohydrate would dare touch my lips…or my hips!!!>

If you’ve read some of my journal entries, then you probably have figured out that I am NOT a “carbohydrate phobic” in any sense of the term. In fact, just like my hero Jared Fogle, I eat some bread EVERY day! I’ve lost around 85 pounds thus far and Jared has lost 235 pounds, so maybe the carbs are NOT the problem?!?  Maybe the (food) addiction IS the problem?!? Maybe the ADDICTION is what the 12 Steps treats, while I have the freedom to eat a moderate amount of carbohydrates, One Day At A Time?!?

Yes, I have a resentment. DUH!!! I greatly resent those cabohydrate phobic addicts who act as if their food plan is the ONLY food plan for the rest of us. Whether they are part of the H.O.W. Movement cult within Overeaters Anonymous or part of some other 12 Step fellowship (I can think of at least four such organizations that insist on ONLY ONE anti-carb food plan for their members), they really irritate the snot out of me!

Addicts (myself included) should NEVER play dietician to other addicts! My experience is that recovery works BEST when addicts trust direction for their food plan to a professional! I know, most of these professionals are “earth people” (e.g., people who don’t share and not fully understand my disease of addiction)…but they DO understand what constitutes SANE eating…which is more than we addicts can do!

To quote the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), “When it comes to [food[ we [addicts] are strangely insane.” Amen? Amen! I would no sooner trust myself (or any other addict) with my choice of food plan than I would trust a pyromaniac to work as a fireman. It just ain’t a good idea!

A word about Weight Watchers POINTS food plan…As I’ve stated previously, I believe this plan is the sanest, most flexible, most moderate and nutritionally sound food plan ever written. The reason I needed my diabetes educator to “modify” it is because I am a diabetic. And while non-diabetics don’t usually need to keep track of their carbohydrate intake, as a diabetic I need to do this to help me maintain the maximum control of my blood sugar.  The POINTS food plan takes into consideration three values for each food: calories, dietary fiber and total fat content. As a diabetic, with the help of my diabetes-savvy dietician, I also now know how many grams of carbohydrate I should ingest each day to manage my sugar.

NOTE that I am NOT to avoid any food altogether — not even sugar and flour — in order to manage my diabetes. Instead I’ve been instructed to eat a MODERATE amount of carbs and (when possible) choose foods that are rich in fiber (examples: choose whole grain bread over bread made with bleached wheat; choose solid ftuit over food juice). Above all, even though NO food is totally off limits, I am to limit my carb intake to 285 grams per day.

ANOTHER NOTE: 285 grams of carbohydrates is a value appropriate for ME, NOT for you. If you are a diabetic, please follow my example and meet with a diabetes-savvy dietician who knows your specific medical history. Please follow their advice and NOT the advice given to me by my dietician!