Friday, July 22, 2011

Routine Check-ups

     Some thoughts on my current health... both physical and spiritual.. hope it's encouraging.
     For those of you aren’t diabetic, you probably don’t even know what an A1C test is, so let me first provide a very brief explanation before I dive in. An A1C test reveals the average level of your blood glucose for the past three months. Healthy individuals tend to have an A1C that is below 6; at 6, you may be cautioned  that you are pre-diabetic; at 6.5, you are classified as diabetic.
     On May 13, when I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, tests showed that my A1C was at an incredible 13.4… indicating that my average blood glucose for the prior three months was around 350 mg/dL! (Remember, healthy blood sugars range from 70-110 mg/dL.) And that was my average, which may have included some time before I was actually diabetic. My fasting blood sugar was in the 300’s at diagnosis, and I went to the ER that night due to a blood sugar in the 600’s. Honestly, with blood sugars that high, I should have been feeling nauseous and faint. In fact, it’s a miracle I never passed out or went into diabetic shock (a coma). I’m so thankful for God’s protection, especially considering that I had been living completely on my own in an unknown area right up until I was diagnosed!
     Anyway… that was then. Three weeks ago, my A1C was retested, and just 7 weeks after being diagnosed, it had come down to 8.4. Woohoo! Big progress! Obviously still not optimal, but you have to remember that this test was still including some of the incredibly high numbers in the weeks before my diagnosis. In talking with my doctor this week and examining my latest BG numbers, he said that my average BG is currently closer to 111. If I continue to maintain these numbers, my next A1C in 8 weeks should be somewhere around 6!!! (For a diabetic, 6-7 is GREAT.)
     Now, allow me to make a little jump here. Perhaps you’re not diabetic and thus unconcerned about A1C’s.. but what is your spiritual A1C??? Granted, this is not a perfect analogy, but bear with me. My mind thinks in terms of all things food, numbers, and health these days! We’ve been studying Hebrews in church this summer, and I’ve been really challenged to reevaluate my faith. A couple of weeks ago we took a break and looked at 1 Corinthians 11: 23-32, which provides instructions for the Lord’s supper. But more than instructions, it is a call to believers to examine, examine, examine our hearts. Pastor Jim made the statement, “You come to the table (of the Lord’s supper) unworthily when you no longer have the vision of the righteousness and holiness of God before your eyes.” That hit me hard. The last few months, my time has been consumed with figuring out how to eat differently and manage my diabetes. At the same time, I was also fighting to survive several challenging online accounting courses. Frankly, I’ve been in “survival mode” all summer, and in the busy-ness of it all, I’ve lost “the vision of the righteousness and holiness of God”. Now, I’ve cried plenty of tears this summer over things “lost”, such as freedom to eat whatever I desired, freedom from excessive meds, etc. But that day, as I sat in church, I cried over the greatest loss of all… my loss of wonder, passion, and trust in God. While I could see how God was working through the situation, I somehow still ceased to truly depend upon God for daily strength. My “Spiritual A1C”, as it were, revealed alarmingly dangerous levels of self-dependence. We’ve been instructed to live “in, but not of” the world; but instead of allowing my soul to be saturated with the Scriptures, the things of this world are making me spiritually sluggish. The Bible is the nourishment that my soul needs, and without it, my spiritual health starves.
     The solution is simple: make a daily plea to God to reawaken my soul to the joy and satisfaction of His gospel (because I can’t force that according to my own will). Hebrews 6:1-3 makes it clear that we must actively “go on to maturity”, although ultimately it is only if “God permits”. And we must never allow ourselves to think that we’ve arrived spiritually. Philippians 3:12 says, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” We press on because of Christ.
     My challenge to you is to step back with me and take a close look at your heart. Consider what things fill your day and consume your time. Are those things pushing you closer to God, or away? Just like my physical A1C, a “spiritual” A1C also requires consistent work and maintenance to remain healthy. Flee apathy, and join me as I seek to improve the health of my soul, which is the only thing that is truly lasting!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Slow-cooked, Sloppy Sandwich & Coleslaw

Sloppy Joes always take me back to childhood for some reason... and they ALWAYS make me think of summer. Not to mention the fact that they're easy to make with a can of Manwich sauce! This recipe for Sloppy Joes doesn't take much more prep time than a jar of pre-made sauce, plus it's sugar-free and better tasting! Next time it's too hot to cook, give this recipe a whirl..... I found it in Simple Everday Diabetic Meals by Better Homes and Garden, and tweaked the recipe just slightly.

Sloppy Joes: Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of LEAN ground beef
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced, or 1 tsp of minced garlic out of a jar
  • 1 6 oz can of vegetable juice (I use V8's small cans)
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 T. Splenda (or other sugar substitute)
  • 1 T. Mustard
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire 
Brown the beef with onion and garlic; drain off the fat. Combine all other ingredients plus meat in crockpot. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hrs on low, or 3-4 hrs. on high.

***A couple quick notes: I tend to let it cook on low for about 5 hours, then I turn it up to high for the last hour or two. The original recipe also called for 2 T. Jalapenos, but I excluded those and added a bit of cumin and cayenne... it adds just a bit of delicious warmth. Serve on your favorite low-carb bread or bun! (I like Arnold's Sandwich Thins)

Now.. this is great served with some fresh coleslaw on the side, which is a very easy, low-carb dish. So here's a recipe I found while digging online one day that I simply love:

Coleslaw: Ingredients
  • One bag of coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup Mayo
  • 1 T. white vinegar
  • 1 T. horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp. celery seed
Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend. Summer ease is served :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gotta have the chocolate!

After my diagnosis, there were many things that I craved... but I think that one of my biggest initial cravings was for chocolate chip cookies. So simple. So delicious. I never realized how much I'd taken them for granted! And thus began my search for a cookie recipe that didn't produce sandpaper rocks... Here's what I found and created!

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup Splenda (or other sugar substitute) 
  • 1/4 cup Splenda/brown sugar blend (or you can use 1/2 cup of regular brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 5-6 oz. Ghiradelli's bittersweet chocolate chips (my personal favorites)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Beat butter on medium/high speed for about 30 seconds. Add sugars, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, then beat in eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat in as much flour as possible, although you may have to stir in some by hand. Stir in chocolate and pecans.

Drop by spoonfuls 2" apart on an un-greased cookie sheet. I use a cookie scoop to make sure that all of my cookies come out to be the same size so I have a consistent carb count in each cookie. Bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and cookies have set up.

Yield: 36 cookies      Carbs: approx. 10 per cookie

Gotta love the cookie scoop!

Finished product... delicious!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sugar... the sickeningly sweet truth

American's are sugar addicts. No, really!!

According to WebMD, the average individual consumes 22 tsp. of simple sugars a day, which is a total of 355 calories. This is in comparison to the recommended amounts of 6 tsp/day for women and 9 tsp/day for men. Good grief!! That adds up to... approximately 129,575 calories of SUGAR per year. Women.. based on the recommended amounts, you should only get about 35,347 calories from sugar per year; men, 53,020 calories. We're consuming between 76,555-94,228 extra calories per year on sugar alone, on average.

Gag. Disgusting. And we wonder why America is fat???? Not to mention the fact that many Americans are completely inactive couch potatoes.

But sugar does more than make you fat. Eating excessive sugar causes a dangerous increase in blood fat levels and can triple your risk of heart disease, whereas low sugar diets actually protect against heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels and elevating HDL levels. Additionally, it greatly increases your risk of developing Type II diabetes later in life. Sadly, because of our eating habits, there is an increasing number of obese children being diagnosed with Type II diabetes... children who should have been able to avoid it had they been fed more nutritious meals and less sugar. A recent study revealed that 1 out of every 4 children is obese, and of those children, 70% of their parents thought that their child was healthy or even underweight. We don't even recognize healthy weight anymore!

I find that absolutely heartbreaking. As a kid, I was forced to eat my fruits and veggies, and I spent my days playing outside. I'm so thankful that my parents didn't feed me junk all the time!

Whether you are diabetic or not, it's time to wake up to the reality of our dreadful eating habits and do something to change the trends! No, you don't have to cut out all simple sugars, but please start considering the amount that you consume each day! One can of regular pop usually exceeds the recommended amount of daily sugar intake. Find ways to cut out excessive sugar, and practice eating fresh fruits for snacks and desserts, rather than candy, ice cream, and Little Debbies. Start using  sugar substitutes in your baking. While many tout the excuse that sugar substitutes cause cancer, they have been approved by the FDA. Some are less controversial than others, including Stevia and Truvia, which are natural sweeteners, and Splenda. One cup of Stevia has zero calories.. Splenda has 95.. and white sugar?? A heaping 770 calories.

Do yourself, your family, and friends a favor by exercising control over your diet. Our obsession with food and sugar is not only destroying our health, but it's also become an idol of our hearts. Wait. Did I just say idol?? Yep, I did. If you think that you can't live without that can of pop or daily piece of chocolate, think again. What are you truly depending upon? So-called "comfort food" or our Almighty, Holy God who has called us to excellence in all things, even eating and drinking??? (I Cor. 10:31).

Next time you're tempted to have a little coffee with your sugar, think again! Make a conscious effort to glorify God through the way you take care of your body... find your satisfaction in Him!Joy in Christ.... is truly the sweetest thing you will ever find.