Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part Two

Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part Two

When food bloggers sit down to write, they usually have an incredible new recipe to post with mouth-watering photographs to enchant you. Their posts provide inventive creations for every meal of the day. But though I am again writing about food, this post is not a how-to. Because if you ate the way I used to eat, you also might injure your health. But–if you are tired of making lunches for someone, then read on about the one I made. I guarantee you’ll get fired from that sandwich-making job. And note: there won’t be a photo to illustrate, but the sandwich in question was creative and very inventive.

Scene: first year of marriage, both working. To help our budget, I prepare lunches. Things  go well, until one day there’s just not much in the fridge.

Scene: husband sits down in lunchroom with colleagues. He opens bag and takes out sandwich only to discover that this is liver sausage on cinnamon-raisin bread. And he has always claimed that this version had a frosted crust though I don’t remember that!

Climax: Everyone in lunchroom laughs, and though spouse eats sandwich, I am later informed that my duty as lunch-provider has ended. Oh well, he can still look forward to my chicken dinners (see Feeding My Family etc Part One.)

My adventures in the kitchen did gradually improve. But here is another confession: after moving to our first house we both had longer commutes to get to work, so often we snapped up Hostess Ho Ho’s or donuts for breakfast. That was the beginning of some problems for me. And again it goes back to understanding nutrition and that all foods are not equal. All foods fill the belly, but they do not guarantee good health and stamina. But we were adults who had decided we would just eat what we wanted to eat–even if one Ho Ho contained 42 grams of sugar! We certainly did not apply the same free-form of choice to the diet of our children as they came along.

So I still had much to learn about carbohydrates, protein and fats. And what happened to me because of my diet was subtle. I had my first child and did well, felt good. But as life continued and my daughter became a toddler more was demanded of me. Then after the birth of my second child, I was exhausted. And anyone with true knowledge of nutrition would have known right away what I was doing to myself to keep going. My diet: black coffee in the morning. Sweet cereals or coffee cake for breakfast. Colas with lunch. Sweet and sour sauces with some dinners. Always dessert. Even candy while I read before bed.

I was always tired, cranky and often ill-tempered. I had headaches and sometimes chest pain. I was even rushed to the local hospital in an ambulance because I thought I was having a heart attack. It was 1979 and at the hospital no one took a sample of my blood sugar. But that’s what was going on. I had hypoglycemia. I probably had a propensity for it most of my life, because though I was always active, I tired easily when attempting sports and was always thinking about my next meal. Being a stay-at-home mom afforded easy access to food which had been keeping me going–until I had a preschooler and a colicky baby and my diet contained too much caffeine and sugar.

But I was fortunate and after one appointment with a physician who specialized in diabetes and decided I would feel great on an all-protein diet (and I discovered that you can’t function without some carbs) I found a doctor in Chicago who knew what low blood sugar was and how to treat it. Change your diet, of course. It took me about two years to feel totally good again and that required that I eliminate all sweets. I could have fresh fruits and vegetables and complex carbs like whole grains. I had to eat protein every three hours and weigh my dinner meal. Dried dates from California were allowed in between meals to provide energy to a mother with two children. Dates are energy boosters as they contain natural sugars like glucose, sucrose and fructose. My daughters thought that every mother had a bag of dates in her purse. But I got better and that’s all that mattered.

Actually developing low blood sugar was great for my entire family. I bought cookbooks like Nikki and David Goldbecks American Wholefoods Cuisine, Adelle Davis Let’s Get Well, The Low Blood Sugar Cookbook and The Silver Palate Cookbook. For a long time I made desserts from oatmeal flour or carob or I used fruit to sweeten things. Bringing such a contribution to the table, my children would often ask: “Can you eat it?” and if the answer was yes, they declined. But as my daughters have grown into adulthood, they too struggle with low blood sugar now and again. None of us can eat a donut and coffee for breakfast without getting a headache and feeling tired.

Today the talk of diet and nutrition is hotter than ever. But in the early 80s when I was struggling to find ingredients (I even made my own mayo to avoid adding sugar) health food stores were the first choice. Gradually you were able to find peanut butter without sugar or high fructose corn syrup, unsweetened cereals, and canned fruit without heavy sugared syrup in the local grocery. Aspartame allowed me to drink cola, though now I don’t even bother with that. Water please.

But it all took time. Now gluten-free is all the rage–though it was created for folks with celiac disease–a condition that can be very serious. And when you or a family member has dietary concerns like a peanut allergy, eating at other people’s homes or in restaurants can provide a real challenge. But today, awareness has broadened one’s choices. Even some fast-food places provide menus with a list of ingredients and calories. So very helpful.

Healthy and having lots of energy, I stock my kitchen today with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, cheese, and whole grain breads. When I crave sweets, I eat dark chocolate that is 70% cocoa. And now and then I do have a dessert, but I only eat it after a meal, when my belly is full and my body can tolerate the sugar. The Ho Ho’s were gone long, long ago.

So thanks for taking this journey with me. I have learned a great deal from my experience and am always eager to share that knowledge. For a while I taught Diabetes Education at the health department and that afforded me the opportunity to know others’ first hand struggle with nutrition. Please check out some of the links in this article on low blood sugar. And if you enjoy cooking, there are plenty of cookbooks out there to keep you healthy. I’m really fortunate–now my husband has taken up cooking, but you’ll never see liver sausage on his grocery list.

Thanks to Goggle Images and My Husband and Family

Feeding My Family or Why I’m Not a Gourmet Cook, Part Two

PS. If you enjoy Boomer Highway and find it helpful, please nominate the blog for the Heathline.com contest here.  http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest


Do You Have Occasional Low Blood Sugar?


Do You Have Occasional Low Blood Sugar?

Do you feel sleepy and tired an hour after you eat?

Do you feel sleepy and tired an hour after you eat? It’s possible that you might have occasional low blood sugar.

 How do you feel after eating a donut or sweet roll first thing in the morning?  Do you get a buzzing feeling in your head?  Do you start to yawn and feel like a nap about twenty minutes to an hour later?

Have you found it difficult to engage in a sport, like tennis, that requires great bursts of energy?  Do you think about taking a nap about an hour after lunch?

You may have episodes of low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia.  I do.

Years ago a doctor diagnosed me with dyinsulinism, a basic term for insulin that is not working properly.  

What is insulin?  Insulin is the hormone secreted from the pancreas that unlocks each cell in your body so that it can receive glucose.

What is glucose?  Glucose is one of the products of the foods you eat.  Food is digested and broken down producing glucose, a sugar needed to supply energy to every cell in every organ in your body.

Dyinsulinism can be defined as an over-production of insulin (hypoglycemia), an under-production or total lack of insulin (diabetes) or problems with how insulin is either received by your cells or transported through your body.

People with Type I diabetes have a pancreas that no longer secretes insulin.

People with Type II diabetes have a pancreas that is secreting insulin, but it’s either not enough for the number of cells in the body or it is insulin that is not fully effective. People with Type I or Type II sometimes have episodes of hypoglycemia, low blood sugar.

Back to the donut!  You may have hypoglycemia unrelated to diabetes.

In hypoglycemia, the pancreas might be secreting too much insulin or your insulin isn’t working properly—then the glucose in your blood stream is rapidly used up, leaving your glucose stores depleted. (Like on the tennis court when suddenly you wonder if you can lift that racket again.)

Fatigue, yawning and lack of energy make you feel sluggish.  When you are low on glucose stores, your brain suffers.  You feel dizzy and unable to think clearly.

What are normal glucose levels in the blood stream? When you haven’t eaten for over 8 hours, your fasting level should be: 70-99 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL).

Two hours after eating it should be 70-145 mg/dL.

A random blood test should read 70-125 mg/dL.

A glucose tolerance test (GTT), which tests to see how your body utilizes sugar, revealed in my case and at several different times, that I do have hypoglycemia or low blood sugar, a form of dyinsulinism.

What happens during a GTT?

You go to the lab without eating.  Your blood is drawn and the result is your fasting blood glucose reading.  Your baseline.

  • You drink a sweet liquid containing glucose, usually 75 grams to 100 grams.
  • Blood samples are then collected at intervals of 1, 2 and 3 hours after you drink the glucose.
  • Those results reveal how your body reacts to a large amount of glucose.
  • The test screens for diabetes and prediabetes.

In my case, my symptoms told the story.  My body sent out so much insulin to deal with the sugar load, that I was sweating, feeling faint and needed to lie down at about 2 hours into the test.  The reading for that time period was 40 mgdL.  Very low.  But my body did rebound, my liver supplying me with stored glucose that got my levels back up to above 70 mgdL.   I felt normal again.

So—the donut.  If you can say yes to my initial question, here are a few things you can do. 

  • Eat breakfast!  But eat whole grain bread with natural peanut butter (complex carbs and protein); or an egg with a whole grain bagel (complex carbs and protein); or an egg and a piece of turkey bacon with one slice of whole grain toast (protein and complex carbs);   now you are starting your day with food that takes a while to break down in your system and supplies you with energy for a longer period of time
  • Eat a snack mid-morning: handful of peanuts;  or ½ slice whole grain bread with natural peanut butter; or handful of almonds;
  • Eat a lunch of protein and complex carbs;
  • Eat a mid-afternoon snack that is NOT a candy bar or chips from the vending machine;
  • Eat a substantial dinner that includes protein, complex carbs and veggies.  Fruit for dessert.

Your energy will improve and you won’t have that afternoon headache that begs for a nap.

If you continue to have the donut symptoms after these changes, consider getting a glucose tolerance test (GTT).

Food is energy and you want your body to utilize it correctly.  Take care of yourself!

Any of your experiencing this????  You’ll feel so much better if you work to stop  occasional low blood sugar by altering your diet.  Try it!

You might also check out: http://boomerhighway.org/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall/

Thanks to Google Images

That donut was so tasty, but I feel awful.