"A typical lunch for me used to be fast food. I would have a chicken sandwich, a large order of fries and sweet iced tea. Then, afterward, I would have dizzy spells, which I learned later were caused by my blood sugar's shooting up.
Getting that initial diagnosis 10 years ago woke me up. I was overweight at 190 pounds, and my A1c [which gives you a picture of your average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months] was high at 8.2% [a healthy level is between 6% and 7%]. Having been a medical underwriter, I knew the complications from diabetes if you didn’t take care of yourself."
"I took a two-day program with a diabetes educator and learned how to create meal plans with a healthy amount of carbs, fat and protein so that I could control my blood sugar. A big change I made was replacing most 'white' foods, such as potatoes, breads and pasta, with vegetables like zucchini, cauliflower and kale.
"I don’t feel deprived. In fact, I still enjoy my favorite foods by making simple food swaps. Now, instead of eating the drive-through chicken sandwich with bread, I have a side salad or a grilled chicken salad and a diet soda. Whoever is hosting a family gathering offers a variety of veggies to balance out starchy foods like macaroni and cheese, which can make my blood sugar run high."
"I’ve also gone from doing very little exercise to walking 30 minutes a day and working out with my husband in our home gym. Today, not only is my weight down but my A1c is around 6%. I feel great and I bought a new wardrobe!
This plan is completely workable because I view it as a lifestyle change, not a diet. Now, when I see that plate of lasagne and that bowl of ice cream, I see high blood sugar and complications down the road.
I don’t know what tomorrow may bring, but I know I am doing everything in my power to stay healthy and live life to its fullest."
Eat brown breads. "Instead of white bread, I eat whole-grain breads like pumpernickel and rye, which have a less negative effect on my blood sugar. I usually eat half a sandwich with a side salad."
Fake it. "I still make great dishes with meat sauce and cheese but use zucchini strips or kale instead of pasta noodles. The vegetables taste great, and have fewer carbohydrates, and best of all, my blood sugar doesn’t spike."
Go green. "When making a sandwich, I sometimes skip the bread altogether and put the cheese and meat between two pieces of romaine lettuce."
Experiment. "If you see a recipe with potatoes, substitute cauliflower or squash. I often put leeks into my soup instead of potatoes."