Tuesday, 16 September 2014

DIABETES | How to measure BG (Blood Glucose) | mmol/l vs. mg/dl | Your normal vs Their normal


If you have been measuring your BG (Blood Glucose) at home, and checking on-line to see if your reading is low, normal, or high, but have been confused by the disparity in numbers between the two different types of measurements, then this post is for you! 

I have found some websites with the measurements 'translated' from mg/dl to mmol/l, and then mmol/l to mg/dl: CLICK HERE to see this particular comparative list, which is my personal favourite so far.

Or alternatively, click on the picture below and you will be taken to a page where you can enter the values and have them converted for you! *smiles*

It's charts and converters like these which have been lifesavers for me when trying to explain to people who go by a different measurement to mine, if my sugars are low, normal, or high. In Spain they go by mg/dl, and my BG reading device goes by mmol/l. Explaining to somebody who goes by mg/dl what my reading is in mmol/l, they think I have seriously dangerous low blood sugars, or as I like to call it, hipo-mode; when really, it could be anything from too low to too high. So this helps me explain, "I got 'X' reading which is the equivalent of 'X'.", without causing unnecessary alarm. And it's the same in reverse. If someone goes by the mmol/l reading, then my mg/dl reading will have them thinking that I have seriously dangerous high blood sugars, or as I like to call it, hyper-mode. So knowing which measurement I am using, and roughly what it's equivalent is, comes in very very handy!  And I'm hoping it will come in handy to you too.

Although, that said, listening to our bodies can be just important as taking and monitoring our BG readings on a regular basis. 

Health, is a relationship between you, and your body. If it's a good relationship, you'll be healthy. If it's a bad relationship, then you'll be unhealthy. Your body will only give you, whatever you give to it first. Treat it well, and it will treat you well. Of course, there are unhealthy things we might get no matter what we do, but I'm talking about the things that we can either choose to prevent, or choose to allow. I personally refuse to allow diabetes in.

It's been three days since I did my general mid-Sept update on here. I have since managed to lower my BG once again, back down to between 4.-something to 5.0 mmol/l which is roughly between 75-90 mg/dl, and I'm starting to feel a lot better again. I haven't been feeling sick for a whole day again, or experienced any drastic mood swings. I'm actually feeling very optimistic, despite everything. If you missed my previous post, and have no idea what I am talking about right now, then please CLICK HERE and all will be explained.

Anything above 5.0mmol/l or 90mg/dl, and I start to feel sick, my mood goes down, and all optimism and enthusiasm goes out of the window. (I guess this is my personal evidence for the relationship between sugar and emotions). They say that readings up to 110mg/dl or 6.2mmol/l, is considered to be normal. But, everybody's body (and 'normal') is different. Some people get dangerously high readings, and feel absolutely fine. Unlike me, most prediabetics don't even get any symptoms. It seems it all depends on the individual. 

I'm just figuring out what is right for me.  

This afternoon I was down to 4.3mmol/l which is about 76mg/dl, and I felt weak. I also felt hot and sweaty, so I checked my BG and like I said, I got 4.3mmol/l. I guess my body is just very picky about my glucose levels. I know how it feels to have elevated sugars, and today I learnt a bit how it feels if I go down a little too much.  It wasn't very nice, but I'm glad to have experienced it, as it's been a valuable lesson to learn. Hopefully I'll be able to identify it in future and never go too low. 

Such a huge part of our health journey is about listening to our bodies very closely, yet so few people do. After dinner, I read my BG every hour for three hours. I went from 4.3mmol/l before dinner, and then 6.7mmol/l an hour after dinner, 6.0mmol/l two hours after dinner, and then 4.9mmol/l three hours after dinner. I need to see my Dr at some point to be sure, but these highs and lows seem a bit excessive to me. I keep hearing that you should read your BG two hours after each meal, as that's when your sugars go down to whatever they are normally. Mine plummeted after three hours. Does this mean I have a slow metabolism? I have so many questions... And no, I won't measure it a fourth time. My finger tips are sore as it is! 

I am amazed at how these generalized readings dictate what is low, healthy, or high, for everyone in general, but then when you look at each person's low, healthy, or high, it's a slightly different story. Yet we are all boxed into these categories as one, with individualism being erased, and very little emphasis being placed on what is right for each person. This is then combined with a lifetime of very little being said or taught about eating healthy, yet we are expected to pull through no matter what. Most adult people rush through life, putting so many things before their health and well-being in general. I used to be one of them, and I can't believe it when I look at myself now. I used to mix healthy with unhealthy, and lie to myself that what I was doing was healthy. Now I see that mixing healthy with unhealthy, leads only to unhealthy. (Not to be confused with fat). I wish it would be compulsory for all schools everywhere to teach health and diet as an actual on-going subject from infant school, all the way up to college, and combine it with cookery classes. It's become far too normal to depend on fast food, ready-made meals and to even skip meals completely, while depending on stimulants such as coffee and cigarettes to get through the day. *tsk tsk* Coffee and cigarettes might not be my thing, now or before, but I've lost count of how many people swear by their dependence on things like that to keep them going in their day to day lives... *sad face* 

Before I end this post, I'd like to remind you that I have numerous links and videos on the right hand side of my blog. Please check those out as I'm sure you'd find them very informative! 

Until my next post, please stay healthy and happy! xox 



Saturday, 13 September 2014

DIABETES | The Myth about Blood Sugars and Diabetes | My mid-September Update

IMAGE SOURCE - FACEBOOK.COM (Dr. Eric Berg's fan page)

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If you missed my previous post then please click HERE to see that, before you continue reading my update below.

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I also wanted to share this with you.

I just found this video by Dr Eric Berg, explaining how blood sugars work in the body. It's an excellent and very easy to understand explanation which breaks down exactly how the whole process works. He also mentions foods that are good for us people who are working on controlling our glucose levels. 

I highly recommend you watch this video if you'd like to understand more about how our bodies work in regards to sugars, what all the hormonal names and processes are, and what role fat plays in all of this, and a few other things he explains as well.  

Video Title:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/P7fHYSyvxU0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

(You can click on the video title above to go straight to the video on YouTube)

Mid-September Update
After a month of being on this life changing journey, which started out excellently, things have now been going slightly downhill for the last week or so. I  had managed to get my glucose levels down to very normal and healthy levels, (mostly between 4.7 and 5.0, although I wasn't doing daily readings), and I was starting to feel brilliant. Slowly, about a week ago or so, I began to reintroduce some carbs to see how they affected my readings, and my levels have started elevating again. Not dangerously, but to me, a rise in my case, isn't a good thing in the grand scheme of things, and, I haven't been feeling too great either. 

I'm an extremely sensitive person in every possible way - emotionally and physically. Even the slightest bit of worry or stress, and I'm in panic mode, and even slightest sign of ill health, and I can feel very ill. I very rarely look ill, but that's another story. Yesterday I felt dizzy and 'clouded' all day - which made me want to take a reading. I also had a birthday party/dinner to go to in the evening, and I knew I needed to organize my meals during the day in such a way, so that I could make allowances for later on. In the end I felt so dizzy that I had to cancel. By the evening, I also felt depressed. Feeling lonely didn't help. I ended up crying my eyes out for most of the evening, until I eventually fell asleep.  Yes, diabetes or elevated sugar levels can make us depressed and/or temperamental. It's one of the 'symptoms' that not many people seem to know about.

It's not easy for me to share this, but I think I should. I'm not here to sugar-coat this as something trivial. I want to keep this as real as possible. It's not common place to feel the symptoms of diabetes as a prediabetic, but like I said, I am very sensitive, which is both a blessing and a curse in one. Although that said, after having connected with many people who have diabetes in their family, but aren't diabetic themselves, I have discovered that like myself, people seem to be getting what look like diabetes symptoms, without actually being diabetic or prediabetic. I wonder if maybe it's our body telling us that it's not happy with what we're doing to it, before a real problem emerges. 
Note to self: I must do some research on that to find out what that's all about!

For the last few days, I have also been fighting hunger. I am hoping that all this is just me PMS-ing, but since my sugar readings are rising, and a side effect of that can be constant thirst, as well as hunger and feeling down, I can't be sure what it is that has been making me feel sad and hungry these last few days. My Fasting sugars when I got up today was 5.5, which (in Europe at least), is considered only one point away from the highest it can be for that reading to be considered normal. 5.7 is a prediabetic reading, which means Borderline Diabetes / the very early stages of Stage-1 Type-2 Diabetes.

I also found this interesting A1C to Blood Glucose Conversation table here
This should clarify any confusion about the type of measurement being used, but is not to be confused with measurements in mg/dl and mmol/l.

I'm not sure if this rise in my numbers yesterday and today, are due to the reintroduction of carbs in my diet, (even if a much smaller quantity than I used to eat before my diagnosis), or if it's stress. My weight hasn't gone up, but it's still early days to know if I will have a significant weight change or not by the end of this month. I have set myself monthly goals, although I monitor it more frequently than that. I hope I don't put any weight back on, but weight isn't the thing that gets me excited. It's seeing a completely healthy and normal glucose reading that gets me excited. Especially after fasting.

I don't get very personal on my fashion blog, but I think it's necessary on this blog, since sugar levels can influence our emotions. I just wish I knew if it was my sugars or my circumstances that are making me feel kind of down right now. I'm job hunting again, and so far, all I have found are employers offering unfair and abusive terms. I turned down a job offer earlier this week, which had been dragging out for months. Long story short, it was going to be three jobs in one, but I was only going to get paid for one of those three jobs. It was all on a part time contract, with no pay for overtime, so the pay was always going to be awful no matter what, and on top of that, the boss seemed like a nightmare to deal with. He always gave me a bad vibe, and in the end he said some really out of order things, called me repeatedly one time at an inappropriate time in the evening/night to arrange yet another interview, and also kept going back on his word about things like pay. I could only imagine him being even worse if I took the job, and I wasn't going to tolerate that. After months, and an endless amount of interviews, and a couple of anxiety dreams that were waking me up at night, I turned the job down, and the anxiety dreams stopped. I've seen better job offers since, but still nothing that feels quite right. They're all evening classes, which if you break the pay down per hour, it's dreadful pay. Not to mention that a timetable like that will only play havoc with my diet and sleeping pattern, leading back to unhealthy meals and general chaos.

With the fear I feel right now of becoming a full blown diabetic and all the complications that that can lead to, I'm not willing to compromise my health for a job. It would have to be a very last resort choice, between nothing, or at least something, for me to accept a job like that. I am clinging on to hope that I can get something decent from 9-5 teaching at an actual school instead of an academy, since it's only the start of the school year, and in Madrid a lot of things are decided last minute. But it's just hope that is stopping me from really plummeting into a full fledged panic attack over here.

Anyway, I appologise if this post is depressing to anybody. I am going to go for a walk now, and to top up on some healthy goodies! Fingers crossed some fresh air will do me good, as well as the exercise. I'm going to go back to cutting out carbs as drastically as I did in August to see if my readings go down to healthier ones and are no longer so close to unhealthier readings! 

Remember, all comments and suggestions are welcome if you have any.


Saturday, 6 September 2014

DIABETES | My August Meals - What have I been eating?

As you know, if you saw my first post, I was diagnosed as PreDiabetic on 5th August of this year. That was also the day I made changes to my diet with three main objectives:

1. Lower my glucose (sugar) levels
2. Lower my cholesterol 
3. Make my diabetes symptoms all go away

If you follow me on Instagram (@RebequitaRose) you'll have already seen most of my meals and snacks.

You will also know that I have managed to lower my glucose and get rid of all my diabetes symptoms. And although weight loss wasn't the number one goal, I managed to loose a stone (about 7 kilos / 14 lbs) in three weeks. But I haven't gone into the finer details.

So what kind of diet am I on? 

First, let's get one thing straight. What is a "diet" ?

Middle English: from Old French diete (noun), dieter (verb), 
via Latin from Greek diaita 'a way of life'.
Meaning 1: (noun) The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats: "a vegetarian diet". Meaning 2: (noun) A special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons: "I’m going on a diet". Meaning 3: (verb) (diets, dieting, dieted) Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight: "I began dieting again". Crash Diet (noun) Meaning: A weight-loss diet undertaken on an urgent, short-term basis with the aim of achieving very rapid results.

I want you to understand, very clearly, that I am making healthier food choices to regain my good health. This is a lifestyle change, and a side-effect of that is my weight loss. This is not a phase, or a short-term plan to just quickly loose massive amounts of weight. I am not dieting as such, and I am certainly not on a crash diet either.

So then what am I doing for my health through my diet? 


1. Eating more, more often. 
2. Low-fat and sugar-free everything, especially dairy. 
(Remember, I have high cholesterol as well as glucose issues)
3. I cut down on most carbohydrates and almost all refined foods in general. I have almost no refined sugars, and no artificial sweeteners either.
 4. High protein
 5. High Fibre
 6. More good fats

And here's how I did those six things in practice/more detail:

1. I began to eat more than I used to. I went from one meal a day, (which was whatever I could get whenever I could get it), to three meals a day, with snacks in between. I now eat constantly, and generously. I'm not going hungry at all, and I feel amazing in general. I feel stronger physically, my mood is mostly up, I sleep a billion times better than I used to, and I've noticed that my hair, skin, and nails have improved leaps and bounds since I have made all of these changes.

2. I have almost completely cut out all refined sugars, added sugars, and artificial sweeteners. I don't keep any kind of sugar in the house anymore, and I'm not craving anything sweet either, - despite always having had a sweet tooth. (I suspect that eating regularly and not feeling hungry might have something to do with that). Even my milk is lactose-free. I also check the label on everything at the supermarket to make sure I'm avoiding hidden sugars as much as possible. It's important to realize that not only sweet foods contain sugar.

3. This one ties in with no2. The only thing I drink these days is either plain water, (between 1.5L-2L a day), or water with freshly squeezed lemon juice, (squeezed from an actual lemmon by moi), aloe vera concentrate, and/or tea. I don't drink fizzy drinks at all anymore, nor do I crave them; and I don't buy fruit juices either. If I feel like something fruity, I will make it myself. I also drink oat water first thing in the morning. (My hair and skin look extra amazing these days, and I have changed my skin care routine as a result of that). I don't drink diet fizzy drinks, in case that's not clear to anyone. It doesn't provide anything healthy or constructive to my diet, or yours, and so I have no room for it anymore, anywhere in my life.

4. All my meals are home-cooked, grilled, roasted, or steamed, and I try to eat as many of my fruits and vegetables raw as possible. None of my meals are fried, deep fried, or ready-made. My eggs are always boiled, and I don't eat the yolk.

5. I drastically reduced carbohydrates which came from foods such as breads, rice and pasta. I have only had a small glass worth of rice, which I ate over two days. I have had potatoes once. I haven't had pasta, and I haven't had bread. I did have some crispbread twice, and tortilla wraps twice. (It's hard to believe that only three weeks ago I was eating a lot of carbohydrates and mostly refined foods everyday). The problem with carbs is that the body converts them into sugar. There are different types of carbs, and those that come from white bread, etc, are not great for someone with elevated sugar levels or insulin resistance issues.

6. I don't buy anything that could be considered junk food anymore. I don't buy anything that has to be fried. I don't eat or buy sweets, crisps, or ice-cream anymore. As the saying goes, if you only keep good food in your fridge, you'll only eat good food. I would add to that, that I think, that if you are nourishing your body with foods that are rich in goodness and are filling, you won't crave the 'naughty' stuff anyway. The only bit of 'junk food' I have bought is one bar of dark chocolate, (which I planned to use to make something for a friend), and whereas a month ago I could have easily eaten the whole bar in a single sitting, I have barely touched it since I got it days ago, and I'm not craving it either. I never thought that would be possible.

7. I also drink high protein shakes which I sometimes mix with fruit and raw porridge, in my blender, twice a day. These help me to retain muscle (and firmness), as well as being an explosive bomb of nutrients. I also usually add a sprinkle of Cinnamon which helps control glucose levels, as well adding taste. That said, I am thinking of just having three super healthy meals a day instead of the two high protein shakes a day, lots of snacks, and then a complete meal at lunchtime. The good thing about these shakes is that they are rich in nutrients, and when you look at how processed our foods are, the foods we eat often lack nutrients. Porridge is an excellent source of fibre, as I believe are apples, so I'm having lots of those. I have always loved porridge, but wasn't making the best of that since I used to eat it with full-fat milk and lots of white sugar. I now eat my porridge plain, and raw, without any kind of sweetener added. It's still delicious to me, and I'm getting the best of it without the 'naughtiness'. I also like to make oat flour our of my porridge instead of using regular flour which is refined.

8. I'm making conscious choices to be more active everyday. I take the stairs instead of the lift, for example. I walk home instead of catching a bus, or I'll get off one or two stops before so I walk a bit more. I'm still not quite runner up for sports personality of the year here, but one must learn to crawl before running. I hope to be able to join a gym by mid-sept/oct, and maybe even get a personal trainer. But that's very expensive and I'm not rich. So we'll see. There's lots of work outs you can do at home, and I've already invested in some small and affordable exercise equipment. (More on that in another post). I find that these days doing activities that require a lot of physical strength are easier for me to do. I set myself goals and I achieve them. Yesterday evening for example, I chose to do a non-stop two hour walk to my house. It made my feet sore for a few hours, but it was very much worth it! Sports have never been my forte, ever, but I'm a very determined person. When I put my mind to something, I do it. 

9. I avoid naughty food temptations when I am out, by always carrying food with me. This food could be raw seeds, raw nuts, raw fruit, or even an actual 'meal'. For example, if I know I am going to be out at lunch time, I make time to prepare lunch beforehand, and take it with me. I don't snack on anything sugary, and having food on me that is both filling and nourishing, gets rid of any potential temptations.

10. This one ties in with no3. I only eat low-fat sugar-free non-sweet products. Not only is my milk fat-free (and lactose-free), so are all my other dairy products. I used to drink a lot of yogurt. My favourite was coconut and pineapple, which was also full of fat and sugars. The only yogurt I have now, is natural, low-fat, and unsweetened. I usually eat it with fruit, but sometimes I put it in my blender instead of milk to make a healthy low fat, sugar free shake. (These shakes have nothing to do with my protein shakes). I have completely cut out ice-cream, which I was eating far too much of. I also only eat lean meats like turkey, but I also eat a lot of avocado, and as much fatty fish rich in Omega-3 as I can. (Such as red salmon steaks and tuna) So basically, it's no to bad fats, but yes to good fats which are both healthy and tasty. I have also added a lot more citric fruits to my diet, and I no longer buy lemmon juice that comes in bottles, already squeezed.

11. I also take vitamin supplements, and fibre pills to make sure I get the nourishment I need everyday. All these things combined, stop me from feeling weak, whilst nourishing me. I also take calcium pills since I read somewhere that a high protein diet can decrease your calcium. Fibre is very important in a diabetic diet, and since I am reducing my bread consumption, I am making sure I get fibre from fruit (such as apples), as well as these supplements. 

12. I'm making this change fun! I am experimenting with new foods and recipes. I went out and got a food processor, and some other kitchen goodies. I've become an overnight foodie and I love it. I'm still on 'holiday' so I'm making the most of my free time to look up healthy recipes on-line, and information about what foods are good for you and why. Not everything that is 'natural' is necessarily healthy, so that helps me to really understand what I can eat in abundance and what I should eat in moderation

Things I'd like to improve on:

I'd like to go all organic. All organic fruit, all organic veg, and all organic/free-range meats. Unfortunately I can't afford to go all-organic everything right now, but if I could, trust me, I would! 

Here some images of the foods I've been eating: 

(Not in any specific order)

Grilled steak, grilled asparagus, raw tomato, raw avocado and raw cucumber. A teaspoon on 'light sauce' and to drink, water with lemmon and aloe vera concentrate.

Two boiled eggs without the yolk, a salad with tomato, celery, beetroot, cucumber, lettuce, avocado, raw pepper, and a small bit of low fat cheese. The grapefruit on the side was my dessert, and the drink was water with lemon and aloe vera concentrate.

Steamed broccoli and cauliflower, with tuna, avocado, raw tomatoes, and cucumber. This might seem boring, but it was delicious with a very light sprinkling of salt and pepper.

This was crisp rye bread with a small amount of salsa ligera and mussels, with avocado. Delicious as is, and very filling.

Raw tomato, lettuce, avocado, beetroot, mushrooms in oregano with some garlic and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper, and some low-fat cream cheese on the side. I had three rhye chrispbreads with this, and it was fine. 
PS: The avocados were bruised, not bad.

 This is by far one of my favourite meals! You 'roast' the salmon in the oven for about 15-20 mins, (I'll post the recipe in a separate post), and then you place in in a tortilla wrap with lettuce, avocado, cucumber, and anything else you want. I took this out with me as a packed lunch, and it was heavenly. It was absolutely delicious, and very very filling! 

This meal wasn't the best. It was my first attempt at making veggie burgers. I saw a recipe on-line and did my own take on it. I made the out of chickpeas, and oat flour, and flavoured them with garlic, oregano, coriander, cilantro, paprika, salt, and I can't remember if I put anything else in there. They came out a bit dry, but if I keep practicing, I'll sure they'll get better. It was a wonderful contrast between those and the lettuce! 

Here is a meal I won't be making again. I discovered that lemon and carrot are a delicious combination, but that trueky steak was over seasoned and over done, those peppers in the cream cheese were strange, and only the roast potatoes really tasted good out of that whole meal. But, that's OK. I was just experimenting, and it's about living and learning *smiles*

 Here you see a grilled turkey steak, chickpeas, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots. Very healthy and very filling. 

 Stuffed eggs are quite common in Spain and it definitely something I enjoy. Here they are, stuffed with tuna. I can't remember now what else I put there, - if anything. And with the avocado, it's just, delicious! Definitely something I will be making again! 

 This was grilled turkey steak, cucumber and roast potatoes.

Stuffed peppers are one of my favourite meals! Most people soften the pepper before they stuff it. I decided to have them raw and they were delicious as are! This is definitely a meal I will be making again, but I might just have two halves of pepper instead of three as this meal was very filling! I filled them with tuna that I mixed in with a small amount of salsa-ligera, and probably some ground pepper and salt. And on the side, I put some chickpeas and avocado, and this was divine! 

All that rice was actually a quarter of a glass worth of rice, but rice increases in volume when cooked, so it seems like a lot. I didn't eat the rice in the little 'pot' btw. Before my change, I probably would have eaten twice the amount that could have fitted into that little pot, only this time I didn't even crave any more rice than that.

I don't know if I've missed any of my August meals on here. The meals I had at the start of August I didn't document for some reason. My September meals are up on my Instagram everyday. I will try and do weekly posts on my September meals for those of you who don't have Instagram, and/or those who would like a specific breakdown of contents and recipes.

I will post about my snacks in a separate post, since those might prove to be very repetitive. 

Those of you are primarily interest in my weight loss, this photo is for you: 

Remember I didn't start my drastic changes until Aug 5th, so that's not a full month's worth of weightloss. It's less. 

I think that's all for now. If I've missed anything out, or forgotten to mention anything, I will try and rectify that in a future post.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please let me know in the comments section below. Constructive criticism is always welcome!