Let’s talk food – the final frontier or the undiscovered country?

Met with my RD today to discuss calories, fat, and dieting.

We do not diet, he says. We are working at developing a healthy, balanced food plan that does not send me on a complete and total spin cycle.

Okay then.

My RD is a really unique and wonderful guy. He gets this long-suffering, pained look on his face when I say something directly contrary to my objectives with food. Using the word “diet” is my code for “I hate this shit and please understand and try not to take it personally that I am not going to succeed no matter what you try to make me do to get it right.” So we avoid that particular D word.

Instead, we focus on healthier eating and meal planning. RD tends to lead with my strengths and tries hard to build upon them. He says my willingness to reconsider my hard-and-fast rules about tracking and to listen and at least try his suggestions are huge strengths. His ability to read and play to my ego and desire to be viewed as a reasonable client are probably among his best methodologies for gaining cooperation.

Our “eat more protein” campaign has been going well. I tend to eat a much improved, better balance of protein in my diet. Yay me! Vegetable intake is better, too, but there is still much work to be done.

So he asked me very nicely to maintain yet another food diary, this time with photographs of food on my plate. Objectives are to eat more protein from leaner sources and also to try and consistently get to most of my carbohydrates are from plant-based sources. My daily bowl of oatmeal is okay and can stay, but I know and confess that bread and crackers have surged as favored snacking food, especially with peanut butter. I see the bigger issue as snacking has increased along with my working hours in the last couple of months.

Le sigh.

It’s not as if my blood sugar numbers are creeping up or peaking. There have been 2 days of weirdly high blood sugars since I went off the last oral meds, and while I cannot attribute the highs to some massive binge on a loaf of french bread with a salad dressing for dipping (anyone who has ever had LaBou french bread knows what I’m talking about), I do know my carb consumption has been steadily, steathily been creeping upward. If I limited myself to the monthly (or even weekly) junk food Tuesday at work I would be fine. But it’s other things and just that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that I am headed back for diabetes meds or worse if I allow this trend to continue. To my credit I have not gained any weight (per RD’s fancy-smancy medical scale), but I have been careless with my eating habits and have allowed myself to grow complacent and lazy about mindful eating.

Sure, it’s not as if I don’t have other things on my mind, other work on my plate, other priorities demanding my time. But there is a direct commitment to myself that I am abusing if not out and out breaking, and it’s not good for me on any front.

How can I expect someone else to respect the covenants we make if I cannot do the same for myself? I should have no expectation of others changing their minds and breaking contracts with me because I do it all the time.

I know it sounds really weird, but this is how I have to think of things to make any progress at all. My self respect has been so shallow to nonexistent for so long it comes as no surprise and a predictable outcome if I fail to care for myself. If I do not respect myself enough to keep my word and try to improve our health, I should have no expectation that anyone else in my life or my world should take me seriously either.

So RD and I are starting yet another new journey on Friday. I start photographing my plates and will create a visual record of what I am eating. We will do this for 2 weeks. Then we will meet again and he will coach me on where I can improve.

His plan is to get me stable with an eye toward healthy weight reduction with something sustainable. I am probably 70% there, but there are gaps and habits I need to curb. Like not eating on a routine schedule. Or skipping meals. Or not drinking enough water.

There is a lot of positive in this as well. As noted I have not gained any weight. My blood sugar is stable and well within the normal range. I eat pretty healthy, with lots of fruits and vegetables. I am maintaining safe distance from sugary sodas and snacks.

RD says mine is more a matter of technique and refinement, not a mandatory food intake overhaul driven by health necessity. But I am conscious that in 6 weeks I will be back in the lab having my blood sugar and other critical functions checked. My fear of going back onto diabetes-controlling drugs is real and strong enough to have me listening carefully to RD’s recommendations and suggestions for improvement.

Food is complicated. At first I thought if I just gave up the gratuitous sugar things would be simpler, and for the most part I was correct. However, my goal to control the diabetes though diet and exercise is not so easily resolved. I really don’t want to carb count but find myself doing it anyway. If it comes down to tracking my calories and macronutrients or going back on the pills, let me whip out my calculator and food list or one of the millions of apps that will kindly do the math and the tracking for me. RD knows I do not want to make myself crazy with measuring food and tracking, but unfortunately he also knows that is one of the tradeoffs I am willing to make in order to stay here without any medication. He is doing his best to simplify the process for me – and I am very appreciative of that effort – but it is becoming apparent that I will need to track more closely to know where I stand with maintaining my diabetes drug-free self. Someday soon I will be able to lighten up on this process, but for now, until I gain additional mastery, it must be done.

If I thought getting off the needle was an inspiration, this being completely without medications is like a tightrope beneath my feet that has me holding my breath and walking slowly and steadily to keep from falling.

RD pep-talked me about the food pictorials, and unless I want to be a complete idiot ostrich, I have to see his point. And since I am not an idiot ostrich (and have lost my desire to play one in real life), I am conceding the point.

I am reminding myself I am not the same scaredy-cat who crossed the gym threshold 10+ months ago, and I am also not occupying the same headspace as when I first med RD 4 months ago. I can be still and look fear and anxiety about food in the face and recognize the scale is simply a measurement tool, not the display of doom expressing judgment on my worth as a person. I can be freed of the obstacles in my pathway and listen, really listen and really hear what RD is trying to teach me, outside the noise trying to gain traction within my own head.

Tracking food for awhile until I get a better handle on what types of food make sustainable sense for me is reasonable, and I am not going to fail. It’s really no different that counting reps and sets and sometimes losing track and forgetting I should be counting in the first place. It happens, and no one has been injured or maimed and I start over again the next time, next set, even the next day.

RD has my back. He is a text or phone call or email away if I flounder or find my refrigerator and pantry barren (as if!). And he’s not there as a my personal Simon Legree to issue lashes if I fall off the healthier eating wagon. As an educator and a nutrition coach, he’s there to help me help myself.

While becoming a vegan or even a vegetarian holds no particular appeal to me at the present time, I may incorporate a meal or even a day of meatless eating. Maybe. For now I will be happy to contort myself and my habits into taking pictures of my meals.

I can do this. I may even post it here on the blog, to keep it all neatly contained.

This next phase in my grand better health experiment starts on Friday. Because I need a day to wrap my head around it. Again. And tomorrow is training day. And I got a B12 shot today and it makes my arm ache. And my bag called J and kind of freaked me out (usually the one reason for an actual phone conversation is something urgent or worse). Despite the dozen or several dozen excuses I can come up with to put this off, I primarily need a day to wrap my head around it. Again.

And figure out whether or not to make food consumption a daily post. I think so. Maybe. Decisive, aren’t I?

But it’s all good. RD is a rock star and perhaps another candidate for sainthood for working so patiently with me and my general wiggy-ness.

4 thoughts on “Let’s talk food – the final frontier or the undiscovered country?

  1. I am so glad you have been blessed with people like J, TM and RD as part of your team! I am here cheering you on from the sidelines and frankly wondering if I can find a set of my own in my neck of the woods.

  2. From what you’ve been writing lately it seems like you’re definitely at a point where you’re ready to take some time and energy to explore food options and what could be a good food balance for you. I’ll be cheering you on through the computer and look forward to reading your food thoughts.

    I first found your blog through a personal finance blog, but as I try to regain my old healthy self after pregnancy I find myself coming to read your blog for inspiration on healthier living. I too often turn to sweets to make up for a hard/tiring day and would like to get back to healthier eating. I’ve started to make time in the morning to do food prep while my daughter jumps in her jumparoo and that seems to be helping the evening suppertime to be less hectic.

    • Ohhh … the jumparoo! I love that my kids are now adults, but things like that bring back many fond and wonderful memories.
      Marcelle, I am so pleased you stop in as frequently as you do and comment so frequently. I do not feel like a source of inspiration for anyone (more like a cautionary tale if anything), but I strive to be honest and transparent about my struggles and the things my science experiments to make better choices and do different things. I am shifting back to more salads and plant-heavy meals. I am more open to the idea of trying new things, whether it’s making my own salad dressing or trying a new vegetable or trying a new method of preparing vegetables. I say vegetables because I like a wide and diverse variety of fruits. Veggies, not so much. And since I’m presently trying to limit my carbs to plant-based sources, time to get creative.

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