The moment I entered my doctor’s office, I knew her face meant something like – “You’re in serious trouble, Maria.” She gave me a smile, but you know, doctors smile because they have to be pleasant and comforting. I smiled back at her as I sipped my hazelnut milk tea and sat on her narrow chair.
“So, Mary. You’re not hypertensive, for now. The result showed 120 over 80. That’s normal, for now. What’s not normal is your weight. You’re a petite 5”4” and weighing at 100 kilos. That’s not gonna cut it. You will be 40 in 2 years and by then, curative measures for various cardiovascular illnesses will be too late. We have to start now so that you’ll age healthily.”
“Ok. What do we do?” I said.
“You need to go on a diet, more like an eating lifestyle, Mary.” The doctor said.
“Diet?” I was a bit offended by how she said it to me. Or maybe I was just touchy and didn’t want to accept the fact that I am HUGE.
“Yes, you heard it right. Diet… How old is your youngest?” She pointed at my darling Sofia who was waiting for me outside her office. “She’s adorable!”
“My daughter’s two years old,” I answered back.
“Well, if you continue to drink those sugared milk teas or eating waffles at Starbucks full of butter, maple syrup, and cream, it is highly likely that you will develop diabetes within the next five years. I am not threatening you. This is the reality especially in your case – your grandmother died of heart failure and that was a complication of her diabetes, correct? You also have a history of depression, right?” I remembered what I read a few weeks ago, “Psychologically, living with diabetes — coping with its daily management and complications — can cause sadness and perhaps major depression,” according to Barry J. Jacobs, PsyD.
“Yes,” I said.
“Ok. I’m filling out this laboratory request and you have to do this ASAP ok? I want to know if your blood sugar is regular, borderline, or over so that we can do something about it now. I also added creatinine and uric acid. I just want to check.” She smiled at me. “And, yeah… Lilly Diabetes Meal Plan.”
“Ok, teach me how that goes,” I said.
“The concept is very simple. If this is your plate, half of it must be filled with veggies. Here, you can see some leafy greens and on the side is a cucumber tomato salad drenched in lemon and lime with a bit of pepper. Any questions?” The doctor asked as she showed me the drawing of a plate with food on it.
“Can I put some sugar in the veggie salad?” I asked, even if I know how sugar can be dangerous for the mind when taken in excess – as evidence: In a recent article in Psychology Today, Alexis Conason, PsyD, wrote that “[MRI scans show that] sugar activates the same brain regions that are activated when a person consumes drugs like cocaine.”
“I knew you were gonna say that. Ok, here’s the rule. You can sprinkle brown sugar on it – half a nail size.” The doctor said. She saw my eyes widen. “Mary, we are trying to lose weight. You might be eating healthy veggies as a salad, but the sugar will invalidate its health benefits. Well, I mean, if you put lots of sugar. So, control it. In time, you will also get used to not eating too many sweet foods. Ok?” She smiled at me again and patted my hand.
“To continue, the next portion is your protein – fish, seafood, chicken, beef, or pork. I do recommend fish – it’s much better than the other ones. Salmon has Omega 3 fatty acids and tuna is also nutritious. There are a lot of fishes out there that you can eat. It doesn’t have to be grilled all the time. But then again, it can only be one-fourth of your plate. About 3 to 4 ounces or 100-120 grams. No chicken skin. As much as possible, no fried foods. If you can’t avoid it, place the fried food on a tissue and take out the excess oil.” According to Dallas Carey, PsyD, “Epidemiological data and clinical studies show that omega 3 fatty acids can effectively treat depression. For the best source of these omegas, eat: salmon, tuna, lobster, chia seeds, walnuts, olive oil, flaxseed oil, kale and spinach.”
“Ok, understood doc.” I was being cooperative.
“The other portion is your carbs. I know that you are a rice eater. If possible, limit the rice to one cup per major meal, maximum. Boiled potato is ok. Sweet potato is ok as well. Just remember the portion, one-fourth of your plate.” The doctor was being friendly to me.
“I got that. Will do.” I said.
“Lastly, add a serving of fruit and a glass of milk to your meal. That’s how the Lilly Diabetes Meal Plan works.” She sounded so sure of herself when she told me that.
“Doc, can I have snacks in between?” I had to ask her.
“Oh yes, of course. The calorie total allotted for snacks is 200 calories – it must be whole wheat, fruits or veggies. You can also eat eggs or drink a non-sugared all-fruit smoothie. We will go for natural foods here. Avoid junk foods and fast food meals too. I know it’s hard, Mary. But you have to lose weight. In 6 months, I expect that you’ll lose 10 kilos. I will monitor you and set up an appointment once a month. You just have to track your progress in a chart. Diabetes is very hard to manage. Let’s not go there.” And I believe her.
It’s been a week and I’ve been following the Lilly Diabetes meal plan. Weight lost so far? Zero kilos, but I don’t mind. I’ll get there, I’m sure of that. The plan also states to walk or jog for 30 minutes each day. She’s right. It’s not easy at all, but I have to do it. I need to get better. I choose to lose weight and get healthy. I want to live longer and if this is what I have to do, then, so be it.