Imagine being a restaurant critic with all the justified eating that goes along with that professional title and....being diagnosed with diabetes! Clearly the disease does not skip over someone who is over eating and overindulging in less than stellar quality food (from a health perspective) even if it is their profession that forces them to eat all kinds of foods. A recent diary "column" in a New York daily newspaper caught my eye and much of the information I share in this blog sources from that column (with my spin attached).
The dilemma was simple - could this critic, recently diagnosed with diabetes type 2, continue to review foods and restaurants while trying to count carbs, use extreme portion control, give up sugary foods and high fat foods? According to Steve Cuozzo, food critic, the fight was worth fighting! And he came up with a personal strategy that seems to serve him well (though he does not share what his A1C levels are, an important testing parameter in diabetes control).
Steve decided to follow the following dietary rules:
- Eat seafood
- Whole grain and multi-grain breads
- Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Drink water, Sprite Zero and Diet 7 Up (he did not like the after taste of other diet sodas)
- Eat small servings of excellent quality cheese
- Eat peanut butter
- Allow tastes and small amounts of desserts and other rich foods but never finish the portion entirely (especially when it comes to restaurant desserts).
- The banished foods include: cupcakes, sweet pies, doughnuts, cookies (including diabetic cookies), candy, corn muffins, any baked goods full of sugar, fruits juice, regular soda, caloric beverages.
Steve was handed a prescription for insulin upon diagnosis, but he was also given instructions that he could put his diabetes into remission by losing weight through diet and by also initially taking an oral medication. Steve's commitment to a new diet yielded a loss of about 20 pounds, in addition to a weight loss of 15 pounds caused by the diabetes itself before diagnosis. As an aside, people with undiagnosed diabetes often lose weight because their bodies cannot process "sugar calories" efficiently, and along with involuntary weight loss there can be fatigue, spontaneous sweats, blurred vision, protein in the urine and other unpleasant symptoms. As a result of the weight loss and his food rules, the food critic now claims to have developed what I would call an "uncorrupted palate," which means the ability to taste with clarity, without having your taste buds corrupted by HFCS, sugar in general and other junk food tastes. I actually discuss the importance of a clean palate in my newest book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families.
Steve does relate in his column that his real problem (and the underlying impetus of his diabetes) stemmed from all the junk food eating he was originally doing for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, in other words poor eating outside of his professional eating. He credits his awareness of calories now, coupled with a cleaner diet mostly filled with healthy "whole foods," as the explanation for his diabetes remission. He shares the fact that diabetes scares him enough to stay committed to his new eating rules. He also keeps the insulin prescription as a reminder of what could have been.
A few quick personal "nutritionist" observations - Steve doesn't mention exercise, and I think he does need to add some to his formula to keep diabetes at bay and to improve his health in general. Someone whose profession involves eating should factor in daily exercise (maybe he's walking to and from all those restaurants??). I like the fact that he did figure out a personal approach to eating that helped stabilize his blood sugars and the fact that he mentions seeing a nutritionist one time (though he felt he had already figured out most of his dietary "swap outs)." I would like to point out that some patients who may get diagnosed with diabetes type 2 may find that they need a more precise diet than Steve or other supportive therapies, but I do think the take away message is -
Heed your diagnosis and don't ignore it. Get the facts. Decide on a personalized lifestyle change that you can tolerate for the long haul. Develop a relationship with a healthcare provider who can objectively track your health and the success of your program of change. Believe in the fact that you can change your diabetes profile.
Published On: September 07, 2010