I just returned from my doctor’s office in Oakland! and there is good news and… Alarming news.
My blood pressure, even without any meds for the past week or several days, is good–borderline, but good. My cholesterol levels are well within control. I’ve lost weight. I’m exercising fairly regularly. But…but…I’ve got high blood sugar levels and the doc (a lovely young MD born in Taiwan) told me…”You’re pre-diabetic .”
Umm…what? Now, this is not surprising in today’s world–a world of obesity, fast food, poor diet, etc., and it looks like my genetics and occasionally wayward lifestyle have reaped their rewards. Pre-diabetic. Now…this doesn’t mean I’m going to get that condition–it simply is a wakeup call to consider carefully…my diet, my lifestyle, and…and…all that jazz. So, not being one to fall into abject fear and denial, I let this sink in as I biked my way home from Kaiser’s medical facility in Oakland.
After wolfing down a gyros wrap right outside the facility, I headed towards Cafe Tribu where I sat myself down, ordered a cortado, and considered things. Type 2 diabetes. Brr-rrrr-rr! Things had to change, but I loved sweets, butter, cream, and all those wonderful additions to the French food I had been drawn to as so many cooks and chefs before me. Couldn’t the French Paradox work for me, too?
Maybe…maybe not. So I dived into online research, doping out what I would have to do to avoid the uncomfortable reality that having diabetes would impart, and it was very simple:
-eat a healthy diet of vegetables and grains, and minimize the meat protein
-minimized dairy like cheese, cream, butter…etc.
–cut down processed sugar big time
Now, there is more, of course, but in all honesty, my lifestyle has been moving from a culinary standpoint more and more closely towards a Mediterranean Diet anyway, so wtf, I thought? Potatoes? Baked but not fried. Sweet potatoes? As much as I want. Sweet desserts? Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise? Ok, muuuuch less often. If I make one, have a sliver. Processed sugar? Not good.
Lose weight? Lost four pounds just this week. Weight goal? Back to 210 lbs like I was when I visited the Philippines in 2011.
Before meeting my wife in The City for dinner and a movie last night, I stopped in at a bookstore that had a book that just…reached out to me: The Everything Guide to Managing and Reversing Pre-Diabetes. Why not? And the best–lots of good recipes… I hope.
Will this change my cooking at home? Yes, of course it will. I’ve already taken to adding flax meal to my daily regimen and substituting almond milk when feasible to my breakfast routine. Whole wheat flour is coming next, and god knows what else. Chia gel to partially replace the butter in some of my dishes. Agave syrup to replace white, processed sugar.
For those friends who appreciate my dessert baking, try not to fear. I’ll be playing with recipes a lot in the next few months, searching for methods to lessen the unhealthy aspects of baking with too much sugar and butter and cream. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t, then I’ll make my usual heart-killing dishes and spread the joy.
Life is too short to try and worry about being perfect with my new diet. Choosing fruit and healthier desserts on a more daily basis or simply doing without is one thing, but having my friends do without?
Ain’t gonna happen!
PS–tonight I made pa jeon or pa jun or, as we like to say in English… Korean Green Pancakes. A simple batter of white flour and milk and egg, mixed with shrimp, leafy greens, and scallions. Quite good, particularly when dipped in the typical Korean dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, water, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and whatever else the sauce called for. White wine of the side. Next time a mix of whole wheat flour…or another flour completely.