Thursday, November 17, 2011

About Diabetes:

In order to successfully overcome diabetes and its effects one must understand what diabetes is.  Diabetes Mellitus or sugar diabetes is a condition defined by a set of symptoms, most commonly, higher than normal levels of sugar in the blood and excretion of sugar in urine.  The condition was originally discovered by the symptom of sweet fruity smell of the urine.  These symptoms can occur for a variety of causes like; pancreas not producing insulin, liver producing too much sugar, master hormones not giving proper messages to liver or pancreas, cells not being able to utilize sugars,  too much fat in and around cells inhibiting usage of sugar by the cells, pregnancy, etc.  Some pregnant women become diabetic during pregnancy but become normal after delivery.  This is known as gestational diabetes.  This has led to an interesting theory about the growth of fetus in the womb, which leads to pressure on the pancreas causing it to not function properly, thereby leading some people to believe that putting on weight around the abdomen puts pressure on pancreas causing it to malfunction.  Whatever the reasons may be, treatment of diabetes is essentially the same; diet, exercise, drugs and insulin. 

Diabetes can be controlled and type II diabetes can even be reversed by diet and exercise.  There are many doctors who conduct training for reversing type II diabetes through vegan diets and exercise.  I intend to prove that Type I diabetes can also be reversed.  I’ll talk more about that in the future when it happens. 

I know from personal experience how my sugar levels vary based on perceived stress and other situations.  You see, I measure my sugar levels at least five times a day.  I have to do so in order to compute the amount of insulin I need to inject before eating.  This gives me an insight into how my body reacts to different situations.  What I have found out is that when I am going through situations that my mind thinks are stressful then my sugar levels stay high and do not come down easily.  One of those stressful situations used to be attending my office in Maryland.  But having recognized it as a stressor, I have “changed” my mind about attending the office in Maryland and have successfully reversed the outcome.  On the other hand, situations that I perceive to be joyous tend to drop my sugar levels, sometimes they drop too much.  One of those situations is holding a very young baby in my hands.  Another one happens every time when my friends Haren and Raksha visit us.

Quiz#3:  What do you think would happen if Haren and Raksha were to move in with us, or we babysat a young baby every day?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Daily Breakfast:

I have been eating identical breakfasts for the last two years, 90% of the time.  It is not possible to get these items while I am traveling, which accounts for the remaining 10% of the time.  My breakfast, as shown in the picture below, consists of two slices of Ezekiel bread toasted and smothered with almond butter, plus three cups of masala tea.

Carb Count:
Toast 15g X 2 = 30g
2 fl. Oz. milk in tea = 4g
2 Tbsp almond butter = 6g
Total = 40g

Ezekiel brand of bread is made from sprouted grains without first converting the grains into flour.  I don’t know how they do it but apparently they follow the method described in the Bible, Ezekiel 4:9.  The bread does taste different from the other breads you might be used to but soon the taste will grow on you.  More importantly, it gives you chewing satisfaction and fills up your stomach.  It comes with the added benefit of going to heaven.  There goes my dream of going to hell!  If you did nothing else but replaced all your daily grain consumption with this brand of bread, you will lose weight.  I guarantee it.  This bread is available in three or four varieties and is available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Safeway, and possibly at other places too.  Almond butter is available at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.


For those of you who are curious, here is my mother’s not-so-secret recipe of masala for tea.

Mix these ingredients in the following proportion by weight:
Ground cardamom:      1
Ground cinnamon:       2
Ground cloves:            2
Ground ginger:            5
Ground black pepper:   5
Total:                        15

I have found that the readymade tea masala or their individual ingredients acquired from Indian grocery stores are of poor quality.  I generally buy organic ingredients from Whole Foods and the tea masala turns out to be amazingly good.  We use up about a pound of tea masala every two months.

To make masala tea we use 90% water, 10% milk and a quarter tsp of masala mix.  We boil the liquid mix and add tea leaves towards the end when the liquid just starts boiling.  Boiling the tea for too long releases acids from the tea leaves and makes the tea taste bitter.  Adding more tea leaves instead of boiling it too much gives a better color to the final outcome and it tastes better too.  Any type of tea leaves can be used; Lipton’s or Tetley.  We like to use a brand called Wagh-Bakri.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Health Benefits:

We always hear about health benefits of not being overweight.  So we try to lose weight by jogging or eating fat-free foods or dieting for a few days, and eventually we give it all up because it seems like too much work for a little bit of benefit that is not apparent to us.  I know that because that is how I was.  After ending up in the hospital, I decided to follow the regimen and my health actually improved significantly.

I recently applied for life insurance, and the doctor who did my physical exam commented, “You are essentially a healthy person with only one problem, Type 1 Diabetes.  Most people your age have a long list of health issues.”

In the interest of showing you tangible benefits of losing weight, I have decided to share some of my medical data in this blog.  In the table below, “before” and “after” numbers speak for themselves.

255 lbs
187 lbs
Blood Pressure
Cholesterol (non-HDL)
HDL (good Cholesterol)
LDL (bad cholesterol)

It is significant to note that the above results were achieved without taking any drugs, whether prescription or over-the-counter type.  After being diagnosed as a diabetic, I was asked to start taking statin drugs for lowering cholesterol and a daily dose of baby aspirin.  I refused because I am averse to taking any kind of drugs.  However, I do take shots of insulin, which in my opinion is a pharmaceutical but not a drug.  I do have to take insulin because my pancreas does not produce any, at least for now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Salads and Dressings:

You may find it hard to believe but I used to eat salads in India.  We used to call it Kachumber.  While growing up, a good amount Kachumber was a part of our daily meals.  Our Kachumber used to generally consist of finely chopped romaine lettuce (called “salid” in Bombay), onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Occasionally and when available, we’d add shredded kohlrabi (called “alkool” in Bombay).  Typically salt was added to Kachumber, which would release the juices from the raw salad and make it moist.  Kachumber was eaten along with the rest of the meal.

When I came to America, I noticed a few strange things.  First, the salad was served separately as the first course of a meal.  Second, the lettuce in the salad was torn into large pieces and was not chopped.  Third, the salad was mostly consisting of lettuce with an occasional piece of tomato or cucumber thrown in.  This was not the salad I was used to.  To make matters worse, I was asked what kind of dressing I wanted.  Dressing?  Why would I need dressing?  I didn’t have a wound that needed to be dressed!

Next thing I knew was that there was a variety of salad dressings available with exotic names like Thousand Island, Russian, French and Green Goddess.  I fell in love with a goddess, the green kind that is.  When FTC (Federal Trade Commission) ruled that all the ingredients must be listed on all food products, I learned of an ingredient called anchovies in Green Goddess.  Although I wanted to believe it so badly, it sounded fishy to me that the government would conspire to add anchovies in my favorite dressing just to wean me off Green Goddess.  My being a vegetarian overtook my desire for a great taste and I fell out of love with the Goddess.  I still miss her.

When I see people at restaurants douse their salads with half a pint of salad dressing, it scares me.  Everything they gain by eating salad is lost by eating that dressing.  Over the last ten years, everything I have read about natural foods has taught me that ALL commercially available salad dressings are bad.  The ones that tout to be low-fat or fat-free are particularly bad because of the sugars and other junk that they put in them to make them palatable.  For the last 10 or more years we have been adding two ingredients to our salads, flax oil and sea salt.  That’s it.  We prefer hi-lignan flax oil and when flax oil is not available we use olive oil (EVOO when possible).  When we are eating at a restaurant I always ask them not to add dressing to my salad.  Most restaurants will serve you olive oil on the side if you ask them.  When that is not available we ask for dressing on the side and occasionally dip our forks in it.  I actually prefer to eat my salad without any dressing, like a good Indian boy that I am.

Mantra: I will not eat any commercially prepared salad dressing ever again.

These days, raw salads form 50% of our lunches and dinners.  Our salads are the Kachumber kind, chopped finely enough so that I can eat it with a spoon or with a piece of roti.  We add a generous quantity of flax oil and sea salt.  I love to have baby spinach and red onions in my salads.  Other ingredients we use often are Persian or English cucumbers, avocados, vine ripened tomatoes, and sprouts.  As far as possible, we use organically grown ingredients.

Salad Bars:
I used to love eating at all-you-can-eat salad bars.  I never lost weight eating food from salad bars and may have actually gained some.  Why is that?  Salad bars serve a lot of items, which for the purposes of this conversation are non-salads.  They are chicken salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, pasta salad, croutons, peas, chick peas, all kinds of beans, boiled eggs, all kinds of cheeses, fruits, dried fruit (cranberry, raisins), cooked vegetables, crispy noodles, bread slices, bread-rolls, and so on.  You get the picture.  These are all non-salads and should be avoided.

Repeat after me:
·         I will never eat a scone or a muffin again.
·         I will eat no more than 170g of carbs every day.
·         I will walk 30 to 60 minutes every day, no excuses.
·         I will never eat from a buffet at an Indian restaurant.
·         I will not eat commercially prepared cereal ever again.
·         I will not eat any commercially prepared salad dressing ever again.
·         I will wait at least three to four hours after dinner before lying down to go to sleep.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I am back in San Diego and can devote some time for writing the blog.  It is next to impossible for me to write the blog while I am in DC.
Sugar is the least complex form of carbohydrate.  There are many misconceptions about different types of sweeteners that I would like to clear up.  One of them is about honey.  Many people use honey in their tea instead of sugar because “honey is better for you”.  Honey may be better for you for other reasons like helping with a sore throat.  But honey is still carbohydrate; in fact a more densely packed carbohydrate.  A lot of people are switching to sugar substitutes like agave nectar.  Again agave nectar is carbohydrate.  It may be good for you for other reasons but for the purposes of reducing weight and getting healthier it is no different than sugar.  A tablespoon of sugar is 15g of carbs and other forms of sugar substitutes are also about the same carb value.  I used to eat a lot of brown sugar because I had believed that “it was better for me”.  It may have been better in the sense that it did not have some of the trace chemicals associated with bleaching the sugar to making it look white, but the carb content of brown or white sugar is exactly the same.  When I ended up in the hospital I decided to give up sugar completely.  I decided not use any of the chemical sweeteners because I am also averse to putting chemicals and non-foods in my mouth.  Now I eat and drink everything without any sugar or sweeteners with one exception, my daily dose of homemade chai.  I use one packet of Stevia in three cups of homemade chai twice a day.  One packet of Stevia-in-the-raw has less than 1g of carbs, and it is not an artificial chemical. 

Chemical sweeteners like saccharine (Sweet and Low), aspartame (Equal), or sucralose (Splenda) have all been linked to possible adverse health effects like cancers, neurological disorders, skin problems, depression, etc.  So why take a chance?  It was easy for me to give up sugar, cold turkey.  It may or may not be easy for you to do so.  If it is not easy for you then slowly, over a period of days or weeks, start reducing the amount of sugar you put in anything and eventually you’ll arrive at zero quantity of sugar.  The good news is that you will start tasting the real taste of food and eventually will start disliking sugary sweetness.

If you are diabetic or are trying to reduce your weight, is it OK to eat ice-cream made with Splenda for dessert?  The answer is:  Yes and No.
No, because substituting Splenda for sugar does not take away the carbs you are going to ingest from milk, cream or fruits included in the ice-cream.
Yes, as long as you count the amount of carbs from other ingredients in the ice-cream towards your total carb consumption for the meal.