Monday, June 22, 2009

How 'Bout That Blood Sugar

Back in April, I finally made a doctor's appointment, the easiest task I've ever managed to neglect for nearly a decade. Come mid-May, it was time to go in for my physical, and I actually found myself looking forward to it. I was eager to get my official nod and a clean bill of health. After the visit, I felt marvelous - like I had done myself a real solid. And this in spite of nearly fainting during a blood draw attempt.

A few weeks after my appointment, I received via snail mail a print-out with all my blood test results. I was unpleasantly surprised to see that the line for glucose was circled with a note reading "slightly + blood sugar." In her cover letter, my new doctor oh-so-helpfully recommended that I "work on eating healthy and exercising regularly to prevent the development of diabetes in the future." Well, here's the thing, doc: I already work out an average of four times a week (and that's not counting my beach volleyball league on Wednesdays), which is about as much as my schedule will allow. I already try to make healthy choices when it comes to food, and my personal chef - er, I mean, K - prepares quite nutritious meals. Moreover, perhaps you shouldn't send vague cover letters casually dropping the names of potentially serious diseases, completely devoid of meaningful context, to individuals who expected you to tell them that they are in perfect health. Perhaps some of those individuals may be prone to freaking out... Really though, ya couldn't have called?

It was time to bring out my big guns. So I called my mom (duh). She said that given the family history, I probably have a genetic tendency towards elevated blood sugar, which made me feel simultaneously a little better (It's not my fault!) and a little worse (There's nothing I can do!) To keep it in check, I should try to make a few easy adjustments to my diet, and it's "so much better to make some small changes now than to have to make some big changes later on." So substitute any white rice with brown rice, and any pasta should be whole wheat. (Done!) Cut down on bagels and eat only whole grain bread. (Life sans bagels could be tough, but I'll survive.) Fewer sweets whenever possible, (I don't think I consume many as is, but ok.) and... try to drink less beer. (Sob!)

Let's ignore the beer thing for now and focus on something slightly less painful and wholly more manageable. Bread! According to Mark Bittman, New York Times foodie and author of Food Matters, "whole wheat" and "whole grain" breads that are typically available at the grocery store are phonies, usually containing only 20 percent whole wheat flour and 80 percent white flour. Even whole wheat bread bought from a less shamelessly commercial outlet, like one's local bakery, is likely to contain mostly white flour unless otherwise marked. Outrageous! To solve this problem, I've purchased my very own whole wheat and dark rye flours, and this week I am going to bake some bread. Experienced baker I am not, but if I can make this work for me, it holds grand potential for both my blood sugar and my pocketbook. Ain't that a kick in the butt?


  1. You're making your own bread? How very Martha of you! ;)

  2. Making your own bread!?! That is awesome.

  3. "Laurel's Kitchen" has very good advice and directions for whole wheat bread, which, not to burst your bubble, is harder to make well than white bread. Good luck!

  4. Thanks for the tip, Karen! I'll keep my eye out for a used copy of the Laurel's Kitchen bread book. They don't have a website, do they?