Feature photo by Marshall Astor
Let’s face it: no one ever wants to think that they’re sick, they’re dying or that they’re not invincible. Many people suffer a whole lot through their whole lives, worrying and caring for other people that when it comes to themselves, they haven’t a clue as to what to do in order to keep themselves healthy. Take the Latino community. How many times do you see abuelita easing up on the lard she uses to make sopes? Or the amount of vegetable oil, for that matter? “Pero, mijo, it says it’s made from vegetables!” It doesn’t matter. The fact is that our new and beloved country, the United States, isn’t as organic as the countries our ancestors hail from.
In Mexico, we knew who was growing what in their fields or gardens because we were picking it ourselves! Here, we can’t even tell you what kind of chemicals and hormones they put in our meat. So where am I taking you here? Well, what I’m trying to say is that Latinos are deep rooted in traditions and their food is one of them. They’re not going to change the ingredients they use, nor the recipes, because that’s how their abuelita used to make it and it won’t taste the same.
This leads us to the fact that we are no longer walking from house to house, out in the fields working or doing as much exercise as we once did back in la patria. Face it: Working is sitting at a desk so long, your ass is flattened, fat and wide. So where do we end up? Diabetic.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by being overweight and unhealthy. There have to be changes made in order to keep this epidemic from swallowing us whole. If you are not diabetic, but someone in your family is and you eat unhealthily (that means no fruits, veggies or water) there is a great chance that you too will hear the words, “You’re diabetic. You have to change your lifestyle,” from some guy in a white coat who’s ready to give you pills he can’t even pronounce. Kidding! Hopefully, that’s not the case.
So, what can you do to prevent this monster that can lead to kidney failure, blindness, sores that won’t heal, amputations, erectile dysfunction, and even death? Start watching what you put in your mouth. The reason why the cells in your body become resistant in Type 2 diabetes is unknown, and many say it’s genetic. I honestly think it has to do with your pancreas making too much insulin that your cells don’t know what to do with it because of all the crap one puts into their body.
Sadly, the way I describe diabetes to someone who doesn’t get it (my way of just nailing it home) is, “Food becomes your only poison.” Sad, isn’t it? If you’re one of those people who eat to live, not lives to eat, bless your heart. Although, it’s not true for Latinos and I have proof. A recent report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future,” found that one in six Mexican-American children were obese. For adults, (are you ready for this?) two in three are overweight or obese. Latinos make up 30 percent of the obese population in 19 states!
Overweight children in San Antonio are found to have higher than normal blood sugar readings, meaning that they would be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is preventable, as opposed to Type 1 diabetes, which is not.
Run around the block. I’m serious. Do 20 jumping jacks. Touch your toes. Stretch. Eat an apple instead of chips. Stay away from red meat and eat chicken. No, not fried chicken! I could tell you to do all of these things, but you won’t listen to me. You’re going to have to do it on your own.
For those of you who have Type 2 diabetes, you know that you can put that into remission, right? Yes, kind of like cancer. Your body can suddenly get back to normal if you jumpstart it by eating a balanced meal, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and checking your blood sugar! I cannot stress this enough.
Think of it this way, ready? Ok, so let’s say you have 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that’s supposed to look like a house with snow in the middle of the forest, once you put it together. If you don’t grab any pieces to start, you’ll never see the big picture. If you grab only two or three pieces, you might just have one white piece and the other black. But if you grab a handful or more, you’ll be able to maybe make out the house or a tree. See? Each piece represents a finger prick, a blood test, checking your sugar and the more you check your blood sugar, the more in balance you’ll be.
Doctors usually want you to check your blood sugar about seven times in one day for Type 1 diabetics, about three or four for Type 2 to make sure that you know how much medication to give yourself and how your body is reacting to your medication after you eat. For oral medication, you test to make sure your body is stable. The last thing that you want is for your body to be going through massive changes, especially when we’re talking about sugar in your blood stream. Blood sugar roller coasters are not good for your body. You’re disturbing the equilibrium and moderation that you’re supposed to have at all times.
The key to your body is keeping it in balance. If you can do that manually you’ll be as healthy as the person who doesn’t have diabetes. You’ll probably be healthier and thinner too. Get started and please ask if you have any questions.
Tips to Get You Started
- Drink more water. Every person is supposed to be drinking eight cups a day.
- Eat or drink cinnamon. It has been shown to lower and stabilize blood sugar, fight off cancer and prevent you from infection. It also helps with joint pain, so you and your mom, dad, abuela y tia can all share in some canela together.
- The more fiber the better. Fiber has also been shown to stabilize blood sugar and keep you satiated, so you don’t get hungry two hours after you eat.
- Look at nutrition facts. Eat less sodium; the average person is supposed to be consuming only 500 mg a day.
- Limit your carbohydrate intake. Make sure you know how much you’re eating. Tortillas have about 10 grams of carbs each. And really, you don’t need that pan dulce.
Follow Christina’s diabetes blog.