Friday, December 17, 2004

Insights from the Bowling Ball

As I cross over into month number 8 of pregnancy, you would think the usual "ice cream and pickles" mentality would be ruling my personal food court. Not so.

In fact, I thought I might be on vacation from obsessing about food when I had drop culinary school this semester. It was that, or take to standing naked in the walk-in to keep from passing out from the heat of the commercial stoves.

Alas, I was wrong. Enter the glucose test. This is a particularly sadistic test they do to pregnant women in their last trimester. First,you starve them for 12 hours, which, if you ask anyone I work with who has seen me hungry is a VERY BAD IDEA. Then they give you this day-glo orange beverage that is literally saturated with sugar (I think this is marketed in Latin America as Orange Fanta). And wait for an hour. About 70% of us pregnant women(the lab person tells me AFTERWARDS) cannot tolerate the solution. This would have been nice to know before I blacked out. Then they draw blood and see what kind of spike your blood sugar has taken. Mine was high. Mainly due to age, which we don't need to discuss, as I am in great shape and ate a good diet.

So, in their infinite wisdom, they send me off for another test, more starvation for 12 hours, and a DOUBLE STRENGTH dose of the nasty stuff. This time I made it about half an hour, and just before blacking out, uh, "lost" much of the test.

Turns out, only about 20% of us fail this second test. Which does not help the cause for those of us who cannot complete the test. Since this is the only test, they then slap a "high risk" label on you and off and put you on a restricted diet. Too restricted as I found out 9 less pounds later. I now look like a twig with a bowling ball duct-taped to it. My maternity clothes are hanging flat over my ass like one of those old guys with the little chicken legs and a huge beer belly. I live in fear of bending over (if I could bend over) and exposing a severe case of "plumber butt."

Now, you have a pregnant, confused and starving woman, who cannot be diagnosed and may not have an issue, living off 900 calories a day after exercise and baby needs for TWO WEEKS. I tracked every calorie burned and every bit of food I ate in the truest, most anal-retentive chef fashion. I was hungry, angry and mean going into the next appointment. When the doctor reviewed it all ... and proclaimed it "normal" well, kids, you did not want to be in his shoes.

There is a certain point where you KNOW something is not right and the by-the-book-or-we-get-sued medical bullshit is not working. This is when you take control of your own destiny. I demanded to see a dietician because NO, THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This was spoken in a tone of voice that did not invite debate of any kind. Sort of exorcist-like, but I had already spewed the orange "glucola" in a previous scene.

I won. And I got a lot more food. A lot. And a glucose monitor. I even got praise from the dietician for my food choices.

What I did not expect to get from all of this is an appreciation for the joy of being able to eat what I want occasionally (when I am not pregnant) and a realization of how difficult it is to be a diabetic in a world of bad food choices and huge portions.

For me, there should be a happy ending and very likely no problems at all, and no risk of diabetes. In the meantime, I have only certain foods I can eat at certain times, on schedule, with monitoring. In fact my whole day centers around when to eat, what to eat, checking what I ate, and what to eat next. It is nuts. No, wait, nuts are okay. I can eat those.

The moral here is, and what I now realize more than anything (even more than my cholesterol article learnings), is that it is food that is killing us (heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes), and food that can save us. It's the choices. As much capacity as a super-size with Biggie Fries has to harm us, healthy choices can heal us.

Food can be as much a cure as a threat. Fascinating. While I have not been great about keeping up this blog, this is a subject I will explore here in future posts. I hope to cover things like serving sizes, and in detail the healing properties of certain foods. Next post: "Spot the problems with this diet."

Until, then. Eat well, live well and happy holidays.