Skip to main content

A Four Generation Diabetes Story

I was going to write a diabetes valentines post for my other blog, veggie trader. I was going to write something pithy about love equaling food, and try to relate that somehow to overloading yourself with love and getting diabetic. I was going to write this in the context of the Let's Move campaign started last week by first Lady Michelle Obama. And then I was going to tie all this together on a blog which is really about gardening... but this is too difficult.  I'm not doing that, I'm writing about my dad instead.

First let me say that the Let's Move website could be A LOT better, the design needs to be more engaging, useful with actionable information. Oh how I wish I could have been consulted to work on that site! A full review of some of these "government sponsored help campaigns" will be coming soon.

Last Saturday I was hanging out with my dad and we started talking about his diabetes. He developed type 2 about 15 years ago around age 60. My dad's mother was diabetic as well as her father. That makes three generations of type two diabetics. (oops! I'm never going to get health coverage now!)

Looking back at my childhood and remembering how he acted about food I asked my dad, "How did you become diabetic?"

My dad had a clear answer, "I think it was a combination of factors. Denial on my part, and deceptive food labeling and marketing. I ate too much, and I ate too much sugar and too many highly refined foods which act like sugar in your body when you eat them." He went on to add, "I just wasn't really aware of what I was eating. There simply wasn't any diet or nutritional information available to anyone in the past. I had no way of knowing that some of the stuff I was eating (like white bread) was hurting me." The past meaning, before 2000. I remember my dad eating normally. He enjoyed sodas and wine and cheese and stuff, but I don't recall anything excessive. He definitely enjoys food though...

Then I asked, "When do you think you started to become diabetic?" and my dad's answer surprised me. "I think it all really started in my twenties." Really? So my next question, "Do you ever think back to your younger self and wish you could eat differently?" "YES! All the time. If I could go back I wouldn't have eaten so much ice cream. Or gone for that 3rd or 4th helping of cake or pie." Ah portion control.

"Also there were the issues with my mother," he added. Now this is the strange part - the mother connection which Michal Pollan alludes to in his book, In Defense of Food. Let's just say my grandmother was also a food lover and I think she passed some of her attitudes and eating issues on to my dad. My dad was what you'd call an 'emotional eater'. He doesn't do this any more but he used to eat to cheer himself up when he was down. This I think it's the root of his diabetes, more than genetics and portion control. We both think the emotional eating habit came from his mom.

The really interesting thing about my dad and his diabetes story is that he grew up on a homestead, a completely self sufficient household that produced it's own food. When he was a kid they had a cow for milk, chickens, gardens, and fruit trees. His grandmother would bake bread fresh almost every day in a wood oven! It's not as if my dad (or my diabetic for bearers) didn't know where good food comes from. Dad'll use his homestead childhood to justify eating well, citing the home-made butter on a fresh slice of warm bread from the wood oven.

So I'm the 4th generation in this story and I certainly don't want to wake up in the future to daily insulin injections. I'm the one who grew up with Saturday morning cartoons bombarding me with sugary cereals which thankfully my mother wouldn't allow in the house.  I also helped my parents in the kitchen - a place where I feel very comfortable today. We always prepared real meals from real foods - a lost art in these times! I'm convinced that kids today need the same hands on learning about food that I had.  You can only truly understand what you're eating when you plan, shop for, and prepare your own meals on a regular basis.  Now with a bit of awareness and a lot of practice (in & out of the kitchen) hopefully this diabetes story wont continue past the 3rd generation.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Human / Nature

About twelve years ago I didn’t really understand Climate Change but I was actually looking forward to it, sort-of like a good mystery I could become enthralled with.  At the time all I knew was I wanted a different lifestyle, and I thought, maybe Climate Change might make that happen? Maybe my life will actually be better because of it?  I had this fantasy about being a self sufficient bohemian gourmet, growing my own food harvested right in my yard. Mother Earth magazine seemed so bucolic. I wanted the opposite of my cramped apartment in San Francisco. In 2008 Climate Change was just an excuse to make changes, quit a job and move.   I moved East, close to my dad. I didn’t mention anything about Climate Change to my father, a total denier who was a meteorologist when he was in his 20s. There was no amount of practical data that would change his mind. He retired in ’93, with nothing to be stressed about so he simply didn’t care about anything but football, fishing and food.  

UX Design Process aka Web Product Design Process

So... I'm on Pinterest updating a 'board' for my portfolio and I discover that other people have pinned my Experience Design Process graphic from my website. Apparently this graphic comes right up in Google Searches if you search on on Experience Design Process. Since the image on my site is small I'm re-posting the graphic here! Can anybody guess what this image was originally create for? I don't know what I was thinking about these colors! So what is going on here? In the middle of the graphic is a series of linear main steps to take in order to design an interactive digital product. The process starts with identifying a project's goals and ends with meeting those goals. In order to meet those goals you need to do some careful work... Surrounding the steps are a set of tasks (or methodologies) to perform in order to complete each step of the process. Over-arching the entire process are guidelines like "vetting" and "informed iteratio

The Unsatisfying Story of Vegan Penn Jillette

Every so often my husband will mention how he’s interested in becoming vegetarian. Yesterday he was telling me about Penn Jillette, the famous comedian from Penn & Teller. He had read how Jillette is now a vegan, saying with personal interest that Jillette said “he feels so much better now.” First I was perplexed, we are both Penn & Teller fans and as performers over the years Penn Jillette struck me as an unapologetic manly man, veganism seems totally at odds with his character. I also barked at my burger loving husband, “What would you eat if you became a vegan? What do you even like that’s vegetarian?” There was no reply because my husband leaves all the food decisions up to me and I am nowhere close to being a vegetarian myself.  I wanted to know more about this so I go online and Google ‘Penn Jillette Vegan’ and found this LA Times article ;  “At 6 feet, 6 inches and 330 pounds, he was hospitalized for his high blood pressure and a 90% heart blockage. Already taki