Eating for Health and Enjoyment
When my best friend recently told she had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, I got sad and then I got angry. The sadness came from knowing how hard it is to manage diabetes. I have had Type I diabetes—an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells that make insulin—for nearly 43 years. The daily challenges of managing blood sugar levels, food, stress, physical activity, sleep, and medications are never ending.
My anger came from the fact that she had allowed this to happen. Between March and September (a.k.a., the first six months of the pandemic), she’d eaten her feelings and gained 25 pounds, dramatically increasing her risk of developing Type II diabetes, a condition in which the body either no longer produces enough insulin or no longer effectively uses insulin. While some people can control Type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise, most also need medication. Many people are eventually forced to take insulin to properly control blood sugar levels.
The good news is that my best friend’s pre-diabetes diagnosis can be reversed, but she’ll need to work diligently to lose weight and find new ways to deal with the anxiety, stress and sadness of living in a major city during this pandemic.
When people ask me how I have managed to do so well for so long with Type I, I talk about three factors that I focus on—rest, exercise, and diet. Rest includes not only sleep quantity and quality (I aim for 8 hours a night), but also meditation and other stress- reduction techniques that allow my brain to rest and recover from daily stressors.
Exercise for me comes in many forms. Prior to the stay-at-home orders, I went to a gym and a yoga studio 3-4 times a week. On my “off” days I walked on the treadmill in my office, swam laps in our pool, or did yard work. When gyms and yoga studios closed, I opted for outdoor walks when the weather cooperated and more treadmill time along with lap swimming throughout the summer.
The diet part for me focuses on controlling the amount and types of carbohydrate in my diet. As I’ve gotten older, this has gotten easier. I’ve lost my sweet tooth and no longer have to work hard to say no to desserts and other super sweet treats. I now prefer savory foods, and I LOVE vegetables! I love shopping for, preparing, cooking, and eating vegetables of all forms. Except kale. I don’t like kale.
As a healthcare professional, I was delighted to read the peer-reviewed research on the benefits of Mankai when it comes to blood sugar control. This study of 20 obese adults compared the effects of a Mankai shake with a yogurt-based shake as an evening meal replacement. Each version of the shake contained the same number of calories, carbohydrate, and protein, but the Mankai shakes offered three important benefits.
One is called the post-prandial response. When we eat a snack or meal, our blood sugar levels rise after the meal. The sooner they return to the pre-meal level the better. The Mankai shakes offered this benefit.
The second benefit involved morning or fasting blood sugar levels, which were lower when the study participants consumed the Mankai shakes. Fasting blood sugar levels rise when people are at risk of developing full-blown diabetes; reducing your fasting blood sugar level reduces risk of diabetes.
The third benefit was hunger ratings, which were lower after consuming the Mankai shakes. When you’re overweight and trying to lose weight to decrease risk of developing diabetes, eating foods that are more satisfying and stave off hunger longer have definite benefits.
The benefits of Mankai don’t end here. It’s an amazing vegetable with so many positive nutrition benefits, including being a good source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, vitamin B12, and many other essential nutrients that promote health.
I’ve shared this information with my best friend and also ordered some Mankai for her. I’m also sharing my favorite ways to incorporate Mankai into foods and beverages. I enjoy helping keep her motivated as she makes important food and lifestyle changes.
Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amy Myrdal Miller has lived well with Type I diabetes since age 7. A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), Amy has focused her professional work on promoting food and lifestyle choices that promote good health. She is the founder of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm. Clients include Hinoman USA. A farmer’s daughter from North Dakota, today she and her husband live near Sacramento, CA, with their two super naughty cats Violet Grey and Schroeder, a.k.a., the Kittens with Mittens.