A couple of days ago I went to my doctor to get the results of a physical I had done. I was feeling pretty good: I have been going to the gym pretty regularly, eating better. I expected a clean bill of health.
So I was a bit surprised when my doctor looked over my test results and began, “Well, we’ve got some things we need to work on…”
He showed me my glucose levels — too high –; my cholesterol levels — too high. Ugh. He showed me a test result that said “5.9.” You know what “6.0” means?” he asked. “It means you have diabetes.”
Diabetes runs on both sides of my family. Mostly late onset and non-debilitating, but lots of familiy members have it. I don’t want to be one of those people.
The good news is that there are lots of things you can do to get that number lower,” my doctor counseled. “Basically you need to eat better and take Omega-3 fish oil supplements every day.”
He gave me a sheet of paper with a recommended diet that he created combining the best aspects of Atkins, South Beach and Weight Watchers into a very simple system. It had a drawing of a plate with 3/5ths of the plate taken up by vegetables, 2/5ths by protein and 1/5th by starches. It looked like no meal I had ever eaten in my life.
The traditional Filipino diet is largely made up of rice. In fact the verb “to eat” basically means “to eat rice.” Lots of developing countries have similar diets of course, based on the high price of meat and fresh vegetables.
In my household growing up, we ate rice with everything — spaghetti, mac n’cheese, beef stew, whatever. We typically put two heaping scoops onto our plates and layered whatever else we were eating on top of that starchy sediment.
So for my doctor to tell me to cut back on my starches was basically advising me to stop eating food.
I’m going to take small steps so I don’t become completely miserable: Switch to brown rice (ugh), eat smaller and more frequent meals, stock up on nuts and fruits to keep me from junky foods, read up more on healthier eating.
What I am not going to do: swear off sweets or stop eating rice completely. If I can’t have a stropwafel cookie or kare-kare and rice every once in awhile, you might as well shoot me now.