Category Archives: Diabetes Notes

Lucha Libre vs. Obesity & Diabetes

Fighting Obesity and Diabetes in the Latin Community!  

I am excited to share the good news that I will working with a small non profit group who are part of alternative media channel for the Latin Community (Las Perlas TV) who are heading a new campaign called Lucha Libre vs. Obesity & Diabetes in Toronto – where 7 Canadian-Latin American community leaders disguised as “Mexican Luchadores” (wrestlers who hide their identity behind flashy and elaborate costumes and masks) will participate in a “weight loss” competition to lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks through awareness of nutritional eating habits and improvements in their lifestyle.

LuchalibreVSobesity&diabetes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a link to their promo YouTube video to their kick off campaign where it’s fun and catchy and a great way to approach the topic with a culturally sensitive, positive manner.

I will be creating menus that consists of healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas for the whole family. I will be posting videos, recipes and pictures of the process so you can follow our exciting campaign and spread the word to anyone who is interested in eating delicious healthy food that uses Latin ingredients and also exploring world cuisine!

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Roncesvalles to Zubri

Chapter 10 – To Zubri (Day 2 of Camino)

After a long day of climbing the Pyrenees, you really feel all your muscles greeting you the next day “good morning” loud and clear – but in the same time we were ready to finish the Pyrenees and tackle something new.

Sign in Roncesvalles

Sign in Roncesvalles

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end ― Ernest Hemingway

We couldn’t convince our Innkeeper to give us breakfast early and she convinced us to stay for the grand breakfast. So we had to settle for breakfast at 8 am with items like Tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelet) ham, cheese and cakes. I guess I wait was worth it even though it put us an hour behind? It was also Sunday, the first day of “Running of the Bulls” part of San Fermin festival in Pamplona. So the bar was crowded with people watching the TV.

Gothic Pilgrims Cross 14thC

Gothic Pilgrims Cross 14thC

We were told by the Innkeeper that our walk would so much easier since it was flat. Roncesvalles has a rich history. Roland was a French military leader under Charlemagne during 8th century and led the war against the Basques across Roncesvaux pass and lost. On the way to Zubri through the forest you’ll see a gothic “Cross of the Pilgrims” representing King Sancho from 14th century.

Within 5 km you’ll come to the medieval village of Burguete – where its economy in the Middle Ages was based on pilgrim trade, shoe makers and barbers. 14th century most the town burned down.This Navarra region’s Sorginaritzaga Forest that we passed was called “Oakwood of Witches” was also famous for witchcraft in the 16th century and women were burned at the stake.

The writer Ernest Hemingway visited this village few times 1923-1959 and stayed at Hotel Burguete that still has his signature on the piano. He was inspired to write about the Navarra forests and San Fermin festival that influenced his book “The Sun also raises”.

We came across many villagers that were dressed in white and red clothing, returning from San Fermin festival at Pamplona only 20 km away. Walking through many villages the path was a steady and a quick ascend to Alto de Mezquiriz 955m and quick descend to Viskarret 750m where you have to be careful as the path was a slick paved concrete road. Without walking sticks you could tumble down and dangerous when wet. We stopped at Viskarret for lunch and tried the Navarran sausage bocadillo which was spicy with smoky paprika, delicious.

Village Burguete

Village Burguete

Valley

Valley

Steep down

Steep down

 

 

 

 

 

 

My temp basel at -50% was working like charm as I tested every hour during our walk and bolused 50% for my lunch. After lunch it was hard work – straight descend to 500m. The path was narrow and full of large boulders and rocks almost reminded me of dried up water bed – it was not easy to maneuver without actually stopping and taking few steps forward and stopping etc. Walking sticks or no walking sticks, this road down was downright brutal, one of the most dangerous descend, lot harder than yesterday as it was narrow and down.

At the bottom of the path we were pleasantly surprised to come to the village of Zubri – in Basque it means “Town of the Bridge” where everyone is greeted by the medieval bridge over river Agra.

Bocadillos

Bocadillos

Water break

Water break

Bridge Arga at Zubri

Bridge Arga at Zubri

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you walk past the bridge you come to the tiny old town where there is not much except couple of alburges. We had to walk extra 1.5 km out of town to get to our hotel as the travel company that we had booked with wanted us to have a private room. Our hotel was a nondescript hotel but was pleasantly surprised at the Innkeepers lovely greetings and his complementary Cider drink from the bar cheered our tired body. He happily stamped our passports and even took our luggage to our room as most Innkeepers don’t.

Fish Soup

Fish Soup

Cordero al chilindron

Cordero al chilindron

Flan

Flan

 

 

 

 

 

 

After our shower we had no energy to walk back to the town so we decided to eat the bar of the hotel. Most of the people at the bar were all dressed in red/white were from San Fermin festival in Pamplona and were glued to the television looking at the festival highlights. For the first course we had Fish soup (endless ladles) followed by (lamb stew) slightly different style than yesterday’s and for dessert homemade Flan (Crème caramel)  with Apple Cider wine – who knew it was a gastro pub, unforgettable! We counted our luck and slept like a baby.

Thought of the day: Totally loving being outdoors with nature all day feels like a dream.

Buen Camino!

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Saint Jean Pied de Port to Roncevaux

Chapter 9 – Getting to Roncesvalles (Day 1 of Camino)

Early morning we could see the early morning mist blanketed over the Pyrenees like it was waiting for the sunlight to unveil it.

I set my temp Basel to -50% (reduced the Basel insulin (slow acting insulin) to a temporary setting to -50% for a set time in my insulin pump) since the whole day will be “one long physical activity”. I set it for 12 hours as we heard it would take minimum 8 hours to reach Roncesvalles from the tourist office. I estimated from speaking to many people and Camino Forum it that would be minimum 10 hours – I just wanted the extra two hours for meal and blood sugar testing breaks. The full dosage of Basel insulin per hour would result in many low sugars and it could get dangerous to walk the mountain with the strenuous activity of climbing without proper training, snacks etc. This is what my whole training in Toronto was all about and this Basel setting has helped me knowing “my numbers” as Sebastien Sasseville talked about.

IMG_1799We stepped out of the hotel like warriors armed with our packs and walking poles like we were ready to tackle the mountain – totally exciting feeling. As we walked out of SJPP we could hear the church bell ringing 8 times as it was waving goodbye to us. We walked through the medieval “Gate of Spain” towards our “Route de Napoleon” and it really helped that we had walked few hundred meters yesterday so we were familiar with our path. Right away we could tell that it wasn’t going to be easy, within 400 meters out of town we climbed a steep hill that was so vertical it took us by surprise and we were out of breath. We found ourselves quickly out of town and walking by many farms. Our focus was to get to Orisson 11 km and if we could get there in 3 hours (giving us 3 hrs per km) as the climb was quite steep and hard.  We passed many pilgrims along the way and met a whole group of Canadians and many students from Europe all with big backpacks as we sported our small day packs.

Orisson

Orisson

Mountain view

Mountain view

Manech sheep

Manech sheep

 

 

 

 

If the Pyrenees could talk …

The climb was hard and invigorating in many ways; we stopped frequently to take a sip of water and Gatorade (to replace salt, carb and electrolytes) and snacked on fig-newtons (prescribed by many athletes as a snack of choice).  As we climbed the scenery kept getting grander and beautiful, we couldn’t believe our eyes. The only down side was that we had to keep climbing but we took few moments to enjoy the breathtaking view of the mountains and cows roaming the field as we could see SJPP disappear.  We met so many travelers at the water fountain after the village of Hunto as we all exchanged stories and wished Buen Camino to each other and climbed the mountain.  We anticipated how Orisson would look like? To our surprise Orisson snuck into us quite as a mouse, two buildings on the middle of the mountain road, that’s it – wow! We made it less than 3 hours to Orisson and we shouted in joy as we knew we were going to conquer the Pyrenees by end of the evening, no problem.

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes ― Marcel Proust

Like seasoned traveler we unloaded our pack on the eating area and filled our water bottles, made more Gatorade (we took Gatorade crystals) and packed on Bocadillo Chorizo (Spanish sausage sandwich) and said hello to few pilgrims and high tailed to the mountain as we knew we had a hard day head of us as we were only finished 1/3 of the climb.

Pyreneean chamois

Pyreneean chamois

Glorious lunch spot

Glorious lunch spot

Roland's Fountain

Roland’s Fountain

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyone reading this blog and wants to do the Camino there is no question, you must try the Route de Napoleon – the mountain and the view is incredible. Flocks of Griffon Vultures, Hawks and Falcons soared over hot air pockets looking for easy preys along the mountains as it was midday. You could see flocks of black faced sheep roaming the high pasture as they are called Manech for their exquisite milk producing Ossau Iraty cheese in Navarre. Many kinds of flora along the way – too many to mention and took pictures as we could as they blanketed the mountains. As we were in higher elevation about 1200m (about 15 km) we decided to take a lunch break in one of the prettiest spot along the road. We passed many pilgrims but none were close to each other as we were only one at this area and it was our castle for the time being. We sat on the rock and watched the sheep calling each other from one mountain to the other as they were singing. We could see at a distance Pyreneean chamois (wild horse) grazing the mountain pasture. I gave 50% bolus insulin for my lunch since the sandwich was so heavy in carb (so much bread).

Border France & Spain

Border France & Spain

Birch forest

Birch forest

Mistry mountain climb

Misty mountain climb

 

 

 

 

 

 

We could totally see us coming back to this climb once more in our life time as the serenity, the magic, the beauty in this mountain that I’ve never seen anywhere before. We packed up and walked toward to the summit as we still had another 5km to climb. The climb was harder than we thought as it became rocky with big boulders and you had to watch every step forward. Closer to 3pm still no sight of the summit as we didn’t see anyone for quite some time except at the distance the young Korean woman that we had met earlier who was walking slow and steady.

We got to the fountain of Roland and ran into a German traveler where he had been walking since April from Frankfurt by foot. It was quite inspiring to hear his story. After 2km we could reach the summit where there were many pilgrims resting and enjoying a snack. We fell to the ground in joy. We asked ourselves, where did all these pilgrims come from as most didn’t pass us? This was my first successful mountain climb to the summit the feeling was indescribable.  We met other travelers and exchanged stories as the German traveler said in all his journey climbing the Pyrenees was the longest and toughest. His comment somehow made us feel good as we thought it was only us who thought it was a tough climb taking 8 hrs to climb it.

Roman ruin (Mesala & Agrippa's win 27-38 BC)

Roman ruin (Mesala & Agrippa’s win 27-38 BC)

Bunker from 1936-39 Spanish Civil War

Bunker from 1936-39 Spanish Civil War

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a choice in descend paths as well as we were advised to take the steep 5 km path down to Roncesvalles rather than through a thistle path which was dangerous.  I am not sure which was dangerous but our path was straight down with large boulders and stones and every step had to be cautious, one false move could result in injury or falling forward.  The descend down was arduous and steep as well as we were going through thick forest and not knowing how far we had come down. Finally we could hear people, church bells not far away, as usual Roncesvalles at 950m snuck into us so quickly it was anticlimactic. It took us in total 10 hours from beginning to end including our breaks, not bad I thought, it was the longest day in our week journey.

Top of the summit  at 1450m

Top of the summit at 1450m

Our hotel was right on the path of the Camino and our suitcases were waiting. We got our second stamp and unloaded our packs as we were very curious to the famous church in town before it closed at 8pm.

Roncesvalles is a small town filled with a Romanesque church, a monetary and couple of albergues and a hotel, nothing more, not even a grocery shop or shop of any kind. So bring extra supplies until you hit the next town. We were happy to meet other travelers at the bar of our hotel which was quite famous (the only one) and exchanged stories while having a beer.

Church of Santiago 13thC

Church of Santiago 13thC

Monastery

Monastery

New church & Alburge

New church & Alburge

 

 

 

 

 

 

It felt like everyone knew each other. We were introduced to other Canadians who walked that day as people got the wind that we were from Canada and that we might know each other. It’s quite funny actually but it was nice to connect and hear everyone’s stories.

Roasted piquillo peppers

Roasted piquillo peppers

Cordero al chilindron

Cordero al chilindron

Cod with potato

Cod with potato

 

 

 

 

 

 

For dinner we had the regional food from Navarra which was exquisite and had the same wine Irouleguy that we had in SJPP. If you are in Navarra you must try the cordero al chilindron (Lamb stew), its outstanding made with local wine. After dinner we passed out in bliss contemplating how our next day’s long trek to Zubri was going to go.

Thought of the day: I can really do this!

Buen Camino!

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Camino Fitness Notes from Bodensee

Chapter 4 – Diabetes Blood-glucose planning from Germany

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – Lao Tzu

While I was describing the beauty of Singen Hohentwiel in chapter 2 I forgot to talk about my diabetes blood sugar prep work for my hike for the hilly 23 km walk. There is a lot of prep work involved before taking such task as walking for more than 4 hours since blood sugar really depends on the energy available, insulin taken and the difficulty of the path (hilly terrain).

Wild forest

Wild forest

I had a good German breakfast – muesli w/ low fat milk (complex carb) cold cuts, cheese and a boiled egg (protein, fat) and low fat yogurt – about 60 g CHO (carb) and I Bolused for 50% of CHO and set temp Basel for 8 hrs in case I run out as I have in the past. Average walk for me is about 5 km for an hour and 23 km shouldn’t take me long but then again we are talking about walking around Hohentwiel with steep hills and the beauty of the wild forest and the native animals that come to say hello, so it took longer.

We started at 10 am and we got back at 4pm – that’s 6 hrs and we took two long breaks each being over 30 min plus stopping to take pictures, just stopping to enjoy the beauty of the land. So 6 hours for as predicted.

Many snails crossing

Many snails crossing

Young Deer

Young Deer

Rabbit enjoying grass

Rabbit enjoying grass

 

 

 

 

 

 

My blood sugar was perfect the whole trip as I sipped mostly Gatorade and water every half hour as I was sweating a lot to replenish my salt (electrolytes) and hydration. I also found fruit bars in Singen as they didn’t have granola bars and they were good without too much sugar as each piece was about 6g CHO. Gatorade, fruit bars substituted as my fuel for every hour – since there were few parts of the path that were very steep and challenging. Bigger snack – here it goes pretzel broken into 4 pieces and I ate it throughout, couple of apples, and a sandwich filled with ham and cheese. So all in all it was a true Camino training walk – walking through the forest covered in mosquitos, ticks, snails, deers, rabbits and wild birds – beauty all around.

Frog crossing sign (during migration)

Frog crossing sign (during migration)

When I finished my walk my blood sugar was 7.2 mmol – perfect and my temp Basel was almost running out. I had to be careful that I wouldn’t have a low sugar within the next hour so it was important for me to have a protein, sugar drink after I got back to the room so had something similar to Boost. I had a lake pickerel with roast potatoes and a large salad and I Bolused only 90% and my blood sugar was perfect before bed as it was 7.6

Awesome day indeed and looking forward to the Camino doing this every day and hope my blood sugar will be okay as it was this day but testing is key for every hour if possible and not push but taking the time. Camino is not about how quick you can do the walk but the quality of the walk – indeed it’s the Camino after all.

Buen Camino!

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Pump me up!

IMG_2031April 15, today I went from MDI (Multiple Daily insulin injection) to an insulin pump. I was really scared of insulin pump for many reasons… but before we get started I would like to share my story with you.

I was diagnosed with type1 diabetes November 14, 2005. November 14th is world diabetes day and it was quite dramatic to find out about this chronic disease in my adult life on this particular day. Is it really possible to get type1 diabetes (T1D) at adult life? Yes it is possible. So the last 4.5 years I have been taking multiple insulin injections 5 times a day (3 rapid insulin (bolus) injections before meals and 2 slow acting insulin (basel), one at bed time and one at breakfast). I will tell you about my symptoms and being diagnosed on one of my future blogs.

Anyways I have been taking good care of myself but my H1a1c results weren’t always good and I got lazy with my carbohydrate (carb) counting and insulin ratio was never accurate. I am a chef and I know about food and this should be easy right?

No! Why? Too many variables, if you are a person with T1D you know about them. Everyday stress of life, activities, hormones  and many other factors have always brought my blood glucose (BG) up and down and my Endo (Endocrinologist) was stressing me out because my numbers were not good enough.

Insulin Pumps have come long way baby!

Two years ago I tested myself using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) for 3 days to figure out what was going on my BG. It was an archaic machine with a big fat needle that hurt like crazy and of course wearing the CGM my BG was perfect for 3 days. So they really couldn’t figure what was going on but my BG continue to go up and down.

Government of Ontario two years ago approved Adults with type-1 diabetes for EDP program and can have a pump at no cost. Well I didn’t jump at that chance, since I know how much work it is to get the pump working the way you want it to work for you. I belong to a insulin support group and everyone but me was on the pump and hearing their stories wasn’t easy. For some people it clicked right away and for some people it didn’t. It has nothing to do with whether you are doing right or not, but everybody is unique and getting the pump to understand your body is much harder than you think. I will explain all of that in my future blogs.

Ready to cook and learn?

Anyways renovation in my cooking studio is over and I have no more excuses so I signed up for a pump. I am cooking up diabetes recipes and will be logging them here too. Here is my journey. If you are a person with type-1 or type-2 diabetes and want to exchange ideas, information and learn to cook some lovely food that is suitable for people diabetes come join me here. I look forward to hearing your stories and ideas because with diabetes, there is so much to learn and everyday is a new day.

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Pretzel Story!

Pretzel1To Pretzel or not to Pretzel

I went to a type1 Diabetes (T1D) symposium two nights ago and there was a topic on type 1 diabetes: the creative, adventurous and active life. Diabetes and food go hand and hand and I should know this since being diagnosed with type-1 diabetes over two years ago. I pay attention to what I eat. Taking it further, I teach healthy diabetic cooking class at the hospital, at my cooking school and provide education and awareness about diabetes and advocacy for the South Asian Diabetes Chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association. I put my brain and my thinking where my mouth is so to speak and conscious of what I eat all the time, it’s a 24/7 numbers game since it affects my blood sugar and my well being.

Most people with diabetes (type1 or type2) have to think about their carbohydrate intake to balance their blood sugar level. People with T1D diabetes have to count the carbohydrates to consume in order to take insulin. I won’t go into too much detail and save it for another post, but you really have to get good at counting the total carbohydrates of what you eat, most of the times eyeballing an estimate (you do get good at it) so you can take the proper insulin dosage.

It’s an art, it’s science and its critical and its survival. I have been counting carbs since I started my insulin regiment over two years ago. The hardest part is not knowing new food items, choices are millions. Especially when the item is freshly cooked or it doesn’t have the nutritional value label on it.

For example, take the simple warm soft pretzel with sprinkles of sea salt on them – they sell them at many events these days, New York streets (it brings back memories) –  how harmful can it be?

Well at the talk, one of the doctors talked about carb intake and asked us to guess carb amount for  few items. Every T1D person knows a slice of bread (white or brown) is approximately 15g of carb, its the fibre that makes the glycemic load (absorption different), that’s another post in the future. Next item was a soft pretzel and asked people to guess. People guessed 30g, 40g even 60g. The innocent looking soft pretzel that I loved eating with mustard in balls parks, New York streets and on my last visit to Germany for a snack… I couldn’t even guess. They are harmless looking – soft, light and I thought it could be as much as a half bagel which is about whopping 35g of carb (this is why I can’t eat a bagel). I can have two slices of bread and be still under half a bagel’s carb rate due to fibre.

Well the good doctor said the soft pretzel was 200g of carbohydrate. The audience jaws just dropped. I could easily eat two of them for a snack and it’s one of the national snacks in Germany. Everybody eats them and they are great.

I went home heavy hearted and sad. I go to Germany at least once a year and for me not to be tempted for a snack, how can this be? Sure I can take insulin for 200g of carbs, but it’s like blowing all your carb in one item for the whole day (more or less). I didn’t sleep well – I kept tossing and turning and pondering about “to pretzel or not to pretzel”, the question kept plaguing me all night.

Well the next morning I was tired but I did some research and was happy to find that the good doctor didn’t do his research well or he just wanted us to be aware of the high carb snack with slight exaggeration. I still can’t eat it everyday but it can be done.

One soft pretzel is approximately about (143g in weigh approx.) and 99g of carbohydrate, 483 calories and 2008mg of sodium (one full day’s worth of salt supply almost) *facts provided by Nutrition data

I haveT1D and have strong insulin resistance. Most people take 1 unit of Insulin for 15g of carb, but I will still need 11 units of rapid insulin to battle this soft tasty pretzel, so I guess Pizza, Bagel and now soft Pretzel are off my list and only allowed for special occasions when I feel like taking 12 units of insulin before consuming it.

Some interesting facts to think about before eating this tasty soft pretzel for people with diabetes or not:

Exercise required (Based on a 35 year old female that’s 5.74′ ft. tall and weighs 144 lbs.) * facts provided by Calorieking.com

To burn the calories of this soft tasty pretzel you could do any of the following:

94 minutes of walking OR 39 minutes of jogging OR 28 minutes of swimming OR 52 minutes of cycling

At the end of the day, I am relieved that the soft pretzel is not 200g of carb but 99g of carb – but I am still not convinced to take 12 units of rapid insulin but will reach for a cookie instead (mare 15g of carb) and save the soft pretzel for my next trip to Germany or New York instead.

 

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