Friday, July 15, 2016

How Diabetes Has Changed My Prepping

Last July, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a condition that I likely had for several years without realizing it. I only realized something was seriously wrong after I developed severe eye problems (diabetic retinopathy, with wet macular inclusions). I wrote about this experience back in October. In this article, I want to examine how my diabetes and eye problems have changed my prepping one year later. 

A New Emphasize on Health and Fitness

Having gone trough what I have over the last year, I now have an even greater appreciation for good health and fitness. I've made major changes to my diet and lifestyle aimed at rebuilding my health and improving my fitness. Health and fitness is no longer an afterthought in my preparations, but is now a major foundation of my preparedness activities. Daily exercise is a must. And eating healthy is the goal of every meal and snack. This means that I have done a lot of research on what constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle, reading a variety of books and articles. Most importantly, I've also kept an extensive food & health journal, recording how individuals foods, food combinations, exercise, and sleep effect my blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, and energy levels.

In my opinion, most preppers and survivalists including myself, treat health as almost an afterthought, preferring to spend their time and efforts on stockpiling food & water, guns & ammo, and other more interesting (and, frankly, easier) activities. Just take a look around at how many preppers still smoke, or are overweight/out-of-shape.

Changes in Food Storage

I've learned that my body cannot handle grains, even supposedly healthy grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. Even a small serving of these "healthy" grains cause huge spikes in my blood sugar. Problem: Storing large quantities of grains, pasta, flour, and sugar, as part of your food supplies is a prepper mainstay. But I can't eat bread, pasta, cereal, or sweets. Potatoes are another food that plays havoc with my blood sugar, so scratch dried and instant potatoes off my list of foods to stockpile. What to do?

I have to store more of the foods I can eat. Luckily, beans have only a mild effect on my blood sugar, so I've been stocking up on those, both dried and in cans. But I have to watch the canned beans to avoid those that have a lot of added sugar! I've also been stocking up on other canned veggies, such as tomatoes, carrots, spinach & other greens, and sauerkraut (fermented foods are very good for diabetics). But, again, I have to pay attention to the ingredients because many brands include lots of added sugar!

I'm also increasing the amount of my canned meats, such as chicken, turkey, tuna, and salmon. Meats have no negative impact on blood sugar, as long as there is no added sugar, of course.

I don't use sugar anymore. I either eliminate sugar from recipes altogether, or use Stevia or small quantities of fruit or honey as a sweetener. So, I've been stocking up on Stevia and honey.

Adjustments to Gardening

Gardening is a great way to get exercise, and to get lots of fresh, healthy produce. The adjustment I've made to my gardening this year is no corn (I can't eat grains) or potatoes, and more of the ultra-healthy leafy green stuff, like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, and turnip & mustard greens. I also added broccoli this year, with excellent results. Of course, I've continued to plant tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers, zucchini, and other veggies. All those foods are healthy and have only a very mild impact on my blood sugar. (I've never grown wheat or other grains, and now probably never will.)

Some Other Adjustments

My distance vision is back to normal, but I still need reading glasses to read. I've stocked up on reading glasses, buying a dozen over-the-self pair in the magnification I currently use, as well as a few in higher magnification in case my vision worsens later on. In addition to keeping a pair of reading glasses on me at all times (now part of my EDC), I also have extras at my desk, in my vehicles, and in my survival pack (BOB). .

The treatments to restore my eyes (six injections in my left eye, nine in my right eye, plus laser surgery to seal leaking capillaries in my right eye) have thankfully worked, but have left my eyes extremely sensitive to bright light. I cannot go outside or drive without sunglasses, and will sometimes wear sunglasses indoors if its very bright inside. So, I've stockpiled lots of extra sunglasses. I have extras at home, in my vehicles, and in my survival packs.

Although I don't need large print books, as the reading glasses work just fine, I decided to purchase a large-print Bible just-in-case I need it later on... I might look into getting large-print editions of a few other books, too, for the same reason.

I'm currently working an a separate article about what I've learned regarding what really constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle. It should be posted on my website by the end of this month, so please look for it soon. 

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