Two Viewpoints

Over the past several weeks I have been feeling like a ping-pong ball, bouncing back and forth between opposing viewpoints.

No, this is not a post about politics, although the same case for the same could be made: Two diametrically opposed points of view; each professing to be “right” and the “only way.”

When I was first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), I knew precious little about the disease. Oh, I knew it had deadly consequences, and that it had to do with excessive sugar in one’s blood, but that’s about all I knew.

Life isn’t as simple as that, and neither is the human body. I found Understanding Type 2 Diabetes, a fact-filled web site written in a quirky manner by a man who, like me, had found himself diagnosed with no understanding of the meaning of that diagnosis. I have been reading it (and other sites) copiously, and my understanding of diabetes has grown enormously. Ken Stephens (the author of Understanding…) got me to thinking, and I had previously been drawn to the work of Joel Fuhrman, MD., so I began to explore. I joined a private Facebook group based on the writings of Dr. Jason Fung, and hints from Stephens.

So, I started following the diet regimen there, which consisted of eating a low carbohydrate, high-fat diet, excluding processed foods, added sugars, and “white food” (pastas, rices, breads, etc.). I thoroughly enjoyed having bacon and eggs for breakfast, although it saddened me a little to think I couldn’t eat fruits and some of the more “comfortable” foods. This is, essentially, a keto (short for “ketogenic”) diet.

Then came a webinar I joined, from a Fuhrman reference, I think. Here were two actual diabetics talking about reversing insulin resistance through eating whole, plant-based foods. They offered a year-long program and guaranteed that it would work. Well, I wasn’t born yesterday, so my belief in Internet guarantees is that they’re worth the paper they’re written on, but I made a decision: Here was a structured program, guaranteed to improve my diabetes condition. This was no time to play cheap with my health, so I took the plunge.

The program is called Mastering Diabetes (MD), and its co-hosts are Cyrus Khambatta, Ph.D. and Robby Barbaro. Theirs is an online course, Internet webinars, a private Facebook group, and lots of helpful printouts and tips.

But Mastering Diabetes is all about high carbohydrates and low fats. The similarities are the expulsion of “processed” foods, sugars, and “empty” white foods. Another similarity is that both Fung’s philosophy and this is the concept of intermittent fasting.

I’m on my second week of MD. I haven’t fasted on this plan yet, but I did several times on the “keto” diet. Water and green tea were all I needed to get me 18-20 hours of fasting.

What I’ve discovered in this short amount of time is that both programs have worked to lower my blood sugar. All of my readings for the past four days have been in the “green” zone (80-140 mg/dL (4.5-7.8 mmoL). This pleases me to no end, but I want to improve to the lower end still.

Mastering Diabetes gets my nod because their focus is less on the level of glucose in the blood, than on insulin resistance, and the causes behind it. High blood sugar is like the fever exhibited when one has an infection. You can either treat the fever or treat the infection. I choose to treat the infection!

Now, I may be a bit premature and/or presumptuous, but here’s my initial take on both programs: They both work. Maybe it isn’t so much in the details, but their similarities strike the right chord: Get rid of junk food, processed food, and sugars (hidden and otherwise), and things tend to straighten out. The epidemic of diabetes is such because too many people have taken the “easy” way, and eat junk food, fast food, and boxed food. I’ve gotten back to using my kitchen (which I actually enjoy) and I’m already healthier as a result!

The Acceptance Factor

I was recently diagnosed as Diabetic. I’m still processing that news. I guess at some point in everyone’s life, bad news about one’s health is inevitable. After all, no one lives forever.

My surprise came at the fact that I do not fit the profile of a Type-2 diabetic; I’m not overweight (5’10”, 147 lbs. a BMI of 21.1 – smack dab in the middle of “normal”), I don’t drink alcohol, sugary beverages, smoke, dine at fast-food restaurants, am relatively active, and feel great! But there it was: blood tests showed my hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c, also referred to simply as A1C) level at 13.

According to WebMD, a normal A1C reading is below 5.6. 5.7 to 6.4 suggests a pre-diabetes condition, and anything over is 100% diabetic. My test at 13 showed I had over twice the level of glycolated hemoglobin.

HbA1c Readings

So, in the face of immediate denial, I thought back on my behaviors over the past year. Sure, I don’t drink soda pop or eat greasy fast food, but I have been gorging on Starburst candies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and lots of ice cream. Add pasta, rice and potato dishes more often than not, and there was certainly a recipe for disaster!

Starburst Candies
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. The “mini” size

A wake-up call, for sure! Here I am, a former marathon runner, getting old, sedentary and careless about my diet. My second thought, post-denial, is that diabetes is one condition that is managed by self-care. There are some, like Joel Fuhrman, MD, who believe that Type-2 diabetes is completely reversible! This is accomplished by adopting a new way of eating — a “nutritarian” approach, that focuses not on macronutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates), but on food that are dense with nutrients, phytochemicals, vitamins, etc. He has a simple formula: H = N / C, where H is health, N is nutrients and C is calories. Focusing on macronutrients means counting calories. Focusing on micronutrients automatically reduces calorie intake and feeds (literally) the body what it needs.

There’s a lot of (often contradictory) information and advice online. While I’ve been researching, I’ve also started building a healthcare “team.” I now have a primary care physician, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), an endocrinologist, and a dietician. In addition, I include my dentist, eyecare doctor and dermatologist. I will likely add a podiatrist to the list. But the “boss” of my health care is ME.

As in running, this battle will not be a sprint, but a marathon. I may experience setbacks, but I’m determined to lick this condition!

Culinary Delights, pt 2.

I lied.  I was going to make one post about two different dinners, but I found I couldn’t do it.  So, here is Part 2:  The Dalí Dinner.

For years, I have made attending the annual Salvador Dalí Museum a key part of my year.  In the beginning, this event was called a “benefit,” as the funds raised by attendance costs helped pad the museum’s treasury.  Having now been established as one of St. Petersburg, Florida’s prime attractions (attracting more than 50,000 visitors each the first of this year’s two months), the annual dinner has now become the place for the rich and famous to be seen.

This year’s dinner was especially meaningful for me, as I was seated next to the newly-elected museum president, Karen Lang Johnston — at her request.  In fact, she told me, “The Morses [Brad and Mary Ann, son and daughter-in-law of museum founders Reynolds and Eleanor Morse] wanted you at their table but I insisted you sit at mine!” What an honor, and how far I’ve come since sitting in a corner somewhere.

Diners are seated in the gallery, among the artist’s masterpieces.  This year, we were appropriately seated in the Honorable Eugene and Karen Lang Johnston Gallery, where Dalí’s “The Ecumenical Council” hangs.

dali's ecumenical council

The Ecumenical Council, by Salvador Dalí

Food this year was catered by Parkshore Grill, the parent company of Café Gala, the museum’s own eatery.  Hors d’oeuvres were served in the Foyer and Gran Sala and included oxtail, lobster ceviche and shrimp skewers.


Roasted Beet Salad






The first course was a Roasted Beet salad with Mango Habenero Vinaigrette, Toasted Pepitas, Queso Fresco, Pomegranate Seeds, Petite Green Beans.





The seafood entree was Grilled Open Blue Cobia with Guajillo Chili Sauce, Avocado Mousse, and Crispy Pork Belly.

Grilled Open Blue Cobia

The meat entree was Cocoa Chili Rubbed New York Strip Steak with Mole Verde, Sweet Potato Puree, and Crispy Corn Tortilas (which oddly enough, were absent from the plate).  Dessert was Cactus Pear Mousse, Toasted Coconut Mexican Chocolate Truffle and Pistachio Guava Macaron.



Cocoa Chili Rubbed New York Strip Steak

Cactus Pear Mousse, Toasted Coconut Mexican Chocolate Truffle, Pistachio Guava Macaron

The Menu – 2017 Salvador Dalí Museum Dinner

Culinary Delights

Some people eat to live.  Others live to eat.  To me, one of life’s great pleasures is enjoying a variety of foods; I’ve said repeatedly over the years that I would try anything once. Whether it be a rich, hearty bowl of phở

bowl of pho

Phở – Comfort in a bowl!

enjoyed communally, or a seven course meal served privately by an internationally-trained chef, food is to me something to titillate the senses, as well nourish the body.

I had the great pleasure of experiencing both this week, and then some!

To start, I spent five days and nights aboard the cruise ship Carnival Paradise.  Not being given to hyperbole, I wouldn’t say the ship lived up to its name, but it’s pretty well known that the food aboard cruise ships is one of the allures.  The buffet dining is satisfying, the pizzas cooked on the spot, and the formal dining offers a gustatory treat.

But nothing compares to a chef’s table.  Offered on the cruise, I jumped on the opportunity and made sure several times that my reservation was in place.  It was.

Sadly, I didn’t think at first to use my cell phone camera, so I missed taking some shots of a few of the hors d’oeuvres.  But I did make sure to shoot the menu,


Seven courses of inventive, excitingly savory food.

which lists each of the seven courses.  Not as lovingly and detailed as the chef presented them, but it’s the best I can do.

The evening began with a brief tour of the ship’s galley.  Preparing food for 2,200 people is not a task taken lightly, and a staff of over 60 people work in around-the-clock shifts to make sure it’s right.

In the galley, we enjoyed our hors d’oeuvres. Shown here is the Beef Carpaccio on Air Pillow, Chocolate Bacon, Apple Ribbon.  Wow.

Also pictured is the Double-cooked Lamb, Tapioca.  Even pictures can’t describe the delicacy and sensation of myriad spices and ingredients.


Beef Carpaccio on Air Pillow, Chocolate Bacon with Apple Ribbon

Double-cooked Lamb, Tapioca. The name doesn’t begin to describe the taste.

Bleu Cheese rolls, crackers and flavored butter

Duck Textures, Creamy Quinoa, Parmesan Churros, Olive Snow, Port Wine Jus

Two Tomatoes, Three Basil, Crisped Brioche, Garlic Chip

Waygu (Kobe) Beef, Bone Marrow Soufflé, Scallion & Garlic Panisse, Gremolata Crisp

Sea Salt Praline Chocolate, Raspberry Mojito, Key Lime Cake, Apricot Vanilla Gel, Citrus Cream