Editor’s Note: Diabetes has been described as an epidemic among Latinos and is expected to affect half of the U.S. population by 2020. Type 2 Diabetes affects 1 in 10 Latinos, and Mexican-Americans are the most affected by this disease, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health. Latinas are 17 times more likely to die of diabetes than non-Hispanic white women. This is one in an occasional series examining this epidemic, a true-life experience of Viviana Rodriguez, a Mexican-American mom of three, living with the disease.
Read Related: Diary of a Diabetic, Part 1
I had to go buy groceries yesterday. I spent about $290. That’s about right for a family of five, and it will last us about two weeks. Before I became a mom $290 worth of food was good for about 2 months’ time, but not anymore. As a Diabetic Mom I usually get the whole, “Well, what do you eat?” interrogation by people who really believe it’s all in the food that a diabetic eats, but in all honesty, I really can’t afford to buy all the junk food that some people think my diet is made up of. Does that mean we have no junk food in the house, no, not at all. I have kids, 2 through 12 years old.
So yes, we do pack potato chips for them in their lunch boxes and they do have the occasional ice cream cone, but at almost $6 for a ½ gallon, ice cream doesn’t make the shopping cart often. My typical morning starts with a cup of coffee. That’s breakfast! Nothing more and nothing less for several reasons; first off my fasting morning sugar is usually higher than at other times throughout the day. When I am on medication, including metphormin (to help decrease sugar in the blood of people with Type 2 diabetes) and insulin, it’s in the 120 to 160 range, when I’m not on medication, it’s in the 220 to 250 range, as is the case now (see first diary entry).
The second reason is that I usually don’t have time to make breakfast, and I can’t afford to buy breakfast every morning. My mornings are very hectic. We start at 5:30 am, and I spend most of my time trying to get my 2 older kids out of bed, and getting the 2-year-old to work with me is a whole other adventure. Nonetheless we are out the door and on the way to day care by 6:55 am and this puts me at my office by 8:00 am on those mornings when I am not late. (smile) NUTRITIONALLY CHALLENGED My lunch is usually at 12:30 pm. I don’t eat anything in between breakfast and lunch because I’m busy at work, so when lunch time comes around I usually have leftovers from dinner the night before. Leftover are economical. I am a spoiled woman. Usually dinner is prepared and served by my better half, my husband Julio. On this particular day he made simple pasta with a beef spaghetti sauce, garlic bread and Community Coffee Diet Green Tea. In case you’re wondering if I do whole wheat, gluten free, etc…etc…etc… NO, I don’t do any of that. It wasn’t until I left for college that I started eating anything other than a diet high in re-fried pinto beans and eggs, sometimes potatoes, and almost always tortillas and chile. So, I’m fairly clueless about nutrition, gluten, etc. Since, I don’t prepare the meals, I don’t know the size of the portions either. I had a bowl of spaghetti and some bread, served by my husband. So today for lunch, I have a smaller container of spaghetti with meat sauce and another piece of bread.
Read Related: Are Latinos Doomed to Be Diabetic?
After lunch I finish off the work day and head home. I’m usually home by 5:30 pm, and I start helping the kids with their homework assignments. Usually my older son is doing the dishes, the little one is running around and the 9-year-old and I are sparring over her homework. Meanwhile, my husband is busy preparing our meal. Tonight it’s thin cut steak ($8 for a 3-pound package). He seasons it and fries it up in a pan. For sides, he heats up two cans of pinto beans ($.69 each) and mashes them up to make refried beans and a medium-sized pan of arroz (Mexican rice with celery, carrots, onions and tomatoes. Probably about $3). He serves me a regular plate of food with some meat with rice and beans and a tortilla. I drink a diet drink, sometimes a diet soda or iced tea with sugar substitute. Tomorrow I will take a layered container of rice, beans and meat for lunch, minus the tortilla. Also at least once a week—depending on the kids’ work load—my husband and I eat out. When we feel we can afford it, we will go do a sit down dinner at a Chinese or Mexican restaurant. When we don’t have time to cook, I am guilty of taking the easy route and picking up a pizza or some burgers for the family. This usually happens when one of the kids has a concert or awards program. I get it. I understand why some people think it’s the diet that makes someone diabetic, but I don’t know about that. I know it can help control things, and I do what I can. At times, I’m overwhelmed by work and family activities and take the easy way out. I’m sure several people will tell me different, but for me, this is what has to work, and I know we are not the only family that does this routine every single day. At the end of the day, I squeeze in a walk. I may walk a few times around the subdivision where we live, other times when I get home late, I head to are big box stores or outdoor outlet mall just to get some walking done.
About two years ago I was a BIG size 20. Today, I’m down to a size 16; still big, but not as big, and I can proudly say that I can wear some clothes that is a size 14. I still have a ways to go, but I’m inching downward. You may remember from Part 1 of my diary, that this is a new job and that while I am working fewer hours, I had a lag in insurance coverage. I’m getting closer to having health insurance, and I’m sure once I see the doctor, he’ll be outraged at my A1C levels and he’ll send me to yet another dietitian that gives me yet another routine to follow. I’ve seen so many dietitians, and I’ve been told I can have as much protein as I want and others have told me no beans, no pasta, no bread and all the green stuff I want. I’ll come home and—with Julio’s help and cooking—try to do it again, but in the end I will have to get the buy-in from everyone at home, and I don’t know if that will happen anytime soon. They tend not to eat, as they are used to our meat, beans and rice diet. I am the only diabetic at home and although I don’t want the kids to end up like me, I can’t make them change; I can only keep encouraging the change—and the exercise. It’s the reason I bought them a trampoline and a basketball hoop. It’s the reason we pay for them to participate in after-school activities, such as the running club my daughter is a member of. Despite the progress I’ve made personally, I get discouraged at times because although I have dropped some weight, the diabetes is still with me.