Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Way Back to Health, a best-seller by William Davis, MD, answered a lot of my questions about what foods a diabetic should eat. Short answer: not anything containing wheat.

I already knew that eating bread—and other things containing wheat—made my blood glucose levels soar above 250 and caused other problems, such as bloating and fatigue. What I didn't know what just how much damage wheat consumption could cause.

Davis, a cardiologist who gives the name "wheat belly" to the excess abdominal fat that wheat eaters have, believes wheat consumption (and gluten sensitivity) is responsible for a variety of ills—not only celiac disease, but also obesity, high blood sugar levels, asthma, liver diseases, thyroid problems, some cancers, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, seizures, allergies, lupus, IBS, Chrohn's disease, and others. Wheat consumption even affects the aging process.

According to Davis, the wheat we have now is vastly different from the wheat of a half century ago. In the first part of his book, he goes into great detail and traces the history of wheat from Biblical times to the present. Part Two of his book explains the connection between wheat and various health problems. Part Three explains how to create a wheat-free life. And he includes recipes.

Like several others (for instance, Gary Taubes, author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and  Why We Get Fat), Wilson takes issue with the American Diabetic Association recommendations that promote low-fat, high carb eating. For instance, from page 156:

Low-fat diets are not benign. The high-carbohydrate, plentiful whole grain intake that unavoidably results when fat calories are reduced triggers higher blood glucose, higher insulin, greater deposition of visceral fat, and more VLDL and triglycerides. . . .

While Wheat Belly is written in an informal engaging style, it is nonetheless packed with annotations, references, and end-notes. Davis cites numerous sources to support his premise.

If you'd like to learn more about the "wheat belly" idea without reading the book, here's a relatively quick way. In two YouTube videos, Dr. Davis explains his ideas. Each video is about 20 minutes. Here's part I:

Here's part II:

During the three weeks since I read Wheat Belly, I've mostly eliminated wheat from my diet as well as  lowered the amount of carbs I eat. Eventually, I hope go completely wheat-free, but wheat seems to be in everything. In the three weeks I've (mostly) been off wheat, I've lost about five pounds and no longer have acid reflux. My blood glucose levels have gone down substantially. Though not as low as I want them to be, my BG gets lower than 130 on most days (from a high of 250+) and I hit 114 yesterday—my lowest in I don't remember when.  I have a lot more strength, stamina, and energy.

If you're diabetic or you have other health issues, you might want to take a look at Wheat Belly. Can't hurt, might help.

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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Winter Wind

We've had all sorts of weather this week, from last weekend's snow to unusually warm days mid-week to this weekend's gale-force winds. 

Friday began with a tornado threat that continued most of the day. Luckily nothing touched down, although the wind blew hard and a few rain showers fell during the afternoon. The wind-blown clouds put on a good show.

Turkeycock Mountain (toward the south)

Smith Mountain, northeast
The wind overturned lawn chairs and prompted the cats to seek shelter.

For a while, Chloe hid under the boxwood and held onto a tree.

When the southern sky looked especially ominous, Jim-Bob ducked under the truck. 

Chloe moved from her boxwood to the deck but wrapped her tail around a post.

All day long, the wind blew and the ever-changing cloud show continued.

Southeastern sky mid-afternoon

North, toward Peaks of Otter  late afternoon

Smith Mountain, late afternoon

Turkeycock Mountain, afternoon

Turkeycock Mountain, late afternoon

Between Chestnut and Jack's Mountains at sunset

The wind howled all Friday night. Saturday was a bright blue day but still very windy. Clouds—smaller than the day before—blew across the sky all day.


Peaks of Otter

Saturday's setting sun turned the clouds pink in the western sky.

On Saturday night, the wind finally died down. What weather will be next this strange winter?


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Warning: A rant. No cute kitty pictures or nature pictures today.

A few weeks ago, I posted about upgrading some things in my life, including my physical condition.

Because I'd fallen off the low-carb wagon and my diabetes had gotten a lot worse, I signed up for a diabetes management class. I was hoping to learn some good low-carb recipes, some info about recent developments in diabetic research, more about how the glycemic index works, some good books about diabetes management, etc. Also, I'd started a new diabetic drug—prandin—and I wanted to learn more about it. I also needed motivation to take charge of my diabetes.

Of the three classes so far  in the six-class program, none has addressed my concerns. These first three classes have been about following the food pyramid and eating low-fat foods. Years ago I learned that the food pyramid wasn't healthy for diabetics and that I couldn't eat the recommended 45 to 60 carbs per meal without having my blood sugar levels go way over 250 (normal is 90-100). I knew that experts in the diabetic field—such as Richard Bernstein, MD, and William Davis, MD—didn't believe in the food pyramid or the high carb diet that the American Diabetes Association recommends and which doesn't work for diabetics.

At last Friday's class, we were given a handout called "Eat Less Fat." It was originally prepared by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension in 1996. It looked sort of like a coloring book and  was loaded with misinformation. Here are some of the pages:

Eating dietary fat doesn't necessarily make you fat unless you eat a lot of it. Fat is one of the three sources of energy, the others being protein and carbohydrates. (In fact, some medical personnel are starting to recognize benefits of a ketogenic diet.) Carbohydrates—not fat—are the problem for diabetics. See Chapter 9 of Dr. Berstein's Diabetes Solutions book for more detailed info. 

No way will I ever spray this stuff onto pans that touch my food. I'm trying to avoid "chemical" food and eat more natural stuff.  I'm pretty sure the propellent used in the aerosol isn't natural. (Pam, the leading brand of non-stick vegetable oil sprays, uses propane, isobutane and n-butane as propellant gases.) I looked at the Pam label in the grocery store yesterday. One of the ingredients listed was silicon.  

I won't do this. Lower fat means higher carbs. As I mentioned earlier, diabetics have problems processing carbs. I know I do. See Chapter 10 of Dr. Berstein's book for more info.

Corn, butter beans and peas are all high carb vegetables! Some diabetic experts—such as Dr. Bernstein—have them on the diabetics' forbidden food list. Margarine is a chemical concoction, and some of the oils in margarine are from genetically modified crops (canola, for instance). I don't care to eat a helping of something grown with Monsanto's Round-Up. (More info about margarine is in Enig and Fallon's article, "The Truth About Fats.")

Arrgghhh! Potatoes are one of the worst foods for diabetics! I love potatoes, but eating them makes my legs and arms ache and my blood glucose levels soar. 

Consequently, I'm taking charge of my diabetic problems. I'm ignoring the this handout and the other misinformation from the class (and from the Amierican Diabetes Association!) and embarking on other ways to manage my diabetes. 

More about what I'm doing—and how I'm doing—in upcoming posts.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Two Photo Ops

Since Tuesday is Senior Citizens' Day at Kroger, naturally we went. When we were leaving, we passed a flock of gulls standing in the parking lot. Since we drove pretty close to them and they weren't leaving, I decided to roll down the window and get a picture.

They didn't mind being photographed. My husband suggested tossing out a couple of crackers, and I thought, what the heck. . . .

Suddenly all gull-hell broke loose, and I was busy closing the window so I didn't get a shot of the gull-gluttony that ensued. When they settled down a bit I resumed picture-taking.

I decided that it was a good thing I hadn't gotten out of the car to take pictures of the, uh, wild life. Notice in the pictures above and below that most the gulls are facing me.  The looks on their faces gave flashbacks of seeing a certain Alfred Hitchcock film

On the way home, I spotted another photo-op. This time I did get out of the car because (1) this herd lives across the road from me and (2) there was a fence between me and the subject of my photos. Can you see why I wanted to stop?

The tan cow had just given birth. The calf was still wet and its umbilical cord had apparently just broken.  The calf was trying to nurse but hadn't quite gotten the hang of how things work.

It had to circle its mama a couple of times before it figured things out. I zoomed in so I wouldn't have to disturb them.

Eventually baby found what it was looking for.

With baby hanging on, mama rejoined her friends. 

Looks like her friend is due to calve very soon. We didn't stick around, though, to see if that cow delivered. We had groceries to put away. Below is my parting shot of the herd.

Perhaps a rule of photographing critters—both wild and domestic—is stay in the car if you don't know them and maybe stay behind a fence if you do. Or something like that.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Sudden Snow

I'm glad I got most of my yard-work done before the snow fell. Saturday was warm—shirtsleeve weather. I even worked up a sweat spreading the mulch around the old gazebo.

There were rumors that we might get some weekend snow, but Saturday was springlike. Daffodils bloomed . . .

. . . as well as the crocus.

In the pasture, Melody nibbled from her bale.

But on Sunday, the temperature dropped, clouds rolled in, and snow fell throughout the afternoon.

 Before long, Melody's bales were covered.

Melody contemplated if it was worth it to go up the hill and eat hay. Eventually she did.

However, the barn-cats decided to stay warm and dry in the tack room.

Between Sunday afternoon and late Sunday night, we received about five inches of snow. On Monday, the sun shone and skies were clear again.

The trek to the newspaper box and back was a challenge.

The vehicles and lawn were covered.

Despite the sun, some snow still remained on branches.

In the tractor shed, the cats were ready to start clearing the driveways.


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Saturday, February 18, 2012

February 18 Morning

Today will be warm, as yesterday was. A chance of snow is forecast for tomorrow, though. Here's how the eastern sky looked a little after seven this morning:

Are these snow clouds? I doubt it.

Maybe these clouds in the northern sky are snow clouds?

Or these in the northwest?

These little clouds look like they're in a hurry to get somewhere.

Here comes the sunrise: