How to Navigate Summer Parties

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The Dilemma

Wow! We can finally get out of the house and socialize in the summer sun! We can visit friends and family, go to birthday parties, enjoy the water and party til we just can’t party no more! It’s wonderful, right? Everyone has joked and made memes about their weight gain during quarantine, but the true challenge is here now, getting through a “normal” summer without gaining weight.

“Well-Meaning” Friends and Family

You know the ones, Aunt Mabel with the Lemon Supreme Pound Cake, Uncle Bob with the special barbecue sauce and the aged bourbon that he saved just for this occasion, your Mom, your sister, your dog and your best friend. They ALL have something “just for you”! You just HAVE to have a “little bit”. The problem is, if you do, you will ingest about 5,000 calories, 500 grams of sugar and revive your sugar addiction and be off track all summer. There are ways to avoid this pitfall.

Pre-Load

If you show up ravenous at an event where there is a lot of food, and food-pushers, you will cave and eat everything that they are offering you plus a full menu of your own. Before you leave home, have a serving of high-quality protein and fiber. A couple of cheese sticks and an apple will fill the empty space in your stomach and stick with you for a couple of hours. Two boiled eggs and some berries will work. The idea is to have some fiber with your protein so that the fiber binds with the protein and stays iin your stomach for a while. A protein bar and an ounce of your favorite nuts will work great. You know what you like, so decide on your protein first and then pair some fiber with it. When the food pushers come around, it will be much easier to stand your ground and stick to your healthy program.

Hydrate!

Make sure that you drink water all day, not in excess, but regularly. You might want to read David’s article How Much Water Do I Need? to learn about hydration. Beng hydrated will fill you up and just make you feel better. If you have less space in your stomach to over eat, you are less likely to give in to the party mentality and over-indulge. While I don’t necessarily agree with the statement that sometimes we think that we’re hungry and we’re only thirsty, a lot of people do believe that to be true. Either way, being well hydrated will keep you from feeling empty and dull your hunger a bit, so drink up.

Get Active!

I remember hovering around the food at parties. You know, you get a seat at the end of the dessert table and just hang out talking to whomever comes to get dessert. The problem is, you can all too easily reload your plate, and you do. If you’re at a pool party, swim. If you’re at a picnic, play with the kids. If you’re just hanging around in someone’s house, leave the food behind and mingle with the crowd. Other people may not notice your uncontrolled, nonstop munching at the buffet but believe me, you and everyone else will notice when you can’t fit into your jeans. Do what a party was meant to do and socialize. Free food is not free when it raises your medical bills due to the complications of obesity. If it’s your party, or you have any input into planning the event, focus on keeping the party active. A barbecue at a trailhead with hiking on the schedule is much better than a lone grill master outside and everyone else inside mixing margaritas. If you say that you’re trying to get healthy, live it. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. So much of our lives is up to us to decide. Make healthy decisions and reap the benefits.

But, What Do I Eat?!?

Whenever I go to any event with food, the first thing that I do is find my protein. I look for the richest source of protein on the menu. This will usually be meat, fish or chicken, without breading, grilled, baked, boiled or broiled. Steamed or grilled shrimp is a wonderful summer treat! If someone is grilling hamburgers, I eat the ground beef with everything except the bun. If you really want that bun, go ahead. Limit it to one and avoid any other refined or simple carbs like desserts or sugar-laden drinks. Baked beans are a fine food if they’re made with sugar free ketchup and a 0 calorie sugar substitute and they’re just as good or better than the ones that are full of sugar. You might also add some ground beef to those beans to up their protein. Cole slaw without added sugar is fine. If you like it sweet, make it with that same 0 calorie sugar substitute.  It works good, I’ve made it many times and I live in the Deep South where cole slaw is a staple. I don’t eat hot dogs because they are a processed food that does not stave off hunger for very long. Steak is wonderful, full of muscle-building protein. Once you have nailed down your protein, decide what you would like to have with it. Sometimes I just eat the protein but if you’re going to be at the event for very long, you might need to add some complex carbs like beans, potatoes or whole grain bread. A piece of fresh fruit will satisfy a sweet tooth and give you a bit of fiber. These same tactics work for eating in a restaurant. Always focus on protein first. It is going to satisfy you more than any other food group. Avoid desserts unless there is a “no sugar added” option. You can search on the Home Page in the search box for a recipe for almost any dessert that you would like to make and carry to the event. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us through comments or the “Contact” button, and we’ll help you find a recipe that will work. You can also buy “No Sugar Added” ice cream in practically every Walmart on Earth and many varieties are good. If you like ice cream, try a few until you find one that you like. You can look in our “Product Reviews” and find more than one review on various “No Sugar Added” ice cream. Don’t drink alcohol. It’s sugar-based garbage.

STAND YOUR GROUND

The old saying, “Misery loves company.” is all too true. Even if the people who are trying to sway you to abandon your healthy initiatives are loved ones, they very well may be miserable, unhealthy people who really don’t want you to prove that being healthy is usually based on the decisions that you make every day. If you prove that, then they are accountable and most people don’t want to be accountable. They want to drift along, making bad decisions every day and blame genetics on their plight. While bad things do happen to very good people and health freaks do sometimes get sick, a lifetime of good decisions usually results in optimum health, just as bad decisions do the opposite. Regardless of their status in your life, don’t let other people sway you. You are the one who has to live, or die, with your decisions. Make good ones.

 

 

 

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LigHTLIFE PLANT-BASED BURGER Review

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Pleasant Surprise!

Everyone who knows me knows that I love my protein and I usually get it from beef, pork, chicken or fish. I am not a huge fan of plant-based protein sources. I bought a few products weeks ago to review for David’s Way and they have been setting in my freezer. I was not really looking forward to trying them. Boy, was I surprised when I bit into this burger! Since I browned it nicely in olive oil, it had a firm, slightly crunchy bite. The inside of the patty did have the texture that is usually associated with plant-based burgers, but the firmness of the surface gave me something to chew so the soft inside was still quite palatable. I added “No Sugar Added” Heinz ketchup and French’s yellow mustard, and it was very good.

 

Easy Prep!

 I poured a bit of olive oil into a cast iron skillet and browned them for about 15-20 minutes. They smell good cooking and they brown easily, so cook them on low-medium heat until they are nice and brown. I cooked them from frozen and they cooked up just fine.

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You can see the texture here. It’s not like a ground beef patty, but it’s good. The color is reminescent of an undercooked beef patty and you have to get past the feeling of eating an undercooked burger, but you can measure the internal temperature and be sure that it’s done. It’s made from pea protein and tastes quite hearty.

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Nutrition

This good-sized burger, that shrinks very little during cooking, is 1/4 pound before cooking, 270 calories, 17 grams of fat, Net Carbs 8 grams and and a whopping 20 grams of protein! There is no added sugar. With this nutrition profile and robust flavor, I will buy these burgers again. I must say, this is a first for plant-based meat substitutes. I have never liked one enough to buy it again.

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$Price$ and Availability

I bought these at Walmart for $5.94 for two patties. I shop at one of the smallest Walmart’s that I have ever seen so I believe that you can fiind them in your home town. The price is lower than what some people pay for one burger in a restaurant. I consider them a bargain. Even my 26 year old son really liked these burgers. That’s a deal, when you can get a $3.00 meal that the whole family likes! Lightlife, you have a winner.

 

G. Hughes Barbecue Sauce Review

 

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Oh, Yeah…

In my journey towards health and wellness that has spanned many years and many methods, before finding David’s Way, there have been a few things that I missed giving up. Good barbecue sauce was always one of them. I tried to make it without sugar many times but could never come up with a recipe that I liked. I don’t know what kind of magic G. Hughes has stumbled upon, but it’s powerful! They have managed to produce more than one variety of SUGAR FREE BBQ SAUCE that is wonderful.

Perfect Balance

I have enjoyed every variety of G. Hughes BBQ SAUCE that I have tried, but when I found the Sweet & Spicy flavor, I knew that I had found “The One”. All of them are thick and rich, but this one seemed a little thicker with just enough of a heat bite to notice. It’s obviously sweet, but it has equal tangy, spicy notes to perfectly balance the sweetness. The result is a decadent sauce that builds nicely as you cook, especially if you know how to cook it on in layers of sticky, finger-lickin’ good sauciness. It made both pork chops and chicken rock. Barbecue is back on the menu!

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Nutrition

With only 10 calories per 2 Tablespoon serving, you can have all you want. There is no added sugar or fat. There is 200 mg. of sodium in a serving, which is 9% of all that you should have in a day, so if sodium is a concern for you that might be a limitation, but that is true for most barbecue sauces. I eat very little sodium otherwise, so the sodium is not a problem for me.

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$Price$ and Availability

I buy this amazing, sugar free sauce at my local Walmart for a mere $3.26 per bottle. The only snafu is that occasionally, they don’t have my favorite, the Sweet and Spicy. I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s so good. Sometimes every variety is sold out, so if you like this sauce and want to be sure that you don’t have to order it from Amazon and pay too much for it, you might want to keep more than one on hand. It also comes in Mesquite, Maple Brown, Hickory and Carolina Style Sweet Heat and Original. Even if they’re sold out of your favorite, you can’t go wrong with G.Hughes!

Obesity and Insulin

We are often asked the question by people professing to want to lose weight how they can best go about it. It seems at times, that most are looking for some type of hack, or gimmick, which comes as no surprise when it appears that weight loss hacks and gimmicks are more prevalent than legitimate weight loss plans.

Hacks and gimmicks may work in the short term, but they will always lead you to failure in maintaining weight loss. They fail you because they are not nutritionally sound. They fail you exactly because hacks and gimmicks are for the short term fix, when what you need is a life long solution! There are no short cuts to having a fit and trim body with a healthy percentage of body fat. Nutritional habits need to be a permanent lifestyle, and not something you just want to get through. It is a sad state of affairs when so many people either do not care what is making them fat, or simply just do not know the cause of their obesity. I blame this largely on our education system where nutrition and health are not subjects taught as they used to be when I was in school. This ignorance of basic nutrition is causing a significant rise not only in obesity, but Type 2 Diabetes too. Sadly, we now have children with Type 2 Diabetes when it used to be that you only heard of adults getting it.  More and more people are developing type 2 diabetes during youth. This trend is growing across all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

34.2 million Americans—just over 1 in 10—have diabetes.

88 million American adults—approximately 1 in 3—have prediabetes.

Nearly 20 percent of children and adolescents are obese, a percentage than has more than tripled since the 1970’s. The recent rise in type 2 diabetes is directly related to the rise in obesity rates in the United States.

Our message is SIMPLE!

Quit eating refined sugar, foods with added sugars, and simple carbohydrates except for fruit.  Cut out processed foods as much as you can, and when you cannot avoid a processed food, be sure to make choices that do not have added sugars, unhealthy fats and preservatives. By doing this and only eating whole foods that are nutritionally dense, you will manage to lose weight down to a healthy level of body fat as long as you are not consuming in excess of your daily needs in calories.

The main obstacle we encounter when telling people to quit eating sugar and simple carbs is society’s ignorance of sugar’s effects and their tendency to ignore what it is they do not want to hear. It is not rare that a person who is obese will also be addicted to sugar and simple carbohydrates. They do not want to hear they need to give up that which is making them fat. The addiction to sugar is really no different than the alcoholics addiction to alcohol. Putting it bluntly, if you are not in the frame of mind to give up sugar in order to improve your weight and health, a half hearted effort at weight loss will only result in failure, more obesity, and at some point a poor nutrition related ailment such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome to name a few.

Insulin

Insulin is created and secreted by the pancreas which stores about 200 units of the hormone. People of a healthy weight and good dietary habits will secrete about 25 to 30 units of insulin per day. You might think of insulin as being like a broom, as it sweeps glucose, amino acids and free fatty acids into cells where they are stored as fat and glucose to be used later.

For those at a healthy body fat percentage, blood sugar levels  do not vary much because of the harmonious and compensating actions of insulin and glucagon which is also created by the pancreas. Insulin keeps blood sugar from rising too high, while glucagon prevents blood sugar from falling too low. A healthy and nutritious diet keeps these hormones in harmony with each other. Humans can actually survive without glucagon, but must have insulin on order to survive. For the diabetic, what they need to know and understand is insulin given by injections is not nearly as efficient as the pancreas in supplying a steady stream of insulin for your body’s needs. When you become obese, you stand the risk of becoming insulin deficient or your body becomes insulin resistant. Either way, you are jeopardizing your health and well being. I want to emphasize,

“YOU ARE JEOPARDIZING YOUR HEALTH”.

No one is doing it to you!

After you have consumed carbohydrates, your digestive system breaks down the food. The blood in your intestines will absorb the digested food and as a result your blood sugar will rise. This action stimulates the release of insulin from you pancreas which causes glucose to be stored as fat. Once the blood sugar, or glucose has dropped too low, glucagon is secreted which converts the stored fat into glucose and restores your blood sugar to a normal level. When these two hormones get out of balance, people tend to become obese. Obesity causes increased insulin production as a result of excessive stimulation of the pancreas through over eating. Over eating most often occurs through an over consumption of sugar and simple carbs which only serve to make foods calorie dense and low in nutrition.

Increased insulin levels promote the storage of sugar as glycogen in both the liver and muscle. After proteins and fats are ingested, insulin promotes the storage of protein in muscle and fat in fat cells as triglycerides. Because insulin also prevents the breakdown of glycogen and triglycerides, it becomes almost impossible to lose body fat when your insulin levels are elevated.

Insulin also activates the enzyme, lipoprotein lipase that promotes the removal of triglycerides from the bloodstream and their position in fat cells. Insulin also inhibits hormone sensitive lipase that breaks down stored fats. The net result of these two activities is an increase in stored fat that results in your increased weight and obesity. Insulin is a major hindrance to fat breakdown and is a major facilitator of fat storage. When you are munching away on those cupcakes with icing piled sky high, you are causing your pancreas to pump excessive amounts of insulin. Over time, you may quit producing insulin, or you may become insulin resistant which is a condition where your body has a decreased response to insulin and your fat cells, liver cells, and muscle cells are now insensitive to the circulating insulin in your system.

Obesity is the most common cause of insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes. Whether you want to admit it or not, the power is in your control to not be afflicted with either condition. Yet many refuse to give up their sweet treats in exchange for good health. Obese people without diabetes usually have elevated insulin levels with normal blood sugar levels. However, the obese person with high insulin levels may be well on their way to becoming diabetic. What occurs is their pancreas becomes exhausted from constant stimulation by glucose and will eventually fail which results in diabetes. Obese individuals will also often have elevated insulin levels in both the fasting and fed states. These people will also often have elevated lipoprotein lipase levels which is important in the storage of fat. The result of which is the obese individuals are metabolically ready at all times to store fat from everything they consume. It is not rocket science why an obese individual with an elevated insulin level can not lose weight. But, there is something that can be done about this through first making the personal choice to stand with a strong resolve to do so.

What can be done?

  1.  Get more sleep. A good night’s sleep is important for your health. Several studies have also linked poor sleep to reduced insulin sensitivity. For example, one study in nine healthy volunteers found that getting just four hours of sleep in one night reduced insulin sensitivity and the ability to regulate blood sugar, compared to getting eight and a half hours of sleep.
  2. Exercise more. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to increase insulin sensitivity. It helps move sugar into the muscles for storage and promotes an immediate increase in insulin sensitivity, which lasts 2–48 hours, depending on the exercise. A study of overweight men with and without diabetes found that when participants performed resistance training over a three-month period, their insulin sensitivity increased, independent of other factors like weight loss.
  3. Reduce stress. Stress affects your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar. It encourages the body to go into “fight-or-flight” mode, which stimulates the production of stress hormones like cortisol and glucagon. These hormones break down glycogen into glucose, which enters your bloodstream for your body to use as a quick source of energy. Unfortunately, ongoing stress keeps your stress hormone levels high, stimulating nutrient breakdown while increasing blood sugar. Stress hormones make the body more insulin resistant.
  4. Lose weight. Excess weight, especially in the belly area, reduces insulin sensitivity and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes who lost 5–7% of their total weight over six months reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 54% for the next three years.
  5. Eat more fiber. Fiber can be divided into two broad categories — soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber mostly acts as a bulking agent to help stool move through the bowels. Meanwhile, soluble fiber is responsible for many of fiber’s associated benefits, like lowering cholesterol and reducing appetite. Several studies have found a link between high soluble fiber intake and increased insulin sensitivity. For example, a study in 264 women found that those who ate more soluble fiber had significantly lower levels of insulin resistance. Soluble fiber also helps feed the friendly bacteria in your gut, which have been linked to increased insulin sensitivity. Foods that are rich in soluble fiber include legumes, oatmeal, flax seeds, vegetables like Brussels sprouts and fruits like oranges.
  6. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Colorful fruits and vegetables are rich in plant compounds that help increase insulin sensitivity. But be careful not to eat too much fruit in a single sitting, as some types are high in sugar.
  7. Watch your intake of carbohydrates. Carbs are the main stimulus that causes insulin blood levels to rise. Reducing your carb intake will help increase insulin sensitivity. That’s because high-carb diets tend to lead to spikes in blood sugar, which put more pressure on the pancreas to remove sugar from the blood. Spreading your carb intake evenly throughout the day is another way to increase insulin sensitivity. Eating smaller portions of carbs regularly throughout the day provides the body with less sugar at each meal, making insulin’s job easier. This is also supported with research showing that eating regularly benefits insulin sensitivity. The type of carbs you choose is also important. Low-glycemic index (GI) carbs are best, since they slow the release of sugar into the blood, giving insulin more time to work efficiently. Carb sources that are low-GI include sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa and some varieties of oatmeal.
  8. Quit eating sugar and or foods with added sugars! There’s a big difference between added sugars and natural sugars. Natural sugars are found in sources like plants and vegetables, both of which provide lots of other nutrients. Conversely, added sugars are found in more highly processed foods. The two main types of sugar added during the production process are high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, also known as sucrose. Both contain approximately 50% fructose. Many studies have found that higher intakes of fructose can increase insulin resistance among people with diabetes. The effects of fructose on insulin resistance also appear to affect people who don’t have diabetes, as reported in an analysis of 29 studies including a total of 1,005 normal and overweight or obese participants. The findings showed that consuming a lot of fructose over less than 60 days increased liver insulin resistance, independent of total calorie intake. Foods that contain lots of added sugar are also high in fructose. This includes candy, sugar-sweetened beverages, cakes, cookies and pastries.

Obesity and insulin levels are within your control if you make the choice to do something about both. We know that insulin is an important hormone that has many roles in the body, and that when your insulin sensitivity is low, it puts pressure on your pancreas to increase insulin production to clear sugar from your blood. Low insulin sensitivity will result in chronically high blood sugar levels, which are known to increase your risk of many diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to naturally increase your insulin sensitivity.

You just have to decide which is more important, a cupcake or your health and well being.

Choose wisely!

Eat!

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Deadly Lie

There is a dangerous misconception that you have to go hungry to manage your weight and be in good health. Nothing is farther from the truth, and since so many people believe this fallacy, they never even attempt to be healthy. Listen up! I eat more than anyone that I know, except David, and we are both at a good, healthy weight.

Change Your Mind

One reason that so many people are overweight and obese is that they eat so many empty calories, foods devoid of good nutrition, but full of added sugars or other simple carbohydrates. Junk foods like this are calorie-laden. Even if it’s home cooked and delicious, if it’s high in simple carbs, it’s a nutrition bomb. So often we think that we just can’t do without our favorite foods and there is a measure of truth in that. There are ways to eat most of your favorite foods and avoid simple carbs. We have low-carb recipes for amost anyting that you might like right here on this website. Red Velvet Cake? We’ve got it. Brownies? Got you covered. If there’s something that you want a low-carb recipe for, go to the search box on the Home Page and look. If you want a recipe that you don’t find, contact us through the “Contact” tab on that same Home Page. Just today, David posted a review for Vanilla and Chocolate Almond Milk  that will satisfy cravings for sweet drinks. Sometimes we just need to rethink our regular meals. There’s almost always a way to make them healthier. Let’s look at a few of them.

Breakfast

Are you addicted to sugar filled coffee drinks in the morning? A 16 ounce coffee frappe has 560 calories, 24 grams of fat and 70 grams of sugar. Yes, that’s correct, 70 grams of sugar! Not only are these drinks practically worthless nutritionally, (there is a bit of calcium in all that milk)… for that same 560 calories you can have 4 protein pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 strips of bacon and 0 calorie, no sugar added pancake syrup. Now, you tell me, which will do you more good and which had you rather have? That “coffee” won’t last you very long and then there’s the matter of what you will eat with the “coffee”. It’s usually more sugar. There’s only about 6 grams of sugar in the entire preferred breakfast. All that sugar in the coffee will cause a huge insulin dump and then the corresponding ravenous hunger. The coffee drink sets your day up for failure.

Lunch

Of course, it has to be burgers and fries, right? Well, that’s fine. A whole grain bun, or bunless burger is best but if you like the traditional white bun, then go ahead. The problem comes when you order the milkshake. One chocolate milkshake has about 520 calories, 83 grams of carbs including 71 grams of added sugars. Just think about that. There only about 417 calories in a quarter pound burger. Pair that with oven fries and score the whole meal for about the same calories as the shake alone. Load that burger with veggies, mustard and sugar-free catsup and feast! There are approximately 4 grams of sugar in the bun.

Dinner

One of my pet peeves is what I call “Double Starching”, eating more than one serving of a starchy dish at a meal, not including bread. This is a common practice nowadays and for the life of me, I don’t know how this got started! Why would anyone think that it’s okay to eat macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes at the same meal? Not okay. There’s 310 calories and 44 grams of simple carbs in 1 cup of macaroni and cheese. Pair that with a cup full of mashed potatoes for 214 calories and 32 net grams of carbs and you have a carb fest of 76 grams with almost no fiber to slow the absorption of all those carbs into your bloodstream. For about 560 calories you can have about 6 ounces of grilled sirloin steak, a baked potato and a green salad. Choose wisely. There’s only about 20 grams of carbs in that entire meal.

Snacks

 

Those 5 cookies have about 500 calories and 125 grams of carbs including 70 grams of sugars. They will not satisfy you and they will perpetuate your sugar addiction and make you eat more of everything because of the insulin dump you will get when you eat them. The apple, pistachios and string cheese snack has about 360 calories and only about 25 grams of carbohydrates. That second snack also has about 20 grams of protein that will hold you without hunger for hours.

Focus!

As you can see, you don’t have to go hungry to control your weight and be healthy. If you avoid added sugars and just rethink your regular meals, you will lose weight if you need to drop some pounds.

Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Review

Almond Breeze Unsweetened Chocolate and Vanilla are lactose and soy free milk substitutes that contain just 40 and 30 calories per cup respectively. These drinks are low on the glycemic index, making them an excellent choice for people who want to avoid sugar in their diet.

I found both flavors to have a pleasant enough, yet mild underlying natural almond flavor to compliment the chocolate and vanilla which are mild in their own right, without being overly sweet as many of these drinks can be. To be honest, if you are one who cares about having a creamier and sweeter drink, you will likely be disappointed in these products. However, these were the qualities I enjoyed about them both.  In my humble opinion, I think these almond milks make a more refreshing drink than actual milk products as they are relatively creamy in consistency, but they do not have the thickness of cow’s milk.

Nutrition

As you can see from the nutrition data on both flavors of the Almond Breeze, these are healthy beverages that are entirely diabetic friendly. There is nothing objectionable I can see with either of these drinks and find that as a low calorie choice, these are most excellent for those who are trying to reduce their body fat. My only gripe is that I wish they were higher in protein per serving, but that is okay since I get my daily protein needs filled from a variety of sources anyhow.

Price

You should be able to find these products on your grocers shelves at about $2.00 per 32-ounce shelf-stable quart and $4.00 per 64-ounce refrigerated half gallon. Mothers, this is not a bad price to spend on a healthy choice for your children. You could easily spend a significant amount more on sugary drink boxes. Another great aspect to these products is that Almond Breeze Almond Milk is widely available in natural food stores and large grocery chains in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe, and Asia!

No HIll For a Climber, Radiation Burns and Side Effects

I sat down to write this morning with a plethora of things to say and now, I found that the stress of our situation with Loraine’s breast cancer has caused me to suffer a little bit of writer’s block. I hope I do not get to be too rambling with this piece…

I do not want to say there was any malicious thought by anyone by downplaying some of the side effects of radiation treatments for Loraine, her care team have been wonderful. But, the side effects have been worse than we anticipated. Maybe it was just a misunderstanding on our part. I concede this is highly possible, maybe even probable, especially given the state of mind we had been in with her diagnosis while we were still providing care for her brother Howard  in our home for his end stage liver cancer. It seems so overwhelming at times. And then to add insult to injury, there was the deep staph infection that settled in to the mastectomy incision followed by the Covid-19 Corona virus situation. Because of Loraine’s staph infection and the Corona virus, her radiation treatments were put on hold as long, actually longer, than her medical and radiation oncologists felt was safe. However, as we have learned, before radiation can begin, one must be fully healed from their surgery.

The picture at the top is at the base of Loraine’s neck. That radiation burn is not even where the beam is being directed when she undergoes her daily treatments by external beam radiation. This is the most common type of radiation therapy for women with breast cancer. A machine outside the body focuses the radiation on the area affected by the cancer. Before treatment begins, the radiation team will have carefully figured out the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose of radiation. They will make some ink marks or small tattoos on the skin to focus the radiation on the right area. They do this in order to concentrate the beam specifically where the cancer has been found. But, obviously a larger area can be affected by the radiation. We were told that external radiation therapy is much like getting an x-ray, only the radiation is stronger. The procedure itself is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes. The setup time, getting her into place for treatment, would take longer than the treatment itself. We were told that Loraine could experience some skin changes in the treated area similar to a sunburn (redness, skin peeling, darkening of the skin) along with fatigue. After almost a full six weeks of therapy, here is what her skin looks like:

The skin up under her arm is now quite fragile and tearing. This is quite painful to say the least.

In the center of the picture, along her incision, the redness and swelling is where the staph infection had settled in. This area was not fully healed as well as it should have been prior to treatments, but treatments could no longer be delayed.

The markings and little circles you see are where the radiation beam is directed during treatments. The radiation oncologist and her team have to be accurate in directing the beam direction, or other problems can arise. Hell, other problems could arise anyhow from radiation treatments such as:

  • Some women may find that radiation therapy causes the breast to become smaller and firmer.
  • Radiation may affect your options for breast reconstruction later on. It can also raise the risk of problems with appearance and healing if it’s given after reconstruction, especially tissue flap procedures.
  • Women who have had breast radiation may have problems breastfeeding.
  • Radiation to the breast can sometimes damage some of the nerves to the arm. This is called brachial plexopathy and can lead to numbness, pain, and weakness in the shoulder, arm, and hand.
  • Radiation to the underarm lymph nodes might cause lymphedema, a type of pain and swelling in the arm or chest.
  • In rare cases, radiation therapy may weaken the ribs, which could lead to a fracture.
  • In the past, parts of the lungs and heart were more likely to get some radiation, which could lead to long-term damage of these organs in some women. Modern radiation therapy equipment better focuses the radiation beams, so these problems are rare today.
  • A very rare complication of radiation to the breast is the development of another cancer called an angiosarcoma.

I just doctored up Loraine’s burns and she is now off for her third to last radiation treatment this morning.

We have found this product on Amazon to be a great help for some of the burning that is not raw or tearing.

Monday will be the final treatment, but that will not be the final day she will suffer ill effects from radiation. She will glow in the dark for years to come!

Sorry my dear, but you are the one who has the best sense of humor about this…

But seriously, she will have to avoid exposing the treated skin to the sun because it could make the skin changes worse. They tell us that most skin changes get better within a few months. However, changes to the breast tissue could take 6 to 12 months or longer to go away.

Financial Strains and burdens!

I am blessed to have a very good paying job with great insurance benefits. Our financial impact could be far worse than it is on us. As it is though, I have been paying out $1000.00 per month to stay on top of the 20% of our medical bills that come out of my pocket besides the $750 a month I pay out in insurance. But even so, the stress meter gets pegged in the red when you see this on a bill:

I am paying medical bills to Saint Lukes and to KU Medical Center for all of this. We have had bills for the surgery and all of whom involved. Then there are the additional physical therapy bills, the wound care bills from her staph infection, the medical oncologist visits, the radiation treatment bills, and now a new doctor has been thrown into the mix for skin care since Loraine has had the extensive troubles she now has with skin tears. I just paid out $1000.00 last week and we just received this:

I did set up a payment plan for our bills, but one cannot help but to wonder just how high this will pile up over time. I spoke with a wonderful woman of God this morning on the phone to make our payment arrangements at a level that should be still affordable should we ever experience a financial hardship. I think the good Lord directed my call to the perfect person as I felt a sense of peace come over me before our conversation had ended. It seemed she just instinctively knew the right words to say to me, nothing canned or prepared, just a good woman speaking from the heart. God bless and thank you all for reading and following. I am doing this with the hope that we can help others in their battle with breast cancer.

This website is a labor of love solely to help others. Subscriptions are free and easy, I have not, nor will I ever charge a single penny for anyone to access our health and fitness articles.

Please, follow along, and share this with your family and friends.

Hormel Natural Choice Uncured Bacon Review

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Yes, We Eat Bacon!

Good nutrition does not mean going without food that you love. Bacon can change a meal from hum-drum to divine. Since we advocate eating healthy, I choose to avoid added nitrates and nitrites. Hormel has an extensive Natural Choice line and I had eaten their Smoked Ham for years but had never tried this bacon. I was missing something!

So Fragrant!

One of the best features about good bacon is the wonderful aroma that fills the house when you cook it. You can almost know what the bacon will taste like as you begin to smell the first smoky wafts drifting from the pan. This bacon smelled so good, and the flavor matched the smell exactly, spicy-sweet and smoky. It has the taste that gets you hooked on bacon and it’s worth every calorie.

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Preparation

One of the worst things that you can do to good bacon is to rush it. I fried this in a cast iron skillet on medium low for about 15 minutes the first time I prepared it. The second time, I browned it on a temperature controlled griddle. I liked it best on the griddle because it cooked more uniformly, but either way will produce good bacon if you take your time. With time, you get a sweet-salty, crunchy-chewy delight instead of a hard, salty chunk of burnt fat. If you’re spending the calories, do it right. It’s average thickness, not too thin or too thick, and it will cook up pretty quickly even if you are taking your time.

Nutrition

At only 80 calories, 7 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbohydrates and 5 grams of protein for two crunchy slices, this is a nutrition deal. While I wouldn’t advise eating the whole package, a couple of slices will jazz up any meal in a flash for less than 100 calories. It does have turbinado sugar listed in the ingredients, but since the FDA allows a claim of 0 grams of carbs as long as there is less than 1/2 gram of sugar per serving, this is insignificant for a single serving of two slices. There are 5 grams in a teaspoon, so 1/2 gram is less than 1/8 teaspoon of sugar. It’s insignificant unless you eat a whole lot of bacon!

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$Price$ and Availability

I bought this at Walmart for $5.56. I love that it’s so easy to find and the price is a real deal if you actually eat only one serving at a time, only about $0.79/serving. That is cheap happiness! The bacon is from pigs raised without antibiotics, it’s minimally processed and has no artificial ingredients. There are no nitrates or nitrites added except for those naturally occuring in sea salt and celery.

This bacon will be a staple in my kitchen. If you are a bacon lover, you might want to try this soon!

 

 

 

Enlightened Ice Cream Keto Collection Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Review

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They’ve Done It Again!

I love to be able to do a positive review and Enlightened is supplying me with good opportunities to do just that. This “No Sugar Added” ice cream bar is delightful. The bar is thick and rich and gives you the feeling of indulgence as soon as you open the package.

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Flavor

It’s hard to go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate in the same product! This ice cream reminds me of Reese’s Cups and that’s a very good thing. Since they contain erythritol and monk fruit extract for zero calorie sweeteners, they are sweet enough to satisfy your ice cream craving but they will not raise your blood sugar and they are not habit forming like sugar sweetened offerings. The peanuty goodness is quite nicely complimented with the small, dark chocolate chips. Because the chocolate chips are dark and rich, the sprinkling in the bar is perfect.

Texture

Just like the Mint Keto Collection Enlightened Bars, these bars are creamy as they begin to soften when you eat them. Interestingly enough, they manage to be creamy while staying on the stick. One of my pet peeves with ice cream on a stick is that it falls off. Not so with these Enlightened products. They stay on the stick quite well as they soften on your tongue and last a long time, which is always a good thing.

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Nutrition

 These bars have 190 calories, 1 gram of Net Carbs (12 total-8 sugar alcohol-3 fiber), 17 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein. They have no added sugars, which is a requirement in ice cream for me. I believe that their wonderful creaminess may come from the coconut oil that you can see in the list of ingredients. Coconut oil is an integral part of my world.

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$Price$ and Availability

I bought these scrumptious ice cream bars at Publix for $5.99 for 4 bars . Publix is just one of a group of grocery stores that are nationwide. You should be able to find these bars. At $1.50 each, they are a steal. An unhealthy treat from an ice cream shop will cost you much more initially and then you must add the cost of going to get it and the long-term effects of a sugar addiction. No Sugar Added treats like this can save you a world of hurt. They give you a quick fix and also help you break your sugar addiction. If you like ice cream and you want to ditch the addiction, you might want to look for some today.

You might want to read my review of the Mint bars here for a little extra information on the brand overall. David has also reviewed the Vanilla pint here. Overall, we are quite impressed with this brand of “No Sugar Added” ice cream.

No Hill For a Climber, Barrage of The Mind

With cancer of any type, one must steel themselves against the constant barrage to your mental state. If you are one who is weak, you had better learn to stiffen your upper lip, as there will be a constant assault on your sanity after a cancer diagnosis. If you are not tough, you had better get tough, life is not always fair, and cancer is a heartless bitch.

Loraine and I have been through a living hell over the last year because of cancer. FIrst we took in her brother Howard who was terminally ill with liver cancer which was brought on by end term Hepatitis C, and then she received her own diagnosis of breast cancer last fall. As we were taking care of all of Howards needs as he was slipping in and out of different stages of dementia, we still had Loraines battle to face. Life has been a bitch in our home, and we have to keep faith it will get better. We have to, and will keep fighting as hard as we can against this ruthless disease. Otherwise, it is going to kick our asses each and every day if we allow it to bog us down. Cancer shows no mercy to anyone, ever.

I sure wish there was a cure for cancer!

How often do we think this, or hear others  say they wish there was a cure. Pretty damn often for some of us for sure. But, there is not going to be a “cure” just anytime soon despite some people beating it.

If all the positive cancer breakthrough headlines are to be believed, then the cure for cancer is right around the corner. But that is a far cry from reality, says Dr. Jørgen Olsen, head of research at The Danish Cancer Society.

“I think it’s an illusion to imagine that after millions of years of this disease we’ll suddenly find a solution. I don’t think that we’ll ever beat it, but I think that we’ll get it under control so that it becomes chronic but not deadly,” says Olsen. (1)

But why can’t we find the secret weapon to beat cancer once and for all?

One reason is that cancer is not just one disease–even individual tumors can vary substantially from one patient to the next and the same type of tumor in different parts of the body can respond differently to medication. Just like any other organism, cancer cells are trying to survive, and they are very good at it. They quickly spread to multiple parts of the body, and they mutate constantly, rendering existing medicines ineffective. Cancer cells are very adaptive, especially when the cancer is at an advanced stage.

There are some similarities between cancer and the principle of evolution. Evolution is driven by natural selection, which means that organisms or cells that survive long-term are those that can adapt when their existence is challenged. As with the use of antibiotics to kill infections, the cells which survive cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, will often restore the disease after treatment, but now in a more aggressive form that is now resistant to treatment. Then you need a new treatment and the story repeats itself until nothing more can be done. I will never forget the sick feeling in my gut as Howard’s oncologist informed him that nothing more could be done for him and he was recommending end of life palliative care. This was on a Friday, Howard passed away on Sunday, 48 days after my dear Loraine had underwent her double mastectomy for breast cancer. Her radiation treatments are going to be over next week. Cancer is an evil bitch to everyone involved to say the least.

Loraine’s radiation treatments are coming to a close. What’s next?

My sweetheart wrapped up her fifth of six weeks of radiation treatments on Friday. Afterwards, she had a visit with her medical oncologist who informed her there were three new lumps which were not present a month ago. She was in tears when she called me while I was out on the road, and it was all I could do to not pull my semi over to the side of the highway and have a good cry myself.

Life is not fair and cancer is a bitch!

Because of the Covid-19 virus, Loraine has had to go to all of her treatments and doctor visits without me over the last couple of months. She has needed me to be there for her, but the medical facilities will not, nor can they, make exceptions for anyone. The only people allowed inside has been the patients themselves. This is cruel as one who has cancer truly needs their emotional support when consulting with their doctors. We both understand this necessity, but we both need to hear from the doctor exactly what is happening and what the protocols will be going forward. Cancer assaults your emotions and with the overwhelming amount of information there is to absorb, it is best for a patient’s loved one to be present during their doctor visits. The best we can do for Loraine’s next visit is that I will take her and then wait in the parking lot to be there when she comes out. We will use video conferencing on our phones in order that I can be as present as humanly possibly.

Next week, the medical oncologist wants to discuss how we are going to move forward with treatments. She has suggested that Loraine participate in a clinical trial, that Loraine is the perfect candidate for it. She also wants Loraine to get a Dexa Scan and a sonogram as soon as possible before the next visit. Friday, she was even trying to get Loraine in for these on the same day if possible. Since she did not get in, hopefully we will get this done on Monday. This is a bit unsettling to say the least, but we have to keep faith that all will turn out well. Without faith, there is no hope. Without hope, there is no fight. We are fighters!

Cancer Prevention

It’s important to remember that prevention and early diagnosis are key players when it comes to putting the brakes on cancer.  Part of the fight against cancer is to try to prevent it developing in the first place, or at least to develop early detection techniques to spot cases in time to stop the disease before it mutates and spreads. Quite often, people develop cancer because of avoidable habits or lifestyle factors such as smoking, sunbathing without protection, unhealthy diet, exposure to HPV infections, or carcinogenic substances, and radioactivity.

We may not always be able to prevent ourselves from getting cancer, afterall, bad stuff happens to good people every day. However, we can live our lives in a way that we can proactively try to mitigate our chances of developing any type of cancer. If you do not realize this, you should understand that once you’ve been baptized in the fire of cancer your life as you knew it will be irrevocably changed. The apparent randomness of a cancer diagnosis can, and will shake your sense of identity to its very core. Cancer is a sadistic enemy that assaults not only your body but every other area of your life, including your relationships, family life, friendships, finances, career, and even your sense of self. You may be surprised to find the people you thought you could count on disappear from your life. The silence from some family and friends after Howard’s diagnosis was deafening to say the least. However, with Loraine’s diagnosis we have been blessed by plenty of loving support from friends, family and her most excellent care team. We are most humbly grateful for all the love we have received…

 

(1) sciencenordic.com