It's a Type 2 Life
It's a Type 2 Life

San Francisco Bay Area resident Patrick Totty writes about his experiences living with type 2 diabetes

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Hitting the Road with Type 2

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My wife and I will soon be driving out from the San Francisco Bay Area to southern Utah. We haven’t visited the glorious red rock country there in years, so we’ve been anticipating this trip for months.

Our goal is to shun freeways and interstates as much as possible, so our route will take us over the High Sierra via 9,600-foot Sonora Pass, then down into the Great Basin and across Nevada’s empty middle into Utah.

While the scenery will be ethereal, the food won’t. Central Nevada and southern Utah are not bastions of great cooking. Foodies’ eyes don’t glisten at their mention. As someone with diabetes, my biggest concern isn’t finding a four-star restaurant along Nevada’s Extraterrestrial Highway, it’s settling into a good low-carb routine without visiting Saturated Fat City.

Here’s how I plan to do it:

Breakfast: Coffee and an omelet. If it’s available, some fresh low-carb fruit like melon, strawberries, or blackberries. Some sausage, either turkey or pork. My cholesterol levels are under control, so meat and fat don’t bother me as much as high carbs. That means no bread, scones, biscuits, or jam.

Light snacking throughout the day: That includes my beloved macadamia nuts (12 to 15 a day). A few spoonfuls of a calorie- and sugar-free fruit spread that I buy in the diet foods section at the supermarket placates a growling belly.

Also lots of water, both to stay hydrated and to fight the psychological effect of thinking what it would be like to be stranded in any of the bone-dry deserts we’ll be driving through.

If we have a sit-down lunch, it will be the lightest meal of the day for both of us. For me a bowl of cottage cheese and a simple salad will do. Occasionally I’ll go wild and have half a tuna sandwich. As Humphrey Bogart might have said, “The amount of carbs in one slice of white bread doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.”

Dinner: Fish or chicken with a sautéed vegetable or salad on the side. Red meat on this trip will be either buffalo or venison, partly for the novelty and partly for the low carbs. Low-carb fruit for desert.

Fortunately, at this stage in my diabetes hypoglycemia is not the big concern it used to be. I still always carry an emergency stash of glucose in a pocket container—4 gram tabs that quickly dissolve in the mouth.

For non-emergency trail snacks, occasionally a handful of raisins as a reward for a difficult climb or strenuous effort. Otherwise, a fistful of nuts and a canteen of cool water will do.

No Insulin This Time

I’d written previously that I’m considering starting to take insulin, but have decided to wait to see if I could drive my fasting blood glucose down to 140 mg/dL from 210—which I’ve done—then go from there.

Planning for this upcoming trip also factored in to my hesitancy. So for now, I can’t talk about traveling with insulin and all of the care you have to take to keep it viable on the road. But I suspect it will almost certainly be a column topic someday.  

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Tags: Drugs , Food

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About the Author

Bay Area resident Patrick Totty was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in July, 2003.

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