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Jack Simpson - Doctor's orders make mealtime a trying affair

A couple of weeks ago I went to the family doctor for some bloodwork. The nice lady looked at my arms saying, "Let's see, did I use your right arm or your left one for the needle last time?"

Heck fire, I didn't remember, but after making a fist, she chose the left arm, and I squirmed about some as she drew blood.

"I'll send you a copy of the results in a few days," she reminded me. So, I went on about my business feeling no pain, because after years and years and years of having these tests, I had always been reassured by the results that all was well.

A few days later a letter came asking me to return to the office to see the doctor. "We want to talk with you." Oh, lordy, what is this message all about, I wondered. Have I some dreaded plague, lyme disease, palsy, malaria or what?

After a sleepless night, I went in to see the doctor as directed. "Well, I've got some good news and some bad news for you." You are fine except you have borderline Type II diabetes. After years of thoroughly enjoying "white foods," it was recommended I cut them from my diet. There goes my favorite potatoes, rice, pasta, breads, and sweets. I was instructed to choose foods that would help control my blood sugar and to eat smaller amounts in a balanced diet.

Just looking at myself lately in a mirror, I knew this was sound advice. Good eating habits are something I should be glad to adopt. After all, I wasn't interested in having to take injections or pills to control my disease at this time. The very least I could do was get out of my easychair more often and plan my meals.

In all my years on Mother Earth, I had never been instructed to count my calories, but now my goal was set at 1,800 calories a day! Eating out makes following these guidelines tough, but determined people can do it. One starch for breakfast; one starch, one meat, one milk for lunch. A starch, a meat, a vegetable and a fat for dinner. And, if I'm a good boy and follow that plan, I am rewarded with a fruit as an evening snack.

Those food choices are measured by one-half or one-third cups for the most part. Every now and then I can eat three cups of popcorn, four or five crackers or one egg! Water will be my drink of choice.

As you can see, my life has entered into a new adventure and every bite I take will make me feel guilty as I wonder if my food choice is approved or my bite is the right size! I might be forced to carry around a book or a chart so I can refer to calorie counts and food groups before ordering dinner at a favorite restaurant.

Writing about all this has made me hungry. I think I will have some unsweet tea and a tablespoon of nuts as a snack. While enjoying this, I can plan my next meal looking for substitutes for all of my once favorite foods.

You and I have heard of survivors and their stories: a hiker in Utah who got caught under a fallen rock and had to cut off an arm to free himself, lost Scouts in the mountains who made their way to safety, and so on. Well, these people really had problems, so I guess mine is minor by comparison. I now join all others who have Type II diabetes who are determined to follow the doctor's orders and survive.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author and law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.