When I was a small child, my food groups were potatoes and nothing that was orange. It didn’t help that I hated vegetables, especially canned vegetables. (The smell of canned spinach and canned green beans still makes me gag.)
Going out to eat was a rare and wonderful occasion. It’s those trips to taverns and restaurants, sometimes many miles away, that I remember most about the food of my childhood.
When I grew up and was on my own, I preferred taverns and restaurants over cooking my own food, although I had a fully-stocked kitchen and knew how to cook basic meals. So by the time I entered the Navy, I was so out of shape I had to spend two extra weeks in basic training.
By the time I left the Navy three years later, I had been in and out of weight-loss programs and weighed over 240 pounds. Immediately after leaving, I began to lose weight…out of spite, so I thought. But the weight loss, combined with a constant throbbing in my arm, were warning signs of the disease which has helped define who I am since 1990.
I am a Type II diabetic. Briefly, that means my body does not create or convert enough insulin to convert the glucose (sugar) in my blood into the glycogen (energy) my body needs. This extra sugar – my “sweeet” blood – damages my body systems and leaves me susceptible to heart disease and skin and nerve damage.
After my diagnosis, I tried everything to adjust my diet for better blood sugar control: Diets. Exchanges. Counting plans. Finally, after much trial and error, I decided that the best diet for diabetes was a balanced, healthy diet, prepared at home in a kitchen.
Then I decided to become a chef.
More on that later. Sweeet.