At the end of my five-week vacation on the South Island of New Zealand I am returning to the reality of my everyday life with diabetes. For me, reality means controlling my blood glucose level with diet and exercise. Since 2007 I haven’t had to use any diabetes medications to keep good control.
But, like all of us, I do have to watch my diet and exercise. And like most people on vacation my attention sometimes wandered.
While I have diligently following a very low-carb diet since 2007, I readily admit that I enjoyed a few servings of potatoes in New Zealand. Worse, I ate two slices of toast. While I have broken my addiction to all types and forms of grain, the toast in eggs benedict was sometimes impossible for me to ignore.
On the other hand, I ate more seafood than ever before in my life. Seafood is our best source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. I ate everything from the well-known salmon, prawns, shrimp, oysters, and calamari to butterfish, groper, smooth dory, gurnard, ling, monkfish, and blue cod and on to fish I never heard of before — warehou, tarakihi, whitebait, bluenose, trumpeter, and green shell mussels. They all tasted wonderful to me while at the same time helping to balance out my dietary lapses.
Wild game also has a better ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats. That helped me to feel virtuous while enjoying a venison cassarole that a ranger on the Milford Track prepared for my lunch. I wrote about this and my other New Zealand adventures on my “Fitness and Photography for Fun ” blog.
Normally, I minimize the amount of fructose that I eat, since it’s so hard on the liver. I do eat some berries when I am at home. The berries that I especially enjoyed in New Zealand are called kiwiberries, miniature (grape-sized) versions of the kiwi fruit we have in America. But kiwiberries are especially sweet and juicy.
New Zealand is rightfully famous for its dairy products. I don’t think that the country has any of the infamous concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), where we tightly pen our lifestock and chickens and feed them a grain diet, which in turn worsens our omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
New Zealand dairy products are therefore not only healthier than most of ours but also taste better. I particularly enjoyed their cheese and their “Fresh’n Fruity” brand of natural (no fruit) Greek style yoghurt (as they spell it).
The other major deviation from my diet besides some additional carbohydrates was going back on coffee after almost a year without. I stopped drinking coffee because it was giving me awful headaches. But I can handle one cup a day now. I make sure that it’s a good cup, which the Kiwis do know how to make. In all the better restaurants I can find excellent coffee that is somewhat diluted espresso that for some reason the Kiwis call a “long black.”
In contrast to my somewhat slacker dietary habits on vacation I have been walking and hiking more than usual. I convinced myself that I need the extra calories to give me strength on the trail. I’m hoping that it has been a wash.
HealthCentral published an earlier version of this article.