Book Review: The Thyroid Solution Diet

The Thyroid Solution DietFirst off: Don’t let the title throw you. This book is not just about the thyroid or those who suffer from thyroid related issues. Second: Anyone interested in extending their life should read it.

I have for years, since well before Lia’s diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes, been interested in the connection between food, exercise and physical health and this book, which falls along the same lines of Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About ItDr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars and anything by Michael Pollen, does a wonderful job explaining it using both science and a keen ability to speak in terms any layperson serious about their health should be able to understand.

Though the book does not speak directly to people with diabetes (and where it does it is doesn’t differentiate from type 2), it says volumes about insulin and maintaining healthy blood sugars. It is, in short, the hard stuff I wish our endocrinologist was either trained or knowledgeable enough to discuss with us. But Franca and I learned early on that taking care of diabetes meant TAKING CARE of diabetes. Not signing that task off to someone else.

But back to the book. I was much more interested in the first two-thirds in which Arem goes into fabulous detail about sugar, fat and how these foods breakdown and based on various factors combine with the body’s multitude of hormones (but especially insulin and leptin) to regulate/affect/and in many cases generally muck up the body’s natural metabolism (i.e. Garbage in. Garbage out, which reminded me a great deal of Alejandro Junger’s, Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body’s Natural Ability to Heal Itself, which I also highly recommend from personal experience). The last third spells out specific recipes, which I may or may not use, but offers to those not interested in coming up with their own menus, excellent examples of not only what to eat, but when to eat it. Great information to anyone, regardless of what state their personal health is in, in terms of converting food to fuel as opposed to fat.

While I don’t agree 100% with what he says—for instance, I don’t follow the low-fat-is-better-for-you theories on health—rarely have I found a food book that speaks so clearly in terms of sugar, fat, hormones, and exercise, and also of aging, stress, sleep, and detoxification and the affect these have on not just our pant size but our mood especially. And that (the mood, not the pant size) is something we all can relate.


Then there are the books I should have read but didn’t, or did with so little regard for what was in them. I read them—or not as the case often was—for assignment, for a grade, because somebody said that I should. I didn’t read them for pleasure, not usually. Nor for what they said about the world and about human nature. Not for the mysteries they exposed about life.

That’s not to say I didn’t read. I loved reading and have teachers and good parents to thank that my passion for books became strong and long lasting. But given the choice what I chose to read back then did not ask too much of the reader, not with language, tone or content. They had more to do with nightmares, international espionage, occasionally a dragon, certainly a cowboy or two, than with complex multi-layered works that wrestled with universal dilemmas. Not that both can’t deliver a rousing good story, I just tended to stick to the formulaic ones that fell within certain central themes and avoided the more thought-provoking taxonomies of the human condition (nor did I ever talk like that).

George Bernard Shaw—a playwright I never read but probably should’ve—once said, “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a shame to waste it on children.” I’ve found myself thinking about that a lot as I turn the page on another year, with the next chapter a few pages back just sitting there looming alongside my future membership card to the AARP. I think about where the time went and those books I should have read and I wonder how in the world did so many words slip past me. Words once belonging to such a long, storied list of authors I’d fail just mentioning a handful.

There is another famous saying though (un-attributable, but backed up by science nonetheless): You’re only as old as you feel, and with that sentiment in mind I’ve made a New Year’s Resolution to re-visit what should have served as my formative discover-myself-in-literature years. For the next year, starting with January, once a month I plan to read a work from one of the greatest writers ever known—or not if you believe in those identity theories—the Bard of Avon himself, William Shakespeare.

(Oddly enough, Shaw himself, apparently, would have thought such a commitment ludicrous, at least in terms of following down that path in pursuit of a serious observation into social problems, as he disapproved of Shakespeare as a thinker and philosopher and to show it coined the term bardolatry.)

That said, it might be too late for Shaw to change his tune, but it’s not too late for me. Besides, with Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour having given up the ghost, I need something to fill their esteemed place.

Here’s my list of books and the month I’ll be reading them. If you’re interested in tagging along and sharing your own thoughts, I’d love the company. Think of it as an invitation to the D-Bard Book Club.

  • January              Hamlet
  • February            Romeo and Juliet, of course
  • March                  Much Ado About Nothing
  • April                     Macbeth
  • May                       Henry V
  • June                     The Sonnets
  • July                       A Midsummer’s Night Dream
  • August                 Othello
  • September         King Lear
  • October               The Tempest
  • November          Julius Caesar
  • December          The Winter’s Tale and Twelfth Night



Reader Envy

As a writer I am moved by inspirational stories, interesting content, or just plain old fashion good writing, of which there is plenty to find coming from the growing community of D-bloggers. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t find myself envious of what someone else has written either because of their talent or the fact that I didn’t get to the subject matter first (happens all the time: you get a great idea for a story or post and then read where someone else beat you to the writing of it. How can an emotion be depressing and rewarding at the same time?)

I am not a voracious reader, that is, I don’t read a ton of books all the way through (see first sentence for requirements), but I am a writer and I do read a lot of books or articles and when friends ask for reading recommendations I find myself a bit flabbergasted that I can only come up with the most recent titles, or, more likely, just the one sitting on my desk at that very moment, a weakness I blame on second hand smoke, which, not surprisingly, another writer has already written about (see what I mean?).

Most of the books I read I get from the library, so I asked them for a rundown of what I’ve checked out, but unfortunately for me–and apparently criminals, too–they don’t keep historical records from worry of being asked to provide such a list by a court of law (honestly?). Almost as frustrating is going to the library to retrieve the books I’ve requested through their online catalog only to find some bizarre title that I can’t for the life of me recall why I’d ever wanted to check it out in the first place. I’d offer examples of this, but since I’m sure it is my recall and not my reasoning that is at fault here once again, It’s probably best if I leave those titles undisclosed–assuming of course I could remember them, which leads me back to…

I’ve also tried keeping up with a booklist on my computer, but according to the file’s last saved date, the most recent book worthy of mention I read on June 28, 2006; and I’ve also learned of websites that will not only keep track of the books you read but recommend others you might like based on the genre, style, and who knows what else. For some reason though I just can’t get into the knack of keeping an electronic list anymore than I’ve been able to use an Ereader to enjoy a book (I’m trying though, I’m trying).

Where does that leave me? Well, this blog has proven in the past (here and here) to be a pretty good outlet for sharing little bits of the reading I’ve done and I think it could stand a bit more. Books. Journals. Articles. Essays. Other blogs. Whatever sparks my interest, inspires or is just plain good old writing.

I don’t think people read enough–I know I didn’t use to. Maybe that’s because so much of what we read doesn’t go deep enough into the type of emotional terrain that can move us. I’m not talking earthshattering content, but enough to make us think or explain or relate in some way to what’s going on in our own lives. Something that speaks to the heart: You’re not alone.

If nothing else, sharing it on Without Envy will give me a place to go to the next time a friends asks, What have you read lately?

Next week on Reader Envy, something light: Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain, by David Eagleman.

D-Blog Week: Admiring Our Differences

“Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.” Anne of Green Gables.


When I first read about the Diabetes Blog Week, I thought it just wasn’t the thing for me. In theory it sounded great. An opportunity to engage other writers for a week on a similar topic, sharing in different perspectives, stories, and experiences. But I worried about the time and creative commitment, about the topics and whether or not I had anything worthy to contribute. But mostly I worried — and this will sound strange — of opening myself fully to this community.

I know, I write a blog. I put myself out there every time I post something. You can’t get much more open than that. But as I’ve written before, like many of you, I don’t write it for others… well maybe I do some occasionally now, but it didn’t start that way. It began as a way for me to personally come to terms with my daughter’s diagnosis. The fears, the raw emotion, the anxieties that greeted us every day, those were my audience. My goal then and still today is to root those devils out, expose them in their deepest, darkest hiding places and in making them public learn to live in plain sight of them.

For me, to achieve that must take, in part, a better understanding of myself through the words that I write. But I am reminded, often in my writing, that I am not the one with diabetes, Lia is, and to be honest gaining an understanding of what that must be like for her takes so much more and is so much bigger than just sitting down to a keyboard or a computer screen. It takes walking in her shoes, something I and everyone else is incapable of doing; so there are times when I finish with what I have to say and I realize I have no better understanding for what I think about it than when I began. They’re just words on the page, my blabbering on about this or that, knowing full well that buried amongst the squiggles and straight lines is the deeply unsatisfying truth that this is not nor has it ever been my burden to carry.

I wish that it was. Everyday, I wish that it was.

Bad things happen to good people. We know that. It’s been that way forever. The hardest thing for a parent to accept is not that it happened but that we cannot take it away from our children. We can read of how others have learned to deal with diabetes, how young people have grown up and learned to live full, long lives; how they traveled, married, had children of their own. We can read books, watch documentaries, participate in other ways of communicating the same message: life with diabetes is hard, but not impossible.

We can do these things and are lives are better for it, but that shared experience only partially eases our worry, because there are other stories as well, some that aren’t being told because no one could stand up to the telling of them, and that’s all good and well. But it is in these moments of gloomy despair, when we feel most vulnerable to the frustration, confusion and uncertainty of fighting this disease, that we need a helping hand; it’s then that we realize, ultimately, that we just simply cannot do this alone.

With that in mind — and finally to theme of this blog day (sometimes discovering what you think takes a strangely circuitous route) — I’d like to share that my inspiration of late comes from someone who doesn’t even write a blog. To my knowledge this parent of a CWD doesn’t write at all. They do read plenty of d-blogs, however, (in fact that is how we first met) and most importantly, they are as involved in their own child’s health and well-being as are Franca and I. To our benefit, they have been with diabetes a good bit longer than we have and are willing to share their insight, knowledge and personal experience with what it has been like for them rooting out their own marauding demons.

It’s not just us, but Lia, too, who has benefited. She had the chance a couple of months ago to spend some time with their child. This little girl, we’ll call her R, is the same age, in the same grade, and has the same good-natured qualities as Lia. The two spent the day together and it seemed on the surface like any normal play date between kids. They ran around, they jumped on the trampoline, and other than testing together, seemed not to pay their diabetes any attention. But that evening after R went home, Franca and I went to bed forever grateful for having found someone else with whom Lia could relate to on this important level. Unbeknownst to us, however, Lia had been soaking up much more than a new friendship. The next morning when she came downstairs to where we were sitting, she announced to us her BG, how many carbs she was eating for breakfast and how much insulin she had bolused.

This was surprising in that it was the first time she had ever taken such charge of her diabetes and in all honestly it was a degree of intellectual involvement that Franca and I both knew was important for Lia to reach, but after only six months on the pump and just over a year of having diabetes, was something that neither of us were ready to ask of her  ourselves. We — I, especially — was still stuck in the theory that diabetes might be her burden, but it was mine to carry. Lia, it turns out, disagreed and she didn’t need one of us to ask this ownership of her, she only needed to spend time with a little friend, who showed that life with diabetes can not only be normal but also extraordinarily special and confidence-building, and that is a lesson, my friends, that I would not trade the world for.