Attention all Special Population Diet Experts!

Alright, T-Men and T-Vixens- I know you’re all great about helping out the newbies with their long winded problems, so I hope you’ll be able to help out one of the regulars with his. Actually, his father’s.

For the 20 years that I’ve been on this earth, my father has lived the most unhealthy lifestyle of anyone I know. As a result, he has EVERY one of the ACSM’s risk factors for cardiovascular disease (dramatic obesity, serious hypertension, type 2 diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, borderline hypercholesterolemia, smoker since age 15, etc…you get the point). In fact, he’s so anti-fitness and proper diet that he gets angry when anyone in our family mentions it (which gets interesting considering I’m an exercise science and sports management double major). Anyway, lately he’s been changing. He’s in the process of quitting smoking and has started walking on the treadmill every morning (I hope to integrate weight training once he’s more amenable to change). I think it has a lot to do with the fact that he just turned 50: the same age at which his mother died of a heart attack. Obviously, since I live with him, he knows that I live the bodybuilding lifestyle and know quite a bit about diet and training. As such, he’s started to ask my advice about a lot of things, specifically diet. While I’ve made out a long list of changes (eating smaller, frequent meals, healthy carbs, less saturated fat, use of fish oil, less salt, less caffeine, more water) he can slowly incorporate into his diet to be healthier, I have been having some problems in this regard. As an adult onset diabetic, he is extremely insensitive to insulin. I’ve been doing okay with setting up his three traditional meals, but the mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and before bed (if desired) are giving me trouble. Obviously, before bed is strictly protein and a small amount of fats. My problem in the other two is that he refuses to eat out of tupperware because he claims it doesn’t fit his lifestyle as a businessman. Also, he is anti-protein shakes. I thought low-carb (not including glycerin) protein bars might be a decent idea, so I gave him two designer whey bars that I had lying around to try today.

I figured that the protein would fill him up, and that they would be a good choice because glycerin doesn’t have as strong an effect on blood sugar levels as carbs do. However, when he got home, he told me that he could feel that his blood sugar was through the roof because of the bars! So, obviously, these bars are out. Anyone have any suggestions for food planning for type 2 diabetics? He keeps talking about going to a dietician, and we all know that he’ll just be inoculated with that food guide pyramid b.s…

Right now, I have something along these lines:
Breakfast: 1-2 eggs plus 5-6 egg whites, 3 fish oil caps, 1 slice whole wheat or rye bread (he hates oatmeal)

Meal 2: I was hoping cottage cheese and an apple, but who knows what he’ll go for.

Lunch: 6+ oz lean meat, large salad with olive oil and vinegar, 1/2 yam, 3 fish oil caps

Mid Afternoon: Meal 2

Dinner: 6-8 oz lean meat, salad, fibrous/green veggies (non-starchy), 3 fish oil caps, light salad dressing

Before Bed: Protein only (although he loves milk!!!)

He's definitely not ready for Massive Eating, as he really doesn't understand even which foods provide carbs, protein, and fat. I'm teaching him about the macronutrients and the glycemic index, but it's gonna take time. In the meantime, I would really appreciate any help anyone can offer. I've been waiting twenty years for him to make this commitment and I don't want to sit tight and give him time to reconsider his decision. Thanks a million.

Fibrous veggies and fruit (apples, pears) are a good carbohydrate choice and are pretty easy to pack for a day at work. Protein is a little tougher to figure out for eating at work. Beef jerky, low fat cheeses work pretty well but not every day. Some other options include making some sandwiches out of a good whole grain bread. You could add natural peanut butter, cottage cheese, tuna, grilled steak or chicken to the sandwhiches. That is all I’ve got for now as for food choices. What meds is he currently on? Is he taking insulin or just orals? There is definately hope though. Weight loss coupled with an increase in activity has been shown to reverse type II diabetes in many cases. One last idea. If you can get him to eat a protein shake, here is one I love. 2 scoops chocolate AP, 2 scoops unflavored Designer Protein, 2 T natural peanut butter, 2 T flax oil, mix in about 12 oz of water and then add ice to thicken it up into a nice shake that he can easily store in the fridge. It makes 2 servings and he can drink half of it in less than a couple of minutes.

He’s taking tricor, glucophage, actos, cholestyramine, and prinivil (all orals) for a variety of problems. I wasn’t familiar with cholestyramine, so I asked him about it. Apparently, it’s an orange flavored packet that you mix with water/juice before a meal and it coats the stomach to prevent absorption of certain things (cholesterol is among them, I assume). I thought about beef jerky. What do you think the deal was with the DW bars? I’m thinking that maybe the whey was too fast-digesting for him (although the fat and glycerin should have slowed digestion). Right now, he’s actually pretty resistant to eating more than twice a day (big lunch and dinner with late night snacking), but he’s going along with it. I keep telling him that he needs to eat even if he isn’t hungry to train his appetite. I’m definitely tryng to keep carbs down (none after 4PM other than veggies at dinner), but the sandwich mid-morning and afternoon might work. Thanks.

I think it’s great that your doing so much to help out your dad. You are definately giving him better advice than a dietition would. I’ve gone through almost the exact same thing with my dad in the last couple of years after a stroke, two heart attacks and quadruple bypass surgery. I put him on a diet very similar to yours and he dropped 60lbs and now rides the stationary bike with the arm handle action 40 min./day. He can’t lift do to a weak right side from the stroke. My dad hates protein shakes too, so finding snacks is a challenge. Beef jerky is an excellent idea as well as nuts. Be careful with the nuts though as they are pretty calorie dense. Both of these he can snack on at work My dad also likes chicken or tuna wrapped in a tortilla with lettuce, tomato and low-fat mayo for lunch. He also likes chicken rice soup with extra chicken. His blood sugar levels (diabetic, but does’nt need insulin injections) seem to be o.k when he eats nitro tech bars and he likes the taste. (especially choc.chip/peanut butter) I can’t think of any other ideas as it sounds like you’ve got most of the bases covered. Good luck with your dad.

Your guess about the whey protein being too quickly digested is my only thought. I think that you are doing everything right, but your dad may just need some time to see results. Getting started is the hardest part, but once he begins to lose some weight, have more energy, and have more stable blood sugar, he will be more willing to change. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep an eye out for anything I see regarding your situation.

For someone in this instance I would recommend a Zone Type diet, and use zone bars (which contain fish oils) to keep his blood sugar stable. Stick to a low glycemic fuits, and hi fiber carbs (not quaker oats ) Use steel Cut oats instead. Avoid root veggies and as much veggies as possible. Increase monosaturated, and polysaturated eating somefat at each meal.

Good news to report. I drew up a diet plan for him and after several revisions to accomodate his taste buds we finalized the thing. He’s done an okay job of following it, although he is still using margarine and salt on practically everything. One step at a time, though. It is definitely helping: his fasting glucose has dropped by 41 points in only three days. Thanks for all your help, and I’ll keep you posted in the future. He’s on his own for now, though, because I’m sick!