I Want My Life Back


This spicy,  sweet, glazed Thai pork candy made by my neighbor Tum is one of my favorite flavors in the world, although I might never taste it again.  Or will I?


It’s the season, but I eat neither fig nor nectarine.  What if I did?


In this new life, this diabetic, low carb life, what I eat is meat,




meat.  And as you might have gathered, what I really love is


giant piles of vegetables,


and fruits.  Every vegetable, every fruit, every meal, that’s the life I like.  Wait, I take it back.  I’ll skip the kohlrabi and purslane, please.


Oh, and also I love to bake bread, although that’s not really necessary in France,


and I love to bake pastry, which, of course, is also not necessary in France, but that’s beside the point.  It’s fun to do, and I miss it.

I could make all these foods and feed them to you, but I wouldn’t share them with you.  And what’s food without sharing?  “It’s fuel,” they say, “stop thinking about food all the time.”  But sometimes it seems like the fun of making and sharing beautiful food is more important than anything.

sunrise 1139

But the rest of the time it’s this simple thing, having blood that looks like non-diabetic blood, that matters more than anything.  Not going blind, losing my toes or feet, not being on dialysis, that’s what matters.  Even if it means that when you come to my house you’ll be eating lots of meat.

les palmiers 046-1

I remember when my heart was light, long ago, far away.

I remember when I could cook what I wanted, then eat it.

Semur 071-1

I remember eating out when my only question to the server was “what’s the most interesting thing on the menu?” and not “is there any sugar in that?”

I’m not saying that I don’t love my eyes and my feet and my kidneys, because you know I do.  But when Dr. Kim looks at my careful graph of how I’ve made my blood sugar fall and fall until it looks practically like normal blood sugar, and she says “in all my years in practice no patient of mine has ever done what you’ve done”   I’m thinking “yeah, and probably none of them can cook like I do, either.”  Like I did, I remind myself, cook like I did.

Because now I have a new life and it’s a blood-based life.  Not spontaneous, not whimsical, not driven by a passion for playing in the kitchen nor by my desire to bring pleasure to my guests.  Nope, now it’s all about the blood, and the sweat, because walking miles every day is no longer optional: diabetics must exercise.  And it’s about the tears, because they’re not optional either.

I want my old life back, tattered though it might have been, because it was mine, a cook’s life,  and I loved it.

Explore posts in the same categories: At Home In France


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9 Comments on “I Want My Life Back”

  1. Dick Says:

    Have you really got your blood sugar down to 85 mg/dL? Chapeau! I am happy when mine is <130! Of course, as you have doubtless learned by now, the meter reading is just an instantaneous snapshot, and the real number of concern is your A1C (which should be below 7.0). But in any case, congratulations on the great work, and don't eliminate the fruits completely–I understand that their fiber counterbalances their carbs to some extent.

  2. John Sconzo Says:

    Abra, life is a balance and about choices. If you are happier and more comfortable with tight control of your sugar, by all means, you should continue what you are doing, because you are clearly doing it well. For me, I have chosen to be less fastidious with my blood sugar, forgoing tight control for reasonable control and continuing to eat all my favorite foods, albeit in moderation and careful regarding how I eat them. For example, I tend not to eat foods high in simple sugars, unless I am also eating something more complex to slow the absorption of the sugars and then I only eat those that I really enjoy. Another thing to remember is that while diabetes can be a major problem and blood sugar is important, an imbalanced diet can lead to any number of other problems.

    Having been a diabetic for 10 years, it still scares me, especially the possibility of long term diabetic microvascular complications, but I am not afraid of dying from it or even dieing early from it – we will all die from something and I’m not sure that surviving beyond all one’s peers is the greatest thing anyway. For me, life is too short to surrender the best parts of it.

    You need to find the balance that is right for you. You may already have done so.

  3. Barry Twyman Says:

    I must be so lucky , I thought FAT was the problem , I have bumbled along for years now , and hope to for many more . If you let anything rule your life it will surely destroy it, and mar everything else .
    “Little and often” was my Drs . advice , works for me , I just re-married !

  4. Eden Says:

    I’m very impressed with the speed with which you have adapted (albeit uncomfortably) to this new regime, and taken control of your health. Brava for that! And as I said elsewhere I have faith that you will reach a point where you can keep yourelf safe & healthy while still enjoying bits of candied pork and lovely french pastries…

    And as someone who will probably walk this path one day (genetics) I have to say I envy you your all encompassing love of veggies.

  5. Carrie Says:

    Abra, you find a way to make your sadness so beautiful and inspiring.

  6. geri Says:

    In my experience of eating all meat and veggies for 10 yrs, a Balanced Diet, ultimately I’ve found, is the key to good, long-lasting health. Eating a diet that weighs heavily on the side of consumption of meats,fish, poultry & dairy products creates other digestive problems down the road.

  7. geri Says:

    Abra..hope this is helpful:

    A substance in grapefruit could prove to be the key to reversing acidity that leads to obesity and diabetes, according to a new Canadian study.

    The substance, a flavonoid called “naringenin,” is a naturally occurring alkaline compound in all citrus fruit, but especially in grapefruit, giving it its characteristic bitter taste.

    Naringenin, found naturally in grapefruit, detoxes the liver and causes fat to be released instead of storing it, according to a study by Roberts Research Institute at the University of Western Ontario.

    The study used two groups of mice that were fed a typical Western high-fat diet, a diet known to induce symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including obesity and diabetes. One group’s diet, however, was treated with the alkaline compound found in grapefruit – naringenin.

    The researchers found that the naringenin lowered elevations in tryclycerides and cholesterol, prevented the onset of insulin resistance, and otherwise normalized the metabolism of insulin. Also, the naringenin completely reprogrammed the livers of the mice so that excess fat was released rather than stored.

    The “marked obesity that develops in these mice was completely prevented by naringenin,” said study leader Murray Huff. “What was unique about the study was that the effects were independent of caloric intake, meaning the mice ate exactly the same amount of food and the same amount of fat. There was no suppression of appetite or decreased food intake, which are often the basis of strategies to reduce weight gain and its metabolic consequences.”

  8. Abra Bennett Says:

    Wow, that’s interesting. I wonder how many tons of grapefruit one would have to eat to get that effect, assuming that the extract isn’t available on the market yet?

  9. Lori Says:

    My family has also been plagued with a variety of health problems. We always ate fairly healthy. I too love vegetables. But we are now trying to stick with the anti-inflammation/mediterranean diet proscribed by Dr Weil (he has a good website) and many others. Decreasing inflamation in your body reduces the risks and damage caused by many diseases – diabetes, cancer, heart disease, auto-immune disorders. As Michael Pollen said about choosing a diet – Eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables.

    The more we eat this way, the more we don’t miss the way we used to eat. If I want a piece of cake, I have it but just a very small piece. If it isn’t delicious, I don’t keep eating it. My husband’s family is very prone to diabetes and we are trying to head it off at the pass, along with a laundry list of other ailments we have faced at way too young of an age.

    Another thing we follow is trying to eat a little monounsaturated fat with every meal. There is new research that “MUFAs” decrease belly fat, that greatly increased diabetes risks. This includes olives, olive oil, nuts, seeds including chia, avocados, and dark chocolate. Since I love dark chocolate, this really helps in the sweets department. Check out the Prevention website, their full belly diet has recipes that support this way of eating.

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