Thursday, April 23, 2015

Start Again

How many synonyms are there for starting over?

As much as I really hate to admit it, Silent Sam and I are starting again. Yes, we had slipped big time off our "eating plan" and we have to get back to it.

Is it discouraging? Yes. But, it must be done and we know we can do it. Do I think this will be the last time we have to start over? I would love to tell you "YES!" with all the PMA (positive mental attitude) that I can muster.

I think we will have some success and some failure.

Silent Sam is doing great with his fitbit and walking daily. I am right now relegated to knee strengthening exercises so that I can feel better.

But we do have one thing that is a great advantage. We have each other and we are working together.

So if you need to start over, let me know and we can support each other.  If you are doing great, let me know that and I will celebrate (in a non food way) with you.  You can leave comments below or there is a "The 9 Inch Plate" facebook page where you can comment.

I would love to hear how you are doing.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Revisiting - Why a 9 inch plate?

The following was one of my first posts on this blog.  I decided to revisit it after I read several articles about things Google has done in their offices to get the employees to be healthier.  (The cynical part of me thinks this smaks of social engineering but who am I?) If you would like to read about the changes they made in their cafeterias and offices, there are several sources but this Washington Post article sums it up.  

Have you switched to a 9 inch plate?

Did you know that in the United States dinner plates have grown to be 11 – 12 inches in diameter?  Why does this matter?  Well, psychologists will tell you that we were taught to eat everything on our plate and when your plate is 11 or 12 inches across, you are eating a lot of food.  It was suggested to us that we should have 9 inch plates.  (Somehow from looking at us they guessed that portion control may be a problem.)  In checking the cabinet, I found that our dinner plates were 10.5 inches across and the new plates that I bought (to replace chipped ones) were even larger.  So I went on the hunt for 9 inch dinner plates so we could experiment and see if it made a difference.  Now, I would hate to think that I am such a simpleton that changing the size of the plate would make a difference in how much I ate.  After all, could just having a smaller plate make a difference in making me feel full?  

Once again Silent Sam’s diabetes (in your head please follow that word with the ominous DUM, DUM, DUM soundtrack) has led me to shopping.  So this is not all bad.  Just kidding.  It took me a little while to find a plate that was 9 inches.  I finally found that Fiestaware has a luncheon plate that is 9 inches.  Please note – this is not the salad plate or the dinner plate but the luncheon plate.  Really, does one need that many sizes in casual dishware?  Oh well mine is not to wonder why, mine is but to do or buy….

I decided to order 4 luncheon plates.  Of course that leads to the hard decision as to what color to order.  Over the years, I have heard conversations about the color of plates.  One person was sure that the way that you picked a plate color was to imagine spaghetti on it – would it look appealing?  And with Fiestaware, do you pick just one color or an assortment?  I decided to go with one color for the preliminary order.  Yes, I was planning ahead or perhaps feeling positive about the outcome of this experiment.  I also ordered some small bowls for frozen yogurt.  Let me admit here that there is no way to tell what size a bowl is from a picture on your computer.  They looked small…  

I may or may not have told the family about this purchase until the plates and bowls arrived.  Luckily no one objected to my color choice.  The bowls are small – Silent Sam took out the measuring cup and announced that they hold ¾ of a cup of liquid.  The plates looked much smaller in the cabinet but they were a cheery color so I was hopeful.  

I am a simpleton.   Since we started using the plates, I do feel full at the end of the meal.  One of the tips that we were given for portion control was to divide a 9 inch plate into quarters.  One quarter was for protein, one quarter for starch, and the other half for vegetables and salad. It is mostly containing the protein and starch parts of the meal where we had problems.  I would say that there have only been a couple of times since we started this new lifestyle that I have been hungry at the end of dinner.  I will admit though that with the “frozen yogurt bowls” that I have occasionally wanted to lick the bowl clean but I have resisted so far.  Something about the visual of that stops me in my tracks.  

Now you have it.  My first and perhaps best tip right now is the 9 inch plate.  There are more tips and tales to come – and not all involve shopping.  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Crock Pot Italian Soup

Well, we are coming to the end of Sunday soup season and I thought I would give you one more recipe.  We have really enjoyed our winter nights with soup for dinner. 

Today’s recipe is modeled after a recipe from Fabulously Frugal, which looks like an interesting site.  I did make it their way first but was not completely happy with the recipe and made adjustments.  I will only be giving the adjusted recipe. 

Crock Pot Italian Soup
Serves 6


1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion diced
1 can (15 oz.) kidney beans
1 can (14.5 oz.) can of diced tomatoes (I use fire roasted.)
2 carrots sliced
2 small potatoes diced (I used red potatoes)
10 – 12 garlic cloves (really, I mean 10 –12)
1 tablespoon each of dried parsley, dried oregano, dried basil
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning (yes, I know it is a bit redundant)
6 cups of chicken broth reduced fat and reduced sodium
1 cup pasta shells uncooked


1.  Brown the ground beef and onion in a frying pan until the meat is cooked through. 
2. Put all ingredients EXCEPT the pasta in the crock pot.  Stir them to blend. 
3.  Cook on HIGH for 4 hours. At the end of 4 hours, add the pasta and let it cook for an additional hour. 

Nutritional Info

Calories=306,Total Fat 6.4 g,Saturated Fat 2.2 g,Cholesterol 68 mg, Sodium 978 mg, Potassium 861 mg, Total Carbohydrates 29.1 g, Dietary Fiber 4.2 g, Sugars 5.6 g. 


The nutritional information does not take into account the low sodium chicken broth.  We found that College Inn chicken broth is both lower fat and lower sodium.  It cost a bit more but we have had some soups that taste so salty that we try to get as low sodium as we can.
Okay, this soup is HOT at the end of the 5 hours.  I mean that you need to let it cool for a long time.  We think it is possible that it is actually better the next day when the spices have a chance to blend.  We have eaten it right after it cooked and then again the next day or two for lunch.  It really is better the next day but it may be that it is so very hot when the time is up.
About the spices, I know that Italian seasoning is basil, parsley and oregano but with six cups of broth, you need a lot of spice otherwise it would seem really tasteless.  So I am generous with my tablespoon of each and then added the Italian seasoning.  We were happy with the result. 

As usual, the original recipe called for salt and pepper.  I do not add salt and pepper when I cook.  Okay, I am weird but I am not a huge fan of pepper and soup so often ends up salty that I just don’t feel the need to add them. 

I hope you enjoy it! Let me know if you have tried the Sunday night soup idea during the winter or any night.  I would love to know if you enjoyed the recipes!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Can you hear me?

Silent Sam was sitting innocently watching the morning news.
Can I take a picture? Let's just say that he was not a willing victim.

In the past, I have written about how diabetes affects the feet, the eyes, and the teeth.  Now I have been reading about diabetes affecting the hearing. 

A recent study found that “hearing loss is twice as common in people with diabetes as it is in those who don’t have the disease.”

The Better Hearing Institute reports that younger people with diabetes were at an even greater risk of having some hearing loss.  Hearing loss in people over 60 with diabetes was 1.58 times higher than the normal population.The rate jumped to 2.61 times higher in the diabetic population under the age of 60. 

There does not seem to be any conclusive answer why hearing seems to be affected by diabetes.  It is possible that as a result of poor blood glucose level management that the small blood vessels in the ears are affected.  But this is an area that needs more research.

What does this mean to you?

If you have diabetes, then you should also talk to your physician about having your hearing checked.  It is thought that such a check can help you watch for signs of hearing loss.  Hearing loss can have a profound affect on your health.  Think of it this way, if you can’t hear well, you might not want to go out in public where you won’t be able to hear others talk.  Also, it is frustrating to have to ask people to repeat themselves all the time.  All this can lead you to withdraw from your social life. 

An audiologist giving a hearing exam. 

What should I do if I think I have hearing loss?

You should get your hearing checked.  This will tell you if you have a hearing loss. (A family story – My mother was sure my father suffered from hearing loss.  She nagged him until he went and had his hearing checked.  His hearing was fine!  He was diagnosed with “selective hearing”.  It has been a family joke ever since.)

If you do have hearing loss that could be helped with hearing aids, get them and use them.  I know from having a relative with hearing aids that using them can be a hard adjustment. Please make the effort.  It will be to your benefit to be able to hear better. 

My hearing is fine but what can I do to protect it?

First of all, maintaining good control over your blood sugar level is an important step for your overall health. One of the studies indicated that women between the ages of 60 –75 who had good control over their diabetes had better hearing than their counterparts with poor control.  Maintaining good control over your diabetes will make a huge difference in not just your hearing but in your entire physical condition. 

The other part of maintaining good hearing is using ear protection.  Everyone is at risk of having some hearing loss due to noise.  Carry ear plugs with you for when you find yourself in a high level of noise.  Make sure you don’t have your personal devices (phone, MP3 player, tablet) turned up too high.  Limit your use of ear buds.  If you find yourself in a situation where there are loud noises, walk away from that situation. 

Taking care of your hearing is important to your social well being.  Please take the time to talk to your doctor about your hearing. Have you had your hearing checked?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

There is an app for that.

How often have you heard the saying “There’s an app for that.”  These days there are “apps” for everything and sometimes that is a really good thing. (Except of course for the really terrible apps.  I read about one that was Christmas at the Dentists which had ads throughout for a funeral home. Such holiday cheer!)

I was reading today about a company by the name of Glooko. The company makes a device that can sync to your phone to download all the information from your glucose meter.  It can sync from over 30+ of the current meters on the market. It will not only download the information but it can put it in graph form.  It can also sync to your fitness devices like Fitbit to incorporate your fitness into your blood sugar monitoring so you can see the direct affect that your exercising has on your levels. 

The reason that Glooko is in the news is because they  have picked up some major funding to work on their next product.  They want to make an app that will connect to wireless meters and glucose pumps.  They have gotten major funding from several sources including the medical device maker, Medtronic.  In the article, it states the Glooko has picked up $16.5 million dollars in financing from various sources, including Medtronic, for the new product.

There is also an interesting article and video about the current device from ABC 7 News.
I think it is really great that there is work being done to help people manage diabetes better.  Anything that can help will mean better and longer lives. 

Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Daylight Savings Time

So, just to complicate our lives, Daylight Savings Time starts on Sunday.  Yes, it is the curse of the “spring forward” at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning. 

I don’t know about you but I have been feeling extremely upbeat about the days being longer.  There is nothing more depressing than getting up in the dark and leaving work in the dark. 

I will admit, only to you, that I have more trouble with the time change than I should. According to one school of thought, it should take you one day per hour to adjust to a time change.  I think that means that on Monday, you should be be adjusted.  That is not the case for me and I am sure I am not alone. I have read that there are more car accidents on that Monday morning than other Monday mornings. 

So, you might want to get to bed a bit earlier on Sunday night and not try and rush off so early on Monday.  Make sure you are really awake before heading out to work.  With all those groggy people heading into to work, maybe the thing to do is to have a dance party first thing Monday morning so that people wake up when they start their work day. 

(Okay, I am having too much fun imagining that.  How about you?  Are you smiling?)

Happy time change!


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Organization - Your Medicines

Last week I talked about having a medical information binder.  It can not only save you time but it could also be a lifesaver.

This week, let's look at your medications.

Should you keep your medications in the bathroom?

This is something that we all do that we shouldn't. Your bathroom has temperature and humidity changes that are not the best for your medications.  It is far better to keep them stored out of the sunlight and where the temperature is relatively constant. And if you are like me, somewhere that you will remember to take them!

One of the ideas that I like is to keep your medicines all together in a plastic bin.  There are all sizes and price points available these days.  I was looking at the web site for the Container Store and saw some that might do the trick.  They even have a handle so that you can just pick up and go when you are traveling. Also with the lid on the box, it is easier to keep it away from your pets.

The sides are translucent but the top is clear so you can easily look in it.
Disposal of unused medications 

Somehow every time I go to clean out my medicine cabinet, I find unused prescription medicine.  Now you know that these days you are not supposed to throw those medicines in the waste basket.  But do you know what to do with them?  I found a web site that will direct you to the closest pharmacy that will take back the drugs for proper disposal.  You can go to Dispose My Meds and click in the upper right hand corner on the word "locator" and then fill in your zip code.  It will then show you where you can go in your area.  Also, check with your town.  Where I live, we can take old prescription medicines and sharps to town hall for disposal.

Prescriptions for controlled substances have federal guidelines for disposal.  Those guidelines are as follows:

1. Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers. 

2. Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.

3. Put this mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a seal-able bag. 

4. Remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers. You can cover the label with black permanent marker or duct tape, or scratch it off .

 5. Place the sealed container with the mixture, and the empty drug containers, in the trash. 

We sometimes forget to take medicine. It is not out of the ordinary for me to put reminders in strategic places.  

Just a little reminder hidden away!

Of course the other thing you can do is use the alarm function on your cell phone.  That is an easy way to remind yourself.

I hope you have a great weekend!  Take care!

Thanks for reading!