Ken has received lots of life stories, many similar to his, many much more critical. And with them a litany of successes and failures.

ken.JPGView full sizeKen Gordon, owner of Kenny and Zuke’s Deli, was diagnosed with diabetes early this year. He will keep a diary of his efforts to help improve his condition with diet and exercise.

Since I began this column, I’ve received hundreds of emails. The overwhelming majority have been letters of support and well-wishes. A few have been critical, but in a constructive way.

Some have been from doctors and other health care professionals involved in diabetes care or the treatment of various ailments associated with metabolic syndrome, and some of these have offered help and resources to get the word out about the benefits of good diet and exercise.

Some have even offered to join forces in the interest of developing a more effective voice.

There have been lots of life stories, many similar to mine, many much more critical. And with them a litany of successes and failures.

And lots of suggestions, from recipes and favorite foods to books and websites to elixers and vitamins, new diets and old. I try to look into as many of these as possible, but the task is daunting by virtue of the wealth of material. Which only goes toward convincing me that there are a multitude of ways to achieve the same results, and that no one way is necessarily more valid than the next. It’s just a matter of finding the right path for yourself, and sticking with it.

Here are a few excerpts (I’ll print more from time to time):

“As a Type 1 diabetic (since 1989), I am often forced to only go to chain restaurants because they have the nutrition facts that I need in order to decide how much insulin to take. And, as do you, I avoid white starchy carbs because of how they torture my blood sugar for hours. So finding something I actually want to eat can be really stressful.”
— L.H.  

“I often wear a T-shirt that says on the front ‘Warning! Well-controlled diabetes is the leading cause of …’ and on the back ‘absolutely nothing!’ As people with diabetes, we are our own best primary-care physician, and have a great deal of responsibility and power over this horrid situation.”
— K.B.  

“I don’t mind paying a comparable price for a healthy choice offered on these menus. I don’t just pay for the food, I pay for the experience: the atmosphere, the service, sharing time with my husband and friends.”
— J.H.  

“We civilized people lost our way nutritionally about 10,000 years ago when we became civilized and switched to an agricultural society.”
— J.H.  

“At home we’re vegan. When we eat out, we’re vegetarians, or else we’d never get to eat out at all. For all its pride about restaurants, Portland does not serve us well at all.”
— M.P.  

“We have a family member with celiac disease. … Man, if you think the rest of us are on diet restrictions, you should follow someone on a gluten-free diet, especially in restaurants.”
— T.B.  

“I feel strongly that food is one of our best medicines and more strongly that ‘healthy’ and ‘tasty’ are not incompatible when describing food.”
— A.T.  

“I would imagine a lot of people are sending you tips, tricks, links, etc. If you’re still reading this, I’d like to suggest one book, it really is an eye-opener: ‘Super Immunity’ by Joel Fuhrman.”
— H.H.  

“I’ve read, and am re-reading, ‘Younger Next Year,’ and have been at the gym five-plus days a week for the past four months. I have modified my diet somewhat, but exercise has been the primary thing. And I, too, have had to buy new clothes!”
— C.S.  

“I take a cinnamon capsule every day and must participate in a yearly fasting test for employment insurance. My blood levels/triglycerides/blah blah blah improved and have not gone back.”
— T.R.  

“Been following your column. Entertaining, not very informative. Have you read ‘Diabetes Solution’ (revised edition) by Dr. Richard K. Bernstein? Very informative.”
— R.W.  

“As a naturopathic physician who works with every patient to strive for a more healthy diet, I have recommended your column to several people for motivation and sound advice.”
— L.L.  

“We love the book ‘Thrive’ by Brendan Brazier. If you need some recipes, motivation, new ideas, etc., give that book a look.”
— K.K.  

“A lot of it comes down to the choices we’re willing to (or want to) make, comfort level, and what works. My neighbor feels it’s important to be a vegetarian, buy organic, never use a microwave and get high colonics, but he smokes a pack a day, never exercises, and is 30-40 pounds overweight. Another friend has really high LDL cholesterol. I told him about the plant sterol margarine, but he’d rather have a heart attack than eat margarine.”
— A.F.  

“As a diabetes educator, I strive to get people to believe that healthy does not mean tasteless.”
— A.W.  

“I don’t want to get diabetes, I don’t want cancer or heart disease. Your words and experience confirm what my main motivation for being healthier has given me: freedom from worrying as much about disease, and much greater stamina and mobility. It is such a good thing to be healthy. It for me has become a drug, the best high ever. For me stepping on the scale every day and each pound that goes is such a fantastic accomplishment.”
— H.J.  

“I also struggle with metabolic disorder, though I have yet to be diagnosed as diabetic. I am in the gym as much as possible and have made some changes in what I eat (I am struggling with portion control), but I worry about being in a food service environment and succeeding in my chosen career path and with my health.”
— T.S.  

“Sweet potatoes. I hated them at Thanksgiving. But after changing my eating habits 1 1/2 years ago, they were suggested in a recipe. They are really good and healthy for you. And when you are missing all the sugar, they help. I like them best after they’ve been baked, cooled and cut into discs. Using 1 teaspoon of olive oil (or canola), I fry them on the stovetop and then mix in egg whites. A great breakfast.”
— C.M.  

Next: Talkin’ ’bout my moderation (with apologies to the Who)

Any questions about Ken’s regimen or, well, anything? Email him at [email protected]