Diabetes Diet #60: The Influence of Activity

Diabetes Recipes:

Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast)
Sweet Potato Dumplings
Red Cabbage

Every once in a while I come upon a person with diabetes who exudes a lasting impression and inspiration on me. This article is about one such person.

“After attending a Diabetes and Exercise (DESA) conference in Toronto I came home so worked up about all I heard and learned, I was ready to start a search for a new Endo who was more up to date on exercise, fitness, athletics, and sports, as part of diabetes management and glycemic control. I came up with a criteria list:

  1. Waiting room with treadmill, bicycle, and elliptical machines.
  2. A Universal machine, sets of dumbbells, Therabands, and a few workout benches.
  3. Magazines must be on health and fitness plus up to date diabetes education material.

Well, a year has gone by and I am still searching for this idyllic endo.”

from Florian Menninger, Jr

Florian has some advice on living with diabetes for patients also. Thoughtful planning and willingness to experiment are key factors along with:

  • Have a good plan and regular medical checkups.
  • Eat healthy, keeping an eye on carbohydrates and portions.
  • Enjoy sports and activity on a daily basis.
  • Take meds and/or insulin.
  • Check bgs regularly.
  • Join a support group.
  • Be active.

At age 30 in 1967 Florian was diagnosed with IDDM. He looks forward to outliving both parents (despite diabetes) who passed at age 86. As a scientist with a doctoral degree in Microbiology and Immunology, he greatly enjoyed his time in research labs where he learned so much about the scientific aspects of diabetes. In fact, he says that if the day comes, he would like to come back as a mouse, since they seem to benefit from all the research. Meanwhile, he carefully keeps tabs on his overall health, especially aspects such as cholesterol profile, reporting an HDL level of 88, LDL of 86, and a total profile of 178. Although genetics plays an influential role in cholesterol, Niacin, and exercise are known to help influence good numbers.

Another factor in Florian’s vibrant lifestyle is giving back to his community. Studies have found that nurturing creates oxytocin, a feel-good hormone, in the body. At his local senior center, he organized a diabetes support group with monthly meetings, writes a monthly newsletter, and tracks down speakers on various diabetes pertinent topics. He’s learned that if he uses the word “activity” people come and have a great time, but the word “exercise” turns them off.

His own life of activity has encompassed skiing, softball, bicycling, and gardening, but it is weight resistance and strength training that has interested him since 1993. He has worked with Chris Morin of Fit Tec for the last 4 years. They performed a study in 2007 to determine the influence of strength training in regulating blood glucose. It consisted of 90-minute programs of stretching for flexibility, machine work to strengthen the various muscle groups, and free weights. Basal and bolus insulin dosage were recorded. Meals and carbohydrates were analyzed. Blood glucose levels were checked every 20 minutes and the results showed that this type of workout consistently lowered bg levels which started out at a high normal range. He continues to enjoy working with Chris twice weekly since they share a scientific sand technical slant on training. Florian greatly admires role models, Doug Burns, Mr. Universe 2007 and type 1 since age 7, and Dr. Guy Hornsby, type 1 completive weight lifter and professor of sports medicine. Florian got a chance to spend some time with these men at the DESA conference in Boston in June 2009. (see picture)

Life at home is supported by his wife, Charlotte, and daughter, Lindsey, also known as type 3’s. For readers who have never heard this term before it warmly and cheerfully refers to the mates and partners of type 1’s and type 2’s. They are the ones who remind us to check bg’s if they suspect a low, keep the kitchen pantry stocked with quick carb snacks for emergencies, and don’t complain when they pick up used strips on the bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, and garage floors, on a steady basis.

Florian’s steady flow of enthusiasm and enjoyment of physical activity has paid off with good health and a terrific attitude towards life. He has a long “bucket” list of “things to do” such as receive the 50 Year medal from Joslin, learn to play piano, and conquer speaking a foreign language fluently and do some traveling and sightseeing. No doubt he will accomplish whatever pathways he chooses to explore. Florian Menninger, Jr. is a vibrant role model for all of us who live with diabetes and are influenced by exercise.

When I asked him about favorite foods, Florian admitted his favorite meal in life is a traditional German Sauerbraten, potato dumplings and red cabbage feast with some fresh pumpernickel bread. Hmmm-mm. We haven’t tried a meal such as this in Cyber Kitchen, but I invited him to join me at the cyber stove, and here’s what we cooked up. Be reminded this is very sumptuous food and should be savored sparingly. I’m thinking Oktoberfest.

Sauerbraten (German Pot Roast) (8 Servings)
Sauerbraten means sour beef in German. The dish is said to have originated from Charlemagne. The longer you marinate the meat, the more tender and flavorful it becomes.

1, 3-lb bottom round roast
salt and black pepper to taste
2 yellow onions, 2 fresh carrots, 2 ribs celery, sliced
4 cloves, 4 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 cups red wine vinegar
1 lemon, cut in half
2 T. vegetable oil
3 T. no trans-fat type butter
¼ cup flour
1 T. sugar
10 gingersnaps, crushed

  1. Wipe roast with a damp cloth. Season with S&P. Place in a large glass bowl.
  2. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients up to lemon, and add 5 cups water. Pour over meat. Add more water if needed. Cover and refrigerate for 3-6 days, turning meat daily.
  3. Remove meat and reserve marinade.
  4. Warm oil in a large pot and add meat. Brown on all sides. Add marinade, cover, and simmer 3 hours.
  5. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add flour and sugar and cook, mixing for about 5 minutes until brown. Add to meat.
  6. Cover and cook for another hour (or more) until meat is very tender. Stir in gingersnaps and cook another 10 minutes until thickened. Pour gravy over meat and dumplings and feast!

Nutritional Value: 1 serving with 2 T. gravy = 279 cal, 34 fat grams, 90 grams protein, 12 carb grams, 2 grams fiber

Sweet Potato Dumplings (MehlkoBe der suBen Kartoffel) 8 servings
Potato dumplings are traditionally served with Sauerbraten, but sweet potatoes are a better complex carb, low GI choice and they taste delicious!

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
2 eggs
salt to taste
½ cup unbleached flour
½ cup croutons (package or homemade)

  1. Boil sweet potatoes in an uncovered saucepan until tender. Peel and coarsely grate.
  2. Add eggs, salt, and flour. Beat with a fork until batter becomes fluffy.
  3. Roll into balls, placing 1 crouton in the center of each. Drop into gently boiling water for about 10 minutes. Serve with Sauerbraten gravy.

Nutritional Value: 1 serving = 102 cal, 3 grams protein, 2 fat grams, 18 carb grams, 2 grams fiber

Red Cabbage (Rotkahl)
1 lb. red cabbage, shredded
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup of water
2 T. butter
pinch of salt
3 T. sugar (or substitute)

  1. Place cabbage, vinegar, water, butter, and salt in a large pot. Bring to the boil.
  2. Lower heat and cook 15-20 minutes until tender. Turn and mix cabbage a few times during cooking.
  3. Remove from heat and gently stir in sugar. Allow cabbage to rest in liquid for 10-15 minutes to absorb flavors. Drain and serve.

Nutritional Value: ¾ serving = 40 cal, 5 carb grams, 1 gram protein, 1 fat gram, 1 gram fiber