Mistress Of The Mix: The Diabetes Shuffle


I got some bad news recently, which actually turned out to be one of the best things that’s happened to me in a long time.

My doctor (actually my physician’s assistant) said, “You’re not gonna like me very much.”

And then she told me I was obese.

Okay, that’s not fair to her. What she really did was tell me that I have Type II Diabetes. I’ve had blood sugar issues my whole life, and weight problems since I moved to Alaska at the age of 22, got busy and quit eating.

So she talked me into going on a diet. At first I really really really didn’t want to do it. But she finally talked me into it.

The point where I caved in and decided that I’d do it was when I told her that the reason I’d given up on Jenny Craig five years ago (after losing 35 pounds and then gaining it all back again) was because I hated having to make two completely separate meals every evening for dinner. One for me (out of a box) and one for everyone else. There came a point where eating a pre-prescribed microwave meal became such a mundane task, something I just didn’t look forward to, even dreaded, that I just gave up.

She told me that this diet, which consisting of five pre-measured and pre-packaged snack meals each day, allowed me to choose and cook my own dinner meal, as long as it was lean and green.

So I cried a little bit, and then I decided right then that I’d do it.

And I did. Well, I am.

One month ago I committed myself whole hog (minus the hog), to reversing the diabetes by reversing the obesity.

Even though I took a week off for a trip to Hawaii (where I ate at least two cheeseburgers, several servings of french fries, a half order of Eggs Benedict and drank two Gin and Tonics every day), I still lost 15 pounds.

I’ve got a long way to go. But I plan to go the distance, just so you know.

(And thank you to Karen, who tapped me on the shoulder at The Fray concert the other night, just to tell me how fabulous I already look. You’re so sweet!)

I joke that most of what I’m eating every day is non-food. It’s pre-packaged shakes and bars, little crunchy puffs or cup-o-soup. It’s just little snacks, really. But I get five of them throughout the day. And when I go home, I have been concentrating on making some of the best damned meals I’ve made in a long, long time.

I have actually found myself spending a ridiculous amount of time thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner, probably because it’s the only real meal I get to eat every day. So I put a lot of thought into it, and get a lot of joy out preparing that one, delectable meal.

From the get-go I started taking a photo of my dinner every single evening and posting it to my Facebook profile. (Check out a few of my photos in this column.)

I didn’t intend to make all my friends jealous with my incredibly delicious meals, I just wanted to own it. Really own it. And that’s how I went about owning my diet and finding a way to truly enjoy the experience.

I will admit that I haven’t completely cut myself off of all my culinary vices. I still put cream in my coffee, and I still enjoy a moderate amount of alcohol, and a tiny sprinkling of Parmesan cheese now and then, or a spoonful of peanut butter when my tummy rumbles.

But obviously, I’ve been doing an abundant amount of thinking about food lately. Nothing like depriving yourself of something to make you fantasize, obsess and salivate about gnocchi with a pesto alfredo sauce and heaps of cheese. Or a salami, mozzarella, sun dried tomato and olive calzone. Or bacon. Mmmm. Bacon. I do miss bacon.

That’s why I’m living out my food fantasies through music. Bon appetit!


Valerie Ing-Miller has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for nine years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She’s the mother of a teenage daughter and a 7-year-old West Highland Terrier, and can’t imagine life without them or music. Valerie wakes up with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Valerie Ing
Valerie Ing has been the Northern California Program Coordinator for Jefferson Public Radio in Redding for 14 years and can often be found serving as Mistress of Ceremonies at the Cascade Theatre. For her, ultimate satisfaction comes from a perfect segue. She and her husband are parents to a couple of college students and a pair of West Highland Terriers, and Valerie can’t imagine life without them or music. The Mistress of the Mix wakes up every day with a song in her head, she sings in the shower and at the top of her lungs in the car.
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26 Responses

  1. Avatar AJ says:

    The first two out of the gate: two of my absolutely favorite singers doing two of my absolutely favorite songs. You also should give a listen to Patti Austin doing "I Can Cook."

    Judging from what you wrote, you could take that as your new theme song!!

    You go girl . . .

  2. Avatar ambercita says:


    I second AJ – You go girl….

    And here's another song for you. Prince's 'Starfish and Coffee'. While the food fusion may not be appetizing, the beat is infectious.


  3. Avatar Kimberly R. says:

    Aw, girl! You go!! So proud of you. Though I also think your body is lovely as is, that bad ol' diabetes has got to GO! Good for you for taking hold of this and kicking (licking?) it! Ha ha. -Kimberly Ross

  4. Avatar Mark C says:

    ….and then there's "Cheese Burger in Paradise", by Jimmy Buffet.

    • Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

      Oh, I can't believe I forgot that. I actually ate at Cheese Burger in Paradise last week while on Maui. In fact I even ate a cheese burger!

  5. All that good food and you need some

    "Wine Spo-De-O-Dee" from Jerry Lee Lewis !

  6. Avatar rmv says:

    lot better profile picture! πŸ™‚

    am i wrong??

    GOD Bless America (and her children!) πŸ™‚

  7. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    "Memphis Women and Fried Chicken" by T. Graham Brown, "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" by Jay and the Techniques, "Church" by Lyle Lovett, "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" by Louis Armstrong…

  8. Avatar Scott says:

    Nice list, as usual, as your playlists are one of my favorite parts of A News Cafe. I only wish you were doing these for Spotify, so those of us using the service could play them with one click!

    • Valerie Ing-Miller Valerie Ing-Miller says:

      Ah, but Scott you certainly can play the entire playlist or even just one or 2 songs off the list with one click. Simply click on the 'play' arrow in the imbedded Grooveshark playlist widget. It's right there, up above, this time in beautiful Mustard Yellow and Ketchup Red. You can play the whole playlist from start to finish, or advance to the next song. If there's some reason you can't see or play the list, please let me know.

      • Avatar Scott says:

        I realize that, and I have played other playlists you've posted in the past. I should have been more specific: It would be nice to be able to import your playlists into Spotify, since that's where I (and a growing number of my friends) play the majority of our music. Thanks for the response, though!

  9. Avatar the_bell_jar says:

    So the album Chocolate Cake is on, Woodface is one of my top 5 fav albums of all time. I love that you know that song!! And yes, I will always call them albums! πŸ™‚

    • You know what? I still call them albums too, even on the radio. Just the other day I took the plastic off of a brand new cd, and I called it an album. I think most of us do. And I've also realized that radio professionals still refer to 'record labels' and 'record libraries' even though there is nary a record in there.

  10. Avatar Mary D says:

    I got the same news recently. Good luck with your diet! To keep myself on track, I got two clear glass vases. In one vase I put one marble per pound I'd like to lose. Each week at weigh-in, I move one marble per pound lost into the empty vase. (Saw this on Pinterest!) Looking at the changing levels of marbles makes me think, "I can do this!"

    And thanks for the great playlists!

  11. Avatar Bethany S says:

    Switching the blame here….First, let's look at the science. First, obesity is NOT a disease, and does NOT need to be cured. Although "obesity" is correlated with diabetes, it does not CAUSE it. There is no scientific evidence to say it does; in fact scientists don't really know what the connection is. Male-pattern baldness is correlated with heart disease, but I don't see any doctors talking their patients into getting hair implants to cure heart disease. Second, there IS scientific evidence to support that 95% of people who go on a weight-loss diet eventually gain the weight back. It's not YOUR fault that you didn't keep that 35 pounds off while eating pre-packaged meals while your family ate what they wanted. Consider that it wasn't YOU that is the problem…consider that it's the DIET that's the problem.

    Now that I have your attention, please contemplate these two simple points: 1. If diabetes is a result of obesity, then why don't ALL fat people have it, and more importantly, why do SKINNY people have it? 2. Why is it so difficult for humans to accept the concept of size diversity in their species? We accept it in all others – roses, dogs, trees, watermelons – let's face it, we all look for the biggest head of lettuce (because the price is for the each). Is it so hard to imagine that size diversity ALSO is normal and natural in humans? Why must we all fit in a "box" to feel acceptable? It's all fear-mongering. Health professionals have taken liberties they are NOT allowed to, in saying that fat is the problem. Fat isn't the problem. Weight loss diets have become a gateway to disordered eating behavior and self-loathing because people are so afraid of being labeled as obese. Let's stop beating ourselves up for being diverse, and let's stop focusing so much on fitting in that "box" that we forget to be healthy.

    Check out this website, and consider reviewing the book: http://www.haesbook.com. It will change your life. And please, go have your bacon. It CAN fit into a healthy lifestyle.

  12. Bethany – Obesity was causing me a great deal of discomfort. I'm not talking about discomfort looking at myself in the mirror. I'm talking about not being able to bend over and tie my shoes or pick something up off of the floor. Not being able to do yoga because my girth made it impossible to do do some of the moves. Or being able to run around the bases any longer when I play softball without being out of breath for 10 minutes afterwards. I hated having to buy all new, larger clothing every year. I was exhausted when I came home from work and wanted to do nothing but sit. I began to have sleep apnea that is directly related to the extra weight I put on. I woke up in the morning feeling like crap. I had headaches. Horrible headaches. My back hurt something awful…mainly the strain of the weight of my breasts. My whole body hurt. I have had blood sugar issues since I was a teenager, and have known that I should have been eating a diabetic type of diet for the past 30 years, but when I get busy, I forget to eat. And I began gaining 5-10 pounds a year as soon as I stopped eating. The diabetes diagnosis was a wake up call for me to get my act together and get healthy so that I would not hurt any longer, and feel better. Bethany, I am a long, long, long way from being skinny. I've never been skinny in my entire adult life. In some ways, I consider it a blessing because I don't have to waste much of my time with people who only judge others on what the American culture would consider external beauty.

    • Avatar Bethany S says:

      Ok, so I should disclose who I am. I am an tenured faculty member at Shasta College who teaches Nutrition. My masters degree is in Nutritional Science, I am a member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, a Certified Dietary Manager, and a member of the Association for Size, Diversity & Health. I practice a "Health at Every Size" approach to weight, and have spoken publicly on the topic for several years (most recently at Leadership Redding). Nice to meet you.

      Thank you for loving yourself. We all should be so kind to ourselves, and to each other. Weight discrimination is wrong all around – but as you point out, a lot of people hate others because of their weight. Thank you for encouraging others to join the peace movement of loving their bodies and ending weight discrimination.

      I'd like to say this – I'm glad you are not focusing on weight loss because of discomfort looking at yourself in the mirror. You noted in your original article that the Jenny Craig diet didn't work for you, and I imagine that this was not the first weight-loss diet you've tried (that didn't work). The weight-loss industry makes billions of dollars on people who are uncomfortable with what they see in the mirror; afraid, as you pointed out, of being judged by their external appearance. They take advantage of that fear daily, and in fact, there are many physicians who go so far as to recommend gastric bypass surgery for their patients solely for the purpose of weight loss. Their theory is that their patients will be healthier if they weigh less, but I don't understand how they can justify taking a perfectly functioning organ in the human body and MAKING it broken so you don't absorb your nutrients properly. I don't understand how that can lead to better health. Ah, but I digress.

      What you are doing is a good thing; eating healthy foods (the pictures you posted look amazing, by the way). However, you also note that you miss your favorite foods…gnocchi with pesto alfredo, bacon…oh, and you left out cheesecake. The reality is, Valerie, that if you completely deprive yourself of something, then you are very likely to obsess about it until you decide you just can't resist it anymore and you give up – then you'll eat 6 strips of bacon. Research shows that when this happens, people will give up the "diet" and eat super unhealthily. So I ask, which is better? restrictive dieting, followed by the "I can't do it and I may as well binge on 2 bacon-cheese burgers" diet? Or an active lifestyle that includes moderation, balance, and variety in your diet? Research shows that people who are happy are healthier. What better way to be happy than to invite your bacon buddy to dinner on occasion?

      So many weight loss diets are restrictive. Iv'e done nutrient analysis on many of them, and they are just not meeting the recommendations of a "healthy diet". Most are designed with one sole purpose; to facilitate weight loss by depriving the body. These diets are designed for short-term use, and as we all know, short-term changes bring about short-term results. Is weight loss possible with these? Sure, that's why people try diet after diet after diet. Is keeping the weight off likely? No. Research clearly indicates that 95% of people who lose weight on a fad diet will gain it back. The authors of restrictive diet books/plans demonize foods for making us fat. Please…it's not fault of the cheeseburger that we don't eat enough fruits, vegetables and whole grains, right? I say eat your cheeseburger, but fit it into your healthy diet, and make sure to do it in moderation. And don't forget your fruits & veggies. Heck, if have your cheeseburger on a whole grain bun, and now you're eating your whole grains, right?

      By the way, I am one of those "skinny" people, and I can't do half of those yoga poses either. Every body is different.

  13. Thank you for your disclosure, and your last post is far more in line with my thinking. About Jenny – I probably should have been more careful with the way I portrayed my experience with them throughout the ages – I didn't gain 35 pounds while on JC. I gained it back (just like you talked about) after going off of JC. I went on JC 16 years ago for the first time, and lost about 35 pounds. Shortly after, I got pregnant. I tried it again, some time after giving birth, but seemed like I never had the time to exercise and was too exhausted being a mom and owning my own business to cook separate food for myself, especially when I was in a situation where my husband wasn't exactly supporting my dietary needs…just felt that if I ate the way he ate that I'd be as skinny as he was. Not the case. I tried JC one more time after slowly getting up to 233 pounds, and it worked, as long as I was completely dedicated to it and exercised every single day. I lost about 35-40 pounds. And when I stopped being completely dedicated to sticking to the rules that made the diet work (eating all the food exactly as directed and exercising every day), I started gaining the weight back again. All of it, in the course of about 4 years.

    Anyway, the food you see in my photos is pretty much the same type of food I've always made, except that I have cut out the potatoes, pasta, rice and bread, and the mayo/butter and fruits & veggies high in starch/sugar. And it's working.

  14. Avatar AJ says:

    Hmmmm . . . this discussion is so pertinent to so many of us. I'm 75 and STILL can't seem to get a handle on the whole mess. Very interesting, informative, validating discussion. Thank you, Val and Bethany.

  15. Avatar Gayle says:

    Very interesting discussion and great playlist, but "Toast" is Haywood Banks not Wierd Al πŸ™‚ This would be great music to work out to! Thanks

  16. That's not Weird Al doing the tune? That darned Grooveshark….maybe it IS time to switch to Spotify!

  17. Avatar Julie Doerr says:

    Robert Earl Keen! – From "the Live Album" – The Front Porch Song – Big ole plate of enchiladas, with lots of cheese and onions and a guacamole salad. . . and from "Gringo Honeymoom" – Barbeque (nuff said). Here's to your health!