THE WAY OF WISDOM FOR DIABETES:
Cope with Stress, Move More, Lose Weight and Keep Hope Alive
Kenneth R. Ellis
Thank you . . .
To Debbie, my wife now of more than thirty-eight years, for helping and supporting me all those years with my management of diabetes!
To my parents, Sidney and Maxine, for helping me to accept responsibility for my health with diabetes, beginning in the first grade and for all the encouragement you gave!
The Way of Wisdom for Diabetes Self-Management
Would you like to hear words that build your confidence, words that are positive and uplifting, words that are motivational, words that give you a greater sense of hope for better health and well-being? I believe we would all like to hear words like that, wouldn’t we? Then read this: “Wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:13).
Read the following words and see if they also give you a greater sense of hope and confidence: “Accept what I say. Then you will live for many years….Listen closely to my words….They are life to those who find them. They are health to your whole body….For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you….Having respect for the LORD leads to a longer life” (Proverbs 4:10, 20, 22, 9:11–12, 10:27). If you’ve read those words in the book of Proverbs before, did they grab your attention, alerting you to the fact that they can directly be applied to handling diabetes or any chronic disease? It’s a rare commentary on Proverbs that relates these words to your physical wellness. Well, there is much more helpful information to learn for health and wellness, and it is called wisdom! Wisdom is skill for living. “A good person gives life to others; the wise person teaches others how to live” (Proverbs 11:30). “Those who get wisdom love their own lives; those who cherish understanding will soon prosper” (Proverbs 19:8).
The Road to Good Health Is Always under Construction. When You Are Through Learning, You Are Through. Keep Learning!
We all are susceptible to falling into the trap of thinking we know more than we actually do. None of us wants to be like the person who had diabetes for twenty years, but had stopped learning after the first year. Sure, that person may have accumulated twenty years of “hard knocks” experience, but the experience will be more difficult, with diabetes complications, if learning and applying is not continually done! Blood glucose monitors, the glycemic index, “feel full on fewer calories” strategies, and A1c tests were management techniques unheard of several years ago. Newer, more accurate information is available today! That is why we need to keep learning! I like the following humorous saying; it shows a vivid picture of what happens when we become closed-minded and stop learning:
Don’t be so narrow-minded that your ears rub together.
Knowledge is better than feelings. Ever tried just going by your feelings to determine where your blood sugar really is? I’ve been caught off guard at times, thinking I have a low blood sugar level, when in reality it’s high. You can feel hunger pangs when you are high as well as when you are low. To see how accurate your feelings are, estimate what your number will be before you even check your blood sugar. I lived for twenty years with diabetes before glucose meters were even available. During those years it would have been nice to check the feelings of hunger or weakness with a glucose meter. Some people, however, who have had diabetes a number of years can experience low blood sugar unawareness. That is another reason why it is important to check blood sugar levels, instead of guessing.
There is always more to learn. Did you know that some people, who are newly diagnosed and are at the beginning stages of Type 2 diabetes don’t have to be on medications to increase the level of insulin to experience low blood sugar? A newly diagnosed person came to me experiencing low blood sugar. How could this even happen without being on any medications? Did you know that one of the first symptoms of Type 2 diabetes is to lose phase one of insulin release? A certain messenger (a hormone, GLP-1) comes from the small intestine to the pancreas, signaling for insulin to be released, because the person has eaten some carbohydrates. There is no insulin to release, so in phase two, production starts. As a result, in trying to catch up with the needs to metabolize the food, more insulin may be produced than is needed, resulting in a low blood sugar a few hours later.1 So we need to keep learning—it is our responsibility to do so! “The way of a foolish person seems right to him. But a wise person listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15).
The Best Helping Hand You Will Find Is at the End of Your Own Arm
Several years ago a photographer from a well-known national magazine was assigned to cover the fires at
Yellowstone National Park. The magazine wanted to show some of the heroic work of the firefighters as they battled the blaze.
When the photographer arrived, he realized the smoke was so thick that it would seriously impede or make it impossible for him to photograph anything from the ground. He requested permission to rent a plane and take photos from the air. His request was approved, and arrangements were made. He was told to report to a nearby airport, where a plane would be waiting for him.
He arrived at the airport and saw a plane warming up near the gate. He jumped in with his bag and shouted, “Let’s go!” The pilot swung the little plane into the wind, and within minutes they were in the air.
The photographer said, “Fly over the park and make two or three low passes, so I can take some pictures.”
“Why?” asked the pilot.
“Because I am a photographer,” he responded, “and photographers take photographs.” The pilot was silent for a moment. Finally he stammered, “You mean you’re not the flight instructor?”
When it comes to your diabetes, who is the pilot? Ultimately it has to be the person with the diabetes. We do, however, need good information by which to pilot our decisions; and ultimately we have to implement what we learn. As soon as we accept that responsibility, realizing that the greatest ability we have is the ability to respond (responsibility), we’ll be set free to outsmart diabetes. Jack Paar said, “Looking back, my life seems like one long obstacle race, with me as the chief obstacle.” D. L. Moody wrote, “I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man.” We can relate to what they have said, because when it comes to managing diabetes, we can be the obstacle.
We all need to realize that we can ultimately be in control. It is like what Dr. Gary Arsham wrote: “You are the best available source of support for living well with diabetes. You are always there and you know yourself well; no one else can take care of you as well as you can.”2
The Way of Wisdom: The Proverbs
In accepting personal responsibility, the factor that is usually not included for navigating safely over, around, and through diabetes obstacles is the way of wisdom. In this book, I want to introduce, for your use, God’s powerful provisions through his wisdom. “I guide you in the way of wisdom. I lead you along straight paths. When you walk, nothing will slow you down. When you run, you won’t trip and fall. Hold on to my teaching. Don’t let it go. Guard it well. It is your life” (Proverbs 4:11–13).
It is really interesting that his wisdom states that “If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you” (Proverbs 9:12). One of the rewards is usually better health and wellness. “They are the key to life for those who find them; they bring health to the whole body” (Proverbs 4:22).
When people accept the responsibility to take care of their bodies, they usually end up feeling better! “Those who find me find life, and the Lord will be pleased with them. Those who do not find me hurt themselves. Those who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:35–36).
Fundamentals: The Human Body, with Proper Care, Will Last a Lifetime
These wisdom teachings of Proverbs are fundamentals. They are the basic guidelines and patterns for living well. It doesn’t make sense to talk about new fundamentals. That’s like saying someone has made some new antiques. It is a contradiction in terms. Since they are brief, basic principles that need to be mastered for healthy living, they don’t deal with exceptions to their guidelines. For example, we assume that at a red traffic light, people will stop, but there are exceptions to the rule. So these wisdom fundamentals are not a guarantee that you will live longer, but an observation of what usually happens. In that sense, they are promises for health and wellness!
Gems or Nuggets
The way of wisdom, or proverbs, have been described as gems that have been cut and polished to such a high degree that they display a dazzling splendor. They give an image or a picture of life or reality. With short, pithy, descriptive comparisons they make the basic truths they portray easier to remember and use. In fact, the word that is translated proverb basically means “to be like,” “to resemble,” or “to represent.”
On the surface, we may think we understand the full meaning of a proverb, but when we ponder and examine it more carefully, we discover even more richness in meaning. It is like a light going through a prism and coming out on the other side, with the rich colors of a rainbow. To illustrate this, notice how the example of an ant is used in Proverbs 30:25 – “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer.” The obvious meaning is to save your money for the future. When this is done, it will alleviate much stress in a person’s life. To effectively cope with stress is a major factor for maintaining good health. I’ll examine the hidden factor of stress on blood sugar control in chapter 8.
When we dig deeper, however, we discover another application that directly relates to the health of our whole bodies. How do ants store up their food? They do it by constantly being on the move. And movement is the application to our diabetes self-management, which I’ll examine in detail in chapter 11.
Also ants are said to have “little strength.” Besides being on the move to gather their food, they also work together! One person, while walking, noticed “a vast army of ants carrying an earthworm. It was so startling that I stopped to watch the action. The earthworm—shaped more or less like a treble clef—appeared to have dried out in the sun. All around the earthworm were ants, pushing away. And they were moving it one micro-inch at a time. I didn’t count, but I would bet there were at least fifty ants pushing away at that poor dead earthworm. All around them were other ants, several hundred of them, ‘junior varsity’ ants waiting for their chance to get in the game.”3 One ant couldn’t have moved the earthworm by itself, but with the help of dozens of ants the earthworm was being moved. To be wise like an ant means we support each other. When we face the challenge of a chronic disease like diabetes, it is best to face it with the help and encouragement of others! And that is the relevance to our health and wellness that I will explore in chapter 7. So “Go to the ant . . . consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6–8).
The Proverbs Are Timeless and Time-Tested
The Proverbs are supported by the experience and observations of generations of wise people. These individual proverbs, which are often just two lines, have been described as “compressed experience.” Many of them are attributed to King Solomon, but many of them are also called “the sayings of the wise.” These proverbs go beyond mere human experience; they also are endorsed by God.4 I’m writing about this in the hope that these fundamental principles for living will provide hope, strength, and a compelling motivation for you to put them into practice! They can help us all to cope with the challenges we face with diabetes. They will also give us greater success to triumph over a disease that is seemingly harmless, but can be very dangerous because it is too often underrated! Even though there are now many new resources available for the management of diabetes, they still won’t work if we’re not motivated to consistently use them. People need an unfailing, empowering aid to implement these resources, and that is what the “Way of Wisdom” will do!
“Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Have respect for the LORD and avoid evil. That will bring health to your body. It will make your bones strong” (Proverbs 3:7–8).
1. Richard Beaser, MD, ed., Joslin Diabetes Deskbook: A Guide for Primary Care Providers (Boston: Joslin Diabetes Center, 2010), 5, 168, 212.
2. Gary Arsham, MD, and Ernest Lowe, Diabetes: A Guide to Living Well (Alexandria, Virginia: American Diabetes Association, 2004), 15.
3. Ray Pritchard, The ABC’S of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon (Chicago: Moody Press, 1997), 68-69.
4. James E. Smith, The Wisdom Literature and Psalms (Joplin, Missouri: College Press Publishing Company, 1996), 464–67.
Staying Motivated To Do The Things We Need To Do
Keeping Hope Alive, Fighting Off Discouragement
When I was diagnosed on December 20, 1960, with Type 1 Diabetes, I was in the first grade, and the little word diabetes had such an impact on my dad that he became lightheaded and almost passed out. I’m sure that reaction has been exhibited numerous times by other parents of children with diabetes. Anyone, however, who hears the words “You have diabetes,” whether it is Type 1 or Type 2, will be hearing three words he or she doesn’t want to hear!
In fact, to hear “You have diabetes” can even be a devastating blow to some people. Why is that? Change, fear, shame, and denial are words that come to mind. Often people who hear those words ‘have known others with the disease— like an uncle or aunt, mother or father, cousin, or friend—and the complications they experienced with it. It can be scary, and they dread experiencing the same things. Another reaction can be denial. They just won’t accept the diagnosis and stubbornly refuse to follow the guidelines given. They may also begin to dread the changes that have been recommended for them to make! Hope is needed, whenever difficult circumstances are faced.
A good example of what hope can do is well illustrated in the following story. A boy was in the hospital, suffering from severe burns. Obviously, he was not able to be at school. A large school district was using volunteers to tutor children who were forced to miss school due to illness. A woman who had volunteered for this service was given the following instructions from this boy’s teacher: “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now, and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them, so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”
When the woman arrived at the hospital room, she found the young boy lying on the bed in great pain. Overwhelmed by the sight of this boy, all she could do was blurt out, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.” After working with the child for a time, she left, feeling foolish. What good were grammar lessons to a boy in his condition?
However, her visit had a tremendous impact on the boy. Before seeing the tutor, the boy had been slowly deteriorating. After her visit, he seemed to find his will to live, working with therapists, eating meals, and responding to treatments. Later the boy explained, “I had just about given up, assuming I was going to die. But when this teacher came, I realized that I was going to be all right. They wouldn’t send someone to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”
What this woman shared about grammar was of minimal benefit to the boy, but the hope she brought to his life made all the difference. Hope saved his life. Paul writes to “rejoice in hope” (Romans 12:12). “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
Many doctors, parents, and friends have always known how important it is to give hope to people. Dr. Elliott Joslin tried to give hope even before the discovery of insulin. The Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, was named after him. He specialized in the treatment of those with diabetes for almost thirty years before insulin was discovered in 1921, and another forty years after it was discovered. Another doctor, Seale Harris, expresses what both of them saw, especially in children with Type 1 diabetes before the discovery of insulin in 1921: “I treated diabetics for twenty-nine years before Banting and his confreres gave us insulin, and I saw many patients die after a few months or a few years of semi-starvation. The children and the coma cases always died. Even now I do not like to recall the feeling of hopelessness I felt when diabetics came for treatment and the many sad scenes I witnessed which the use of insulin would have prevented.”1
Dr. E. P. Joslin of Boston was one of the first doctors to receive insulin for his patients. Photo courtesy of The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.
Dr. Joslin wrote about those early days before 1921, when there was no insulin, and the prognosis of children. He said, “That tender-hearted parents sometimes ask, and sympathetic friends nearly always ask: ‘Since diabetes is always fatal in children, why prolong the agony? Why not let the poor child eat and be happy while life lasts?’” He gave the following two reasons for using the starvation to live longer therapy: first, “the mother must not be forgotten, and we cannot do her the injury of killing hope, of admitting, ‘Yes, popular belief is true: your child can never grow up.’” The second reason he gave to not give up was that “courage has lengthened the lives of many diabetic children, and no man knows but that the cure may be at hand within the year—even the month.”2 And sure enough, insulin was discovered, which prolonged the lives by decades of many people, including two individuals whose cases we’ll examine: Elizabeth Hughes and James Havens. From their examples, ‘we’ll learn important life-changing applications.
Stay Motivated for Just One Day and Repeat That Day for a Lifetime!
Why focus on hope so much? A 2008 newspaper article’s title was “Diabetes: Underrated, Insidious and Deadly.”3 It’s underrated, people think, when compared to other conditions like cancer and heart disease. It’s insidious or seemingly harmless because initially elevated blood sugars are doing their harmful work inside the body on organs and nerves unnoticed! It’s deadly, because it puts people at a higher risk for heart disease and stroke and, as a result, death. The 2011 Diabetes Fact Sheet from the Centers for Disease Control states that diabetes is the leading cause of blindness for people age twenty to seventy-four and a leading cause of kidney failure and non-traumatic amputations. Sixty to 70 percent of people with diabetes have nervous system disease—neuropathy. Someone might counter those facts by saying that actually, it is “poorly controlled” diabetes that can cause those complications, not just diabetes. Control, however, is not a simple task; in fact, that’s the big challenge—to find the motivation to stay in control!
A person has to stay motivated. Is it inevitable that ‘you’ll get complications if you’re diagnosed with diabetes? No, complications aren’t inevitable, if you can maintain your motivation—and not for just a day, but for a lifetime. So I’m writing this book to help you stay motivated each day. There have been many suggestions on how to do this, like linking a challenging activity with one that’s fun and easy. For example, you could exercise and then reward yourself by watching your favorite TV show, or watch it while you walk on a treadmill, or exercise by walking with a friend.
Leonard Thompson first person given insulin. Photo courtesy of Eli Lilly and Company Archives.
When insulin was discovered, the first person to receive a large, unrefined dose was a fourteen-year-old boy named Leonard Thompson. He had lived for two years on the “under-nutrition, starvation” therapy, which we’ll review in the next chapter. He lived another fifteen years on insulin injections but was described as not a very well-controlled diabetic. His own behavior contributed to his deterioration and death.4
On the other hand, Teddy Ryder was five years old and weighed twenty-six pounds when he received his first dose of insulin. Dr. Banting, the discoverer of insulin, was the one who administered it. When Teddy’s uncle, Dr. Mortin Ryder, asked for insulin for his nephew in the summer of 1922, Dr. Banting suggested that he write again in September. The supply was too unstable or impure to use. Dr. Ryder replied, “Teddy won’t be alive in September.”
Teddy Ryder before insulin. Photo courtesy of Eli Lilly and Company Archives
So, Dr. Banting decided to accept him as a patient. Teddy was a person who had loving people who cared about him and from whom he learned to be motivated to take care of himself. He lived for seventy years with daily insulin injections. He died in 1993 at the age of seventy-six, the last of the original group of Dr. Banting’s patients.5 Again, motivation is key!
“Every Day Can Be Tough, but When the Water Starts to Rise, So Can You!”
The Browns were shown into the dentist’s office, where Mr. Brown made it clear he was in a big hurry. “No fancy stuff, Doctor,” he ordered. “No gas or needles or any of that stuff. Just pull the tooth and get it over with.”
Teddy Ryder one year after taking insulin. Photo courtesy of Eli Lilly and Company Archives..
“I wish more of my patients were as stoic as you,” said the dentist admiringly. “Now, which tooth is it?”
Mr. Brown turned to his wife. “Show him, honey.” It’s easy to be brave, strong, and motivated when you’re not the one in pain!
It’s also easy for someone to say, “You need to check your blood sugars at least twice a day, lose fifty pounds, eat a balanced meal, and walk four miles a day.” It puts me in mind of my doctor, almost forty years ago, telling me I wasn’t taking care of myself. He said, “When you first came to see me, you didn’t even know what you were eating or how much you were eating.” He told me to take better care of myself while he smugly sat behind his desk, smoking a cigar.
We can learn from those living with diabetes how “Every Day Can Be Tough!” You may also be able to relate to some of the challenges some have expressed that make each day tough—challenges like the ones listed below.
Daily Tasks: “It’s all the tasks one must do each day.” “It’s remembering to take your medications each day at the proper time.” “It’s a full-time job that nobody gets paid for.”
“It’s something you wake up with and go to bed with every day. In other words, there is no vacation from diabetes.” “It’s avoiding certain kinds of food that will directly affect your blood sugar levels.”
Low Blood Sugars (Hypoglycemia): “It’s coping with the anxiety that comes from low blood sugars and properly handling the lows when they come. Just dealing with lows can disrupt the day, leaving a person exhausted.”
The Unexpected: “It’s the struggle with keeping blood sugars in a normal range, especially when eating out.” “Spontaneous activities can present a real challenge with low blood sugars. For example, when you just took your insulin for a meal, and friends ask you to take an unplanned walk after the meal.”
Complications from High Blood Sugars: “It’s facing the complications and discomfort that high blood sugars bring to your feet—painful neuropathy.” “High blood sugars also result in becoming dehydrated, having no energy, and repeated trips to the restroom.”
The Simplicity of Diabetes Management?
Diabetes management may seem simple. After all, all I have to do is take my insulin at the right time, in just the right amount, several times each day; check my blood sugars multiple times a day to make sure I’m not too high or too low; balance the right amount of food with the insulin I take; and move frequently throughout the day. Stay alert at all times, just in case something goes wrong. And also realize this must be done every day, because there is never a vacation from diabetes. That’s how simple it can be!
After reading those challenges, we can all relate to how important motivation is. One common factor for motivation is hope, and the source of hope that is commonly overlooked is God’s wisdom. Listen to these words from the book of Proverbs: “Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it there is a future hope for you and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:13–14). Notice what gives hope? It is wisdom! Wisdom is the skill for living and is needed for health and wellness.
Do You Desire to Live a Longer Life?
It would be easy for a person newly diagnosed with diabetes to express thoughts like the following:
“I feel overwhelmed,” or “I have so much to learn and understand,” and “I don’t know if I can do things right.”
Instead of having those discouraging thoughts, why not focus on the following words from God’s wisdom, words like: “Through me, you will live a long time. Years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you” (Proverbs 9:11–12). “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace” (Proverbs 3:1–2).
The apostle Paul also wrote about staying motivated and not giving up. The principles he teaches are also seen in the wisdom principles listed in the book of Proverbs. Notice the following guidelines that apply to not giving up, staying motivated, and staying in control. The fundamental teachings will also apply to diabetes management.
Look on the Brighter Side of Life: Be Thankful.
“…be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father” (Colossians 1:11–12).
Here, persevering goes hand in glove with giving thanks. When we focus on what is good, the natural response should be to be thankful. According to Proverbs 15:30, focusing on the good news brings health to one’s life: “Good news gives health to your body.”
Have Hope: A Confident Expectation That You Can Manage Diabetes.
“…your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Paul specifically states that hope in Jesus keeps one from giving up, but don’t overlook the basic principle that hope inspires endurance. According to Proverbs 24:14, a person has hope when wisdom is found, and that hope will remain with the person who finds it, inspiring a person to not give up. It says, “Wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”
Be an Encourager: Encourage Others and You’ll Be Encouraged.
“So I put up with everything (or endure everything) for the good of God’s chosen people…” (2 Timothy 2:10). When a person’s focus is on helping others, it also helps him or her to keep on keeping on when facing difficult times. According to Proverbs 11:25, when a person helps others, the help not only benefits others, it also uplifts the one giving the encouragement. “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). “A good person gives life to others; the wise person teaches others how to live” (Proverbs 11:30).
Having had diabetes now for more than five decades, I’ve learned we must stay motivated and outsmart diabetes! We cannot just sit back, thinking that complications can come to others but not us. We can manage diabetes by using medical information and guidelines. The hidden factor for this achievement, though, which is usually not acknowledged, is again God’s way of wisdom, the Proverbs.
They can empower you, motivate you, and give you hope. This wisdom was initially applied to managing my diabetes more than fifty years ago by my parents. I then learned to apply the principles myself. Notice what is stated in Proverbs 4:20–22: “My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.” Nine of those principles are listed below and will be explained in greater detail in the following chapters.
SOME OF THE “WAY OF WISDOM” PRINCIPLES ARE…
The Road to Good Health Is Always under Construction. When You Are Through Learning, You Are Through. Keep Learning!
“Those who cherish understanding will soon prosper” (Proverbs 19:8). “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out” (Proverbs 18:15). “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength” (Proverbs 24:5). “For waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers” (Proverbs 24:6). “If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength” (Proverbs 24:10).
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performance. People Don’t Plan to Fail, They Fail to Plan. Planning the Best Decisions Ahead of Time: Diligence
“The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4). “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” (Proverbs 14:8). “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing” (Proverbs 20:4). “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). The basic meaning of diligence is planning ahead, which I’ll review in chapter 12.
Don’t Just Sit There, Keep Moving
“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest” (Proverbs 6:6–8). “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things, as surely as the work of his hands rewards him” (Proverbs 12:14). “All hard work pays off. But if all you do is talk, you will be poor” (Proverbs 14:23). “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer” (Proverbs 30:25). Keep in mind that when these proverbs were written most work involved manual labor.
Wise People Keep Themselves Under Control: Portion Control, Healthy Choices, and Self-Control
“If you find honey, eat just enough. If you eat too much of it, you will throw up” (Proverbs 25:16). “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor does it bring you honor to brag about yourself” (Proverbs 25:27). “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28). “Wise people see danger and go to a safe place. But childish people keep going and suffer for it” (Proverbs 22:3). “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11).
Keep Working Patiently on the Small Stuff, Because Life Has a Way of Accumulating
“Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). “Those who are patient have great understanding, but the quick-tempered display folly” (Proverbs 14:29). “With patience you can convince a ruler, and a gentle word can get through to the hard-headed” (Proverbs 25:15).
Know the Condition of Your Health and Life. Keep a Daily Personal Health Inventory
“Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations” (Proverbs 27:23–24). “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12). “A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps” (Proverbs 14:15). “The best food and olive oil are stored up in the houses of wise people. But a foolish man eats up everything he has” (Proverbs 21:20). “Wicked people are stubborn, but good people think carefully
about what they do” (Proverbs 21:29).
Instead of Putting People in Their Place, Put Yourself in Their Place. Lift People Up, Don’t Put People Down. If Discouraged, Encourage!
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). “A good person gives life to others; the wise person teaches others how to live” (Proverbs 11:30). “A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes” (Proverbs 17:17). “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
Be Careful What You Think, Because Your Thoughts Run Your Life! Have Positive Expectations of Yourself.
“As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23). “Pleasant words are like honey. They are sweet to the spirit and bring healing to the body” (Proverbs 16:24). “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). “The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl” (Proverbs 25:11).
Count Your Blessings, and You Will Show a Profit. Have the Attitude of Gratitude. Look on the Brighter Side of Life—The Good News.
“He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him
who searches for it” (Proverbs 11:27). “A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:13). “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15). “A cheerful look brings joy to your heart. And good news gives health to your body” (Proverbs 15:30). “A cheerful heart makes you healthy. But a broken spirit dries you up” (Proverbs 17:22). “Hearing good news from a land far away is like drinking cold water when you are tired” (Proverbs 25:25).
When is the best time to learn these Biblical wisdom principles to help us avoid many physical ailments—and cope more effectively with those we must face? I like the attitude of Cato the elder. He was a Roman scholar who began to learn Greek when he was more than eighty years old. When asked why he was tackling such a difficult, arduous task at his age, he replied, “It is the earliest age I have left.” I like that attitude, don’t you? Today is the earliest age we all have left! Let’s keep learning!
1. Seale Harris, MD, Banting’s Miracle: The Story of the Discoverer of Insulin (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1946), xi.
2. Chris Feudtner, MD, Bittersweet: Diabetes, Insulin, and the Transformation of Illness (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 206–207.
3. Tara Parker-Pope, “Diabetes: Underrated, Insidious and Deadly,” New York Times (New York, NY), July 1, 2008, www.nytimes.com/2008/07/01/health/01well.html?_r=1&ref=science (Accessed June 21, 2012).
4. Michael Bliss, The Discovery of Insulin (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), 112, 243.
5. Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg, Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010), 176, 243.
Health and Wellness Index
“My son, pay attention to what I say. Listen closely to my words. Don’t let them out of your sight. Keep them in your heart. They are life to those who find them. They are health to your whole body” (Proverbs 4:20-22). (Notice the principles or concepts taught in the proverbs listed.)
Blood glucose (BG)
Benefits of checking BG 30
How often to check each day 34-35
Check in pairs, for example before and after a meal 126-127
Motivation to check 27-34
What good BG levels should be during the day 33-34
What to do about a low BG 70-71
What about the A1c test 34
When to check with a meal and after a meal 121
Carbohydrates “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” (Proverbs 14:8).
Carbs to avoid for BG control 175 – Based on the glycemic index
Carbs to eat to prevent spike ups in BG 176-177
How to use fiber and sugar alcohol for carb counting 172-173, 180-181
Useful tips to prevent spike ups in BG 180-181
How to calculate the number of grams of carb to eat each day 170, 189
Diligence – the plan ahead principle “A sluggard’s appetite is never filled, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied” (Proverbs 13:4).
Plan for eating out 189
Plan: How to calculate the total calories to eat per day and not gain weight and to lose weight 131-132, 188
Plan: How to calculate your body mass index (BMI) 161-162
Fiber “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps” (Proverbs 14:15). “Wicked people are stubborn, but good people think carefully about what they do” (Proverbs 21:29). Give thought to add fiber to your meal plan
Two kinds of fiber 171
How much fiber is needed each day for health benefits 171
List of rich fiber foods to eat 171-172
Gratitude “A cheerful look brings joy to your heart. And good news gives health to your body” (Proverbs 15:30). “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14) “He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it” (Proverbs 11:27).
Practice Daily with a gratitude diary 60-61
“Feel Good Page” versus “Feel Bad Page” 59
Focus on good things as gifts for a better sense of gratitude 61-62
Health benefits of gratitude 49-50
Benefits of Wisdom for which to be grateful 51-52
Positive way to compare self and avoid being envious 74-75
“We don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don’t want you to grieve like other people who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Negative way to compare, resulting in envy 74 “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30).
Hope “Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 24:13-14).
Hopeless before the discovery of insulin 21-23
How to give hope to others 93-95
James Havens (first American to receive insulin) and Wisdom’s hope with gratitude and diligence 41-42, 186-188
Timing with meals 120-122
Meals rich in fat and insulin timing 122-123
500 and 1500 rules to calculate number of grams of carb covered by one unit and how much each unit of insulin will lower BG to correct high BG levels 121
Carb counting, Fiber and sugar alcohol 173-174
Kindness “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel” (Proverbs 11:17). “Those who are kind to the poor lend to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done” (Proverbs 19:17). “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).
Research studies on benefits of helping others 95-96
Diabetes support groups 97
Diabetes police 85
Portion Control “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, look carefully at what’s in front of you. Put a knife to your throat if you like to eat too much” (Proverbs 23:1-2). “If you find honey, eat just enough. If you eat too much of it, you will throw up . . . It isn’t good for you to eat too much honey” (Proverbs 25:16, 27). 168-170
Portion Control: How to calculate the total calories to eat per day and not gain weight and to lose weight 131-132
Portion Control for total grams of carb to eat daily 170, 188-189
Portion Control and fat and what it does to BG levels 123-124
Portion Control tools: plate size, scales 169-170
Portion Control and salad dressings 143
Positive Self-talk “Pleasant words are like honey. They are sweet to the spirit and bring healing to the body” (Proverbs 16:24).
Personal Affirmations 73-74
Record Keeping for Personal Health “The prudent give thought to their steps” (Proverbs 14:8). “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds” (Proverbs 27:23).
Food, Blood glucose, gratitude diary 60, 125-126
Self-control Development “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control” (Proverbs 25:28). “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control” (Proverbs 29:11). “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has” (Proverb 21:20).
Realize God cares about you. Trust God, using His wisdom. ix, xvi, 39-40 “the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair–every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you (Proverbs 2:6-11). “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you . . .” (Proverbs 9:10-12). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Purpose and meaning in life: Encourage others 12, 15-16, 93-97 “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Proverbs 14:31). “A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25). “A good person gives life to others; the wise person teaches others how to live” (Proverbs 11:30).
To fail to plan is to plan to fail. Make the Best Decisions Ahead of Time: Be Diligent 184-185 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).
Diligence enhances self-control 188-189
Portion control enhances self-control 168-170
Gratitude and positive self-talk empowers persistent self-control 11-12, 78-80
Fear of Complications like neuropathy, retinopathy can motivate for self-control “The wise see danger ahead and avoid it, but fools keep going and get into trouble” (Proverbs 22:3). 6, 64-65, 75-76, 146
Small steps for health – Life has a way of accumulating “Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). “Four things on earth are small, yet they are extremely wise: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer” (Proverbs 30:24-25). 174
Interesting illustrations on this concept 132-134
Smaller Amount of carbohydrates per meal 170
Smaller Amount of fat per meal 124
Amount of fiber per meal 171
3 + 4 Plan: 3 light meals and 4 snacks per day 109
Movement, how many walking steps per day 154-156
Difference a few steps every 30 minutes makes in BG levels 159
Difference a few more or less calories makes per day 164
Snacks to eat 111-112
Stress-management “Peace of mind means a healthy body, but jealousy will rot your bones.” (Proverbs 14:30). “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity” (Proverbs 3:1-2). “Her (that is wisdom’s ways) ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed”(Proverbs 3:17-18).
Symptoms 101-102, 106-107
Relaxation using Escape words or phrases “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life” (Proverbs 4:23). 108
Examples “He who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). “Those who are patient have great understanding” (Proverbs 14:29). “Those who fear the LORD have a secure fortress” (Proverbs 14:26). “The LORD is a fortified tower” (Proverbs 18:10). “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him” (Proverbs 30:5). 108
Four ways to reduce stress: 109
Blood glucose control 110-111
3 + 4 Plan (Three lights meals, four snacks) 111-112
Timing “Anyone who refuses to work doesn’t plow in the right season. When he looks for a crop at harvest time, he doesn’t find it” (Proverbs 20:4). “Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house” (Proverbs 24:27).
Slower pace eating and satiety or “feel full” signal 119
Insulin with meals 120-121
Checking blood glucose 2 hrs after you start a meal 121
Water “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land” (Proverbs 25:25).
Amount to drink per day 127-129
Water content in food 139-140
Amount with a rich fiber meal plan 171
Wisdom “A good person gives life to others; the wise person teaches others how to live” (Proverbs 11:30). “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:3-4).
Wisdom defined – the skill for living x, 53
How wisdom builds or empowers a person for living 53-55
How wisdom is taught with proverbs, which give an image or picture of life xiv – xvi