Diabetes and pregnancy, fertility issues, gestational diabetes, parenting, women's Issues, and whatever comes to mind

Dear Abby I’d give up sex for normal blood sugar. It’s that important. Diabetes Sucks.

diabetes at work

 

 

Today Dear Abby gave some clueless advice about dealing with a diabetic at work.  It’s too bad she didn’t take advantage of her big platform to hit the mark better.

Diabetes sucks.  Most people would rather sacrifice a thumb than have to do all the crap associated with staying alive.  Hec, I’d give up sex to be able to eat a whole stack of fluffy pancakes, bananas, chocolate chips, cherries, and mounds of whipped cream in a lake of warm maple syrup without a blip in my blood sugar levels.  I assure you, I am NOT joking.

Injecting insulin means trying to keep your blood sugar as low as you can while coasting right along the edge of a steep cliff.  Falling off that cliff could mean your life.  This is moment to moment.

A type 2 not on insulin does not have that immediate cliff drop.  They are about 5 feet away from the edge, but it’s still there.  Testing sugar is necessary to keep your fingers, toes, feet, legs, fingers, functional kidneys, and more.  Those are really nice things to keep!

In our minds we are in this action-packed adventure beating the odds and dodging bullets.  The landscape is speeding by.  The gorge is deep with rushing, thundering, water.  Then a shoulder tap:  “Yuck, can’t you do that in the bathroom?”

The last thing a diabetic needs is someone with a bullhorn behind them complaining they don’t want to see the stuff the diabetic doesn’t even want to do.

So we diabetics have to do–stuff.  The stuff sucks.  It’s inconvenient.  It can hurt.  It’s complicated.  It’s expensive.  It has a big learning curve.  So, a lot of people just don’t do the stuff. I advise readers to have many convenient spots ready to go for monitoring to make this stuff easier.  Even Bret Michaels recently checked his blood sugar on-air during a talk show.  Sometimes you just gotta do it.

Dear Abby was written to by “Squeamish” whose close-proximity co-worker checks his his blood sugar and injects insulin at his desk.  To be honest, Squeamish didn’t seem rude to me, they were just asking if it would be silly to ask to change desks.  In my opinion, no, not silly if it makes you queasy to see blood.

(Amusingly, I had to click through a full-screen, multimedia ad for some diabetes product before I could see the article.  So Dear Abby is benefiting from people with diabetes while simultaneously sending a message that does not serve them well.)

The response from Dear Abby was brief and included:  “…discuss this with your supervisor ASAP.” She did mention that checking and injecting are things diabetics must attend to on a daily basis, but it came off like a cover-your-ass blurb.  Like she was avoiding an army of diabetics storming her house with torches and needles and lancets.  …Maybe diabetics who purposely let their blood sugar drop to ensure they are extra-extra grumpy.

It is the “ASAP” I had a problem with.  There is a big difference between “It’s not silly to ask your supervisor to change desks” and “Discuss this with your supervisor ASAP.”  Usually a response like that is reserved for reporting a crime or equivalent to “Molly, you in danger girl.”  That little “ASAP” coming from the big Dear Abby bullhorn could potentially cause some problems for working diabetics.  Even just one, even just that guy, is too many.

Dear Abby could have suggested asking the coworker to cover up or at least to give a heads up if Squeamish would have been cool with that.  However, reporting to a supervisor ASAP makes me cringe at the possible outcomes.

First of all, let’s applaud this guy for faithfully monitoring and correcting his blood sugar levels.  I’m sure when he started, he was squeamish about needles and blood too.  I know I was.  I know lots of diabetes who still are, but they gotta do what they gotta do.

I’m not sure if Dear Abby has ever been a peon in an office.  It can be akin to working as a galley slave under a supervisor who got that job because they have he ability to put human needs secondary to the bottom line.  Sometimes they are on a power high.  Sometimes they like to send out new policies and memos and do it in a way that embarrasses people.  It can be a train wreck.  I think involving the supervisor should have been the last option.

Great supervisors are few.  I’ve had supervisors who made great, dramatic, humiliating productions of responding to popcorn and tuna smell complaints.  Once a co-worker was banned to the nether regions of the office over her choice of deodorant.  This was after discussing the issue in front of everybody.  My co-worker was shamed and horrified and eventually quit because her image was marred in the workplace.

I wish Dear Abby would have not only stressed how important it is to test and treat freely, but to make sure the utmost tact and respect would be given to the co-worker to make sure they did not introduce another complicating factor in an already complicated life of a person who is apparently trying.

Have you had to deal with something like this at work?  Would you have been offended if a co-worker shared they can’t take the sight of blood and asked if you could do it more discreetly?

Rob Kardashian Weight: Why He’s Getting Worse

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Have you been Keeping up with the Rob Kardashian weight saga?  If not, the nutshell version is a very fit young man gained a lot of weight in a short time.  The common avenues for solutions have not helped.  He is upset, depressed, ashamed, feeling betrayed, and doesn’t know what the hell is happening.

As I follow the story, it feels like someone running a finger down my spine. It takes me back to my almost identical experience.  A situation I luckily figured out how to dig out from.

The picture above is me at my senior prom.  I could barely fill a small dress.  All I wanted at that moment was a nice set of boobs and my braces off.  I had always been on the super skinny side with nicknames like Skinny Chicken and Bean.  However, just a couple years later I went from 120 pounds to almost 300.  BOOM.  It came on in a matter of months.

It was like Jeannie blinked her eyes and BOINGghGghGgh I was fat and getting my butt stuck in restaurant booths and in small cars because I didn’t have the luxury of getting fat slow and gracefully.  I’d get trapped in small bathroom stalls with inward swinging doors.  I didn’t know how to maneuver my body.

I didn’t know how to dress this new body and grabbed mumus and large baggy T-shirts to ensure coverage of all surface area.  It was devastating to my ego.  I kept thinking…what the hell, I don’t eat more than other people.  Well, at least not at first….

I tried diets and exercising, but it seemed like no matter what I did, I might lose a couple pounds and then I’d get heavier.  My cravings increased and were through the roof.  I didn’t know my body was sending hormonal signals to my brain for food and sugar.  It was also ordering me to be tired and not lose weight.  It was the equivalent as if I had been given a pill.

“Normal” methods of weight loss were pretty much lost on me and made it worse.  People telling me to “just” lose weight had no idea what was going on.  I became severely depressed because they didn’t understand and were mean.  I made true epic attempts only to be monumentally defeated.

There were a couple years I barely saw the sun.  I hid out in my house.  I didn’t want to go anywhere or for anyone to see me.  I feel really sorry for my boyfriend at that time who had to visit his fat Boo Radley in a dark house.

I got diagnosed with diabetes.  We didn’t know very much then.  We still don’t–although we do know more. What I’ve learned in my life has come from a lot of experimenting and trial and error.

I am not at my goal weight yet, but I have lost over 100 pounds.  I have come to this place step by step.  Slow sure steps.  I’m getting there.

Watching Rob Kardashian’s struggle has inspired me to follow this post up with more specific posts about how you have to think a little differently with a pre-diabetic or diabetic body.  In other words, stop picking on type 2′s until you fully understand because you can just make it worse!

To be honest, I have to say Rob doesn’t really look that bad and would be considered normal in “real life.”  He’s stuck in plastic artificial land which I’m sure makes it worse.

I also think his mom is reaching quite a bit and exaggerating with the interpretation of his lab results.  She pretty much told him he was dying. I have read reports recently where it was concluded scare tactics don’t work for motivation.  In fact, it backfires.  If his family isn’t careful, I worry they could make him suicidal.

So I hope he finds the same wisdom I did.  I think he needs to stop getting advice from people who have never experienced this and whose methods might be good for the general public but not necessarily someone in the situation I think he’s in.

Laura Ingalls and Diabetes: What the Hec!

Laura Ingalls and diabetes

When Laura Ingalls ninja kicked me in the diabetes

I’ve been sick the past few days.  I have tried my very best to be productive, but I’ve degraded to a limp vegetable on the bed with the remote in my hand (the only part of me able to move).

Not even the cutest jammies can conceal my creature-like transformation, so I hide in my room to avoid petrifying people with fear.  I also worry someone might cut off my head, stick it in a bag, and use it as a weapon on Black Fridays.

While fulfilling my early morning quest of staring the the TV, I came across a Little House on the Prairie marathon.  No matter how sick I am, I still appreciate that Pa Ingalls suffered from the same affliction as Captain Kirk–an apparent shirt hypersensitivity.  I swear, that helped open up my lungs a little.

I had the unfortunate fortune to catch the episode where Mary’s baby dies in a fire.  I realized the show was pretty harsh on Mary and decided to risk an upright position to surf the net and see how much of her misfortune was true and how much of it was writers who found pleasure in seeing a blind girl suffer.  (p.s. in the next episode she was held hostage by three escaped prisoners)

While looking at Wikipedia articles on the fam, I saw that Laura, Carrie, and baby Grace all died from type 2 diabetes complications.  I hadn’t heard that before.  Exhausted from sitting, I lay on my bed hypnotized by the spinning ceiling fan.  I’m so lucky, I thought.  So lucky to have modern knowledge, technology, and gadgets.  Too bad the Ingalls girls lived in a time where so little was known about diabetes.

As I reveled in my modern age superiority, I wondered how old they were when they died.  Early 30′s?  Did they live through their 40′s?  I’m 45 and feel my age.

I don’t have big diabetes complications but I have more leg cramps at night than normal.  My blood pressure is slowly creeping up.  I wondered if they ever made it to 45.

Another net surf revealed their ages when they died:

Laura Ingalls Wilder lived until 90.  Sickly Carrie made it to 75. Baby Grace lived to 64.

Ummm.  My superiority faded.  Laura Ingalls and diabetes kind of slapped me in the face.

Would I be here at 45 if I didn’t have modern medicine and knowledge?  I was diagnosed in my mid 20′s and I was in really sorry shape at that time.  Oral diabetes medication and steroids brought me back  from a nightmare.  Would I have been able to conceive a child and have my son? Probably not.

The reality is….they were actually in a better time in some ways.

Today we are getting diagnosed with diabetes at younger and younger ages.  I am thankful for modern medicines, knowledge, and regimens….but I have to admit I have a conspiracy streak in me and I think we may be overdoing the meds and the carbs today along with eating foods the Ingalls farm girls might not even recognize as food.  We may have too much confidence that a pill can fix everything.  Many of us pop a pill and go on with our days without much more thought.

So while laying on my bed and deciding to embark on a quest to flip over, blow my nose, and re-situate my body pillow, I decided when I feel better I will re-evaluate what I’m doing and try to have more of my control come from diet and exercise and to test my blood sugar more often.

I have had type 2 diabetes for over 20 years.  I’m at the point where I need to rely more on diet and exercise because my pancreas is pooped after all these years.  My options are insulin or a strict lifestyle.

If you are reading this and are barely starting on this diabetic road or nearing the border, I encourage you to be good to your body and educate yourself.  Baby your pancreas.  Take it easy with carbs.  Then when you are my age, you may have better options to choose from.

PS:  Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT come from the camp that we bring type 2 diabetes upon ourselves.  I do believe we are predisposed to have our hormones work against us.  The only defense against that is knowledge and education which is the real advantage of our times.

 

 

 

How to Avoid Low Blood Sugar – Be Prepared

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When you are pregnant with diabetes and trying to have tight control of your blood sugar levels, you are at higher risk for low blood sugar or hypoglycemia.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to be prepared.  There were many times I jumped into the car unprepared thinking I was only going to be gone for a minute but ended up gone for much longer and found myself experiencing a low.

These were quick trips to the convenience store, to the bank, dropping someone off somewhere, a quick drive home.  It’s okay, I’d think, I’m only going to be out for a couple minutes.  The fact is, your car will break down and have flats.  There will be accidents and construction.  Someone may call with an emergency or ask for a “quick favor” which escalates into something much more complicated and you find yourself having low blood sugar.  Be prepared whenever you leave home, especially if you drive alone.

What does it mean to be prepared?

Give it some thought, and come up with a plan or system that works for you.  For me, it was a little cloth insulated lunch box that I loaded up with an apple, cheese, candy or glucose tabs, glucose gel, drinks, and other snacks.  These snacks could be granola bars, sandwiches, cracker sandwiches, etc.  I was able to throw my insulin and needles into the bag as well.  I would carry an over-sized bag with all the other stuff I needed to tote around.  The glucose gel (some people use cake gel) is handy if you are nauseous and can’t keep anything down.  You can rub it into your gums.  Make sure and talk to your doctor about other things you can carry or do when you feel yourself getting low.

For more information on hypoglycemia and how to treat, read Hypoglycemia (Low blood glucose) on the American Diabetes Association’s site.

 

Tight Blood Sugar Control Tip – Look or Patterns

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When I was pregnant, I was able to gain and attain tight blood sugar control.  My HbA1c level was between 4-5%.  I tested often.  I primarily was looking at how my body reacted to certain foods.  I had noticed that if I ate high-fat foods such as Mexican, Chinese, and Pizza, that my blood sugar levels would peak many hours later–sometimes six hours later.  Because of this, there were some days that I tested every couple hours.  I meticulously logged my numbers and made notes on the circumstance, time, etc.

Due to this, I started to notice patterns in my blood sugar numbers throughout the day.  My morning blood sugar numbers were always a challenge.  Things would get better through the day.  My blood sugar levels would dip in the late afternoon.  My levels would spike in the night and crash and sometimes I would wake with extreme lows.  I would rebound and my waking numbers would be high.

This information revealed I needed to be on the lookout for lows in the late afternoon.  I would keep a peanut butter cracker sandwich on my nightstand.  When I woke up to go potty around 1-2 a.m., I would take a bite.  This helped avoid the spikes in the night and improved my morning numbers.  Remember, we are all different.  Your patterns may be different and what worked for me may not work for you.

Nowadays there are insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors to make things easier.  However, if you do not have these at your disposal, then you can still look for patterns using pen and paper.  Other options include apps, software, and websites.  My favorite online blood sugar log and tracker is SugarStats.  This site can be very helpful if you are trying to have tight blood sugar control.

 

Green Juicing with Diabetes – What You Need to Know

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If you know me well, you know I love to drink green juice made from dark leafy greens.   I have done so for years even before juice cleansing and kale became the fad it has become today.  According to some proponents, you would think green juicing is a gift from the Gods and can make anybody immortal.  Dark leafy greens are harmless right?  You might be surprised to learn that green juice may not be for everybody.

If you have diabetes, you really should talk to your doctor for guidance and make sure you are not taking any medications that could be affected by large amounts of vitamin K.

For example, if you are taking blood coagulants or a blood thinner such as Coumadin, vitamin K can interfere with it’s effectiveness.  Perhaps you are on the “training wheels” version of a blood thinner.  By this I mean taking daily baby aspirin which is common for people with diabetes.

As you can see, it is important to talk to your doctor for guidance and make sure they know your plans in this regard and what your goals are so they can help support you.

I am not an expert on diabetes.  I have just written about and lived with it for a long time.  Please share if you know of other things we should be aware of when it comes to green juicing, consuming large amounts of dark leafy greens, or following a raw food diet.

 

Diabetes: Convenience Store Ideas

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I like to keep healthy (or “healthier”) options in mind for when I’m on the run and hungry.  I try to eat pretty low-carb and I try to get as many raw low-carb fruits and vegetables as I can.  I aim for nutrition from beneficial foods.  I want food that is going to make me feel good and will fill me up.

I would rather feel good after eating than to eat something tasty that will make me feel like crap afterwards.  So I am for well-being over taste bud pleasure myself.

As you can imagine, this can be like hunting for Bigfoot in most convenience stores.  Of course there is the obvious, some stores have salads, apples, cheese sticks, brewed teas, and nuts.  Unfortunately the “fresh” fruits and vegetables are often pricey and have seen better days, looking like an escapee from a science lab.  Nuts are low carb, but a very small amount packs a lot of calories.

Browse the refrigerated section and see if you can find hummus.  If they have it, it may be in plastic containers or tubes.  Hummus is tasty, nutritious, full of fiber, and can be eaten with celery sticks or put on a salad.  Paying 3 bucks for celery or salad might make you wince, but 4 bucks for celery with some filling hummus won’t hurt as bad.

Check out the bean dip.  Read the label and pay attention to the serving size.  You might be surprised to find it’s low-calorie, low-carb, and has a couple grams of fiber.  Check out the nutrition information for this popular bean dip.

Another thing I like to do is to frequent convenience stores that offer a variety of fresh hot dog toppings.  Some stores offer a variety of peppers, sauerkraut, tomatoes, onions, pickles, and more.  At the store I frequent, I use one of their nacho containers for my creation.  I skip the bun and cut up a hot dog or sausage.  Then I smother it with the fresh toppings.   It ends up like an interesting salad.  If they have chili, I’ll sometimes add that too.  It may not be the healthiest thing on the planet, but it’s better than the chips, pastries, and candy bars that are tempting me while my tummy is grumbling.

What do you do when you find yourself in a convenience store while your hungry?

 

Diabetes, Exercise and the Voices in my Brain

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Today I read “Diabetes Treatment Should Focus on Metabolizing More of the Sugar in the Blood for Best Results” a blog post by Milt Bedingfield. The author writes about how most people focus on limiting carbs consumed, but what about the carbs already in our blood?

Discovering this blog post is pretty timely as I’ve been having arguments with myself about doing more exercise.  The pro-exercise voice in my brain has been beaten down and hog-tied often.  I can easily convince myself all I have to do is eat right..but this doesn’t mean I AM right.

I can pass up carbs with no problem.  I can avoid them totally for long periods of time, but my blood sugar numbers are still not excellent and I still have a big stomach.  It’s very frustrating because my self-control is totally bionic.  I have an epic garden I eat from often.  I drink tons of green juice that tastes like fresh cut grass.  I eat at least 5-6 servings of veggies (mostly raw) a day.  Yet, it’s not enough.

I live in the dusty desert in Tucson, Arizona.  It’s a battle to keep dust out of my house.  I try to keep my doors closed.  I have mats by the doors.  Everyone wipes their feet.  This is all well and good but I still shed skin.  So do my son and fur ball dogs.  No matter what, I’ve got to pull out the broom and sweep.

No matter how much I try to avoid carbs, just about everything turns into carbs/sugar/glucose eventually and my body is just not equipped to get rid of those carbs on its own.

Those of us with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance don’t have the luxury of this happening automatically.  It’s like that function of our body must be done with a hand crank.  Exercise is the hand crank to clear those carbs out.  Aren’t we so lucky that we have an alternative?  Think about it.  I think we’re damn lucky.

I’ve been listening to the escalating argument in my head about diabetes and exercise for the past couple weeks.  Maybe it was fate I came across the article to help embolden the pro-exercise voice in my head.  I’m going to commit to doing at least 30 minutes a day and see if that super-charges my control.

I guess I must add…yes diabetes medications can help clear those carbs out.  It’s my personal choice to try to eliminate or at least lower the amount of medication I have to take.  I have had grandparents and parents who have had nightstands crammed full of medications.  Some of them are medications to help with side effects from other medications.  I just want to keep those medicines on the nightstand to a minimum.

 

Diabetes and Pregnancy and Fear

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I have received many messages and emails from women who are pregnant with diabetes. Pregnancy for most women is a happy, gleeful, carefree time. Happy, happy happy. However, if you have type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes, it can be a nail-biter. I have received emails from women in sheer panic, full of fear and without confidence that they can do this.

I think it’s the culmination of other people’s little negative comments. They don’t know you’ve already heard it from (m.a.n.y others). They don’t know it’s like an avalanche.

Concerned, sad eyes from medical professionals. Panicked looks from friends. Perhaps fear and resistance from parents. “Have you seen Steel Magnolias?” “You shouldn’t have a baby!” “I don’t want you to die.” “You are a high risk pregnancy.” “Your baby can be stillborn.” “You are at increased risk for Downs.” “You are at increased risk for spinal problems or other birth defects.” “Diabetes and pregnancy is dangerous.”  And so on.

My profusely flowering joy at finding out I was pregnant quickly shriveled up. Luckily my family and friends were cool, but I knew I had Steel Magnolias tucked in my mental pop culture files. My optimism was snuffed out like a smelly cigar at my initial visits with OB/GYNs and others.

My then-husband and I went to the OB/GYN visit very excited, expecting a scrapbook moment. Many friends were pregnant and they described these visits as such special experiences. For us, the doctor and nurse came in solemnly and spoke to us very directly and sternly. They recounted the risks. They shared horror stories. They waved death on a stick at me. Death wore a T-shirt that said “You have no business being pregnant diabetic.” Okay so maybe the last two things are stretching it, but you get the idea. We went home stressed and wondering if we made a huge mistake. This was repeated with the diabetes educator, the genetic counselor, dietician, eye doctor, and others.

We ended up dropping that OB and going with a group that specialized in high-risk pregnancies. I’m so glad we did because the high-risk doctors were actually very laid-back and even encouraged me to have more babies.

Having diabetes in pregnancy does carry risk. We are all different and each case is unique, but generally it has been found that with good medical care and tight control, we have the same chance for successful pregnancy than ladies without diabetes.

Tight control might seem like an impossible task, but I’ve seen women do it over and over again.  I’ve seen women do it who have started pregnancy with an HbA1c of 13 or higher.  I started with an A1c around 9 an ended up maintaining an A1c under 5 throughout my pregnancy.  If I can do it, anybody can.  Cliche I know…but true.

So if you have found this post in a panic, please take a deep breath.  Medical knowledge has come a long way.  You are not alone, and you can do this even if you find yourself pregnant unprepared and without great blood sugar control.  You can do this.

 

How Celery Can Supercharge Your Snacks

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Celery is often called a “negative calorie food,” so how can you NOT try to eat as much as you can?  It’s nutritious, filling, tasty, low-carb, and an excellent delivery device.   If you don’t already, reap the benefits of celery by using it regularly in snacks.  Don’t forget to eat the leaves too…they have more magnesium and calcium than the stalks.

Celery is a great choice when you have diabetes.  Celery fights inflammation, especially in the digestive tract.  Inflammation is thought to play a role in insulin resistance.  It is also a great source of antioxidants and fiber.

Celery is not only soothing to your stomach, it can also calm your mood.  Celery is beneficial for eyes, helps blood pressure, and can help lower bad cholesterol.  It is also a helpful for polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Snack Ideas for Celery

Because the celery stalks are so easy to stuff, this is my favorite way to eat it.  You surely already know about peanut butter and “ants on a log” (peanut butter with raisins on top).  You can also stuff celery sticks with the following:

  • Cream cheese or goat cheese.  Alone or mixed with other ingredients such as nuts, olives, cranberries, bacon, etc
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Sprinkle a chile lime spice on top of celery sticks such as Tajin.

Other Great Stuffed Celery Ideas

Any recipe that already has celery as an ingredient can be a great potential stuffing.  Just omit the chopped celery and stuff the celery stick with the other ingredients.

  • Tuna salad (See below)
  • Egg salad
  • Waldorf salad (chopped apples, walnuts, and raisins mixed with mayo and lemon juice topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.  You could use broccoli and bacon too)
  • Potato salad
  • Seafood or crab salad

Celery Stuffed with Tuna Salad “Picture Recipe”

I believe we all need to learn to cook with our eyes and personal taste.  So I plan to include a lot of “picture recipes” which will be simply pictures and an ingredient list. Hopefully these will inspire you to take the ingredients, judge amounts by feel, and make your own art.  I personally make this recipe so that the tuna salad is mostly vegetable (onion and water chestnuts), but you might like it differently.

Ingredients

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Ingredients list:

  • Can of tuna
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped water chestnuts
  • Chopped pickles and a little pickle juice
  • Capers
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Mayonaisse
  • Asian garlic chili sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • Tajin spice mix sprinkled on top of stuffed celery sticks (optional)

Mix all but Tajin spice mix.

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Stuff sticks.

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Enjoy!

I hope this inspires you to incorporate more celery into your diet.  I always have celery on hand and trying new ways to have it. Do you have your own celery stuffing ideas?  Please share in the comments!