Meditations on the Pound Cake Lady

Working to lower diabetes stress levels without succumbing to cake.

By Walt Raleigh

When we last spoke, I was a middle-aged middle manager coping with some chronic health issues (including type 2 diabetes).  Stress levels were high while living and working in New York City.    

Breakfast on Saturday mornings in New York was bagels and strong coffee, the glycemic index of boiled and baked bread be damned.

Since then, the Raleigh family has moved to, well, Raleigh.  Okay, not quite: we've relocated to North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. We've gone from a cramped and chaotic little Greenwich Village apartment (500 square feet if you grade on a curve) to a tidy little two-bedroom cottage in Chapel Hill that's three times as large.  

I've kept the NYC-based job, but telecommute much of the time.  We bought bicycles, and I actually ride mine around the neighborhood.  And breakfast on Saturday mornings is no longer the most dangerous part of the day, ingestion-wise.  The bagels you get down here are okay, but I'm never tempted to gorge on them.

We eat a healthy breakfast at our favorite diner in town ...

And then, fatally, we walk down the street to the Farmer's Market.

The Carrboro Farmer's Market is a scene.  Someone homesick for northern California would find it as rejuvenating as an oxygen tent - local farmers, dairymen, cooks and artisans along with the bien-pensant population of the area, everybody getting their locavore on.

We loaded up on tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, salad greens, all locally grown and all absolutely bursting with flavor. So far, so healthy.

But then there's the Pound Cake Lady.  Mrs. Parrish has been selling pound cakes at the Carrboro Farmer's Market for a long time now, and her caramel-iced pound cake is to die for.

I try to buy only in small quantities and when I will have help eating it.  If a big hunk of that stuff is lying around my kitchen, there goes my target A1C number.  

You know, now that I have a bigger kitchen and can cook more, we are actually eating pretty well.  Healthier, I mean, than a lot of the restaurant food we were ingesting in New York.

The biggest difference in my life since we moved to NC?

In New York City, if I had to meet a stranger in a public place (happens more often than you think - first business dinner with someone you've only spoken to on the phone, for example) I'd tell them "I'm a tall fat guy with a bad haircut" - and in a stylish Manhattan crowd, they almost couldn't miss me. Down here, enough people look like me that it's not a useful distinguisher.  


But seriously, folks.  The biggest difference in my life - and in my diabetes?  Stress reduction.  

And the move is a big part of that - because of all the follow-on benefits it provided in terms of improved diet and exercise opportunities.  Also, it won't surprise you to learn that Chapel Hill is a generally less stressful place to live than Manhattan.  

If I can just resist the unholy temptations of the Pound Cake Lady.

dLife's Daily Living columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.

Last Modified Date: December 16, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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