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Posts from the ‘Diet and Food’ Category

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust for the Epically Lazy.

[Insert whole paragraph about how I hate to cook/am bad at cooking/have no interest in cooking/would rather paint the deck.]

I don’t normally do anything resembling a “food review” because that’s not my bag (baby).  But I’m lazy when it comes to preparing food, so if I stumble across something that makes being a lazy chef even easier, well then hot diggity damn I am going to post about it.

BEHOLD!!  It’s a generic, “Acme Pizza” looking box, but the contents are wonderful.  This is gluten-free pizza crust and it’s legitimately delicious.  Kinnikinnick, your tagline is accurate.

I can’t say the name of it out loud without feeling like I’m casting a spell, but this pizza crust is worth writing about because it crisps up nicely, is thick enough to hold a pile of toppings, and when you bite into it, you don’t wish it was something else.  Birdy and I have experimented with several gluten-free dough options (not because of celiac, but due to preference) and this Kinnikinnick pre-made pizza crust has been the best one we’ve found so far.

“This pizza is good, Mom!”

I agreed.

[This is not an advertisement, or a sponsored post.  This post is the result of going to Whole Foods, spending eight billion dollars, and for once not regretting it.  Again, friends share.  So I'm sharing.  :) ]

Looking Back: Crabs are Evil.

I’ve always struggled with the right amount of carbs for my day-to-day diabetes management (that sounds so formal, as if I plot this stuff on a spreadsheet, which I do not) and overall, my blood sugar roller coaster is less intense when my carbs are minimal (or deeply imbedded into exercise).  Today, I’m looking back at a post from 2010 about carbs, the perils of spellcheck, and finding what works for you.

*   *   *

Crabs are something that people with diabetes are constantly grappling with.  Are crabs good for us?  Should we be avoiding crabs at all costs?  If we have too many crabs in our diet, will our A1c go up?  What’s the official recommendation for diabetics as it pertains to crabs?  Has anyone ever really tamed the wild crabs?  Is anyone eating crabs, right now, as they read this?

(Note:  Spellcheck is my nemesis right now.  It always, always wants to change “carbs” to “crabs.”  As though I have anything against Sebastian and his little sea friends.  Spellcheck also likes changing “bolusing” to “blousing,” as if wearing a puffy shirt is a verb.  For the record, I have nothing against crabs.  Crabs are fine.  And, in my opinion, carbs are fine, too.  Spellcheck is a bit of a bitch, though.  /digression)  

In all seriousness (sort of), I’ve been told, time and time again, that carbs are evil.  That if I maintain a diet that’s reasonably low-carb, my diabetes will thank me for it.  But I don’t think that carbohydrates are the enemy.  In fact, they’re my best molecular friend when my blood sugar is hanging out in the trenches.  (See also:  Reese’s)

But.

I did notice, as I was gearing up for my wedding and working out more than usual, that my very low carb diet and my consistent exercise regimen made for minimal spikes in my blood sugar.  It wasn’t a perfect system, but subbing in vegetables for mashed potatoes at dinner time made for a post-prandial under 200 mg/dl, which (pre-BSparl), was a solid goal for me.  Granted, I didn’t avoid carbs all the time, but I actively avoided high carb diet choices because I knew both my weight and my A1c would pay the price somehow.  And now, post-BSparl, I’m trying to go back to that lower carb lifestyle, because that helped keep me at a weight I was more comfortable with.  (Not that I’m actively avoiding carbs now, thanks to the epic breastfeeding lows that crop up every few hours, so I’m giving myself a big ol’ bell curve on getting back into shape.)

For me, part of the carbohydrate conundrum is user error.  Pre-Bsparl, I was a bit of a lazy boluser.  I never bolused well in advance of a meal, and my post-prandials (and my overall A1C) definitely paid the price over and over again.  It seems that I need to get my insulin pushed through my system at least 25 minutes before I sit down to eat, not five minutes before.  I learned this lesson (23 years too late, eh?) while I planning for baby, and during the course of the pregnancy, it was definitely the case.  Bolusing well before the meal worked better for me.

To each diabetic their own, I think, when it comes to carbohydrate intake.  Some people are able to manage high piles of carbs without the messy spikes.  Other people, like me, might be clumsy with their insulin.  Or sometimes the decision not to carb has nothing to do with diabetes (as in my case, and in the case of my husband) – we go lower carb for weight management reasons.  But there’s no set magical diabetes diet that cures all that ails ya.  Eating carbs, or not eating carbs, is a personal decision that each individual diabetic needs to figure out for themselves.

In the Sparling house, we tend to avoid the carbs.

And we also arm ourselves against the crabs.  Because seriously, you never know.

Figwee: An App I Might Actually Use.

At the TCOYD conference in Washington, DC this past weekend, I was tasked with co-leading a session about digital tools for diabetes management (saucily named “There’s An App for That”) alongside Glu’s Anna Floreen.  Building up to the session, she and I talked about apps we use (and don’t use) and how some apps are just filler apps (see also: appholes).

There are apps I use pretty regularly, but only one of them is specific to diabetes (the One Touch Reveal app that works with the Verio Sync).  The others are health-related apps that I tweak for diabetes use.  But at dinner the night before the app session, I found out about an app that might truly help me corral some diabetes stuff (hat tip to Jeremy Pettus):  Figwee.

Figwee is an app with a silly name, but a truly useful purpose because it MAKES PORTIONS MAKE SENSE.  I’m notorious for SWAG’ing a bolus here and there, and that’s mostly because I have trouble measuring and precisely counting the nutritional content of my food.  I’ll eyeball things here and there, but if I don’t regularly refresh my eyes as to what portion sizes should, and actually do, look like, I make a mess of things.

Figwee gives visual representations of portion sizes.  With nutritional information.  And a funky sliding-bar that lets you shrink and grow the portion sizes, which is a trippy thing to play with:

Little bit of pasta?  Got it.  But are you having more?  (Gives a bird’s-eye view and a side-view.)

Add some sauce (where so many extra carbs, etc. sometimes hide):

I love this.  I’ve already used it to help me eyeball portion sizes more accurately for chicken and steak:

And the full nutritional breakdown helps remind me that I am not only keeping an eye on carbs, but also fat and protein and all the other “stuff” in food.

The app even has alcohol:

I have no affiliation with this app and I’m not being compensated to review it (and I paid the $1.99 required to download it), but I wanted to share because it’s worth it.  The photos I’ve posted are a little cropped so they don’t show the slide tool to increase the portion sizes and some of the nutritional information was a little mushed, but on the actual app, it’s all there.

I don’t carry measuring cups and a food scale, so an application like this really helps me make sense of the food on my plate.  You can download and play with Figwee, too, dagnabit.

 

Ironic Baking.

Earlier this week, Birdzone asked if we could bake some bread.  (We’ve been baking bread for her since she was very small, avoiding gluten for the first 15 months of her life and becoming gluten-free bakers, after a fashion, for a year or two.)  Now, thanks to a bread machine that makes baking bread easier, we whip up random recipes.  Birdy likes measuring the flour and whisking the eggs, and the bread machine makes it easy to dump in the prepared ingredients and watch the magic (slowly) happen.

Examining the basket of almost-overripe fruit on the kitchen table, we decided to make a play for apple-banana bread, per her request.  (“Mom, can we take those gross bananas and make banana bread?  And add an apple that’s not as gross?”)

The recipe we made was a version of this one at All Recipes (a site I frequently look at but infrequently follow through on), only we doctored it up a bit:

ingredients:

2 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
3 mashed bananas
1 apple, diced

directions.

*  Since we baked this in a bread machine, we didn’t need to preheat the oven.  Instead, we just plugged in the bread machine and prepped it for the “gluten-free” setting.

*  In a big bowl, we combined the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together and mixed it up.  We didn’t mix it gently because Birdy was doing most of the stirring, so I also can’t guarantee that all of the ingredients stayed in the bowl.  The countertop was a bit dusty when she was done.

*  In a separate bowl, we whisked together the eggs and apple sauce (the original recipe called for butter, but we usually sub in applesauce instead), and then dumped the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ones.

*  Then we mashed the eff out of those bananas and added in the diced apple bits.  (“Why didn’t we mash the apple, Mom?” she kept asking me, because she wanted to take a Sledge-O-Matic to it a la Gallagher.)

*  Once everything was combined, we shuttled the mix into the bread machine pan and let it stir-then-bake for the assigned time.  When it was done, it was very dense and moist (ew word, but appropriate) and tasted awesome.  The addition of the extra fruit made for about 38 grams of carb per slice (ish), but it was worth it because it tasted awesome.

I’m not much of a cook when it comes to making things that are healthy, but I can bake the hell out of anything, which is sadly ironic for this PWD.  Essentially, I can cook what I would do best not to eat on a regular basis.  And this bread was a winner on that front.

The No Good (Sort of Good) Food Diary.

It was easy to avoid food logging because, on the whole, my blood sugars aren’t a disaster.  I bolus for the foods I’m eating, and I don’t graze much so stacking insulin doses isn’t as much of a problem as it has been in the past.  But the other night, when 9 pm rolled around and I was asking Birdy for the fifth time why she isn’t ever tired ever, I realized I’d had six cups of coffee that day.  Technically, it may have been seven cups of coffee, because one of them was an iced coffee and those don’t follow any rational serving size.  And I couldn’t remember if I had eaten more than a handful of almonds as a snack earlier in the day, and did I end up actually sharing a doughnut with Birdy at the coffee shop, and I know I had a wrap sandwich at some point but some grapes ended up in the mix somewhere and where the hell did that glass of wine come from??

My schedule throughout the day doesn’t afford for much consistency.  Each day is pretty different from the previous one, and sticking with a set schedule is challenging on the days when I’m both working and playing with Birdzone.  Not that it can’t be done, but it isn’t usually done.  I’m becoming more scatterbrained as time goes on, to the point where I am actively forcing myself to take certain actions in order to reclaim and make sense of my days.

Which is why I decided to start logging food for a week or two, because it’s clear that I have absolutely no frigging idea what’s actually happening each day.  (I’m using MyFitnessPal for the time being, until it frustrates me and I revert back to keeping a list in my bottomless basin of a purse.)

I don’t like it, though.  It’s a level of accountability I don’t joyously embrace.  (“YAY!!  Writing down everything I’m eating?  So that I’m now tracking blood sugars and exercise AND food intake so that I can feel both powerfully informed and terribly guilty about every single choice I’m making all day long?  OH YAY!!!”)  I don’t like having to be honest and log that, yes, I ate chicken and green beans for dinner but yes, I also went berserk and had a big, fat slice of banana bread for no reason.  I don’t like looking at the food log and noting that less-than-healthy food choices really toss the calorie count for the day up into the air and then out the window.  I don’t like logging anything (read: blood sugars), and keeping a food diary is no exception to my pre-established log loathing.

But … big, reluctant sigh … it’s useful.  (bah.)

After only a day of logging foods, I realized that my coffee intake is abysmal.  Way too much.  Blood sugars don’t seem to care, but the caffeine influx makes for trouble sleeping, and I’m in no position to sacrifice sleep.  After three days of logging foods, I realized that my willpower and organizational skills are top notch in the morning and afternoon, but around 7 pm at night, I lose control over what I’m thinking/doing/eating and I consume most of my unneeded calories at night.  And while I don’t like writing down every healthy (and otherwise) decision I make during the day, the food diary does hold me accountable for my actions.

Fine. I’ll curmudgeonly accept that logging foods for a week or two is useful.

I’m already looking forward to stopping the food logging in a few days, but I know it’s a good way to realign my brain, and my schedule … and my stomach. I have already seen for myself that there are choices I can improve and decisions I can pat myself on the back for. And it’s confirmed, officially, that I drink way too much effing coffee.

So Maybe Don’t ALWAYS Pre-Bolus.

I like to pre-bolus.  It helps keep my post-meal blood sugar spikes from rocketing out of range and taking a sizable bite out of my overall diabetes control.  (… I’m sorry.  I laugh every time I type the word “control.”  It’s not a word I toss around lightly when it comes to diabetes.  I’m not Janet Jackson.)

The art of pre-bolusing has been instrumental in keeping diabetes shit in line.

But it only works when it works.

Last night, we ordered pizza to go along with our birthday cake for Birdzone (we rounded out the meal by eating a stick of butter each and guzzling soda – healthy! – only the butter part is a lie) and the promise was “delivery in 30 minutes.”  Since pizza can be insulin’s kryptonite, I thought it wise to pre-bolus so that the initial carb influx of the pizza would be headed off by the first bolus, and then I’d chase my meal with more insulin to grab the fat-induced-blood-sugar-bump that hits about two hours later.  (I don’t have a #DIYPS, so when my food choices edge towards pizza party, I have to improvise a touch.)

Basic gist?  I took my insulin way too freaking early because the pizza arrived an hour later.

My Dexcom was freaking out by the time the pizza delivery man left – “Kerri, your Dexcom is vibrating like crazy over here, and says you’re low.”  “Like how low?”  “Like spelled out as LOW low.” – so the first piece of pizza was inhaled in a matter of seconds.  The second piece went just as quickly, and then I chased my dinner with a handful of glucose tabs.  (Wildberry – the perfect palette cleanser.)  Pre-bolusing doesn’t always work – its success leans on timing.  My pre-bolus was working right on schedule … if the pizza had arrived on time.  But due to tardy carb arrival, my blood sugar was in the trenches and covered in pepperoni.

“Mawm, is this good pizza?”

“The best!”  I answered her, through a mouthful of glucose tabs.

Plastic Apples and Measuring Cups.

Her desk was anchored on either side by tall bookshelves crammed with pretend food.  Plastic fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis that looked like fuzzy dumplings – and the cardboard shell of cereal boxes.  Plastic slabs of steak with edging to make it look like it had a pat of butter melting on top, and the entire plastic carcass of a chicken, woefully untrue to size, making it the same size as one of the kiwi dumplings. Measuring cups and food scales, lists and charts, meal plans and index cards covered with suggested serving sizes.

It always felt embarrassing, seeing the nutritionist and the dieticians, especially when I was in my teens.  I struggled with my weight as a kid but didn’t ever dip into “overweight,” just more settled on the heavier end of the approved spectrum.  I hated meal plans and the emotional influence of food on my life.  Visiting the plastic food lady as part of the flow every few endocrinologist appointments felt shameful, and I wondered what my classmates would think if they knew I was lectured about eating and food every few months.  Would they know how complicated my relationship with food really was?  Dietician appointments felt like mini-fat camps, and even though I did feel better-informed leaving the appointments, I still felt stupid and ashamed that there were required in the first place.

Moving forward a few decades, diabetes is still very much in play.  I don’t see a dietician as often now as I did when I was growing up, but I do attend a lot of diabetes conferences where registered nurses, dieticians, and nurse educators present, giving me access to refresher courses on food, eating well, and the latest in food and diabetes research. The plastic food is still in play, only the plastics aren’t relegated to my CDE’s bookcases anymore.  Now, the plastics are invading my home.  My daughter’s room is awash with kitchen playthings and miniature versions of what my dietician used as visual aids back in the day.  We talk quite a bit about food and why we eat the things we do.  I try not to let my food-through-the-lens-of-diabetes mindset invade how she sees her plate, even though it’s hard, since we spend so much time together and she sees so much of my diabetes day-to-day management (attempts).

“We need to eat healthy foods so we can grow to be strong and smart and healthy,” I tell her.  “Yeah, and we always need to eat something green with our meals,” she adds, knowingly.  “And sometimes we have juice in the fridge, but it’s for your low blood sugars.”

I don’t want my daughter to think that there are so many food “rules.”  I want her to eat things that make her feel good and that taste good, without looking at her plate and thinking her value as a person rests there.

In her room, she ‘cooks’ up a storm, throwing random items into the plastic stock pot on her pretend stove.  “We need an eggplant, and a hard boiled eggie, and some ash … ash … ASHparagust, and Wonder Woman,” with all of the aforementioned tossed into the “boiling” water.

“What are you cooking, Birdzone?”

“I’m making soup. It will be so delicious. When I’m done, you can have a bowl.”

“What’s in it?”

“Don’t worry, Mommy.  There’s something green in there.  There’s ashparagust.”

March is National Nutrition Month (more about that on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website), and this year’s campaign encourages people to “Enjoy the taste of eating right.”  The phrasing of that message is so hopeful, and without residual shame:  enjoy.  Enjoy the taste of eating right, whatever “right” might be for you.Yes!  I’d like to!  I’ll do that!

My hope is to eventually shake the preposition off “eating with diabetes” and just focus on “eating.”

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