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Posts tagged ‘diabetic diet’

Plant-Based Faceplant.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve made an attempt as a family to eat more plants/eat less meat.  This is decision is rooted in a dozen different health reasons, but the end result is a move towards cutting back on the meat we’re consuming and integrating more than just a “meatless Monday” philosophy.

All well and good, right?

Except I still can’t cook.  And this is making anything “new!” a bit of a challenge.

Last summer, I worked towards a decent grasp on using our grill, making chicken and grilled vegetables and hamburgers that didn’t highlight my inability to create edible meals.  That learning curve was steep, though, and now the idea of trying to get creative in the kitchen with a renewed focus on plant-based meals is daunting as eff.

Because, as mentioned, I still can’t cook.  I’m having a plant-based face plant.

I tried to make these – sweet potato quinoa patties – and assembling the ingredients was easy enough.  I could get everything into a bowl and if I were to eat it like a salad, it would have worked out beautifully.  But the goal was to cook these on the stove top, creating a hot meal where the patties are crisped to a golden brown and cause people to put their fingertips delicately to their collarbones in delight – “My goodness – did you MAKE these?  They are DELIGHTFUL!” and then everyone gets drunk.  (This fantasy takes place post-August, when wine can re-enter the picture for me.)

Instead, I ended up with patties that didn’t ever crisp into golden perfection.  My attempt was more a lump of burned-on-one-side-barely-held-together-on-the-other-side patties, where they needed to be coaxed aggressively out of the pan and had to be eaten immediately or else they’d taste like not-awesome hash browns.

I’ve tried to make them twice now.  The first time, Chris and I had a “ho, ho, ho this is an experiment! and we’ll figure this out” response.  The second time, I was a hormonal mess and just about threw the pan across the kitchen with a pathetic sob of, “I can’t COOK I only make burnt vegetarian DOG FOOD.”  The third time, I’m afraid I will pitch a fit and then a tent in the backyard and force myself to sleep there until I can happily eat grass.

(Have I mentioned hormones?  I have them.  There are many of them.  Would you like some?  AHHHHHH!!!)

So what I’m hoping for is this:  Do you have a favorite non-meat recipe that is easy to make and that you enjoy eating?  I’m looking for recommendations to help expand my palette and my culinary skills without causing emotional chaos.  My kitchen prowess is limited, but I’m willing to try anything at least three times, and I’m really eager to reduce the amount of meat we’re eating.

Olive You.

“You don’t like seafood?!”

This wasn’t ever issued like a real question, but more an accusation, a verbal finger pointed at my face.  “You live in Rhode Island and you don’t like seafood like at all?”

Usually I’d say, “I just don’t care for it very much,” but I am really thinking, “EW! It’s weird and it smells terrible and ew.”

And then, back in 2009, I found myself pregnant with Birdy and all of a sudden, my taste buds changed in ways I could never have predicted.  I wanted salmon.  I wanted white fish.  Calamari?  Bring it.  Shrimp?  Sure.  Scallops?  Yes, please.

Chris looked at me like I had seven heads, a seafood-craving hydra.  “You want what?”

Even after my Bird was born, the seafood thing stuck.  Over the years, my food preferences have given way to other additions, like mushrooms (once viewed as a horror movie on a plate), brie cheese (previously categorized alongside cheeses with scents that can ease the paint off a wall), and oysters (tried for the first time over the summer and I didn’t die).  It’s taken six plus years, but my palette is finally maturing past tomatoes and grilled chicken, and I’m no longer afraid of crabs (unless they are unexpectedly underfoot, or secretly carbs).

I wonder, at times, if diabetes helped to keep my preferences muted.  Growing up, my mother went to great lengths to make sure my food was healthy, consistent, and carefully measured.  Food “risks” were not generally encouraged at the time, with even spices and condiments raising eyebrows and blood sugars.  The “diabetic friendly” cookbooks touted the benefits of the bland and unadventurous, and my mother took her adherence to the dog-eared cookbook recommendations very seriously.

Basically, boring meant better.

But, over time, diabetes education and insulin improved, and “approved diets” expanded to include more than just one aisle at the grocery store.  Meals weren’t diluted down to the American Diabetes Association exchange program.  Food could be healthy and taste like something other than “meh.”

And it took me even longer to break out of my own decades worth of habits.  Which explains the wasabi on my salmon sashimi.  And the oysters on my plate.  And the introduction of olives – once viewed as “EW the GROSSEST!” – into the circuit of deliciousness.

Olive you, new and strange foods.  Olive you a lot.

Looking Back: Thank Goodness for Whiskey.

This is a post from February 2013 about the “diabetic diet” perceptions from back in the 1940’s, and when I came across it again this morning, I marveled once again at the power of whiskey.  See below for what old school diabetes diets were once in play.

*   *   *

I received an email from Krista, one of my oldest friends in the world (not that she’s old, but she’s one of the people I’ve known the longest), and the attached file made me laugh out loud.  Her email said, “I found this list in an old (as in published in 1924, and stuffed with articles clipped from various magazines from the 30s and 40s) cookbook that I got from a friend when she cleaned out an old relative’s house … anyway, thought you’d appreciate it.”

Oh, I did.


(link to original version, which is way bigger)

This list is an old-school “diabetic diet” list, and the contents read as follows:

Foods Allowed: 
Soups and broths not thickened with flour
Meats, fresh, smoked and cured, except liver, without flour gravy
Eggs in any way without flour
Fish, all kinds except scallops, clams and oysters
Fats, butter, olive oil, etc.
Cheese, all kinds.
Vegetables and salads, asparagus, beet greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, celery, pumpkin, radishes, spinach, string beans, tomatoes
Sour pickles, ripe olives
Cream, not over 3 oz a day
Desserts, jellies, etc. sweetened with saccharin
Nuts
Tea and coffee sweetened with saccharin and with small amount of cream
Whiskey, brandy, rums up to 3 oz a day
Lemonade sweetened with saccharin

Articles Forbidden:
Sugar and sweets
Pastry, puddings, preserves, cake and ice cream
Bread, biscuit, toast, crackers, griddle cakes
Cereals, except oatmeal in small amounts
Macaroni, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, beans, peas, corn, turnip
Fruit of all kinds
Alcoholic beverages, except as above

It’s not so much that the list of actual foods is ridiculous, but what kills me is the fact that the second half of the list is deemed “FORBIDDEN ARTICLES!”  No wonder people with diabetes can have such a strange and confusing relationship with food.  Even now, food for me is not always simply food, but becomes a combination of medicine, guilt, sustenance, and math.

Thank goodness for whiskey?

Looking Back: Visual Reminders.

Nothing helps remind me more about the importance of being familiar with serving sizes and what they look like than being on the road for a few days.  Meals away from the comfort and familiarity of my kitchen make for some guesswork, and these last few days have shown me that I could use a refresher on serving sizes.  Here’s a look back at a post from 2012 about keeping your eye trained as to how “half a cup” really shapes up.

*   *   *

A deck of cards.  A baseball.  A pair of dice and you only look at one of them. (Sorry for the clumsiness; I think it’s weird to write “A die.” as a sentence.  Looks odd.)  A tennis ball.   A hockey puck.

The things that health-related articles use as “visual cues” for portion sizes and serving sizes makes me wish I was more athletic, because then I’d have a really strong feel for the size of these different balls, etc.  (Sidenote:  Hey. Ever write something you want to immediately delete but then you keep it and just wish your brain was less daft?)  But these visual cue things are helpful for me, because if I don’t take note of just how big “one small apple” really is, it’s easy to lose track of how much I’m eating.  I need to constantly refresh my eyes on serving sizes, which in turn helps me better estimate carbs when I’m SWAG (aka Scientific, Wild-Ass Guessing)’ing it.

(Second sidenote:  The hamburger pictured here looks exactly like a fudge-drizzled chocolate cookie, which is making my brain very confused.)

Which is what I spent part of my morning doing today:  busting out the measuring cups in my house and reminding myself what certain foods look like when properly measured out.  I’m not shooting for serving sizes or anything FDA official.  I needed to do this purely for carb assessment reasons.  What does 35 grams worth of Rice Chex measure out to look like?  How much salad dressing is 10 grams of carbs?  Brain, be reminded of what 28 carbs-worth of banana goodness looks like!!

Birdy thought I was a basketcase this morning, measuring things out and then putting them back.  “No eat banana, Mama?”  “No more cereal and milk, Mama?”  “That chicken is very good, right, Mama?” By the time I started eye-balling the lunch meat and measuring it on our kitchen scale, she threw her hands up in disgust and went to find her Thomas trains.  (Tertiary sidenote:  Spencer, the silver, streamlined diesel train, is the same size as 15 grams worth of banana, dagnabit.)

But now my brain is brought back to reality.  Less guesstimating and more true and proper estimating, which should help me fine-tune my boluses a touch.  Reminders like this are helpful in keeping me from sliding down that slippery slope of eating 18 lb apples and bathtubs full of Golden Grahams.

(Last sidenote:  I’m sorry that only 2/3 of this post made sense.)

 

Pros and Cons of Going Gluten-Free. (and a brief lament about the smooshed banana)

It’s been about seven weeks on this “no way, gluten!” lifestyle, and I’m starting to find my footing.  But there are still many pros and cons to balance, so I’m listing them here.  That way, I can look back at this post in a few months and be all, “Pfffft.  Whiner.  You’re in the zone now.”

Here we go – PROS and CONS of Going Gluten-Free in ALL CAPS at times because that’s the only way my brain can operate this morning.

CON:  It’s a pain in the ass, doing this.  Reading food labels for carbohydrate content and grams of sugar in pursuit of better blood sugar control is second nature to me by this point.  After 28 years with type 1 diabetes, I’m comfortable with the carbs.  But trolling labels for that bright, shiny GF logo, or reading through each ingredient to ensure that I’m not inadvertently eating gluten is a new adventure, and one that I find very intrusive.

PRO:  As a result, weight management has been easier lately.  Which I guess is a plus but at the same time, I’m hungry, so I can’t call this a total pro.

CON:  I’m hungry.  (See above.)  All the time.  Mostly because I’m unsure of what to eat, and that insecurity leads me to eat the same things all the time.  Staples like hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, spinach salad, yogurt, almonds, and every fruit I can get my paws on dominate my days.  Menu items like gluten-free pizza, butternut squash (done with GF ingredients), and chicken soup are being explored, but my natural inclination to be a lazy chef makes this sort of exploration tougher.

PRO:  Eating the same things all the time makes me very familiar with how they map out, blood sugar wise.  So I’m best able to pre-bolus with precision and my post-prandials aren’t gross.  This is boring as eff, but effective for diabetes management.

CON:  Low blood sugars have been really weird lately, especially the ones that follow a visit to the gym.  Before going gluten-free, I’d eat froast or some other glutened up snack to keep my blood sugar steady through cardio (yes, there are other options, but I can’t pretend to have chomped on kale during a run – that would be a big, fat lie and kale hates lies).  Now, I’m erring on the side of fruit and sometimes those sugars get in and out of my system too quickly to hold me for an entire workout.  I’m still figuring out what foods work best to deal with during- and post-exercise hypoglycemia.

PRO:  Glucolift Wildberry tabs are gluten-free.

CON:  Traveling is weird now, too, keeping gluten off my plate.  Airports are not designed for people with dietary needs or preferences, especially little airports like the one I frequent here in Providence.  Finding foods that are gluten-free while on the road is tough, with little exception.  Once I land somewhere, I’m fine, but while in transit, I keep my bag stashed with snacks.

PRO:  I’m learning a lot about what foods travel well.  These gf bars are among my favorites to toss in a backpack, and while they are not as healthy as something fresh, they can stand up to traveling with me and they are more filling than the Southwest pretzels that I can’t eat.

CON:  Bananas do not keep well in backpacks.  They turn brown quickly and often end up smeared on … oh, let’s say the lid of a laptop.

PRO:  I wash my backpack more often than I ever have before, and now it permanently smells like dryer sheets.  Which is a nice contrast to my computer, which smells permanently like bananas now.

CON:  I hate being “that girl.”  The one who asks waitstaff if certain menu options can be made without gluten.  The one who reads labels before taking a bite of anything.  The one who might be mistakenly marked as someone following a “trend diet” instead of someone who is unhappily-but-smartly following through on feedback from her body.  As good as I feel off gluten, I wish I could still eat the stuff and not make waves.

PRO:  I’m learning not to care about feeling slightly embarrassed because DUDE I feel so much better.

“You’re more … you.  The change between then and now is significant,” Chris said the other day.

He’s right.  My mood/disposition/health/everything since kicking gluten out of my diet has been ten steps in the best direction.  All of the non-celiac gluten sensitivity symptoms are gone.  The “head fog” where I would forget what I was doing or what I was about to say has receded.  The numbness and tingling in my hands and wrists is gone.  The ache in my hip joints after running is gone.  I don’t want to spend the afternoon taking a nap on the couch.  My energy is back.  My face is less puffy.  I can chase Birdy without feeling like my feet are in lead boots.  It took months to tune in to how poorly I felt, but now that I’m feeling better, the change is undeniable.

As much as I miss being more carefree about food, a gluten-free diet is the best fit for me.  And after almost three decades of type 1 diabetes, what’s one more food constraint?  So long as coffee and wine remain in the mix, I’m good.

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