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Posts tagged ‘food’

Looking Back: Dining Out.

I love going out on the town for the night
And having a meal by a soft candlelight
(Because I know, at a restaurant, meals are yummy;
For the food isn’t prepped, touched, or cooked by me.)
But to dine with type 1 can be quite complex,
Because restaurant food has a whole set of specs
That require some SWAG’ing; carbs seem to inflate
As you wonder what’s really down there on your plate.

“Excuse me, but does the salmon have a glaze?
Is it covered in sugary, caramelized haze?”
I ask of the waiter, tuning in as he states
That the glaze can be brought on the side of my plate.
My soda arrives, and I ask, “Is this diet?”
As I bring the glass up to my lips just to try it.
“It is,” he responds, and he watches my face
As I try to assess the fizzy soda’s taste.

Moments later, I notice that something is wrong.
I’m not sure my thoughts are where they belong.
My brain is all foggy, my hands feel so weak,
I’m having some trouble with words while I speak.
Did I bolus too early?  Did I miscount the carbs?
Is it something I did to make Dex go on guard?
There are glucose tabs right here in my purse,
But I know that I’ll feel better if I have juice first.

My husband is almost up, quick as a blink
To go to the bar to grab something to drink.
But it’s not a big deal; I chomp tabs while I wait
For the waiter to come back and fill up our plates.
He comes back for our order, but I’m not quite ready.
My Dex shows my numbers as slightly unsteady,
With double-down arrows beaming; so unkind.
“Can I have an orange juice, if you don’t mind?”

I see his confusion. The gears start to grind.
I hear the thoughts churning inside of his mind.
“She didn’t want glaze, and her soda was diet.
The bread was right here, but she didn’t try it.
What’s up with this girl? Selective sweet tooth?
Whatever. My job is to bring her the juice.”
He walks off to the bar to bring back something sweeter
While I quickly confirm the Dex trend with my meter.

“Here you go,” and I down it in one giant gulp,
Not caring for class, or a straw, or the pulp.
“Thank you so very much,” I reply with a smile
And try to regain some semblance of my mind.
My husband distracts me with soft, gentle chatter
While the orange juice fixes the thing that’s the matter.
And the moments that pass are quick in real life
But it’s hard for him, watching a low change his wife.

A few minutes later, things are as they were.
I’m no longer sounding all drunk, with a slur.
The waiter comes back with his menu pad out
And we tell him the entrees we’d like to try out.
Our date night moves forward without any trouble.
(The waiter’s confused, but i don’t burst his bubble.)
It’s not a big deal; it was just a quick thing.
But it’s always a riddle, what diabetes will bring.

(This poem was originally published back in January 2012.  It’s from the past.  And I am in Canada, where the poutine lives.)

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.

 

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.

Food Reminders.

“Half a cup?  Let me get the measuring cups,” my mom would say, foraging around in her purse for the ubiquitous set of measuring cups she toted around.

She always knew what  “half a cup” looked like because she didn’t guess.  Her management of my diabetes was precise when she was in charge, back in the day.

I am admittedly not so precise. At diabetes camp, I knew exactly what “half a cup” of coleslaw looked like because we were forced to eat everything on our plates (rules and regulations of diabetes camp in the early 90′s).  And when I was pregnant, I measured the hell out of everything out of fear of blood sugars over 180 mg/dL.  But in the ebb and flow of regular, non-specific life, I forget what half a cup looks like.  Is that size portion supposed to be closer to a pack of cards or a baseball?  (I kept writing that as “pack of carbs.”  Appropriate.)  Is half a cup supposed to fill 1/4 of my plate or more like 1/3 and what if it’s mashed cauliflower – does that mean half a cup is more of a loose estimate – and if it’s mashed potatoes, if I spread it around with my fork, is it like half a cup gains more surface area and thereby the carb count is diminished?

Logic isn’t my strong suit.  What works for me is reminding myself every few months what proper portion sizes actually look like, using measuring cups and scales and taking a few minutes to actually portion things out properly.

I tried to do this the other day, but realized that the measuring cups we received for our wedding were so worn that the measurement specifics weren’t legible anymore.

“Is this the half cup?  Or the third?”  I asked Chris.

He leaned over.  “I think that’s a tablespoon?”

So, for starters, we bought some new measuring cups.  And for the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to refresh my portion size memories.  For some of my go-to foods, like hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and chicken, I’m not worried by the “how much?” quandary, but this reminder helps a LOT for higher carb foods like pasta and fruit.  (The banana conundrum forever haunts me – “one banana” is usually the noted serving size, but bananas range from five inches to like fifteen inches, so which size is best and does size matter that much when it comes to bananas and also get your mind out of the gutter.)

Knowing proper serving sizes helps me better SWAG (scientific wild-ass guess) bolus, which helps me make better diabetes decisions and improves my blood sugar outcomes.  Blah, blah, blah, right?  I just wanted another excuse to use the picture of Siah in a banana.

 

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup.

Here’s an attempt at gluten-free chicken noodle and vegetable soup.  It tasted quite nice, actually, and no one died as a result of eating it.  We’re marking that as a win.

Note to real cooks:  Don’t judge.  I use pre-made soup broth and frozen vegetables.  I’m so lazy I don’t even make my own insulin.  Sensing a theme?

Note re: gluten-free:  Make sure you read all the packages, etc. for the ingredients you chose, to make sure the soup you’re making is actually gluten-free.

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle (and Vegetable) Soup

Ingredient List:

  • 3 chicken breasts (or 4, if you’re feeling symmetrical)
  • Schar’s Annellini pasta (so cute)
  • 3 containers of chicken broth (I used this Pacific Foods one)
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 package of frozen mixed vegetables (we used these)
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 can cannelini beans (sounds redundant – “canned cannelini.”  We used Goya.)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Bouillon, salt, and other seasonings you’re into

Cookery:

Find a medium-sized stock pot in your kitchen stash and get that thing on the burner.  Fire up the burner to medium heat, add the butter, and then add the hacked up celery bits and chopped onion.  Then add the chicken (cubed, I guess?  Or whatever the cooking term for “chopped into bite-sized bits” is.)  Let the chicken cook fully before adding anything else.

Once the chicken is cooked, pour in 1 1/2 containers of soup broth and crank up the burner to high.  Add the mixed vegetables, green beans, and the drained-and-rinsed cannelini beans.

Oh shit – you should have been cooking the little pasta noodles.  Do that.  The recommended cooking time is four minutes for the Schar noodles, but I cooked them for three minutes (because they end up added to the soup stock anyway, cooking more).  After rinsing them off, dump them into the stock pot with the rest of the soup.

Once you have all your ingredients in the stock pot, add the rest of the broth (and any bouillon, salt, etc. that you’d like, to taste) and let the soup come to a boil.

Eat with your face.  Unless you’re my daughter, in which case, add a few ice cubes to your bowl of soup and be careful when you take a bite, sweetie.

Gluten-free chicken and vegetable soup.  (Not the shortest soup name.)

Looking Back: Domino, Yo.

It’s Deadline Week, and I’m in the process of red-penning a writing project.  Actually, I’m taking a red pen to just about everything in my house, including the cat.  (The cat needed her tail edited down – waaay too fluffy.) While I finish word-murdering everything in my house, I’m revisiting some earlier posts from the SUM archives.  Today, I’m looking back at the power of branding, written back in 2010.

*   *   *

Do you guys have Splenda or Equal or anything?”

The waitress leaned in to hear Chris asking over the din of the restaurant.  “What?”

We were at a hibachi restaurant with NBF and her husband, celebrating.  The place was dark, the music was pulsing, and the waitress was from another planet, I think.

“Splenda?  Or Equal?  Or something?  Do you guys have any of that?”  He gestured towards his tea.

The waitress nodded her head.  “Yeah, we have Sweet n’ Low and Domino.”

All four of us stopped and turned slowly towards her (Like in that StrongBad email when he’s at the movies and slowly turns towards the popcorn-eating Cheat.  Click the link – it will make more sense.  And it’s SFW.)  Chris shook his head.

“Domino?  What is that?  Is that like a generic Splenda or something?”

“Domino?  It’s sugar.  White sugar?”  The waitress twirled her pen between her fingers as she waited for Chris to decide.

“Oh.  Okay, I’ll have two Sweet n’ Low, please.”

She walked away, and the four of us held a quick conference.

“Did she seriously just call sugar ‘Domino?’ What is Domino?”  I asked, confused.

“I think it’s that brand of sugar.  Domino?”  NBF said, furrowing her brow.

A smile tugged at the corner of Chris’s mouth.  “I would have known what she meant if she had just said ‘sugar.’  Either way, I’m safe.  I asked for Sweet n’ Low.”

I couldn’t stop giggling.  Domino?  I have never, ever heard someone call it that before.  Who calls table sugar by its brand name?  (“Oh this?  This here is Stop & Shop brand table sugar.  Want some?”)  And it wasn’t so much that she called it by its brand name, but more that she said it all tough, like Domino was the street name for some sinister version of sugar.

By the time the waitress came back, we were are laughing too hard to order.  So she just plunked down the two packets Chris had asked for on the table.

Of course, she didn’t bring the pink packets.

She brought the Domino, yo.

Looking Back: Rocco Returns.

After staring into the refrigerator for several minutes this morning, debating what to have for breakfast, my stomach was growling madly before I came to an egg-and-avocado conclusion.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt sincerely and frustratingly hungry, reminding me of dear Rocco.  So today, I’m looking back to a post about the bear who lives in my stomach.

 *    *    *

I should have packed more food.  What was I thinking, bringing lunch only?  Oh man, am I hungry.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Kerri, Kerri.  You have a delicious spread of portabella chicken and spinach for lunch, complete with a drizzled bit of balsamic dressing.  Can’t you just have your lunch early?

Stomach:  Give it up, Speaker.  It’s snack time.  Snack time never

includes healthy.  Snack time is ravenous.  Kerri, go downstairs and get a peppermint patty from the diner.

But I don’t even like peppermint patties.  I want a Nutrigrain bar.

Stomach:  I don’t care if you like it or not.  It’s almost ten-thirty.  You’ve given me nothing but coffee.  Rocco doesn’t like coffee, Kerri.

Growling from the pits of my stomach.  The chain rattles and I can hear him breathing heavily, scraping his paws along the floor. 

Internal Motivational Speaker:  (panicked squeal) Oh, hi Rocco!  I see you have a new chain.  That’s a lovely new chain.  (nervous laugh)  Have you done something different with your fur?

Rocco growls and leans against his chain, the links straining against one another.

Stomach:  Easy there, Rock.  It’s cool, buddy.  Kerri is going to go downstairs and grab you a blueberry Nutrigrain bar.  You like those, don’tcha?

Rocco puffs out his bear breath and plunks down on his haunches, waiting.  My stomach lurches a bit.  I need something to eat.  I get up from my desk chair and grab a dollar from my wallet.  Rocco starts to purr, as much as a bear can.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Oh no.  No, no Miss Kerri.  Nutrigrain bars have high fructose corn syrup in them.  Not to mention almost 25 grams of carbohydrates.  You have that package of almonds in your drawer.  Why not snack on those?  Do you really need a high-carb indulgence right now?  I mean …

Stomach:  Lady, do you ever take a breath?  Let the girl have her Nutrigrain bar.  It’s not like she’s going to have a side of soft-serve ice cream with it.

Internal Motivational Speaker:  I am sick and tired of you bossing me around!  I don’t care that you have your fancy pepsinogen and that Pyloric sphincter.  (her voice crescendos to a vehement peak)  You aren’t the boss of me.  I have every right to my opinions!

Stomach:  All you do is nag!  Eat this, don’t eat this.  Spend all that money on organic foods.  Don’t drink too much caffiene.  Make sure you test.  Make sure you bolus.  Cripes, can’t she have a break?

Internal Motivational Speaker:  No!  This is full time!  Twenty-four hours a day.  I work long hours, you know, Stomach.  Some of us don’t have the luxury of taking our time to digest!

Rocco looks at me with pleading eyes.  “Growl, growl.”  I know, Rocco.  I’m starving.  Let’s go downstairs and get a snack while they’re arguing. 

Stomach:  Do you ever stop?

Internal Motivational Speaker:  Does your mom ever stop?

Stomach:  Don’t you be bringing my mom into this!

Dollar clutched in my hand and leading Rocco by his chain, we sneak out.  A few minutes later, I’m bolusing for the 25 grams of carbohydrate and Rocco is licking blueberry Nutrigrain crumbs off his paws.

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