Diabetes doesn’t care about my birthday

Given the thousands of diet books, gyms, gadgets, etc to help people live a healthier life, we can all admit that it takes a whole lot of work to stick with healthy choices.  I tried to make this blog positive and provide tips on dealing with diabetes, but the fact of the matter is that it’s hard on me and my family quite often.  I’m not dealing with just diet changes, I’m dealing with an illness that requires lifestyle changes.  It’s much different because I can’t just “cheat” on an off day.  I don’t get an off day.

Things started to get a bit hard for me around Christmas time.  We made healthy meals, but then New Years came around and my birthday was next; all reminders of things I can’t have.  My husband got me this incredible low carb cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory.  It was the only thing he could find in the entire city of San Francisco that was low sugar plus sugar substitute.  This really frustrates me because we have a diabetes epidemic in this country and yet there is only 1 place that can accommodate diabetics? This is the reason many diabetics give up on their diet and rely solely on insulin, or don’t then end up hospitalized.  What a shame.

Anyway, around my birthday we had a few very stressful weeks due to my pregnancy and all I wanted was comfort food.  For me that would be sweet plantains with white rice and carne asada with a warm French baguette right out of the oven with some butter on it.  Well, Diabetes wouldn’t have it.  It doesn’t care about my stress level.  In fact, it is known that stress levels can raise glucose.  Sigh.  Not only can I not have my comfort food, I must have something ultra light to counter the glucose high due to my stress level.

This is the reason there are long lulls on this blog.  Our society is centered on food for just about any occasion and that means thinking about my diabetes all the time.  It can be overwhelming and I rather not spend more time thinking about it than I already have to.  I’ll try to remain as strong as I can through this journey and hope you can too.

I recently ran into This is what happens to your brain when you give up sugar and highly recommend you take a few minutes to read it; it gave me the energy to write this post.  It was a reminder that I’m not addicted to sugar anymore.  I’ve already been through the withdrawal period.  What I’m going through now is a psychological withdrawal, not physiological.  I will not fall prey to sugar again, even if I don’t have diabetes after pregnancy, I plan to continue being intentional about sugar consumption.  I’ve been through too much to throw it all away.

Hopefully I can continue to update this blog with more tips and recipes and help anyone out there dealing with diabetes.

Avocadolicious

The new craze is all about the avocado.  I’m one of the lucky people who grew up eating avocados as a snack, and I absolutely love this fruit as a result.  Oh, don’t be surprised, you knew it was a fruit 🙂  Side note, someone once told me that the best way to distinguish between a fruit and vegetable is to see if it has seeds or a pit – that indicates a fruit.

There are so many health benefits to avocados, and it’s all over the internet so I won’t repeat the information. Check one of many articles here: Avocado Benefits

While I love and highly recommend this fruit, I also want to reiterate what my dietician recently told me.  Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats, the good fat that may help lower cholesterol in our blood.  However, don’t consume an entire avocado in one sitting because you could easily add on pounds as a result.  Everything in moderation.

Now that aside, let me share some of my favorite avocado recipes.

The Avocado Breakfast or Snack

  • Get a whole wheat crunchy toast
  • Place a couple of avocado slices on your crunchy toast
  • With a fork, smash the avocado
  • Pour a dab of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

You will love this!

Screenshot 2015-01-13 14.52.01

 

The Avocado Dessert 

I grew up eating this one, and while it may seem weird to you, you must try it.

  • Cut up an avocado in half.
  • Remove the pit and store one side in a ziploc bag.  Pour a little lime juice to keep it from browning first.
  • Take a packet of splenda or stevia and drizzle it over the half you plan to eat.
  • Don’t even remove it from the shell, use it as a “cup” and just spoon right from it.

 

The Avocado breakfast/dinner/lunch

There is no recipe here because you can pretty much add avocado to anything.  I eat it on burgers, chicken sandwich, omelets, scrambled eggs, pasta, any salad, vegetable rice, sushi, pita anything, etc.

 

Summary

There are so many more ways to use avocado, but once you start adding them to your diet, you’ll figure out new ways you hadn’t thought of before.  The trick here is to always have an avocado at home, and then the sky is the limit!

Let me know your avocado recipe in the comments below.

Guilt-free Holiday Meal Plan

Note – this was supposed to be posted over the weekend, I apologize for the delay.  Merry Christmas

One of the hardest times of the year to stay healthy, diabetic or not, are holiday meals.  I found some great ways to tweak a few recipes and still enjoy a plentiful holiday meal.

Hot Chocolate

Find the “Swiss Miss No Sugar Added” box.  Each packet has 7g of sugar, which isn’t very much to begin with, but I like my hot chocolate with milk so I will want to try to reduce sugar on this drink as much as possible.

  • Heat 1/2 cup of fat free milk plus 1/2 cup of water
  • Pour 1/2 a package of the powder chocolate in your favorite mug
  • Add 1/2 of the hot liquid to the mug and stir vigorously
  • Once mixed well, add the remaining hot liquid
  • Add a small thing of light whipped cream
  • Shave some dark chocolate on top

This is a delicious drink and has only about 10g of sugar because we halved the chocolate and milk.  Perfect for a snack with cheese stick!

Dinner drink

Find a light juice like Minute Maid Light Lemonade with only 2g of sugar per cup.  Mix 1/2 of a cup with the lemonade and and fizzy water.  You’ve got a delicious and practically sugar free drink!

Dinner

My amazing husband, who is the chef in our home, is making a delicious Roast Chicken.  We skipped the bacon this time, but will probably keep it next time if it doesn’t turn out great.

We are cooking a frozen bag of mixed vegetables and a side of mashed potatoes, with butter and all, but I’ll only have a small, sensible portion of it and fill up on the chicken and veggies.

Dessert

Pumpkin is the best choice for desserts because it’s naturally low sugar.  Here is the one we chose to make this year Gingerbread-Pumpkin Yule Log.  I’ll be honest, mine doesn’t look as great as the one on the picture, but it does taste great.  It’s not too sweet, but sweet enough and very moist.  Next time I make it, I’ll use wax or parchment paper instead of a towel to roll the log.  The log broke when unrolling it from sticking to the towel, it’s not a big deal but it’s not perfect.

There are so many other low-sugar desserts out there, and I’ll be sure to post a different entry for it!

Enjoy your Christmas/New Year and be completely guilt-free!

Grocery Shopping Just Got Easier

If you’re anything like me, grocery shopping is one of your least favorite things to do.  I usually make a grocery list at home after surveying my fridge/pantry and deciding on the week’s meals and somehow I always miss getting a few things from the list at the store.  Below are a few ways I’ve found to make grocery shopping easier.

Online grocery shopping and delivery service

A friend of mine created a Minimalist in DC blog where she discusses easy and quick ways to use/own less, spend less, and enjoy life more.  Check this post where she discusses online grocery shopping.  I want to expand on a couple of items she discusses below that I personally use myself.

Google Shopping Express

You can find and buy anything that is not refrigerated or frozen.  I’ve bought bread, crackers, pasta sauce, paper clips, toilet paper, laundry items, shower gel, batteries, anything you can find at Target, Walgreens, Costco (with a Costco membership), Whole Foods, REI and more!  They keep adding stores, so there’s no point in listing all the ones available now because it’ll probably change soon.  There is no membership fee which is different from Amazon Fresh as far as I know.  Also, you can choose from a variety of time ranges for delivery.  When they were new, I used to always get same day delivery, but since the word is out, I can usually get same day delivery if I place my order in the morning otherwise it’s never later than next day.

Since I live in SF, I was so lucky to be part of their beta program and get free shipping for the past two years.  Unfortunately, the free shipping comes to an end on 12/8 for me, I’m not sure how much the fee will be, but the same day delivery is priceless and I’m sure I’ll continue to use them.

How it works: I have an app on my phone (I very rarely use their website on a computer) and any time I remember I need something, I immediately open it up and look for the item then add to cart and buy.  It takes all but 3 button presses I think and you can leave instructions for the carrier.  Since I’m at home most of the daytime, I usually have instructions to knock once and leave the item on my door steps.  During the free shipping era, I would buy single items like a Splenda box, laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc. but depending on how the shipping changes, I’ll have to be more pragmatic on the way I shop.

The days of lugging around heavy items from the store to my car to the house are over!  This has been a life changer for me and I cannot insist more on you trying it out if it’s available in your area.

Instacart

I have used them once in the past, and will most definitely plan to use them again once our bundle of joy is taking up all our waking hours.  What I remember is that I liked their website more than the app because I got to see more options at once.  It was easy to shop for produce, just add item and either request number of items or a weight desired.  I did notice there was a slight up charge for all the items, usually no more than $0.50 or so, but that can quickly add up – that will be a small price to pay when I’m sleep deprived.

Summary

I don’t know how life was before Google Shopping Express and don’t ever want to go back.  Shopping for regular groceries has become a lot easier as a result since I usually buy all the home necessities online and can focus on getting produce, fruits, meat, etc at Whole Foods or SafeWay.  This makes my shopping experience more pleasant and quicker.  I also do very much enjoy shopping for those things in person now because I usually find other fruits and veggies I wouldn’t have thought of before, specially in season items.

Let me know if you try either of those services and if you liked them or not.

Made it through another semi crisis

It’s been a while since my last post, and while I hate to make up an excuse, I really do have one.  I pulled my back the Saturday before Thanksgiving.  It was incredibly painful that every time it spasm, I would scream.  I couldn’t do anything, even holding my phone up while I was laying down on my side or trying to hold up my water bottle would cause a spasm.  My husband literally had to place tylenol in my mouth to avoid aggravating my back by lifting my arm.  I would get a spasm every 30 minutes it seemed like and I ended up not being able to move for about an hour after.  This acute period lasted about 5 days, and I was on bed rest for that entire time.  It was terrifying because I had no idea how it was affecting the baby, but we were told that the baby had no idea of anything going on.

How did all of this happened? I was 21 weeks along and my belly had grown quite a bit.  However, I continued to do the same exact chores I always do: laundry, cleaning, vacuuming, raking our small patio, groceries, cooking, dishes, etc.  What I learned is that I needed to do more yoga than chores.  The physical therapist immediately noticed my back muscles trying to spasm every minute but she reassured me that it should be gone in a week.

This ordeal was harder for me because I need to walk in order to ensure I keep my sugar low.  The good thing is my amazing husband cooked very healthy, low calorie meals…all 3 of them plus 3 snacks (he had his hands full, but great practice for taking care of another human, like we’re about to do with a baby).  We did reduce the number of carbohydrates I was consuming, mostly because I could hardly eat, but that helped keep my sugar levels intact.

The great news is that I’m much better, even though I still can’t do any chores, I can sit and type this post and use my phone…yay!

I want to share more about my snacks on my next few posts and also ways to make grocery shopping easier.

 

Try “The Magic Walk” This Thanksgiving

No one really talks about this “Magic Walk” as much as we should, but I’m going to let you in a little secret.  Walking just 10 minutes after each big meal reduces your blood sugar by an extraordinary amount.  This is so powerful that even I didn’t believe it so we’ve tried this a few times.  I would have dinner, and one hour later I would take my glucose then go for a 15 minute light walk.  I’d take my glucose again after the walk and my glucose was 40-50 points less! My husband’s words were “that is insane, that can’t be right.”  I agreed with him, so I tried that a few times, and the result was always the same.

I spoke to my dietitian about this, and she said “yep, it’s the magic walk.”  It’s so well known in her field that whenever there’s an overweight or obese patient, they make them do the magic walk to prevent diabetes.  What this means is that not only is this effective for diabetic individuals, it’s effective for everyone and can help you keep diabetes at bay.

The facts

This research was done to proof the effects of the walk.  As it states, this is not the magic walk to lose weight, this is the magic walk to reduce your sugar in your blood and prevent diabetes.

The magic walk helps your muscles absorb insulin better, which is why it’s so effective.

Summary

You may have to go on a vigorous 45 minute walk if you’re trying to lose weight, but if you’re trying to keep diabetes away, try a 10-15 minute light walk after meals, it works!

For this Thanksgiving, encourage everyone to go on a light walk with you after the big meal and before dessert; you’d be doing a very loving thing for them.

 

Cookware and cooking goodies

Now that your kitchen is healthified, you are ready to make some quick and easy changes to help reduce your time in the kitchen.  I will share with you what I have in my kitchen, and hopefully help you get some ideas on what you really need and remove all the other stuff.

Cookware 

I highly recommend getting non-stick pots.  We’ve had this Calphalon set for the past 10 years and they are still good as new.  These make it so easy to wash, literally nothing sticks to them.  Even when I cook something sticky, I can just leave it sitting in water and it falls right off the next day.  We don’t have any other pots than these, and I recommend you only have a small set of pots to avoid overcrowding.

I also recommend a couple of baking sheets.  We cook all our steak-like meat in the oven by placing a sheet of aluminum foil over a baking sheet and throwing it in the oven with a meat thermometer.  Look up the recommended USDA meat temps for safe cooking.  This is also what we use for cooking potatoes and bacon.  Clean up is to let the baking sheet cool off, take the foil off and throw it away – that’s it.  Be sure to let it cool off completely, specially if there are juices in the foil to avoid burning yourself.

Cooking goodies

I also have a Calphalon set and difference size silicone spatulas.  We invested on good tongs and have had it for over 4 years now; we use it for just about anything.  Our heavy duty flexible cutting boards are a must.  They are color coordinated, so you avoid contamination; they’re also non slippery and so easy to clean.  We have this set in the large and small sizes for fruits, etc.  I recently invested in the larger of these natural boards for our chicken, and I couldn’t be any happier.  However, it doesn’t have a grip on the bottom so you have to get a non-slippery pot holder or something like that to keep it from slipping.  I just got this very inexpensive pairing knife, and wow – it’s so light and cuts so easily.

The last item we got, and I could not be any happier, is a microwave.  Our old place didn’t have one and we never bothered to get one in the hopes that our next place would.  This paid off because the new place does have one and we are certainly making great use of it.  Before we got one, I used to make veggies in a pot with hot water, now I just get the steam-in-bag ones and they are seriously amazing.  I make veggies for lunch and dinner so this is saving me loads of time.

All you need now is your favorite set of mixing bowls, measuring cups, and tupperware for left overs.  I am mostly switched over to all glass tupperware because they don’t hold smells or get discolored.

We need to replace our knives, so if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Important to keep only the basics

I used to have so much more in my kitchen, things I never used, but because we move around a lot I’ve learned to only have what’s absolutely necessary.  All the other stuff that I don’t use on regular basis, like bakeware, casserole dishes, platters are in a couple of boxes in the garage and when I need them, I know exactly where to find them.  However, they don’t need to be in the kitchen taking up room and making it harder for me to find what I need.  I’m sure that as I find new recipes, I may bring some items back.

Also, I found that I don’t need more than just one set of each group of things.  For example, I only have one set of pots, spatulas, tong, mixing bowls (difference sizes), tupperware, etc.  I realized that having more than just one set of these things made it so much harder to keep my kitchen organized and from overcrowding.

I cook 3 times a day and snack 3 times a day, and this method of only having the essentials in the kitchen has really helped me make quick meals.  Which of these tips do you think will work for you? Which ones won’t and why? And what other ideas do you have?