A Farewell to Carbs

A 30-something navigating the world of Type 2 Diabetes while remaining fun, fashionable and fabulous.

Moment of Truth: Weigh in Week 2 01/31/2012

Filed under: Weekly weigh in — Diabetic Diva @ 8:59 am
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Let me preface this by saying: Last week was an abject disaster. I left my second Weight Watchers meeting a week ago raring to go, determined to cut out all the little cheats I made last week. I really wanted to see a 5 pound loss on my second weigh in.

Well, my eating plan went completely out the window. There’s absolutely no excuse, but I’ll offer a few anyway. I had a really weird work schedule. I was broke and skipped my weekly trip to the grocery store, so instead of actual meals I just snacked a lot — which led to a low-grade hunger that wouldn’t go away until I fed it some late-night Wendy’s action. I skipped the gym out of sheer laziness in the face of cold, drizzly rain.

So I wasn’t expecting anything good from my visit with the scale this morning. And I wasn’t wrong. I am back to where I started, which is so frustrating.

I guess I am starting over, again.


Human Guinea Pig: Weight Watchers Brownies A La Mode 01/30/2012

An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave comments in the suggestions or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

It’s coming on two weeks now that I began Weight Watchers. And while the past few days were an utter disaster (more on that tomorrow), I rocked it the first week with a 2.8 pound weight loss.

Last week, I wrote about what should be in a healthy person’s pantry, fridge and freezer. I keep a couple (OK, more that a couple) of things on hand to help me stick to my eating plan. And the other day, I was stocking up on frozen meals that can stand in when I’m too busy to cook a full meal and am out of leftovers.

While digging through the frozen meal section of my local Giant to find diet meals that looked edible, I found some Weight Watchers desserts. As an unrepentant ice cream lover, I was curious whether these frozen sundae things would be good. So I bought a pack to try just so I could report back to you, my loyal readers. See what I do for you? See?

The brownie a la mode comes in a pack of four, as do most of the other frozen desserts WW offers. If you can limit yourself to one per day (and I know that’s a big if. I’m about to heat up my second one of the day. For research, you know? STOP JUDGING ME!), it’s a pretty good calorie deal: 130 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbs and two grams of fiber. The sodium and cholesterol counts are good, too.

Underneath the plastic wrap, there’s a hearteningly generous amount of dark chocolate syrup covering the vanilla ice cream. The directions say to pop it in the microwave for 5 seconds (I swear to God. 5 seconds.). I did so and then dug in.

The chocolate sauce tastes slightly of chemicals, and the vanilla ice cream lacks the same character as you would get in, say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. But the brownie on the bottom is pleasingly substantial and it takes more than a few petite bites to finish it. All in all, it’s not a bad alternative if you are craving  ice cream and don’t trust yourself alone with a bucket of Breyers.

Rating: 3 out of possible 4

Cost: about $3.49 for a pack of four

Available in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Visit http://www.eatyourbest.com/where-to-buy.aspx to find a location.


What’s cooking: Tomato basil soup with chicken 01/29/2012

I have a cookbook addiction. I like paging through them, salivating over the photos and gathering ideas. To feed my habit on the cheap, I often check cookbooks out of the library and copy out recipes I want to try.

This is one of these recipes. I borrowed a cookbook called 15 Minute Diabetic Meals and jotted a few recipes down. I never got around to actually cooking any of them, though. But since it’s finally feeling like winter in my little corner of Pennsylvania, I was hankering for a soup.

Homemade soup is kind of tough for the single person. Most recipies make a LOT of soup. And even though you can freeze it, I find I’m pretty sick of soup after a few days.

I was also looking for a soup that could help me use up some bobs and bits around the house — a little leftover boneless, skinless chicken breast I had broiled to add to salads, a half-package of spinach that was nearing the end of its life span, the last few leaves of basil from my increasingly pathetic basil plant.

This soup is everything I was hoping it would be and more. It does use a lot of canned ingredients, which is not too great on the sodium side. On the plus side, it’s a quick recipe (TWO STEPS!! 10 MINUTES!!) that results in a really flavorful, hearty soup packed with veggies.

I modified the original recipe slightly to use no-salt-added tomatoes. To pump up the flavor, I added my own spices — opting to make it spicy with some chili powder and cumin. You can play around with the spices, though.

What you’ll need:

1 14.5-0unce can of diced tomatoes (with italian seasonings or low-salt if you’re watching your sodium)

1/2 of a 15-ounce can of navy beans, rinsed and drained

1 14-oz can of reduced sodium, nonfat chicken broth

1 c cooked diced chicken

2 ounces baby spinach, washed and destemmed

2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

dash each of cumin and chili powder (optional)

1. Combine tomatoes, beans and broth in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Add chicken, spinach and basil. Add spices to taste, if using. Cook 2 minutes or until greens are well-wilted. Remove from heat and stir in oil.

Makes 4 servings (1 heaping cup of soup per serving)

Nutrition per serving:

Calories: 195

Total fat: 5.0 g

Cholesterol: 35 mg Sodium: 725 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 18 g

Dietary Fiber: 4 g

Sugars: 6 g

Protein: 18 g



Rethinking, replanning 01/28/2012

Filed under: Goals — Diabetic Diva @ 8:06 am
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I have had a weird week. And because of that, I have completely fallen off the healthy-eating, regular-exercise wagon.

It is frustrating to see how tenuous a grasp I have on my motivation. Because there are going to be weird weeks. And that doesn’t mean I can just kick my diet out of bed until things get un-weird. I am a writer, after all. Weird is my thing.

I have not been to the gym since Monday. This is becoming a familiar refrain. I have no excuse. Both Thursday and Friday, I had hours of free time and decided to lay around in my pajamas instead. I kind of hate myself, actually. I am trying not to, but all I feel is disgust.

Going along with that is my inability to follow a calorie-reduction plan. While I start each day swearing that I will stick to my eating plan, I often lose that willpower by lunch.

One thing I noticed this week, though, is that I didn’t really have a plan for breakfast or lunch. I found myself foraging through the fridge and pantry for snacks that were not satisfying AT ALL instead of making a meal. Maybe I have forgotten how to perform this basic human survival skill.

Regardless, a loosely grouped selection of snacks is not the way to lose weight. It leaves me feeling hungry and a little desperate, ready to drive to the nearest fast food place and order something that feels more like a meal.

So, my goal for February is to plan three meals a day, every day, and to eat those meals mindfully. My other goal is to make exercising a habit instead of an extra.


Snack attack! 01/27/2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diabetic Diva @ 11:07 am

I’m writing this after consuming an ENTIRE BAG of combos in one sitting. Note: I feel awful after doing that. Just sluggish and tired and overly full. Bleh.

Gooey, chocolatey goodness, no fire required!

It also occurred to me as I was reading the article that makes up the point of this post that I write an awful lot about food. Go figure, right? But. BUT! On Sunday, a group of girls I hang around with are going with me to check out Zumba. I’ll definitely report back about that, if I don’t have a heart attack first.

And onward to what I meant to say when I clicked on “new post” just now. I read this article on SparkPeople.com and thought I’d share. It’s a slideshow of snacks that will satisfying your sweet tooth without busting your calorie budget. I’ve never thought about making s’mores in the microwave or stuffing a banana with peanut butter (how good would that be frozen??). But these ideas and 11 others are in the slideshow.


Your turn: What’s your favorite suggestion from the slideshow?


Taking stock 01/26/2012

If you don’t have it, you can’t eat it.

That’s one of the Weight Watchers mantras. When I first heard it at a meeting last week, I took it to mean that if you didn’t have the bag of chips or the box of chocolates in the house, you wouldn’t be tempted.

I joined WW about seven years ago and had a lot of success with it. I lost 75 pounds in about a year. I gained it all back, of course, as soon as I stopped going to WW meetings. I joined again last Tuesday because I had to admit to myself that I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing in terms of how many calories I was supposed to eat or how many calories I was actually consuming. WW makes everything fairly easy by converting nutritional values into “points” and then giving everyone a points value to hit every day.

Getting back to the point of this post, I had forgotten how  much planning went into the first couple of weeks of WW. Just planning a day’s worth of eating to make sure you’re staying within your points but not eating them before noon is exhausting at first. I spent large chunks of time last week contemplating committing armed robbery at fast food restaurants, but instead of making off with the cash drawers, I’d be demanding burgers and fries. (I decided against it after realizing I’d have some horrible nickname. Leave your suggestions in the comments. Best one will win a prize as yet to be determined.)

Back to the point again! As I acclimate to life on the WW plan, I came to realize that the mantra means more than “don’t keep tempting foods around.” It also means keeping healthy foods around for easy, healthy meals and snacks.

Because I was a former weight watcher, I haven’t lost the habit of buying certain healthy foods at the store and keeping them around to build meals. Here’s a few suggestions:


I think I’ve mentioned my obsession with Trader Joe’s. We don’t have one in my little corner of Pennsylvania (someone get ON THAT PLEASE!) but when I visit my folks in Virginia, I always go over and stock up. I usually get two boxes of Trader Joe’s brand Whole Wheat Couscous, which I use like brown rice. It takes literally 5 minutes to make. I also pick up a couple of sauces to add zip to meat and veggies. Among my favorites are the green curry simmer sauce, satay peanut sauce and pesto sauce. None of the three are what you would consider low-cal or low-fat, but used in moderation, they all fit into my eating plan. I usually also have some jarred spaghetti sauce, one that is low-salt and has no added sugar or fat, on hand.

Additionally, I pick up a couple of BIG bags of lower-carb trail mix when it’s on sale at Target or the grocery store and then portion it out into single servings with my trusty kitchen scale. I also have mini-bags of microwave popcorn (again, read nutrition labels carefully) for night-time snacks. Quick-cooking oats, Minute brand brown rice and whole wheat pasta round out my pantry basics. All three are high in fiber, which bring down their net carb content, and are easy to cook.

A quick note: With the exception of the TJ’s items, most of the pantry staples go on sale once a month or so. I stock up when they’re on sale, or find a coupon, to bring the cost down a little. I buy the Sunday paper each week and go through the grocery store sale circulars and the glossy coupons circulars and plan my meals and “stock up trips” around what’s on sale. A little planning and the store club cards usually saves me $500+ a year.


I buy family packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they go on sale. Then I separate them out into packs of two in freezer bags (make sure you write the date on the freezer bag!). Then I can pull out one bag for each meal. Ditto on ground beef, steak and pork — wait until they’re on sale, portion it out at home and then fill your freezer with a month’s worth of meat.

I also buy frozen veggies, usually the kind you can steam in the bag but with no added fat or sugar. In addition to using these in stir fry dinners, I also can heat some up and eat them as a snack with a little pesto or cheese. Frozen edamame (the kind still in the pod) is a delicious snack. Heat it up and shake some low-sodium soy sauce on them to add a little more flavor.

Deli flats, small pitas and low-cal, high-fiber English muffins can stand in for toast, be used as a base for mini-pizzas or sandwiches or even as a snack with some hummus. I keep them frozen and just pull one out at a time. Twenty seconds in the microwave should defrost them, and then I toast them or stick them in the oven to warm ’em up.

I also buy sugar-free popsicles — usually fudgesicles and the cherry-grape-orange ones — as a sweet treat. It’s not the same as ice cream, but it’s often a decent substitute.

Finally, I keep a couple of frozen diet meals around. I know they’re high in sodium and they don’t taste as good as a homemade meal. But if it’s really busy at work, a Lean Cuisine can help me stick to my eating plan.


I usually pick up some apples and a grapefruit because they have a longer shelf-life than more delicate fruits (like peaches and strawberries). Since I’m REALLY REALLY picky about fruit  (I will not eat fruit that’s the least bit squishy or brown. I know how weird it is), staying fresh for more than a few days is a good selling point.

I also buy a bag of lettuce mix for quickie salads and a bag of spinach, which does really well as an omelette filling. Sliced mushrooms (also for omelettes), roma tomatoes and a big bag of baby carrots are also regularly occurring cast members in my produce drawer.

Finally, I keep a bottle of low-sodium soy sauce and a bottle of minced garlic in the fridge, as well as some bottled sparkling water, a couple of containers of Greek yogurt and some low-cal string cheese.

And that’s about it, in terms of what I *ALWAYS* have in the house. I replenish these as I use them, so the spaghetti sauce might need to be replaced once a month or every other month. Fruit and veggies get used up faster, as does the chicken, the string cheese and (sadly) the popsicles.

Keeping a well-stocked pantry takes away some of the difficulty of planning a meal. Because (say it with me!) you can’t eat what you don’t have.

Your turn: What’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer?


Human Guinea Pig: These shoes are made for walking…. 01/25/2012

* An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave comments in the suggestions or e-mail nissley79@gmail.com.

This isn’t quite a typical Human Guinea Pig post — if there can be such a thing as typical when we’re only comparing it to two previous posts.

I haven’t really tried any new products recently. But I did want to write a post about sneakers, specifically the sneakers that have made exercising a pleasure (almost) for me.

For years, I bought whatever exercise sneaker was on sale. I did no research before going to the store and picking out a new pair.

Meanwhile, I noticed that my arches hurt if I walked for a long time (like, more than 20 minutes. That’s a long time for me, OK?). Also, I seemed to sprain an ankle every couple of months, especially the left one. I broke that ankle in 2004 and it never healed quite right.

One day, I was flipping through the newspaper and ran across a column that talked about how to pick out the right kind of shoe for the type of exercise you’re doing and to solve specific foot problems. The article (which of course I can’t find, because it was at least three years ago) mentioned a couple of things that sounded like what I was having trouble with.

I think now is a good time to put in the standard “Please talk to your doctor or a podiatrist if you believe you have either of these problems or any other foot problems. For that matter, talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program.”

Based on that article, I began to suspect that I was an overpronator and had flat feet, possibly caused by the fact that I was doing high-impact exercise and needed to lose 75+ pounds. I started researching shoes that were designed for people with these problems. I found running shoes by Saucony called ProGrid Stabil CS, and let me tell you, they felt like heaven.

Aaah ... like running on clouds.

Now, I can’t get into all the fancy specifics of why the shoe feels good on my foot. The description of the shoe talks about “superior motion control” and stuff. Here’s what I can say: I’ve tried a couple of different brands and Saucony doesn’t hurt my arch. I also haven’t twisted or sprained my ankle since I started wearing these shoes.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a clunky looking shoe. It has a lot of sole, and not in the “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” kind of way (see what I did there? Ahahaha). It doesn’t have a defined arch, so it looks kind of like a marshmallow on your foot. But looks are not as important as finishing an hour of medium-intensity cardio or spending the day walking around New York City without wanting to surgically remove my feet. These shoes fit the bill.

I had a hard time finding another pair of ProGrid Stabil CS in my size a few weeks ago, so I bought the ProGrid Stabil CS 2 and hoped for the best. It does not look as much like a big-ass marshmallow on your foot, and I was worried they would hurt my arches. But so far, so good. They’re a little lighter, a little sleeker but it feels just as good.

So the Saucony ProGrid Stabil shoe works well for me. To find a shoe that works for you, think about what kind of foot pain you’re having and talk to a podiatrist or your doctor about what kind of shoe might be better for you.

Rating: 4 stars out of a possible 4

Cost: From $75 to $120

Available online or at running stores. Visit http://www.saucony.com/store/SiteController/saucony/home for more information.


Moment of Truth: First weigh-in 01/24/2012

I no longer fear this object!

I joined Weight Watchers a week ago and had to weigh in for the first time this morning. I didn’t know what to expect because I went off the path a couple of times.

But it was good news! I lost 2.8 pounds!! Yay me.

What I found hardest last week is that I didn’t have the right kind of snacks — I was low on portable veggies and I had a lot of high-calorie snacks around (like nuts, avocados, chips and chocolate). I remedied that problem over the weekend and I’m looking forward to another great week of eating healthy food and working out.

Your turn: Share your successes over the past week!


What’s cooking: Anything goes

Filed under: cooking — Diabetic Diva @ 8:37 am
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Sunday morning, I had big plans for what I was going to cook for the week. I had Monday off from work and I was going to spend the day whipping up healthy, delicious food that I would be able to enjoy all week.

I went through my recipes, picked a couple and put together a grocery list. And then I realized — I’m BROKE. Payday is Friday and some poor financial planning on my part means there’s not a lot of extra money this week for elaborate meals.

Instead, I was reduced to planning a “whatever’s in the fridge and pantry” meal. Luckily, I’m a pretty smart shopper and stock up on certain items whenever there’s a sale and/or coupons. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts usually go on sale once a month or so. Ditto for frozen veggies.

After a brief expedition into the icy tundra of my freezer, I pulled out some chicken and some broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix. A quick check of the fridge door uncovered some soy sauce and there was some corn starch in the back of a cabinet. I also had a couple of handfuls of cashews in a bag hiding behind the instant oatmeal. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? STIR FRY!!!!

Stir fry is a great dish for three reasons. 1. It’s fairly quick-cooking because everything’s in small chunks. 2. It’s all made in one pan, so it’s an easy cleanup. 3. There’s no wrong way to make stir fry. Add your favorite veggies, a meat or meat-substitute for protein and some sort of flavorful, low-fat sauce and you’ve got dinner.

To make my stir fry this week, I sliced defrosted chicken into thin strips (cook’s tip: slice it while it’s still slightly frozen and you’ll get really even strips) and threw it in a wok with some garlic and a couple of shots of cooking spray.

When the chicken was brown on both sides, I threw the frozen veggies and a teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil. I added a few shakes of soy sauce. I stirred it around until the chicken is cooked through. I added the cashews and stirred to mix in. Finally, I added a few pinches of corn starch and stirred it in (see why they call it stir fry??) to thicken the sauce slightly.

You can serve your stir fry over brown rice. I usually skip the rice to save on carbohydrates.

One word of caution: Don’t overcook the veggies, especially if you plan to reheat leftovers. Frozen veggies only need a few minutes to warm up, so make sure the chicken is cooked pretty well before adding them.

Nutrition facts will vary depending on the ingredients. The easiest way to figure it out is add up all the calories, fat, carbs, protein, etc. in the entire dish and then divide by the number of servings. A good rule of thumb is 2-3 oz of meat and a cup of veggies per serving.

Your turn: What’s your favorite ingredients for stir fry?


Smacking down snacking 01/23/2012

Filed under: snacking smart — Diabetic Diva @ 11:13 am
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I think I may have mentioned this before, but I like to snack. In front of the television, curled up with a book, hanging out with friends, driving, sitting at my desk — you name it and I see it as an opportunity for snacking. This might be why I have 75 pounds to shed.

To make matters worse, my favorite snacks are usually junk food. Every week, I buy fruits and veggies in an attempt to at least save on calories by snacking on fresh, healthy foods. And every week, I rummage through the cabinets and the fridge to find the high-carb, high-fat, no-nutritional-value-at-all snacks.

One question you may be asking is — Why buy it if you shouldn’t eat it? And the only answer I can give you is: I HAVE A PROBLEM, OK? STOP JUDGING ME!(I’m kidding. Kind of.)

So what’s a fat girl to do? Well, SparkPeople.com has a list of smart snack ideas. And I’m happy to say that some of my new go-to snacks are on the list: Pickles, hard boiled eggs and slices of lunchmeat.

But I think I’ll go one further and make this a new rule: Every time I get the urge to snack, I’ll start out with a piece of fresh fruit or some veggies and some protein instead of automatically reaching for the family size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.

Your turn: What’s your favorite healthy snack?