A Farewell to Carbs

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

Fueling the machine 02/29/2012


Going along with yesterday’s post about changing my outlook on working out, I wanted to talk about what happens AFTER the work out.

After a workout I am ravenous. I don’t think I’m alone in this. And most of that hunger is in my head. I didn’t run a long-distance marathon. I didn’t climb a mountain. I just completed 45 minutes at the gym. I should not feel like I want to butcher and eat an entire cow.

This problem is made worse by the voice inside my head that rationalizes the fact that I am considering eating an entire half-gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with a soup spoon. I worked out, right? I can totally afford 14 200-calorie servings of ice cream (that’s a total of 2,800 calories, for those playing along at home).

I'm glad they don't sell this in half-gallons.

Doing this is, of course, counterproductive. I do not need to replenish the 300-odd calories I burned on the Bitch (what I call the elliptical machine for new readers out there). In fact, burning those 300 calories is THE WHOLE FREAKING POINT.

I found this article from SparkPeople.com in my in-box recently and thought it was a fairly rational approach to refueling after a workout. I already subscribe to the carb-and-protein together philosophy of snacking. So I might try to follow the article’s advice and reserve 150 or so calories for a healthy, rational snack after my work out.

 

Human Guinea Pig: Blood orange-flavored Greek yogurt 02/16/2012


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 suggestions in the comments section or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

My brief relationship with a nutritionist back when I was first diagnosed with diabetes left me with a few take-away points. In addition to suggesting a carbohydrate maximum for each meal and snack, she told me to try and combine a carb and a protein for each snack I had. Great advice. She also turned me on to Greek yogurt.

Now, I was raised on Yoplait Light. Greek yogurt was pretty much a mystery to me. But my nutritionist gave me some coupons for Chobani brand yogurt that made it pretty much free. So I gave it a shot.

The first few flavors I tried were … not so great. The fruit-on-the-bottom kind of weirded me out because the texture was weird. There was a tang to the Greek yogurt that Yoplait didn’t have.

But fat-free Greek yogurt is creamy. It’s substantial. It feels like you are eating something decadent. So I bid farewell to ordinary yogurt and stuck to the honey flavor for years.

I eventually branched out into lemon and pineapple (which is a 2 percent Greek yogurt, so it’s creamy like WHOA! as the cool kids were recently saying). A friend had mentioned Chobani having a cinnamon-apple flavor but I’d never seen it, so I was treating it like an urban legend.  I also tried and rejected several flavors, including mango, strawberry-banana and pomegranate.

The other day, I saw my boss eating a cup of Chobani that looked a little like the pomegranate. Because I’m nosy, I asked her what flavor it was. She told me it was blood orange and that it was delicious. I was intrigued, though I stopped short of asking her for a bite.

My new BFF, blood orange

And when I made a brief trip to the fancy grocery store to get fancy tea, I walked past a display that had blood orange Chobani front and center.

I bought two. I packed the first one in my lunch Tuesday, along with some sliced strawberries and a handful of Kashi cinnamon GoLean crunch, planning to make a parfait of sorts.

Let me tell you, readers. Blood orange Chobani is AWESOME. It’s all citrusy and sweet and creamy and oh wow. I need a moment. I might have found a new favorite treat. Together with the strawberries, it was ah-may-zing. It’s worth a separate trip to the fancy grocery store once a week, and perhaps a letter-writing campaign to the corporate headquaters of my not-so-fancy normal grocery store.

Fat-free Greek yogurt has become the dieter’s darling because it has double the protein of regular yogurt, which makes you feel more satisfied and keeps you from getting hungry so quickly.

Each 6-ounce cup of the blood orange flavor has 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbs and 14 grams of protein. It’s a little too many calories to stand in for a snack, but I usually eat one as part of my lunch or as a quickie breakfast.

Rating: Four stars (out of possible four)

Cost: $1 per cup, which carries one serving

Availability/more information: http://www.chobani.com/products/where/

 

Human Guinea Pig: Pop Chips 02/07/2012


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.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you can probably infer that I like snacks. In fact, snacking is largely to blame for how heavy I am today. I eat pretty healthy meals, lots of veggies and lean protein.

But snacks. Snacks kill me every time. I like coming home from work, plopping on the couch and stuffing my face. I especially love chips — that satisfying crunch and the fact they come in giant bags that last me a 45-minute television show on DVD.

Of course, curbing my snack habits is key to really getting serious about losing weight. It’s also important in my quest to lower my blood sugar and avoid being sentenced to insulin.

So what’s a fat girl to do? Well, I was in the chip aisle of the grocery store, staring longingly at a bag of Herr’s Cheese Puffs when I saw the bag of Popchips sitting forlornly with the “natural snacks.”

Nom nom nom

The nutrition info wasn’t bad at all — about 120 calories, 4 grams of fat and 18 grams of carbs per 1 ounce serving of the original potato kind. The fiber and protein are comparable to the average bag of chips — 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

These are a little on the expensive side, about $3.50 for a 3 ounce bag, which comes out to more than a buck a serving. And despite my vow to get them home and immediately portion the chips out into 1 ounce servings so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat the whole bag in one sitting … Yep. You got it. I got distracted, stuck them in the carbohydrate cabinet (why yes, I do have an entire cabinet for snacks. Thanks for asking.)

And one night, when I was desperately hungry, I came across the bag again, opened it up and promptly ate the whole bag. For those keeping score at home, that’s a total of 360 calories, 12 grams of fat and (oh God, don’t make me look!) 54 grams of carbs.

I’d like to take a moment to say that, although I shouldn’t have eaten the whole bag in one sitting, it could be worse. Thank God there’s only 3 ounces in the whole bag, so there’s some built in damage control.

The chips were delicious, really light and super-crunchy with a pleasant amount of salt. I don’t like baked chips because I find them a little like munching on sand patties. These aren’t baked, according to the package, and they weren’t like eating the Saraha with a spade.

So, to review. They tasted good and they were fairly low in carbs, calories and fat. They gave me that hit of salt I like in a snack without being overpowering or dry. But they were expensive for the size of the package, and I didn’t have enough willpower not to eat the whole bag.

Rating: 2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

Availability: Most grocery stores

Price: $3.50

More information: http://www.popchips.com/

 

Give me some sugar 02/04/2012

Filed under: snacking smart,Uncategorized — Diabetic Diva @ 8:51 am
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One of my pet peeves since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is when someone says to me, “Ummm. Aren’t you diabetic? Should you be eating that [insert sugary treat here]?”

Hurts so good!

The myth that diabetics must cut out all forms of sugar for the rest of their sad little lives is a persistent one. And while I admit that I often go overboard on sugary treats, it’s frustrating that people think I am a “bad diabetic” when I indulge in a mini candy-bar.

Going right along with that pet peeve is another — people who think that a carb is simply sugar and high fructose corn syrup. A carb is a carb is a carb. And overdoing it on potatoes can be just as unhealthy as getting intimate with a bag of Jelly Bellys.

So when I came across this article on sugar and type 2 diabetes, I had to share. Feel free to pass it along to those misguided souls who wag their finger when they see a diabetic eating a doughnut.

 

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?

 

Human Guinea Pig*: Greek yogurt dip 01/16/2012


*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? Suggest one by e-mailing Diabetic Diva at diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

I was at the grocery store the other day, stocking up on fresh produce to nibble on during the week when I saw a new dip. No, not a dorky guy feeling up the out-of-season peaches! A new creamy concoction near the bags of mixed lettuce.

Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know I like dunking things into sauces. Apples in peanut butter, carrots and celery into spicy ranch, tortilla chips into warm, cheesy spinach artichoke dip,  chicken wings and (imagine me making Homer Simpson-like noises) ….

Ahem! OK, getting back to the topic at hand. The new dip. Yes. I’m a big fan of Marzetti’s southwestern ranch dip for my veggies, but it’s pretty high in calories.

So when I spied their new line of greek yogurt veggie dips called Otria, I was intrigued. With 60 calories and 2 grams of carbs for the spinach artichoke variety, it isn’t such a bad choice.

And it tastes pretty good, too. I tried it with the classic carrot sticks and also with some whole wheat pita triangles. There’s a definite tang that you get with greek yogurt, and it’s a little watery. I was a little weirded out by egg yolk and fish oil listed in the ingredients, too.

Rating: 3 stars out of a possible 4.

Cost: About $3 for an 8.75-ounce package, which has about 8 servings.

For more information: http://www.marzetti.com/products/marzetti/product.php?bc=44&cid=65.

 

When multitasking goes bad 01/12/2012


I think I’ve found a goal for next month already: Ending my habit of multi-tasking eating.

You know what this is: When you eat lunch at your desk so you don’t miss that important phone call or so you can catch up on e-mail. Eating breakfast while reading the paper. Mindless snacking while watching TV. Wolfing down dinner while driving somewhere.

We all lead busy lives. But my multitasking eating habits have gotten so bad, sitting down in front of the TV or curling up with a book triggers the urge to eat. I’m not even hungry, but I find myself with my head in my carbohydrate cabinet, trying to find the cheddar popcorn.

Well, some new research shows that people who savor their food — really concentrate on it while eating it — eat less. And it makes sense. Instead of plowing through the bag of chocolate while watching a DVD, letting it melt in your mouth slowly while you concentrate on the flavors will likely leave me feeling more satisfied. And, as we know from years of prevailing wisdom, it takes the brain about 20 minutes to catch up to the stomach when it comes to feeling full.

If I think about it, I can’t remember what my bagel and cream cheese tasted like this morning. I grabbed it on my way in to work and began eating as I made a to-do list that stretched onto two pages.  No wonder I was hungry an hour later.

So I think I’m going to stop and really focus on what I’m putting in my mouth when I eat something. I’ll put it on a plate and eat it at a table, with no distractions to divert me from the taste, texture and smell of the food. I deserve to enjoy what I’m eating, and I deserve to take a short break to nourish my body.

Your turn: Do you eat while doing other things? What are some strategies you use to curb this habit?

 

Single and satisfied 01/11/2012


Before you read this post, watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBko_3wT44Q

OK. Welcome back. Can we talk for a moment about how much I hate most 100-calorie packs? They’re bullshit. There’s, like, 10 tiny wafers in there that taste nothing like actual Oreos or Nutter Butters. They don’t satisfy my hunger. If anything, eating one of them makes me want to break into the nearest vending machine and clean it out of snack cakes.

Plus, a box of 100-cal packs are, like, eight times the price of a package of Oreos. The thrifty side of me rebels every time I consider buying a package.

See, 100-cal packs operate under the principle that people can’t control themselves enough to refrain from eating half a bag of chips at one sitting. Or, if you want to be kinder about it, they operate under the principle that that people don’t know what a serving size looks like. Honestly though, if a serving size is a 100-cal pack, I kinda want to jump off a very tall building.

But what if you just opened that bag of chips (or that package of Oreos or whatever your treat of choice is) and portioned it out into single servings right away? It’s cheaper, takes only a couple of minutes and is tailored toward your tastes. And for anyone who thinks “But I’d just eat several DIY single servings  in one  sitting,” I say this: You could do the same thing with 100-cal packs. In fact, I’ve done it with 100-cal packs. (It was a moment of desperation. STOP JUDGING ME!)

So here’s how you do it. At the store, check out the nutrition facts on the treat you’re thinking of getting intimate with and decide whether the serving size is something you can live with. If not, put it back on the shelf and back away slowly.

If so, buy it and bring it home. Don’t be scared. Just get out your trusty scale, measure out single servings and then package it up.

As an example: We don’t have a Trader Joe’s store anywhere near where I live (can someone from TJ’s get on that, please? I sent the petition in to open a store in Scranton, PA months ago!). So when I visit my family in Virginia, I usually stock up on a couple of things I really like. One thing I always buy is Trader Joe’s trail mixes.

Trail mixes are good snacks for me because they’re packed with protein from the nuts. They can be high in carbohydrates, though, both through the dried fruit and from the extras like chocolate chips or M&Ms. So before I buy, I check the nutrition facts and find a mix with 13 carbs or less per 1/4 cup.

When I get it home, I break out my trusty kitchen scale and start portioning out servings.  Then I pour each serving into a snack-sized plastic baggie (which are smaller than the sandwich-sized baggies, so it looks like there’s more food in them!) and then label it with the calories, fat, protein and carbs of what’s inside. Tada! Instant, DIY single-serving packs you can grab for your lunchbox or as a midnight snack.

An aside: Most nutrition facts have both an ounce or grams as serving size as well as an approximate measurement in teaspoons, cups, etc. I’ve found that portioning it out in grams or ounces is much more accurate. Food scales can be found online and in stores for a $15 or so. Invest in one and find the zen in knowing exactly how much you’re eating.

Your turn: What’s your favorite treat? Have you ever tried portioning it out ahead of time so you don’t have to be tempted each time you open the bag?

 

Smart snacking 01/10/2012


Right now, I’m sitting at the computer trying to make it another 45 minutes before putting something in my mouth. I really, really want chocolate or maybe a cupcake (OK, OK, I want both). I’ll probably end up having some carrot sticks and hummus, since I’m committed to this getting healthy thing.

Visions of red velvet cupcakes dancing through my head got me thinking about the whole emotionally-fraught world of  snacking. And I remembered that I found this quiz to ascertain whether you are a “smart snacker.” The quiz, from the very useful site SparkPeople.com (which some big important magazine once called “Facebook for dieters”), is interesting but not because it actually gives you useful information on whether you are, in fact, a smart snacker. I think anyone taking the quiz probably already knows the answer to that — and that the answer is not “Yes.”

What’s interesting to me about this quiz is that it is so freakin’ obvious what the RIGHT answer is and just as obvious what your ACTUAL answer is. Here’s a sample:

When you crave something sweet, what do you usually do?

0 Nothing. I don’t eat sugary foods.

0 Go for a piece of fresh fruit.

0 Chew on a piece of fruity, sugar-free gum

0 Search for candy, cookies, chocolate — anything to satisfy my sweet tooth!

Ummmm, yeah. If your answer is the first one, go away. You don’t belong here. You’re not human! (Kidding. Good for you if it’s the first answer. But I will need to cut you to see if you bleed.) The correct answer, if you want to be a smart snacker, is the second or third option. But the fourth option is pretty much my answer, up until a few days ago.

It’s hard to choose the right answer when you’re smack in the middle of a craving for cake slathered in cream-cheese frosting. Making bad food choices is a habit. It’s something I’m used to doing. And that habit has gotten me to where I am today — more than 75 pounds overweight and diabetic.

Habits can be replaced, of course. And that’s what I’m trying to do by setting two goals a month. Slowly putting in place new habits, good habits to replace the old, unhealthy ones.

Your turn: Are you a smart snacker? What are your stumbling blocks and what strategies can you put in place to change your bad habits into good ones?

 

Human Guinea Pig*: Crystal Light Mojito 01/09/2012


*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? Suggest one by e-mailing Diabetic Diva at diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

As a self-proclaimed foodie, being a diabetic can sometimes cramp my style. I have to be careful with what I eat now (though the idea that diabetics need to swear off all sugar for ever and ever amen is not entirely correct).

A few months before I was diagnosed with diabetes, some friends organized a bar-crawl to celebrate my 30th birthday. I remember drinking two sugary alcoholic beverages in rapid succession and then feeling like I was going to pass out and die. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was experiencing all the classic symptoms of high blood sugar.

After I was diagnosed, I swore off drinking. That was entirely my choice, and I’m not making any recommendations  as to what you personally should do. Any recommendations about nutrition and diet should come from a licensed, professional health care provider.

That said, I never really loved the taste of alcohol. I don’t like beer, I barely tolerate wine and straight liquor makes me gag. But put vodka or rum into some fruit juice and add sugar, and I can usually swallow it and ask for another. All that sugar and fruit juice wreaks havoc on my blood sugar, though, so I gave it up.

Every now and again, I miss drinking. One of my favorite drinks was a mojito — which is lime juice, mint, simple syrup, sparkling soda water and white rum. When I saw Crystal Light’s line of cocktail-flavored beverages — and that they had a mojito one! — I wanted to try it.

One note — I grew up drinking diet soda and Crystal Light, so I don’t mind the taste of artificial sweetener. I am trying to cut way back on my consumption of it. But obviously, Crystal Light uses artificial sweetner, so know that going into this, OK?

That aside, the Crystal Light mojito is really pretty good. It has the notes of citrus and lime that you expect in a mojito. At a party I threw recently, I used this as a base for actual mojitos and they were a hit, even amongst people who professed not to like artificial sweetener. For the party, I fancied the drinks up with some fresh mint leaves, a chunk of lime (both of which are calorie free!) and a healthy glug of good-quality white rum.

On my own, though, I don’t go to all that trouble. Unlike most Crystal Light packets, mojitos and others in their mocktail line make 2 quarts per packet. I think the taste is a little strong, so I usually add more water to the pitcher and add some ice cubes to my drink.

Rating: 3 stars out of a possible 4.

Cost: About $2/$3 per package, which contains 5 packages (making a total of 10 quarts)

Find a store: http://www.kraftbrands.com/crystallight/Pages/default.aspx#/mocktails/mojito