A Farewell to Carbs

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

Coming to terms 02/27/2012


I took a little break from blogging last week because I was struggling so much with staying on track. I didn’t feel like I could sit here and write about what I was doing if I wasn’t actually doing it. Besides, I felt horrible about myself for being weak enough to stop focusing on what I was eating and skipping the gym at the slightest provocation.

Most frustrating for me is that I continued to break promises I’ve made to myself. I wasn’t spending 210 minutes a week at the gym. I wasn’t writing down what I was eating. I wasn’t taking time out to enjoy my meals. I was making my regular rounds of the region’s fast food establishments. Basically, I was right back to where I had started — unhappy and unhealthy and at the end of my rope.

I am the kind of person who goes out of her way to keep promises to others. I hate breaking my word. I have kept plans with friends even when I can’t exactly afford to do so. I have stayed late at work to complete work I promised to my boss.

When it comes to keeping my word to myself, I can rationalize any bad decision. I’ll go to the gym tomorrow. I’ll eat better next week. This is the last time I will eat a triple cheeseburger from Wendy’s.

Here’s the thing: It’s never the last time. Tomorrow will never come. And I have to come to terms with the fact that I am an addict.

I’m not trying to be all dramatic here. And I don’t mean to belittle alcoholics and drug addicts. But I’m addicted to food. I’m addicted to being unhealthy.

It’s killing me, and I don’t care.

But unlike an addiction to alcohol or drugs, how do you avoid food? Even if I can walk right on past the candy aisle at the grocery store, the vending machine at work is calling to me. I buy a bag of almond M&Ms and think … I’ll just eat a couple. I can handle this.

Clearly, I cannot handle it. Even the spectre of kidney dialysis and a possible heart attack hasn’t slowed me down. It’s given me pause. It’s inspired me to eat a little better for a week or two, to make a show of hitting the gym. And then I’m right back to giving in to my addiction.

Apparently, I don’t value myself or my health enough to get serious about getting better. The worst part is that I feel lost and fat and ugly for not doing what seems to come so easily to everyone else. I feel out of control when I have a cabinet full of junk food.

So Tuesday, after another disappointing morning on the Weight Watchers scale, I decided that I need to get serious. I am stronger than food. I value myself enough to want to make the changes I need to make.

I have committed to writing everything I eat down, to sticking to my eating plans and burning some calories at the gym every day. I have committed to focusing on the promised I made myself in January and earlier this month.

It’s too soon to tell whether my work over the past week has paid off. And I can’t guarantee that I won’t head back to all the bad decisions that have gotten me here.

However, I’m trying hard to remember that I need to value myself as much as I value my work and my friends. Otherwise, I won’t be around to keep any promises to anyone.

 

What’s cooking: Red curry 02/26/2012

Filed under: cooking — Diabetic Diva @ 2:42 pm
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We’re lucky to have three really good thai restaurants in town. But no matter which we end up at, I never even look at the menu. Hey — when I find something I really like, I stick with it. I’m very loyal that way.

Eggplant, red bell pepper and basil will soon swim in red curry sauce

Red curry is the perfect mix of creamy and spicy. I love the crisp tender vegetables swimming in the sauce, the thin slivers of chicken hiding toward the bottom of the bowl, and the flavorful, earthy leaves of thai basil.

But I don’t know how many calories are in that heaping plate of curry from the thai place down the street, and I always eat way too much rice to soak up that delicious sauce. So I took to my kitchen, armed with a bottle of Trader Joe’s red curry sauce and a dream — to eat delicious thai food all week without shelling out $15 a night.

Hint: The bottled sauce I used is relatively low in calories and carbs, but if I did it all over again, I think I’d pour the quarter-cup serving of sauce warmed in the microwave over each portion of chicken, veggies and rice. That would give me a little more control on exactly how much sauce I was getting.

You’ll need:

Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2-3 ounces, cooked, per serving)

Small eggplant, chopped (I peel mine because I don’t like the skin)

2 small red bell peppers, chopped into large chunks

8 basil leaves

1 bag frozen green beans

1 T olive oil or coconut oil

1 jar red curry sauce

brown rice (I use Minute Rice), prepared according to directions without added fat or salt

Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talking about

Slice chicken thinly and add to large wok with a generous hit of cooking spray. Stir until browned on all sides. Remove from pan.

Add 1 T oil to wok and add eggplant and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add green beans. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken and basil leaves to wok. Pour 1 cup of sauce over top, stir to coat.

Serve over 1/2 cup of hot rice.

Serves 4.

Nutrition information depends on the sauce used. I calculated my meal as about 10 Weight Watchers points plus per serving. To calculate exact nutrition information, plug the ingredients into http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

 

Taking a break 02/21/2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Diabetic Diva @ 2:14 pm
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I’m taking a week or so off from blogging to get my head on straight. I’ve been really struggling with dieting and exercise. So right now, I don’t have a lot of advice to offer. I’ll be back in a little while, hopefully with a lot more enthusiasm.

 

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/

 

A tangled mess 02/15/2012


I am trying to break myself of the horrible habit of snacking mindlessly in front of the TV.

I don’t have any television channels. Instead, I have a Netflix subscription and watch episode after episode of T.V. shows without commercials. Right now, I’m watching the first season of Boardwalk Empire. Before that, I plowed through BBC’s Luther. I’m anxiously awaiting A Game of Thrones to come out. And I’m kind of addicted to Big Bang Theory after watching the first two seasons in the space of a week. (I am not proud of this).

My T.V. habits mean I can spend several hours on the couch (time I should be spending on a treadmill at the gym), polishing off bags of Cool Ranch Doritos and pints of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food with abandon. It’s not a coincidence that my best-laid diet plans usually fall apart around 11 p.m., when I get home from work exhausted and in need of mindless entertainment.

So to keep my hands busy, I’ve embarked on some craft projects. I have been designing greeting cards using stencils and colored pencils. And I bought some embroidery thread and tried a project I saw on Pinterest.( On it? Follow me!)

Pretty cool, huh?

My headphone cord usually ends up in a snarled tangle of wires (are there evil little elves who do this in the middle of the night?). So the Pinterest project I found had you cover the wires with embroidery thread like a friendship bracelet. You can’t really tell from the photo, but my first attempt was not perfect. I ran out of thread about halfway down the first part of cord, so I had to tie more in, which left a big knot in the middle. The second piece of cord (attaching the left ear to the part that plugs in) went much better. I finished the ends with a liberal coating of clear nail polish to prevent fraying. And if I ever actually go to the gym, I’ll bet I get a few comments on them.

So far, my craft projects are working. Not only have I made gifts for friends’ birthdays for the next several months, I am keeping my hands busy. I can’t eat if I’m occupied. I’m hoping I can retrain my brain not to automatically want to reach for the chips and ice cream when I sit down on the couch. Either that, or start an Etsy account to feed my craft habit.

Your turn: Do you snack in front of the television? What are some strategies you use to curb that habit?

 

Confession time! 02/13/2012

Filed under: Failing,Goals — Diabetic Diva @ 8:46 am
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I haven’t been to the gym in two weeks.

There is no excuse for this. Ihave lots of excuses. None of them are good ones. “My work schedule is crazy.” “I’m too tired to go after work.” “I don’t like getting up early to go before work.” “I’ll just watch my calories today.” “It’s cold.” “It’s raining.” “I don’t have a hair tie.” “My foot hurts.” “I parked really far away from the house.”

This is true.

It seems I’m not the only one who struggles to find motivation for exercise. This blogger I follow wrote a post about it just last week. And she’s way busier than I am.

A lot of what’s keeping her from working out are problems I have to. It’s hard. I’m fat. Everyone at the gym seems like they’re faster and fitter than I am. I’d really rather curl up with a book and have some time to relax.

But working out is one side of the fitness coin. The other side, of course, is eating right. At this point, I’m not really doing either. Six years ago, when I lost 75 pounds in a year on Weight Watchers, I was working out A LOT. Which means I could slip up a little and the exercise would cover my butt (pun intended).

And if I was adhering to my points value for the day on Weight Watchers, I’d probably still see a loss at the scale every week. But I’m going beyond my numbers every day and not racking up much exercise-wise.

The worst part is that when I live this way, I don’t feel good. The excess carbs make me sleepy and woozy. I feel out of control, like every fast food joint and every convenience store is a land of temptation just waiting to be explored mouth-first.

I feel better when I work out regularly. I sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed. Sweating for 45 minutes clears my head of all the work stress. After a hard workout, I feel powerful and strong and sexy.

I need to get the wheels back on the cart and start over, again. Because deep down, I don’t want to be the fat girl who will never find a decent boyfriend, who feels ugly no matter what she’s wearing or how cute her hair is (all of which I feel on a 24-hour basis). I’m not that girl inside. And I need to start changing myself on the outside to let that shine through.

I wish it wasn’t so damn hard.

Your turn: What do you do to get yourself motivated for exercise? What are your favorite ways to burn calories?

 

 

What’s cooking: Rainbow in a bowl 02/12/2012


I know, I know. It’s a weird title. Let me explain.

As you know, I’m trying to cut back on the amount of carbs I eat. Back before I was diagnosed as a diabetic, I ate a lot of pasta. Whole wheat pasta! I thought I was being virtuous. Turns out, not so much.

I’ve written often about my unsettling love for tomato sauce. For me, nothing beats a big bowl of fusilli pasta and homemade meat sauce. I could eat that for the rest of my life and not get tired of it ever. But pasta is high-carb, so after I got over my denial of being a diabetic, I began looking for ways to cut carbs but still indulge in a bowl of hearty meat sauce.

Then I remembered this wacky thing my mom used to do when I was a teen. My mom is a terrific cook, but not very adventurous in the kitchen. But one day when we all sat down together for dinner, she plopped a half a squash down in front of me and then covered it in tomato sauce. I wasn’t even sure what to think at first. It was delicious!

It only looks scary, I promise!

Spaghetti squash, as it is called, is a pretty amazing thing. It has the same general shape as a watermelon, but a little more oblong. Inside, it’s sort of looks like butternut squash — it has some seeds in the center you have to scrape out after cutting the thing in half lengthwise. Then you put the squash cut-side down in a glass pan with a little water in the bottom into an oven heated to about 350 degrees. After about an hour, take it out, flip it cut-side up and run a fork through the flesh. You’ll get strands that look somewhat like angel-hair pasta.

Pour some sauce over it and you have a pretty hearty dinner without the carbohydrate bomb in a heaping bowl of pasta. Per cup of spaghetti squash (prepared with no added salt or fat), there’s only 42 calories, 10 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber. I usually split each half of the spaghetti squash into two servings, so there are 4 servings per squash.

I find spaghetti squash to be a little on the sweet side. Not butternut squash sweet, but definitely partway there. To counterbalance the sweetness, I make my sauce pretty spicy by adding ground cumin and chili powder.

Now — where’s the rainbow part of all of this, you ask? I added sautéed spinach, shredded carrot and some zucchini to my sauce to bulk up the veggies. So that gives you red, orange and green. Add the squash and you have most of the colors of the rainbow. Studies show you should be eating a variety of colors of veggies and fruits every day. This dish definitely adheres to that rule.

I also added very lean ground beef to my sauce to add some protein. This would also be good with sausage or meatballs, though.

I don’t have an exact count on calories, fat, carbs, fiber or protein. For Weight Watchers, I added up the points from the plain tomato sauce and for 2 oz of lean ground beef (which I mixed into each cup of sauce to make sure it was completely accurate). All the veggies are “free,” and I added about 2 cups of uncooked spinach, which cooks way down when sautéed in cooking spray, and about a half-cup each of shredded carrot and zucchini rounds. I counted the spaghetti sauce’s points because I used a jarred sauce as a base and the nutrition facts were on it. If you make tomato sauce from scratch and only use tomatoes and spices, it would be “free” too on the WW plan. All together, I calculated my meal as being 7 WW points.

I found a nifty little recipe calculator online that you can use to calculate recipes by entering the amount of ingredients you use and then dividing by the number of servings. Share your favorite tomato sauce recipe in the comments and let me know if you use the calculator to get nutrition info per serving.

So there you have it, a veggie-centric spaghetti and meat sauce that takes most of the carbs out of the equation. Enjoy!

Your turn: What exotic veggie or fruit have you tried and loved? How do you prepare it?