A Farewell to Carbs

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

Finding some friends 01/19/2012


I want to thank all of you readers for stopping by and listening to my musings about health, eating, working out and living life as a young diabetic. I appreciate especially the comments and likes. It’s nice to know I’m not just typing from a black hole in space.

One blog I’ve discovered through the comments is Diabetic in Denial, whose author is so similar to me and my experiences it’s scary. I hope she’ll continue to post about her successes and setbacks. It helps to read about someone who is in the same boat.

I’ve also really been enjoying Fat Chick Fed Up, especially a recent post about how much success she and her husband have enjoyed on the scales. She’s been an inspiration to me, and I wish her all the best.

Finally, Mindful Eating Mama has a lot of very thoughful posts about eating. Her post on keeping a food journal and not writing down the “bad food” she eats — like it won’t count if it’s not put to paper — is something I do ALL THE TIME.

Your turn: Are there any other health/fitness blogs out there that I shouldn’t miss?

 

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