A Farewell to Carbs

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

What’s cooking: Skinnytaste shout out 03/04/2012

Filed under: cooking — Diabetic Diva @ 2:46 pm
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My schedule, both personal and professional, has never fit into what most people would consider normal. I wake up later than most people, and I often am at work for a period that spans two meal times.

Stuffed pepper soup, thanks to Skinnytaste.com

This is why I’ve had such trouble binge eating at night — I often don’t eat enough during the day and then overdo it when I finally get home and don’t have anything more to check off on my to-do list.

Since my goal for March is to stop eating after 9 p.m., it means rethinking how I approach mealtimes. As a diabetic, I need to eat small meals regularly to keep my blood sugar levels from sitting in the front seat of Coney Island’s Cyclone.

So this past week, I thought I’d make it a point to plan out breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks — and aim to eat them between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

I’ve also been feeling a little uninspired by my recipe collection. So I turned to a site that a friend raves about: Skinnytaste.

Put simply, Skinnytaste’s site is amazing. Ah-may-zing. I decided that I wanted to do a soup packed with veggies for lunch and I really, really wanted pasta for dinner. So after surfing around a little, I found Stuffed Pepper Soup and a Cajun Chicken Pasta. Both were relatively easy to make and absolutely delicious.

A few notes: The chicken pasta dishe is a smidge hgh in carbs for my eating plan, so I cut back the amount of pasta by about 2 uncooked ounces. I also premeasured the pasta and then poured the chicken-veggie-sauce mixture over top.

My version of Skinnytaste's cajun chicken pasta

The soup was out of this world after I added a little cumin and some paprika. Skinnytaste has you add the rice separately, which is nice because you know how much you’re getting. Instead of portioning that out into separate containers, I kept the soup in a large plastic container and the rice separately and then measured out a serving for each lunch.

Skinnytaste provides both the nutrition content and the Points Plus value on every recipe. Both recipes were Points bargains and the pasta was so good, I actually entered all the ingredients into a recipe calculator and made sure the nutrition information was accurate. It was, of course.

I am really looking forward to trying more of her recipes out.

 

Goals for March 03/01/2012

Filed under: Goals — Diabetic Diva @ 8:09 am
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It’s a new month, which means new goals.

For new readers, I decided in late December that instead of making a big blanket New Year’s resolution that I’d never, ever follow through on, I’d make one or two easily-reachable goals each month. Each goal remains in place, though, so I add to my new healthy habits each month.

The reality is …. well, it hasn’t worked out as planned. My January goals were to exercise for 210 minutes each week. That hasn’t exactly happened consistently. I also resolved to stop eating fast food and, even though I’ve realized it tastes gross, I still hit the drive-thru once a week or so as a “reward” for a tough day.

February goals were a mixed bag. I have not been very good about taking time out to eat meals and really enjoy them. But I have followed my goal of exercising once a week outside of the gym, mostly thanks to a great group of friends who will get together with me for a walk or an exercise class once a week.

So, in addition to focusing on meeting these four goals each day, I’m adding one more. The first is one I’m excited about — I’ve decided to stop eating after 9 p.m.

This is a relatively arbitrary time of day, and it’s intended to solve a problem I’ve been struggling with for years.

I make good food choices in the morning and afternoons. I can fend off early hunger pangs at work by focusing on another task. I am rarely tempted to go off the beaten path when it comes to my meal plans for breakfast, lunch and a snack.

It's almost 9 p.m.Do you know where your snacks are?

But once I get home from work, a switch flips in my brain. I put my stuff down and do the dishes from lunch. Then I open the fridge and unhinge my jaw. Every commercial break, I’ll get up and find something else to snack on. And even after I’m full, I keep eating. I completely blow my daily calorie limit in the space of three or four hours. And, as embarassing as it is to admit, if I don’t have tantalizing snacks in the house, I’ll go out and buy some.

I have a problem. I know this. And yet I can’t stop. I know I’m screwing up. I’ve tried curbing it by putting the mindful eating goal last month. It didn’t work.

I’m hoping that by instituting an eating ban after 9 p.m., I can rewire my brain to not expect a calorie explosion late at night.

I have a few strategies to help me accomplish this goal. I’ve started exercising at the gym at night after work, which means there’s a 45 minute period where I can’t eat. (Well, I could but I’d hate to think of the judgement I’d get if I ate a pan of brownies while walking on a treadmill.)

When I get home from the gym, I am hungry. But it’s more habit than actual hunger, and I’ve just spent 45 minutes sweating and panting (and not in a good way). So why would I want to then ruin all that by stuffing my face?

I’d like to eventually lift this ban in favor of a more sane approach to snacking, so I can have a small treat or an extra serving of veggies before bed. For now, though, going cold-turkey seems like the only way to really stop the sabotage.

 

Faster, stronger 02/28/2012

Filed under: Working out — Diabetic Diva @ 9:37 am
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Last week, I decided that I need to stop moaning about how I never go to the gym and instead … go to the gym. I know, I know. It’s a novel approach to health and weight loss.

I don’t know why I’ve had such a hard time strapping on my running shoes and spending some time on the elliptical. Once I’m actually at the gym, I’m fine. I do my workout with a minimum of internal debate. I revel in feeling sweaty and strong. I look forward to getting fitter so I can lift more, walk longer, go faster.

But getting to the gym is an entirely different matter. It makes the most sense to go to the gym in the morning, since I’m not expected at work until mid-morning or early afternoon. Then I can come home, shower and change and head in to work.

The problem is I’m not a morning person. I like to wake up slowly, spend a little time reading before I hit the shower. I am the kind of person for whom the concept of “breakfast in bed” is made. And with winter upon us, my bedroom is so cozy and warm.

So. I haven’t been going to the gym in the morning. No matter. My gym is open 24 hours. So I can go no matter how late I get done with work. By the time I’m done, though, I have all these excuses not to go. It’s late. I’m hungry. I’m tired. I’ll go in the morning, and I don’t want to go twice so close together (this is my FAVORITE! Because, um, yeah. It has already been established that I’m not going in the morning.)

Last week, I decided I needed to change my outlook on this whole getting healthy thing. Part of that was committing to going to go to the gym every night after work. I looked at it as a way to clear my head after a day at the office. A way to tune out, where it’s just me and some good music on the headphones.

Because about 10 minutes into a workout in an almost-empty gym late at night, I get into a meditative state. All my thoughts about how my day went and what I need to accomplish tomorrow just fade into the background. I start thinking about my breathing. I start focusing on my pace, on the way my muscles feel. Everything gets quiet (except for my workout mix. That I like pretty loud.

I’ve decided to think of my time at the gym as a little mini-vacation from the stresses of the day, instead of thinking about working out as some horrible chore hanging over my head all day long. And maybe soon, getting a workout in will be as habitual as breathing.

 

Moment of truth: week seven

Filed under: Successes — Diabetic Diva @ 9:31 am
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I am happy to report that I lost 5.6 pounds last week. Turns out working out and eating right really does work.

 

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: 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/

 

What’s cooking: Chicken stew 02/06/2012


I hate snow and I hate being cold. But I take pleasure in winter for two reasons — cute outerwear and delicious stews.

This winter, I’m rocking the cutest purple plaid wool pea coat. I stuck a big feather brooch on the lapel and, ta da! Super-cute.

And tonight, I made a batch of quite possibly my favorite winter meal ever: Coq a vin. As much as I love eating it, I hate stumbling through the pronunciation (French words unsettle me!) — so when I talk about it, I call it chicken stew.image

A good coq a vin has a few very important ingredients: A flavorful red wine, lots of rosemary and thyme and …. bacon. Just a little. Added at the end.

My favorite winter cookbook!

This coq a vin recipe, taken from Weight Watchers Slow Good cookbook, makes use of the crock pot, a kitchen gadget I tend to associate with winter. As an aside, I almost always plan to make this on a Sunday and I almost always realize too late that I don’t have a suitable wine. In Pennsylvania, liquor stores aren’t open on Sunday. So I always end up making this on a Monday morning and letting it cook on a low heat in the crock pot all day.

One note: This is really good over egg noodles or mashed potatoes. But the recipe’s nutrition facts only take into account the chicken and sauce. Also, it is a little fussy for a crock pot recipe. But I love it so much, I can forgive the few steps at the beginning.

What you’ll need:

2 slices turkey bacon

1 3-and-one-half pound chicken, cut into eight pieces and skinned

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

1 large carrot, chopped

3/4 cup of red wine

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 10-ounce package of fresh mushrooms, sliced (I use shitake, but button or baby portobella mushrooms would work, too)

2 cups of frozen pearl onions

1 cup of reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1. Cook turkey bacon in a large non-stick skillet until crisp. Drain on a paper towel and refrigerate. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add half of chicken pieces to skillet, turn heat to medium-high and cook until browned, turning once, about 10 minutes.

2. Transfer chicken to 5- or 6-ounce quart slow cooker. Repeat with remaining chicken.

3. Add chopped onion to skillet, lowering heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in carrot, wine, tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Pour over chicken in slow cooker. Add the mushrooms, frozen onion and 3/4 cup of broth. Cover and cook until chicken is fork tender, about 4-5 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low. Cover and refrigerate remaining 1/4 cup of broth.

4. At the end of cooking time and using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a deep serving dish. Cover and keep warm. Combine flour and 1/4 cup of broth in a small bowl until smooth. Stir in about 1/4 cup of slow-cooker liquid. Stir the mixture into the slow cooker. Crumble in bacon. Cover and cook on high until the liquid thickens, about 15 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Pour sauce over chicken.

Makes 8 servings (one piece of chicken and scant 1/2 cup of sauce)

Nutrition per serving:

194 calories

6 grams fat

10 grams carbohydrates

2 grams fiber

25 grams protein