Friday, October 4, 2013

coffee and tea---and cream

Oh, whoa is me. I kept trying to drink coffee and tea---with cream.
So bad.
My poor tummy definitely paid for it.
So I just drank tea. Because I do love tea (twig tea, especially) plain. But I can't drink black coffee. Let's just say yuck.
So I was at our little local natural foods market and lo and behold, I happened upon this tea I'd never seen before: Roastaroma.  I think though, since it's made by Celestial Seasonings, you should be able to find it at pretty mainstream markets, too.
Wow! I took a chance on it because I wanted something I could actually truly enjoy adding almond milk to (I tried and tried with coffee, and while it was good, it took so much for me to make it 'right' that the entire cup was cold and kind of chalky by the time I was done pouring, haha).  So this tea (it's actually a coffee subsitute) is totally not weird---kind of along the lines of "tee-cino" but soooo much better! It actually tastes great with the almond milk added in, you don't need that much, and if you are indeed trying to 'get off' coffee, it has a really lovely, nutty, rich flavor. It's an herbal tea, so also uncaffeinated. Yay!
But the cream issue. I've finally found an awesome nondairy creamer substitute (and it's not nutritionally scary) for coffee! It's so wonderful and tastes completely normal. The best part? If you buy the "original" flavor, you don't have to bolus for it because it's only 1gram of carbohydrate per tablespoon!
I'm working really hard lately to decrease my grain and dairy intake. I decided that in order to make that process easier, I'd pinpoint the foods I have the hardest time with (aka, that I'm addicted to) and focus on finding healthier substitutes that work with my body's needs, or healthy ways to eliminate them from my diet, if need be (as with gluten and milk products, I've found.) It's a process that must be done slowly, otherwise we all just end up bingeing, EEK!

Monday, March 11, 2013

diabetic "cereal"~

I wrote a while back about missing granola. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 27, so it was hard to give up some of those favorite morning foods---that, let's face it, are not really that awesome for anybody to be eating, considering all the sugar and lack of protein. Technically then, cereal's not a great choice for breakfast in general. ;)

Having said that, a lot of us like it. For breakfast, for a snack, for a pre or post-exercise snack. It's quick, filling, and yumm-eee. So I made this recipe recipe last year that I've been munching on when I want cereal for breakfast because it's so much better for you and is a) healthy b) lower carb and c) long-burning---so it's filling and will not spike your blood sugar the way that most "cereals" do.

1/4 c unsweetened coconut
1/4 c almond flour
1 Tbs ground flax meal
1 Tbs chia seeds
2 Tbs shelled hemp seeds
1 Tbs raw cacao nibs
1/4 c dried cranberries
~1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or as much as you like for cereal...I like mine a little "porridgy" instead of too wet)

As you can see, even my toddler loves it, haha)

Approximately 30 grams carbohydrate for this recipe, which makes 1 bowl of cereal. I just bolus straight up for it, but am also working on trying an 85/15 combo bolus approach that seems to be better since it is indeed low-glycemic and burns slower in your system.

Mix 'em up and voilá! You have some yummy cereal that is seriously good for you from all the fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and protein from the hemp seeds and almond flour---with a nice, tart kick from the cranberries. Also, the beauty of this recipe is how flexible it is---just make sure you know the carb counts of your substitutes in case it changes the total carb count drastically.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

final results of gluten and dairy free challenge~

After giving up gluten and dairy for an Elimination/Challenge period of two weeks I have my update ready for you! That link I just directed you to shows how to do a total elimination challenge---kind of a GAPS diet sort of thing but short term in order to identify food allergies. I want to point out that I only eliminated gluten and dairy, though. I already knew that I was sensitive to soy products (due to major hormonal imbalances that resulted in my cycles from the phytoestrogens in soy), but it would be interesting to do a full Elimination/Challenge in order to see if I had others than can be detected through the full 'test'. I was taking a short cut, I know, winkwink.
First, I want to say that I have a friend whose daughter has type 1 diabetes and celiac disease and she herself has celiac also. She informed me that in order to truly know if you have a gluten allergy you would have to eliminate gluten for at least 6 months---in order to be extra careful of cross-contamination possibilities (toasters, eating out, assuming a product is 'gluten free' when it may be processed with things that are not, etc). I just think you should know that if you really think you might be sensitive or completely intolerant to gluten so you might do yourself a favor and test that food properly. Although, of course, in that case you would want to get the antibody blood test, too, in order to confirm and just get that straightforward clarity from your M.D or even a licensed Naturopathic doctor (N.D).

In my case, I completely eliminated the two as best as I could by way of not eating obvious foods that held them (not even fermented ones like yogurt or even seitan---'wheat meat': made by rinsing away the starch in wheat, leaving behind the high-protein gluten---tricky, tricky!)
It was hard---the first three days I had such a hankering for both things. Oh.My.God. I seriously thought  I was going to start wringing my hands over it, haha. But the trick is to clear your house out of the stuff you're trying to avoid. If you don't even have it around and you have your substitutes ready and waiting you won't notice it (as much, haha) and you'll just get into a groove. 

Regarding dairy: 
  • I love cream in my coffee---I only have one cup (and decaf at that! Caffeine's rough on your blood sugar, so I weaned myself off it a long time ago...) and I use only pasture-raised, organic cream, but nonetheless, I cut it out and used unsweetened vanilla almond milk--not quite as creamy, but funnily enough, I found it to be just great after those first few days of craving-the-cream subsided. 
  • I love cheese! Oh my gosh do we love cheese in this house! There's really not much else to say about it. I didn't have it every day, but in some ways, it was a great source of protein too because we eat vegetarian at least 2x a week in our 'meal plan'(that I create every Sunday) in order to save cash on eating high-quality organic meat. I tried the Daiya brand cheese---a non-soy type of substitute cheese but was not really impressed. But I joked that I got desperate for some cheese around day 9 and man, was I. So it's best to find a way to squash that craving as best as you can rather than just feed into it. It certainly helped, even though I found it to be...chalky? Does chalky cheese even make sense? ;)

Regarding gluten: 
  • I mostly like crackers and toast. I bake all my baked goods in our house at this point with almond flour, so the wheat issue was not that hard for me---except for those times I reallyreallyreally wanted an 8pm piece of peanut butter toast, haha. So I substituted with some roasted almonds or just a spoonful of peanut butter. I suppose if you eat a lot of processed foods you'd find yourself really frustrated with the cutting out of gluten, but if you don't, you'll notice it's really only in bread and crackers and store-bought baked goods and the like. Don't get me wrong, I craved it, and badly at times. But the dairy issue was bigger for me. 

The biggest things I noticed was actually how subtle the changes are that you feel. You have to be on "alert" with your body and really pay attention during this challenge because I think we are all taught to just tolerate so many weird things we feel regarding the foods we consume. I've talked to a lot of people who have given up dairy and gluten (short of those who are truly actually allergic, mind you---they have violent reactions immediately upon consumption) and the biggest thing I noticed that most of them said to me was how sluggish, spaced-out, tired, foggy, achey, short-fused (are you seeing a trend here?) they felt. Subtle symptoms, eh? But man, when you aren't feeling these things, let me tell ya: do you notice it. I certainly did. 
I can honestly say I felt all those things I just stated above and worse: my blood sugars after gluten and dairy consumption are almost always bad. Always. They are difficult for me to process and get a good reading out of. Maybe it's because most of the foods that have gluten and dairy in them are not only usually high carb, high fat, but also are made with both gluten and dairy? It's like a double whammy on your BG. I'm not sure, but it was something I took note of in my experiment: that my BGs were much, much better. 
I noticed myself eating a lot healthier than I did---because I couldn't just grab a carby (glutenous and/or yummy dairy snack) I tended to reach for my fruit or my bag of almonds or some leftover sauteed veggies. Or that I was making more almond flour muffins or homemade flax crackers (these are an easy starter recipe) to stave off cravings. 

So the big deal is what happened when I challenged each food back in? Well, I started with dairy. I followed the directions on that link I sent you to in the beginning of this post of how to do the Elimination/Challenge. I had half and half in my coffee that morning, I had cheese on my lunch salad. I had a latte. And for fun, I had icecream. Um. wow. All day I felt bloated and gassy and sluggish and achey. All day, I kid you not. I even felt angry. Really angry. And I had nothing to be angry about so I knew where my short fuse was coming from (think about the ramifications of this: how many people are walking around acting like this?! And what does it mean for them---for all of us? We need to stop and think about this issue and start taking better care of ourselves and our food supply [Steps off soapbox] ;)
It says to give it a day in between so you can be sure of your symptoms in case they might surface the next day rather than the first (as if I needed any more convincing). But I went ahead and waited the day in-between. 
Then came gluten. I ate a regular sandwich, some pasta, some crackers. What I normally would've had. But I didn't notice anything major---except for the markedly sad/bad blood sugar readings. 

I mean, I kid you not, people: my BG average before I tried this challenge was not awful but not awesome (150---literally stuck at about a 7% A1c) and during the challenge my meter read my 14 day average as 130 (correlating to a 6.1% A1c). This is amazing. I have been struggling and struggling postpartum to figure out how to start getting my A1c back down to a better range (I know 7%'s not awful, but it's not great for wanting to get pregnant, which my partner and I would like to do again in the next year or so). It was so frustrating too because I am a really health-concious person, so it was like, what gives? 
So I'm here to tell you that you might want to look at eliminating or severely restricting gluten and dairy---the two biggest carb nightmares for so many of us to (I painfully admit this) process. Even when they're their healthiest version of themselves. Just try it out. It won't kill you. You might learn a lot about your eating habits, cravings, comfort foods, junk cravings, and most importantly: the foods that might be the very culprits in keeping you from reaching those more balanced, 'euglycemic' numbers that we'd all like to see more of. Because oh ya, I forgot to mention that: I was not penduluming as much! It was amazing! My BG excursions were truly more within that 'normal' range of 90-150 that often feels most comfortable to most of us...

Bottom line: 

I feel better restricting them both. I'm still going to eat some but be really careful. I eat healthier---definitely more veggies fill my plate, pastured eggs and greens, fruits and nuts for snacks...when I'm not allowing myself to just head to the pantry for 'junk food'---even if it is a whole wheat cracker. We kid ourselves into thinking so much of this stuff is 'healthy'. But it isn't. If we stick with a whole foods, traditionalist diet (old foods are real foods) we'll live much, much healthier lives with this disease---or anyone will, for that matter! Just remember two of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite food activists, Michael Pollan: 

If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't. 

There's no such thing as an organic Oreo. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 7 gluten and dairy free update~

Well, all I can say is that I've seen amazing improvement in my blood sugars since going off gluten and dairy. We're talking easy-peasy post meal numbers---as most diabetics, I struggle to keep them in range.  My postpartum A1C has not been awful (maintaining a 7.1%) but it's not where I really need and want it to be (low to mid 6's) as I'm planning my second pregnancy in the next year or so (did I just share that personal info?) I'm trying to bring it down slowly because this is safer and reduces the risk of dangerous low BGs, but my averages were just kicking my butt in general---they wouldn't budge for months from the 160's for a 30 day average. After just a week of cutting out gluten and dairy alone, they've slid down to the mid 140's. Nice.
Having said that, I don't really feel any different. My skin is still breaking out quite a bit but only on my jawline (classic female hormonal acne---hello postpartum for real!) but not getting worse (that's good, right? Right?! More on what I've chosen to do herbally in another post to rebalance my hormones) and I don't feel sluggish as I did before...which I do think was due to the dairy.
We'll see what happens when I do the "Challenge" days (which is what you do on an Elimination/Challenge diet. I'm going to be happily eating cheese and heavy cream and whipped cream at every meal for a full day. And then I'll either realize I'm ok (no negative bodily response) or I'll be one very, very unhappy and feeling ill gal. I wonder though, too much dairy in general even when people *aren't* technically sensitive can give people some digestive discomfort, so I wonder how I'll know the difference? This is why I'm actually thinking of just not going too overboard and eating as I normally would've ingested dairy---pastured cream in my morning coffee, some cheese and an apple for a snack later. Ok, maybe I'll have grilled cheese for dinner to make up for lost time. Ha! Oh wait, I can't...because I have to do gluten on a different day. Oy. This is annoyingly complicated!

My point is that this has been hard (all I want right now is some cheese and crackers!) but it's also not been that bad. And wow, the blood sugar stabilizing is pretty amazing....I think, perhaps what has happened is that I'm eating healthier options when I have the common dairy/gluten cravings (which, hilariously often go together): cheese and crackers are replaced with a piece of fruit and some almonds, instead of toast I baked way more almond flour muffins to curb the craving/need for something glutenously carby (yes, that is a term, believe it, belieeeeve it!) and I've noticed my dinner plate is way more full of veggie options since I'm not just piling on....oh wait, that's weird. My carb options for dinner generally never involved a lot of gluten (ie, pasta) but I think honestly because my cravings for it are being curbed, I'm going easy on things like rice (even though we only eat 100% wild) and potatoes. Weird, huh? This is real food for thought.

So what this boils down to is:
just trying this experiment----and it takes willpower, I tell ya, sheer WILL POWA!---rebalances your body to decrease the cravings for refined carbs.  Yes, I thought that was so important that I just italicized it and wrote it in bold. I'm feelin' bold so I emboldened it. ;)

So take the plunge. Give it a shot. You might not find that you're actually truly allergic/sensitive/intolerant to gluten and/or dairy, but you might get some insights into your diet, your cravings...and especially your blood sugars. I'm even gaining insights into the why's and when's of my gluten/dairy cravings. Which, as we all know too well, play a huge role in the types and amounts of our carbohydrate intake.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

being free, going free~

Lately I've been experiencing a bunch of odd "symptoms" here and there when (at least I think) I eat dairy and grains. But I'm not sure. It could just be something stupid, too. I often feel sluggish, achey, have insomnia, and lately, the worst of all: I'm experiencing cystic acne in a way that I have never experienced in my life. The sad part is, I eat a healthy diet overall, my blood sugars are balancing more and more everyday that I am postpartum, and I exercise. Maybe it's stress? Who knows, but I think looking at our food is always a good place to start.
Whenever I look at Paleo diets I get kind of overwhelmed by all the do's and don'ts. I agree mostly with its premise (not eating anything our ancestors wouldn't have eaten---aka, eat Whole Food/Real Food instead of Oreos and Cheerios and Fried Rice) but I have doubts about the dairy thing. Mostly just that I think pastured butter and heavy cream are good for us. So no, I'm not talking about low fat yogurt and skim milk. Those are devoid of all their nutrient value and should be banished from our minds as "healthy foods." You've basically taken a whole food and processed it down to its sugar base. Not so good.
I've decided to do a 14 day [mostly] Grain Free/ Dairy Free experiment. That way I'm not feeling overly restricted. I think the more a person restricts their diet, the more they are at risk of a vicious cycle of restricting/bingeing. I am a person who likes to eat all foods; so I'll never be someone on a "diet" in which I eliminate an item unless absolutely necessary---as in, if I discover that I am experiencing a food sensitivity to gluten or dairy.
God, I hope not.
Because I do love cream and toast and cheese and icecream and butter and...hey, you know what I just realized? There are so many alternatives to wheat nowadays, I highly doubt I'd miss that one too much. It'd be more the issue of avoiding it because it's in so many things. I definitely would miss dairy more, I believe.

So I made a 14 Day Gluten-Free/ Dairy Free Meal Plan. It's a bit boring and may get changed around here and there to fit my family's eating schedule, but here is Day 1, below. I'll try to update you as much as possible (maybe even every day? Maybe I'm dreaming? :) But either way, I'll try to give you a few ideas at least if you're interested in doing something like this via my example days:

Porridge---I prefer to add more Almond flour, use any type of alternative milk available (almond, flax, etc if you don't have coconut milk or don't want it too coconutty) and leave out the honey. My BGs are beautiful every time I eat it. I kid you not.

Salad greens with beans (I know, I know, not Paleo, but this is not a total Paleo challenge!) and Coldcuts, oil-based dressing.

Paleo Spaghetti and Meat Sauce---there are multiple options, just do a search for one that fancies you, but here's an example (I definitely recommend using a spaghetti squash rather than kelp noodles, though...)

For dessert, well, I have all kinds of recipes I love for gluten and dairy free options. I'm making these tonight, one of my fave cookie recipes on the planet.  Here's a pic of what mine tend to turn out like (and a view of my Littlebird begging for more in the background, haha):
Wish me luck! Let me know if you've been doing any "clean eating overhauling" (among other things) this year and what you're doing to make it happen; I find these things quite difficult nowadays with a toddler and all. But our health needs to be our priority---I plan to live with this disease for a *ahem* terribly long time, winkwink.