Sunday, December 6, 2009

how to eat a low glycemic diet, part 3 (final)~


so what do I eat?
well, i try to do my best, so don't take me for being perfect and the be-all, end-all raw food fanatic or something! i crave cookies just like everybody. (now i just make my own, haha.) a few months ago i went psycho on the nutella and ate an entire jar in a week. seriously, peabody was not happy with me. i am also known to love icecream and cupcakes and to be a connoisseur of dark chocolate.
but the best thing i did for myself was start to eat all.day.long. now i'm never hungry and i never eat 100 grams of carbs in one sitting. i'm telling you, just try eating that whole "6 small meals a day are best for diabetics" philosophy and it'll change your life. your body can figure out way better what to do with synthetic insulin, and your blood sugar will thank you. or you'll thank your blood sugar. ;)

in the morning, i usually eat a small piece of fruit and some nuts, or even dark greens with a few slices of cheese (i know, i know: [insert laugh here]), or a boiled egg with a piece of spelt toast, or one of the almond flour-based muffins i bake for the week (yum!) or greek yoghurt with berries and sweetened with agave nectar. because morning is the time of greatest insulin resistance, go easy on your insulin intake. i'd say eat your lowest carb content meal of the day in the morning. protein and good fats (nuts, greek yogurt, a couple of slices of cheese) in the morning are way more important to wake you up and get you going than french toast with syrup (or even cereal, for that matter.) talk about a gusher. also, cut the caffeine: i know, i know: i am now pure EVIL! but i did some research a while back and found out that caffeine causes delayed hyperglycemia. it was a bit painful, but i slowly weaned myself to total decaf and now have the psychosomatic response i need from it. by the way, the World Health Organization labeled it a 'true drug', as in addiction. :)

about 9 or 10 a.m, i have some nuts or seeds, a small piece of fruit, a piece of peanut butter or almond butter [wholegrain] toast, greek yoghurt again, or a drink like a homemade almond shake or fruit smoothie. again, these are not huge servings. a bit at a time (especially if you are a buff guy, being hungry is understandable: that's why you eat throughout the day and not all your daily calories in one sitting.) :)

lunchtime i have a salad with tuna, egg, beans, or coldcuts, or dark cooked greens (very filling!) with some cold cuts or cheese, or beans (homeade chili) or soup, hummus in a whole grain wrap, avocado salad, quinoa salad...notice all of these are very real foods that burn a lot slower than a glucose tab (ok, better than pasta or a big hoagie.) try to include dark greens for lunch, they'll seriously fill you up. garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and the spectrum of spices all add wonderful flavors to veggies. i often think this is why people don't eat enough of them: they've just never been prepared with much flavor.

afternoon snacks are the same as midmorning, only lately i've been making it a hot drink, like a big cup of hot chocolate almond milk (or coconut). i also have a lot of wonderful recipes for healthy 'cookies' made from almond flour, coconut flour, spelt, and quinoa. call me a health nut. ;) the key with these is that they are merely nuts ground up; which is not making it 'over-processed' like the poor little pod that wheat once was. you're also getting healthy protein and monounsaturated fats in nut flours, whereas in most other carb-based flours all you're getting is...carbohydrate.

for dinner, i take it easy because i really believe how in chinese medicine, the body is 'slowing down': your stomach's hour is turning off around 6, so you want to try not to eat your carb-heaviest food after that. it doesn't mean you shouldn't eat, it's just best to not make it carb-heavy: hello pasta and pizza! we tend to eat a lot of chicken, pork, fish, kebabs, wild rice, baked veggies, chili, lentil soup, root veggies...and yes, potatoes with their skin.

*on a strange note, i do like larabars. they're 'raw food' snack bars with only a few ingredients in flavors like cherry pie and pb&j and they are stupendous for treating lows or before/after exercise. they never go over about 30 grams of carbs as far as i've seen, either. the only thing i don't like about them is the pretty penny they cost: about $1.29 here in the Q. i wish i could figure out how to make them, i know they're not baked, but how do they get the consistency so.very.right??

does my diet seem...boring? probably to most. but you know, i think getting bored with food is a 'first world' (i hate that phrase) problem. i'm guilty of this idea of boredom just as much as anyone. but we need to rethink our notions of boring, too, and focus on flavor through cooking with herbs and healthy fats like olive oil and nut oils (if you are not allergic), cacao over 70% when baking (for the antioxidants), and using truly unrefined sweeteners like coconut sugar and dark agave nectar---the only two i bake with and sweeten with now. they're lower in carbs per serving and lower in glycemic load, too. as a result of becoming cognizant of how i flavor the basic ingredient of my food, it's become yummier and not so---sugarcoated, if you know what i mean. i can actually taste my food.

on a safety note, i noticed that i often have to take my dose over a bit more extended period of time because of how slow low GI/GL foods can burn. i wouldn't recommend taking your whole dose of insulin at once if you're eating avocado or nuts in the meal. talk about mid-meal hypos! this just goes to show how much slower and steady the rise in BG is, let alone less if the food's got a low glycemic load. and um, yaaay to lower post-meal numbers!

two of my absolute favorite recipe websites:




big shout out to elana and kimi!
this post is dedicated to dear, patient elizabeth. ;)

*this is officially the longest blog post the planet have ever seen; thank god i broke it into three parts. :)


how to eat a low glycemic diet, part 2~


what's the deal then, you ask? how the heck am i supposed to figure out what to eat?
listen to michael pollan, a food activist i'm going to blatantly steal from here:

eat real food. mostly plants. not too much.

if you have diabetes and can make that your food mantra, you will live a long, healthy life.
(i do want to point out that he's not promoting vegetarianism, he was just trying to point out what to fill most of your plate with when you eat, and to make it what truly 'fills' you.)

think of all the frankenfoods and over-processed foods we've been taught are normal: cereal, snack bars, crackers, cookies, sports drinks, muffins, pasta, chips...the list is endless. there's a reason you feel tired and hungry after you eat these foods: your body is having to work way too hard to process them. they are fillers. they confuse the human body and make it spill waaay more insulin than it was designed to. it doesn't matter if you have type 1: you are your pancreas now and will only have to take more of the blessed hormone. this is where the term glycemic load comes in and why it's more important than glycemic index: you never want the foods you are eating to be a 'heavy' load on your pancreas' output ability...hello type 2 diabetes! where do you think we get the terms "carb coma" and insulin resistance from? why do unhealthy type 1 diabetics begin to resemble unhealthy type 2's over the years? don't give your body more than it can 'carry.'

the key to low glycemic eating is just real food. i eat a lot of fruits and veggies (very few are high glycemic, here's a list i used to start learning after my diagnosis) and when it comes to grains and legumes, i eat just that: grains and legumes in their most basic form. that means you just do your best to stay away from any real food that's had the life processed out of it: fruit into juice, wheat into white flour, sweeteners so refined they resemble nothing of their former plant self. call it bad-cosmetic-surgery-on-food.

when in doubt, ask yourself:

  • is it real food? (in as close to its natural state for me to consume?)
  • is it an 'old' food? (how long have humans been eating it? real food is old food.)
  • did you make it? (how many ingredients did you use: less is more.)
  • does it have its own rich color or one that is dyed? (naturally dark pigmented foods are vital nutrient sources.)
  • has it been sweetened? (does it really need to be?)
  • did i break it down more than it should be? (i.e., potatoes with skin turned into peeled mashed potatoes)
  • what 'kind' of sweet is it? (fructose, lactose, dextrose, sucrose: the larger the molecule, the longer it'll take your liver to turn into glucose: this is gentle, this is good.)

how to eat a low glycemic diet, part 1~


i've had a lot of people in my life ask me about my diet recently. even my nice, new endo. while i've certainly learned a helluva lot more about healthy eating with the disease than without, i will say that eating a low glycemic diet has helped maintain blood sugar balance tremendously. bummer i had to get type 1 to take such a keen interest. ;)
first things first:
what does "low glycemic" mean, anyway? there's a lot of talk out there using the phrase (and somewhat carelessly, i might add) but often little understanding of what it means to eat food this particular way.
it's important to understand the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load, also.
*note: while the picture above only states 'GI' on it, low GL foods also look the same graphically. also, that picture i borrowed sucks. the time is horizontal (as is traditional in algebra, duh) and the blood glucose is vertical. also, the red line is High GI and the blue is Low GI.
the term glycemic index was first coined after scientists figured out the [standard] insulin response to carbs. specifically, it relates to the quality of a carbohydrate and thus how fast the blood sugar will rise. values are placed on foods: the lower the index, the slower the rise. the index ranges from about 20 to 100. obviously, pure glucose is rated 100. there's a reason we all know to have pure sugar when we are low, right?! we need our sugar to come back up fast! so, a good rule of thumb: the more processed a food is, the higher its index. most fruits contain fructose (a more complex sugar than pure glucose, thus it takes longer for your body to break it down: a good thing!) and are low to medium GI foods. this is not only due to their carb content being made of mostly fructose, but also fiber (if you're diabetic and don't like fiber: GET WITH IT! FIBER IS YOUR BEST FRIEND!)
on the other hand we have the more recently coined term, glycemic load. this was figured out after scientists at harvard realized it was not only important to know the standard effect on blood sugar rise, but also the actual amount of carbohydrate in that particular food. glycemic load ranges from 1-20. thus, while a food like beets has a high GI (64/100) it has a measly glycemic load of 3 because its carb count is only 5. same goes for pumpkin, watermelon, carrots...you get the picture.
so, do you think i memorized the GI/GL values for carbs? uh, no.
can i get a loud UH, NO!
don't be ridiculous. as you read my 3-part series on low glycemic eating, you'll get pointers and even the basic list i started learning with from the good (but somewhat problematic lowcarbdiets on about.com.) but more importantly, a way to trust your gut when shopping for food or eating out.
low to moderate GI/GL numbers are key to balanced blood sugar---for anyone, not just people living with diabetes.
you will learn to eyeball food values that'll burn fast or slow or moderate just like you did when you learned to count carbs. in fact, you already know a lot of this, i believe.
this is where a healthy sense of low-carb eating enters: ever try to eat white-pasta-based mac&cheese and wonder why you thought you were going to die?
simple answer: a GI of 64/100 with a glycemic load of 19/20.
god help your little pancreas (even if you're type 1 and it malfunctioned.)