Tag Archives: blood sugar

The Cure (to a variety of sugar cravings & bad days)

I was having a rough morning, for pathetic reasons – turns out my old laptop is too old to run the game I’ve been dying to play, yes I know…sad – , but I have fixed it! My day, I mean, not my computer – that would cost nearly as much money as it would to buy a new one, so that’s just going to have to wait.

I’ve been digging around online the last couple of days, trying to figure out what more there is to bake with almond meal, just because well, I bake and I get cravings… I stumbled across a site that talked about using almond meal in combo with protein powder to make pancakes. Now, I’ve never used protein powder – being LCHF makes me paranoid about consuming any sort of ‘substitute powders’, and I try to eat whole food whenever I can – and I don’t have any in the pantry, so I made Almond-Psyllium Chocolate Pancakes instead and slathered them with crunchy peanut butter (because I’m a peanut butter freak!).

The recipe is something like this:

2 Tbs Almond Meal
1 Tbs Psyllium Husk
1 Egg
A pinch of salt
A touch of vanilla essence (organic if you can get it!)
~ 2-5g pieces of dark chocolate, chopped
~ 100ml water, cool

Mix all of it together barring the chocolate. Tip into a hot – buttered! – frying pan and wait till the bottom is sealed. Sprinkle on the dark chocolate and wait till it feels like you can flip it – around 2mins. Flip, seal that side, and flip back over. Use a good non-stick pan to avoid the chocolate from getting stuck! Keep flipping until its cooked through – or whack it under a salamander grill – if you’ve got one – until it’s slightly fluffy. Turn out onto a plate, cover in peanut butter if you want. Devour.

You can technically leave out the psyllium husk and then replace the water with thick cream or another liquid substitute like almond milk, soy, or whatever you prefer. I try to avoid too much dairy, thus the water.

Clear skies,

Vee

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Lifestyle vs. Diet

Today I want to ramble on a bit about what it really feels like to change your lifestyle from whatever it was before to a LC one. Please note that I use the term ‘lifestyle’ here; I know I’ve called this a ‘diet’ in the past, but I’m not comfortable with the connotations behind that word so I’m going to elaborate somewhat. For me, the word ‘diet’ infers either a temporary change of what you eat, or, to follow the literal definition, simply ‘what you eat’.

So what’s the difference then between a LC diet and a LC lifestyle?

Simply put: an LC diet is a temporary diet change that will – in theory – let you lose weight over a set amount of time before you go back to eating whatever it was that you were eating before. Like most ‘diets’, doing this is likely to cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost over time, but we don’t judge, so if you’re aiming to lose those 10kg before your wedding next year, by all means go for your life. A lifestyle change – no matter if it’s dietary, physical, whatever – is permanent. And by permanent I mean, ongoing for the foreseeable future. I’ve made a lifestyle change, as I know most of you have too. For me this means reducing the amount of carbs – especially processed ones! – that I consume for the rest of my life. It’s not just a passing fad for us ‘LC lifestylers’, but before any of you start to pity us, it’s okay. Just because we’re in this with both feet, we’re also in it with both eyes open, and if that means we’re going to need a cheat week once every six months, hell, let’s do it! It means that we’ve committed to a dietary lifestyle that aims to keep our blood sugar level by eating low carb and/or low gi. We – mostly – avoid caffeine, fight off cravings by dealing with their chemical and psychological sources, manage our constipation with high-fibre foods, and above all, aim to maintain a healthy weight – this is after we’ve lost the excess! It’s not a constant battle, per se, but rather, it’s something that we’ve chosen. It’s a way of life, just as say, vegetarianism, veganism, or halal choices are a lifestyle/cultural/religious choice, low-carbing can be a choice as well.

Some of us have made the switch for health reasons – like me, with the PCOS and the no-gallbladder thing – while others want to avoid certain processed foods and have made the decision to eat ‘cleaner’. Whatever the reason, it’s an acknowledgement that some things just don’t have quick or easy fixes and require a complete change of living.

When you start out, it’s important that you keep that in mind: what are you doing? Is this a lifestyle change or a diet? Are you going to be in it for the long haul or just the short term? No judging, just make sure you know what you’re going to be doing: this is a commitment thing. If you’re going to do this, make a plan for it. For example, last year in November (2013) I weighed in at 82.2kg. I set myself the rather steep goal of losing 30kg in a year. As I progressed, I realised this wasn’t going to be that easy, given the pitfalls and curve balls that life throws, so I extended that to a year and a half. It’s November 2014 and currently weigh 60.8kg. That’s a 21.4kg loss and that’s bloody awesome, but yes, it’s around 9kg short of what I’d aimed for in the beginning. I realised about half way through the year that I was losing weight too fast; I admit I kind of freaked out when I realised one week that I’d lost 3.4kg. That’s too fast, and not sustainable, so I readdressed the weight loss and now I’m more comfortable. Keep in mind that I’m not in a rush, sure, I’ve set myself a timeframe in which to lose the weight, but I’m more concerned about maintaining it when I get there than getting there as fast as I can.

So what does it feel like? I feel better! I feel awesome. It’s not just the clear headedness that comes from removing processed junk out of my system, but also from losing all that weight. I look at pictures of myself from a year ago and wonder how I didn’t notice that I was lugging all that extra around. At the time I didn’t think it made much of a difference, but golly gee wiz, it makes a difference! I feel more energetic, and yes, occasionally when I slip up some I feel dizzy or nauseous, but I know how to fix it now. I’ve become more in tune with my body, and I know what to listen to and what to ignore. I know that dizzy means I need some protein, nauseous means I need a low gi hit of ‘good’ carbs – usually a carrot or a tomato with some salt! – and I know that headachey means I need to eat now. I also know that I need to eat every 2-3 hours or those symptoms start. This means I now carry snacks around in my bag to avoid me turning to easy available things that might lose me my carb count. I’m being overly cautious at the moment, obviously, because I’m still in the losing weight part of this lifestyle. I’ll tackle the ‘maintaining weight’ bridge when I get there…

Clear skies,

Vee

A Word About: Falling off the Wagon

I’ve had a very naughty week. September is a hard month for me, full of birthdays (including my own) and Father’s Day all of which tend to involve either eating out and cake or just high carb meals at hone….and cake. Usually I make the cake, and usually I’ve got the willpower to withstand the temptation. This last week, however, started with our little holiday. I behaved mostly, save for on our last night when I ate that bloody cake. It was awesome cake and you’ve got to be able to indulge yourself every once in a while or you’re bound to go crazy. Unfortunately for me, it also broke down my willpower for the next few days: my brother-in-law’s birthday was on Friday and I made the most awesome cake. I was actually extremely impressed with myself; so impressed I had two pieces. Again, I felt I needed to let off some steam, and in all honesty I didn’t/don’t feel guilty about it at all, but the physical reaction was quite impressive as well.

I could barely sleep that night: too much caffeine from the chocolate frosting and way too much sugar. Basically, I’d overloaded my system with carbs that it was no longer really equipped to handle. The next morning, my skin was gross – okay, not ‘gross’ but definitely not as pretty as it has been since I started LCing – and my hair was having a bad day. I also noticed that my lymphnodes were swollen and actually quite painful. In other words, all that bloody sugar had instantly compromised my immune system and my body was doing its best to fight off whatever I’d picked up from the Cafe that week. Yay, much fun.

Next problem: birthday cakes tend not to get completely eaten at parties right? And you can only send so much home with your guests. So that meant that there was left over cake in the fridge just begging to be eaten. And guess what? I did. Not all of it, luckily it was such good cake that my non-sweet-tooth husband ate most of it! Phew!

My point is, there’s going to be a week here or there where you fall off the LC wagon. I’ve done it before and I’ve done it again; I’m back on it now, but I know I’ll fall off again. This isn’t always an easy lifestyle decision we’ve made, and I think we all know that by now. We’re going to face temptation, whether it’s at a private birthday party or just at work when someone’s bought everyone coffee with cream and sugar just because. You’re not going to be able to plan the unforeseeable. The only thing we can do, as humans, is navigate those temptations as best as we can and if you fail once or twice that’s okay. I’ve been saying it a lot lately, and I’m not just trying to justify my week of bad eating here; we’re not just looking after our bodies here, people, but we’ve got to look after our minds too and if that means that once in a while you’ve got to eat that cookie: then eat the damned cookie. Just try to hold back and not devour the whole pack okay? And once we’ve had our little day(s) off, we have to climb back on that horse and get back to where we we were heading. Yes, it means you’ll likely have to face a little bit of carb flu again, and yes it means you’ll have cravings, but ask yourself this: isn’t it worth it? Remember where you’re going, not where you fell off your pony.

Clear Skies,

Vee

A Word About: Peanuts

I have a weakness for peanut butter – so much so that just now, typing the word made me crave it intensely. Luckily for me, most PB is low enough carb to fit into my regime: the best kind is homemade, or, in my case the stuff that Upper Ferntree Organics sell that I’m very lucky to have access to. (For those of you in Melbourne: 1232 Burwood Hwy, Upper Ferntree Gully, VIC3156. Ph. 03 9752 2688) I haven’t had it in forever, but it is by far the best pb that I’ve had. That said, if you don’t have access to organic, homemade, preservative-free, gluten-free pb, that’s okay, store-bought brands will do the thing too. And if you’re anti pb for some reason – maybe you don’t like the way it sticks to your mouth? I don’t know. – peanuts are your answer.

“Answer? What’re you going on about, Vee?”

Bear with me, this isn’t just some ramble about one of my favourite foods, I promise it actually serves a purpose.

As it turns out, peanuts – and the pb! – help in lowering and maintaining blood sugar levels. I stumbled across this fact while reading one of the many blogs I read, and the author commented that she’d given in and eaten a popular candy bar but figured the peanuts in it would lessen the damage of the chocolate. I raised an eyebrow when I read that comment, thinking she was making excuses for herself. Turns out, I was wrong, she was right.

As we already know, as nuts, peanuts are fairly good on the GI level, not affecting it all that much. Several studies I came across stated that a handful of peanuts or a small spoonful of peanut butter were enough to have a positive effect on steadying blood sugar levels.  Additionally, because it’s so high in fat and relatively high in sodium, you’re going to feel satisfied with your little snack, keeping you from raiding the pantry any further. This makes it an ideal snack for diabetics and pre-diabetics as maintaining a healthy diet is one of the prime means by which we deal with these issues.

And then there’s the magnesium.  Peanuts, like many nuts, are chock full of the stuff, and because they break down slowly you’ll regulate your magnesium levels while you’re at it.

There’s a wealth of information out there, waiting to be found, and I’ll definitely keep looking into it – I mean, hey, any excuse to eat pb right? But I also want to give a shout out to those of you who struggle with peanut/nut allergies. Of all the allergies, I think I’m right in saying that the peanut allergy is one of the most prevalent and I feel for anyone who struggles with it or has to watch their child struggle with it.

Clear skies,
Vee

Recommended reading:

The Peanut Institute – Diabetes and Blood Sugar
Diabetes in Control – Peanut Butter at Breakfast Helps Control Hunger and Blood Sugar All Day

A Word About: Diabetes

Over the last few decades, we have seen a drastic rise in diabetes. As we’ve turned to more and more processed food, pre-packed convenient meals, and given into the spread of readily available soft drinks, diabetes has erupted all over the world. In a lot of ways, it can be likened to a pandemic.  And yes, it can kill you.

In the last few entries I’ve been harping on and on about insulin resistance, low GI, low carb and diabetes, mostly assuming that we’re all on the same page. I figure most of us who have stumbled across this blog will know something about diabetes, whether or not we have firsthand experience or not. Those of you following LCO because of PCOS will hopefully know that we are considered high-risk pre-diabetic because of the insulin resistance that’s triggered a lot of our issues. So I figured it was time to have a closer look at this disease, especially given that we are now all at risk of diabetes because it isn’t always clear what we’re eating.

The fact is, just as I can’t talk about Low Carb Lifestyles without discussing PCOS or eating disorders, I can’t write about it without dedicated space to Diabetes, not with it becoming as widespread as it is, and not without it being tied in directly with this particular lifestyle change.

Now, before I start rambling, Diabetes Australia has a great explanation of the disease here.

So, in my own words…

Diabetes lasts a very, very long time; often a person’s entire life. It can start at any age, from the very young to the elderly and some people are more susceptible to it than others due to genetic markers and other influences beyond their control.

Now while most of us on a low carb or low GI diet are juggling all sorts of things, no other ‘thing’ needs careful low Gi/Carb monitoring as diabetes. What it comes down to is this: sugar in your bloodstream is toxic. This is why your body prioritizes sugar for energy burning; as soon as it hits your bloodstream, insulin is released to ferry the sugar to the liver where it can then be converted. When you’re diabetic, your body isn’t producing the right amount of insulin to deal with any sugars in your blood, leading to blood-sugar toxicity or hyperglycaemia. Hyperglycaemic symptoms include extreme thirst, weight loss, heavy urination, blurred vision, exhaustion and a drop in immune system functionality – this is often evidenced by infection, such as yeast infections, or wounds not healing as they should. The causes of this are very simple: you’ve eaten too many carbs in too short a time – and we’re talking primarily simple carbs here: potatoes, rice, cake, pasta, bread, candy/sweets, ice cream, milk, etc. -, the flu – or another sickness – that’s messing with your internal body chemistry, stress – a biggie! Stress can mess with your body’s natural insulin production and immune system! –, medications – some of these can not only knock your system about but can actual inhibit the body’s production of hormones that it needs –, and of course not having taken your insulin on time, or simply not getting enough of a dose for whatever reason.

The opposite can happen with hypoglycaemia, which is when your blood sugar is too low. This can happen when a person has skipped meals, isn’t eating enough carbohydrates – I know, it’s a frustrating balance! -, experiences extreme physical exercise, consumes too much alcohol, or has taken too much insulin. Most people with Type 2 Diabetes (see below) have less of a hard time avoiding hypoglycaemia through appropriate dietary intakes, while Type 1s run a greater risk. The symptoms of this extremely low blood sugar include moodiness – and in some cases, sever mood swings – and depression, weakness – trembling, shaking, that sort of thing -, profuse sweating, dizziness and/or light headedness, lack of concentration, hunger, and numbness around the fingers and lips. A quick fix is to find a quick sugar boost – a bit of soda pop, a glass of juice, some jellybeans, glucose tablets. If you’re prone to low blood sugar, eat accordingly – eat more often, or add in some heavier carbs to sustain yourself between meals.

Now, we’ve got two main types of diabetes. With Type 1 Diabetes the pancreas no longer produces any insulin. This means that the body’s not burning that sugar at all. People with Type 1 require regular doses of insulin to stay alive, it’s as simple as that; without an external source of insulin they die, no questions asked, no second chances. There’s no cure, and people with Type 1 can really only manage their disease as best they can with a healthy low GI lifestyle and regular insulin doses.

Type 2 Diabetes is more common. If you’ve been told you’re pre-diabetic or at risk of becoming diabetic, chances are you’re lined up for Type 2. In this case, your pancreas is still producing insulin but you’ve effectively developed a resistance to it to such an extent that it’s not enough and certainly not as effective.  As with Type 1, there’s no cure, but it’s easier to manage Type 2 with a low carb/low gi lifestyle. Occasionally, people require an external insulin source to keep them alive, but for the most part a change to a healthier, low sugar lifestyle seems to allow them to manage it.

The other type of diabetes I’ll talk about quickly is gestational diabetes, which pops up during pregnancy. When with child, women require a lot more insulin than they normally would – unsurprising really, given that they’re carrying a whole other person around! Gestational diabetes raises the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth, and can put the mother at risk of developing Type 2 after the pregnancy. However, if managed correctly during the pregnancy, these risks can be drastically alleviated. If you’re thinking about conceiving, especially if you’re pre-diabetic – or you have PCOS! – talk to your gynaecologist or GP about the how to best deal with this risk.

So there we have it, in a nutshell, and no doubt we’ll talk about it again: diabetes, spreading like wild fire.

Clear Skies,

Vee