Tag Archives: blood glucose management

A Breakfast Believer!

Whether weight loss is your game or managing your diabetes (or both), you have heard, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” at least once.  Most of us actually heard this at some point growing up or in the process of growing up our own family.  Back then it had to do with being at our best during the school day and hopefully having our brain function optimally.  These days, it has more to do with trying to jump start a metabolism that has decided to enjoy early retirement or trying to bring down a fasting blood glucose number that seems to peak first thing in the morning.

Breakfast.  Just the word conjures visions of french toast, banana nut pancakes, bacon, sausage links, biscuits, gravy, piggies in the blanket….. mmmmmmmmmm! For a weight loss crusader or a diabetic defender, these visions will stay just that….. visions.  As a faithful follower of Weight Watchers, I know that you can treat yourself to these every once in awhile, especially if you manage your allotted daily points in a way that allows it.  However, as a diabetic there is a question as to the definition of “once in awhile” and as for this diabetic….. treating myself once just creates a vicious craving that I would rather be without!  And, bottomline, although those breakfast choices are once-in-awhile options, breakfast is not.  Breakfast should be an everyday occurrence for an endless list of reasons; after all, it is the most important meal of the day!

Breakfast.  Just the word conjures a steady stream of excuses…… I don’t like to eat in the morning, I don’t have time to eat in the mornings, I am not hungry in the mornings, nixing breakfast helps cut 1/3 of the day’s calories, yada yada yada.  When I first started Weight Watchers in 2005 I was one of those I-don’t-like-to-eat-in-the-morning people.  After a few months I became very frustrated with losing an average of less than 1 pound a week.  My group leader re-addressed the topic of breakfast and its effects on weight loss with me. I decided, heck, if I could figure out how to enjoy exercise, I could figure out how to enjoy breakfast!  My new routine became ½ cup of original Fiber One cereal mixed into a 98% fat free Yoplait yogurt, 1 small banana and a large glass of water.  Within a month or so of adding breakfast to my day, my average weekly weight loss increased to 1.5lbs a week.  I became a Breakfast Believer!

So, my ½ cup of original Fiber One cereal mixed into a 98% fat free Yoplait yogurt, 1 small banana and a large glass of water became my daily breakfast.  The only part that varied was the flavor of yogurt. For 3 years – over 1,000 days that included a pregnancy – this was my Old Faithful of breakfasts.  When I received my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in October 2009, I was left utterly dumbfounded.  Yes, Old Faithful was healthy; yes, it had contributed greatly to my weight loss (93 lbs) and to my efforts to maintain my loss; yes, it seemed responsible for keeping my “plumbing” in good order; however, in an instant, the arrival of diabetes turned my old friend to a new foe!

This value of this breakfast had been quantified for years as “3 points.”  This is fantastic in a Weight Watchers World.  Now, it was quantified as “65g carbohydrates.”  This is known as one big fat no-no in a type 2 diabetes world.  Every diabetic is different and their blood sugar responds to different foods at different times of the day.  I tried everything.  I tried Fiber One and water, yogurt and water, Fiber One and the banana, the banana and water….. you get my drift.  My blood sugar was just not on board with any of the combinations.  Now I was stuck.  I needed to lose 80 lbs, so I knew I needed to eat breakfast.  My mornings are CRAZY trying to get myself ready for work and my 2 year old ready for school.  I needed an new Old Faithful.  It needed to be delicious, fast, low carb AND low points.  How’s that for high maintenance??

Two fellow Weight Watchers turned me on to Egg Beaters.  Now, I had eaten them before and I loved them.  The key to this “turn on” was that they let me in on a little secret……. THEY CAN BE MICROWAVED!  Who knew?  Microwaved egg substitute out of a carton gave rise to my current Old Faithful.  Not only is it “5 points” and “18g carbs (11 net)”…… it can be prepared in less than 4 minutes and yes, I have timed it on multiple occasions!  The punch line – my blood glucose is routinely 120ish 2 hours after my 1st bite. I take the ingredients for the week to work every Monday morning so that i am never left empty handed and tempted to just wait it out until lunch.

A Breakfast Believer’s Breakfast Burrito – 5 Weight Watchers Points, 18g carbs/7g fiber

1/2 c Egg Beaters

1 Mission low carb small flour tortilla

1 Tbsp salsa

1/4 c Weight Watchers shredded cheese

1/2 small or 1/4 large avocado, sliced

Microwave bow of Egg Beaters for 2 minutes, stirring about every 30 seconds.  While microwaving eggs, place tortilla on plate and put cheese on tortilla.  When eggs are finished put on top of cheese.  Top eggs with salsa and sliced avocado. Breakfast Bliss!

Whether we are hustling ourselves to work or hustling children to school, breakfast is just an easy thing to miss.  However, once you experience the impact the most important meal of the day can have on your weight loss efforts or how the right breakfast may help decrease your blood glucose faster than skipping a morning meal, you  too, will be a breakfast believer!

Do you have an Old Faithful?  I would love to hear what made you a Breakfast Believer!

The Dishing Diabetic

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The Great Zu-dini!

Sometimes I think I should take my show on the road as a Substitution Magician. After 4 years of eating to manage my weight and then adding blood glucose management to that a year ago, it feels as if I have found a substitute for nearly all of my favorite foods. Some did not require much effort, like substituting low carb flour tortillas for regular flour tortillas or egg beaters for real eggs. Other favorites, such as spaghetti and mashed potatoes proposed a much larger challenge for my “skills.” However, as the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

True magic is made when you actually believe your substitution is better than the real deal. I can’t pinpoint when this magic happens, but, stick with it long enough and it really does happen. I was discussing this with a colleague in our office kitchen one morning. She was heating up her homemade pumpkin oatmeal (utterly AMAZING) and I was making my regular breakfast burrito. Both breakfasts included a sophisticated level of substitutions; however, we agreed that even if we could eat the “originals” our concoctions were based on, we would actually choose our alternatives. Magic! Our assumption was this…. somewhere along the way in our journey to make life changes (the only way weight loss can healthfully be achieved and maintained) we actually realized that our new food choices made us feel better.  Four days into my efforts my daily heart burn disappeared, for good.  About 4 weeks into my efforts I noticed how much better I was sleeping.  A couple of months (and a handful of pounds lighter) into it and  the constant dull ache in my hips and knees was gone.  The sensation of feeling better, feeling younger, began to carry more importance than eating the foods that tasted better. The WLDS (Weight Loss Deprivation Syndrome) and the DDS (Diabetic Deprivation Syndrome) began to dissipate and give way to a feeling of being in control for once.  I realized that the only thing I was depriving my body of was heart burn, aches, pains, sleeplessness and the list goes on….. and as for those things, I was more than happy to live without them.  As for everything else….. a substitute had to exist!

Mashed cauliflower became mashed potatoes in my house. Now the entire family and extended family prefers the substitution. My substitution for spaghetti has also become a fan favorite.  Now, remember the only 2 rules I enforce when sharing recipes…. approach with an open mind and don’t-knock-it-til-you-try-it.  Zucchini is the substitution for noodles in my spaghetti.  Yes, zucchini….. or as I like to call it…. The Great Zu-dini!  Zucchini has been a staple of my diet for a very long time.  I like to use thin slices of zucchini as “chips” for my dip.  I love to saute it with baby portobello mushrooms with a little shredded romano cheese sprinkled it.  Zucchini also makes wonderful zucchini fries (I use olive oil and about 1/2 c. flour). I can even make mini pizzas with zucchini serving as the crust (George Stella’s Good Carb Family Cookbook’s Pizza Stuffed Zucchini Bites).  Zucchini, a required prop for any seasoned Substitution Magician, deserves the title The Great Zu-dini.

Spaghini……. (spaghetti with zucchini) 6 servings; Per serving: 4 Weight Watchers Points, 24 g carbs, 5 g fiber

8-10 zucchini (speared and cut in 1/2)

2 cartons sliced mushrooms

1 lb 96% fat free ground beef  

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

1 lg can (26 1/2 oz) low carb spaghetti sauce (I uses Del Monte Green Pepper & Mushroom)

6 Tbsp reduced fat grated parmesan cheese

Cut zucchini into spears about 3-4 inches long and steam until crisp-tender.  Spray large skillet with cooking spray and saute mushrooms and onions.  Add ground beef to mushrooms and onions, brown and drain.  Return meat mixture back to skillet and add can of spaghetti sauce and heat.   Spoon 1 cup zucchini into 6 bowls. Scoop about 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce mixture on top of zucchini and top with 1 Tbsp reduced fat grated parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!

Are you new to the substitution game or are you an old pro?  What is your favorite substitution for your favorite food?  I look forward to hearing…. I need a good idea for dinner tonight!

Have a wonderful week!

The Dishing Diabetic

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Test Strip Tyranny

I am going to step out on a limb here and say that having type II diabetes means facing a number of obstacles – emotional, nutritional and physical.  Upon diagnosis, the barrage of  emotions – shock, confusion, denial, anger, grief – is staggering.  It is not a stretch to say that life as you knew it is a thing of the past.  You now have to learn how to eat, drink, exercise, test your blood and the most optimal times throughout the day to do those things.  Nutritionally, you must learn how everything – food, drink, exercise, medication – will affect your blood sugar and how to modify each of those things address blood glucose readings that are too high or too low.  Physically, you endure the side effects of your new diet and the addition of exercise to your routine.  For me, I struggled to find the time to have type II diabetes and be a med student’s wife, a mother, a stepmother, and an employee.  This thing literally comes at you from every direction.  There is one source of constant feedback that becomes your lifeline….. your glucometer and test strips.  The ability to “TEST, TEST, TEST” (you will see this mantra on almost all of the diabetes message boards) allows a type II diabetic to know how their diet and their exercise affects their blood glucose levels without any side effects (technology is so advanced now that most of us don’t even endure sore fingers!).

I am going to go out on another limb and say that those that test are those that have made managing their diabetes and preventing diabetic complications a priority in their daily life.  Although the diabetic benefits the most from these efforts, the general population benefits as well.  Just research the biggest contributors to escalating healthcare costs in this country.  You will see the rising obesity rates and the dramatic impact they have on healthcare’s “bottom line.”  Anywhere you see the term “obesity,” diabetes, heart disease and hypertension (bit of humor: my sweet friend who is a nurse calls this the Texas Trio) are sure to follow.  The cost of diabetic complications is exorbitant to the patient, those that care for them and the healthcare system.  When you consider the financial cost and that 80% of diabetic complications are preventable it becomes apparent how imperative prevention is for so many reasons.  Prevention can not be accomplished by new legislation, healthcare reform, or by those that love a diabetic.  Prevention is up to each type II diabetic and those that are at high risk for developing the disease (pre-diabetics). Daily blood glucose testing is central to successful prevention.  It is a simple and painless method to help manage diabetes; however, always having supplies on hand may not always be so simple.

I recently called my pharmacy to refill my test strips.  I was told that my insurance company did not approve the request because it was too “soon” since my last refill.  WHAT?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  We are talking about little pieces of plastic that collect my blood.  We are not talking about pills, syrups, or anything else that could be harmful if not controlled.  We are talking about test strips.  We are talking about blood glucose management.  We are talking about preventing diabetic complications.  We are talking about decreasing the costs of healthcare associated with the 80% of diabetic complications that are preventable.  This just absolutely amazes me.  These things should be passed out like candy to diabetics.  There should be test-strip-bowls in every endocrinologist’s office just like the lollipop bowls at the pediatrician’s.  Of all the obstacles diabetics face, obtaining test strips should NOT be one. Those that test are those that have made managing their diabetes and preventing diabetic complications a priority in their daily life.  Those that test are making a responsible decision that affects their life, the lives of those that love them and they are contributing – with every single pin prick – to the effort to reduce the cost of healthcare in this country.

So, until my doctor puts out a test-strip-bowl, I am left with 2 choices.  1) Test no more than 3 times a day OR 2) end up going whole days without testing until my insurance agency gives my pharmacy the green light to dispense me my little pieces of plastic. I can tell you that neither option agrees with me and, I am going to step out on another limb here, I am pretty sure the thousands of people on all of the wonderful diabetic message boards would agree.  From what I can tell from these amazing folks, we are all working to stay off medications, to take less or be taken off medication completely, to lose weight, the lower our blood glucose levels….. to PREVENT the diabetic complications that are guaranteed if we do not successfully manage are blood glucose.  This management begins when we “TEST, TEST, TEST” our blood glucose.

This was more of a venting, slightly political entry.  I apologize if I have offended anyone.  Have any of you faced this obstacle and found a way to overcome it?  If so, please share.

The Dishing Diabetic

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