Friday, September 18, 2015

Controling Gestational Diabetes Through Diet and Exercise

Roast salmon, quinoa/corn salad, salad with vinaigrette

At one point I didn't think it was possible to control my glucose levels with just diet and exercise. Everything I ate, no matter how little, spiked my glucose. I also exercised hard every day. I began to think that the only way to beat the disease and still be able to eat somewhat normally would be to be on insulin medication. I hated the idea of it so I stuck to my plan even though it was frustrating. Sigh. The baby needed carbohydrates so in order to consume more, I had to resort to complex carbs, sugars with low glycemic indices, and I had to add more protein to my diet. All of those things helped me provide the needed carbs for my baby's growth while keeping my glucose from spiking too fast.

White rice and brown rice contains the same amount of carbs. The difference is that brown rice will slowly increase your glucose levels and that makes it safer for your body. The longer your glucose stays at a dangerously high level, the more damage it will cause to your nerves and blood vessels, kidneys, vision, and heart. Carbohydrates with a high fiber content helps slow down your glucose levels. As your glucose slowly rises, the insulin from your pancreas can better convert that into energy in a timely matter. With gestational diabetes, the baby's hormones from the placenta is blocking the insulin from doing its usual job and the insulin is less effective so slowing down the increase in glucose in your body would definitely help. As for glycemic indices, sweeteners such as agave syrup are great substitutes for white sugar or any kind of sweetener because it has a very low glycemic index of 15. Compare that to white and brown sugar with a glycemic index of 64. Finally, adding protein to your meal also helps slow down the glucose from rising in your body. This is especially important during breakfast, if you want to feel full and still have carbohydrates.

I ate so many berries but I love them :) More seeds, more fiber!

Papayas were great too. Not too sweet.

After being on a diabetic diet for over eight weeks and experimenting on all sorts of different foods, I discovered what worked for my body. In the last several weeks, I was able to constantly keep my glucose under control with just diet and exercise. I felt full, I gained weight, and best of all, I never had to go on any medication. Thank goodness! I'm scared of medication :S The nutritionist at the clinic complimented my food choices all the time, calling them "beautiful." I never told her I was a foodie and food blogger :) I proved to the clinic that I was able to control my glucose levels on my own so they released me from the program. I no longer had to log everything that I ate and report every activity that I did. I still had to be on a strict diet and take my glucose test every time I ate and I only logged what I ate and did on the odd occasion when my glucose did go over the allowed level. I no longer had to go to the clinic to report anything to them. Because I was able to control my glucose levels without assistance, that meant baby and I would not need any medication when I go into labor. Hurrah! I was so relieved and happy.

A new day, a new salad.

Now that it is all over, I wanted to share some of my food choices to help others who have diabetes, especially gestational diabetes. In my previous post about my strict diabetic diet, I indicated what some of the bad and good foods were. Here, I can provide more details of the sorts of meals I have been enjoying. I tried to mix things up so that I wouldn't get bored of eating the same stuff but sometimes it was just easier just to eat the same stuff. Lol. This was especially the case for breakfast. I experimented with so many different things for breakfast and repeated failed my glucose tests. Seriously. I would add protein and fiber and think it would be safe but my blood tests proved them wrong. The worst part was that I didn't even feel full afterwards. Lose and lose! Experts weren't kidding when they say you have the highest insulin resistance in the morning.

These healthy kefir pancakes I made were terrible for me:( I only had 2 plain ones. BG: 175mg/dL.

This became my trusted bread for toast in the morning.

My typical breakfast. BG: 110 mg/dL.

I never had a problem with my glucose fasting numbers. After breakfast though, my glucose would spike quite a bit. The problem with my typical breakfast was that it was loaded in carbs. Things I typically eat such as bread, cereal, scones, muffins, pastries and fruit were all bad. Through trial and error, I was able to narrow down my breakfast to just 1 1/2 slices of the small multigrain bread with peanut butter or sunflower butter. The nut and seed butters were important since they provided the protein in the meal. If I didn't have the butters, I would instead have my bread with eggs or an omelet and that would take care of the protein as well. Sometimes I had potatoes too but then I would cut down on the bread. To accompany every breakfast, I would have a hot decaf coffee with unsweetened almond milk. All this pretty much became my trusted breakfast for weeks and weeks.

Sample BREAKFAST:

1/2 slice of multigrain bread
3/4 cup potato
1 cup omelet with veggies, cheese, meat
10 oz decaf almond latte
1/2 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 116 mg/dL



My favorite brand of decaf coffee. Yum, yum!

I made my lattes with this. Pretty much 0 carbs.

Yogurt parfait.
My lunch would typically consist of multigrain crackers, cheese, and raw vegetables. Or a smaller portion of leftover dinner from the night before. Or a low fat, slightly sweetened yogurt parfait. Dinner was my hardest meal to pass since it would normally be my largest meal. The following meals worked well for me since they had a good balance of complex carbs, protein, and fiber. I even had the occasional treat in the form of salty Cheetos or a small cookie or two. I just had to make sure I didn't consume as many carbs in my main meal. On top of dinner, I would either have gone walking just before or right after my dinner before taking my glucose test. My body responded well to exercise and I definitely saw my glucose level drop as a result. It was amazing to see and that kept me motivated in exercising more. Basically, going for a 45 minute walk allowed me to have an extra cup of blueberries or half of a medium fruit like a nectarine. I have a pretty good eye for estimating quantities since I hack in the kitchen all the time so I never actually measured out precisely how much of everything I was eating. Keeping track of my food logs and pokes was enough work for me!

Me & my running partner, my 6.5 year old son.


DINNER:

1/4 cup peanuts
3/4 cup Cheetos
4 cup salad with dark leaves, mushrooms, tomatos, eggplant, ham, sardines, edamame, croutons, cucumbers, olives
1 fresh fig
1/4 cup blackberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 121 mg/dL
Activity: 5 min stair climb nonstop after lunch, 25 min walk after dinner

Peanuts, Cheetos and salad with chickpeas, edamame in basil vinaigrette.


DINNER:

One-sided grilled chicken breast burger with cheese, veggies, avocado, mustard, and mayo
1/2 cup carrots, mushrooms & 1/2 cup pita chips with artichoke/chickpea hummus
1 cup Jamaican coleslaw
1/2 cup blackberries/blueberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 109 mg/dL
Activity: Went on 4km run after breakfast

One-sided chicken burger with cheese and lots of veggies.

Half a whole wheat bun actually has lots of carbs. Protein is from chicken and cheese.

Tip: It's much easier to eat an one-sided burger with a knife & fork:)

Jamaican coleslaw with cranberries & sweetened with agave syrup.

DINNER:

1 1/2 tbsp honey roasted peanuts
1 3/4 cup Jamaican coleslaw
1 cup fried rice with mixed grains, veggies, ham, sausage, eggs
2 chunks tofu
2 jerk chicken drumsticks
3/4 cup raspberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 126 mg/dL
Activity: 38 min walk after lunch, 20 min nap in afternoon

Coleslaw, jerk chicken, barley/white rice fried rice with tofu.

DINNER:

2 small potatos
2 small yams
1 1/2 cup squash, zucchini, snap peas, peppers
3/4 cup halibut
1 sausage
3 coconut thin cookies
1/2 cup pirate booty popcorn
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1.5 hour: 101 mg/dL
Activity: didn't sleep well night before, 38 min walk after dinner

BBQ squash, sausages, yams, halibut. Sure, diabetes can eat well! :)

BBQ greens.


DINNER:

1 1/2 cup mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, celery
2/3 cup artichoke/jalapeno dip
1 small corn tortilla with enchilada mix of turkey, sausage, veggies, cheese
1 tbsp pineapple salsa
1/4 cup guacamole
5 nachos with enchilada mix
1/4 cup peanuts, cashews
1/2 cup peach & blueberries
1 glass of water

BG reading after 1 hour: 112 mg/dL
Activity: 40 min walk after lunch, 10 min body workout, 25 min walk before dinner

Homemade guacamole.

Turkey/black bean enchiladas with salsa and guacamole. Made this for our anniversary meal.

I know it's hard. Sometimes too hard. But I'm living proof it can be done. You can beat gestational diabetes without any medication. You and your baby will be healthier for it and you will feel proud of your accomplishment. Just take it one day at a time and persevere through it. My family benefited from my diabetic diet as well. My 6 1/2 year old son was a trooper. He had to eat more vegetables and beans than usual and since it was the summer and he was off school, he became my walking and running buddy. He cheered me on when it got tough. I couldn't love him more! :)

To further motivate you to keep going and not to give up, here is me after my last 4 km run, exactly one week before I went into labor. It was my hardest pregnancy run ever but I'm so happy to have made it to 9 months! I only ran until I was 5 months pregnant with my first child. In a way, I should thank gestational diabetes for pushing me to run longer.

After a 4km run, exactly 1 week before my labor and delivery.

Yes, our new baby arrived! Three weeks early but we're both healthy and well. As an added bonus, she was only 6lbs 10oz so she was small enough for me to push out easily. Lol. My first child was over 8lbs and that was really rough. Our new baby seemed so tiny to me but the nurses were impressed she was so big considering she was three weeks early. Thank you gestational diabetes? Or I just have a tendency to have big babies.

I hope the sample meals above can give you some ideas of what you can eat and still be in the safe zone. With some creativity and work, food doesn't have to be boring for Diabetics. Exercise, although more difficult in the third trimester, helped me cope with the stress and it made me stronger, like I had mentioned in my previous running post. It only took me 2 or 3 pushes to bring my daughter into the world. That's 5 minutes tops! Compare that with several hours of pushing, assisted by a vacuum and an episiotomy for my first child. Ouch! Both pregnancies, although almost 7 years apart, resulted in natural vaginal births without any medication or pain relief. Remember how I hate medication? :) The main difference was that this time I had more energy, I felt stronger, and the pain didn't last that long. I had good control of my contractions and I didn't make a sound until a few minutes before I could push. The nurse complimented me on my control. I tried extra hard to be cool because my 6 year old son was in the delivery room with us and I didn't want to scare him. We had no babysitter since the baby came so early. Overall, labor and delivery couldn't have gone better for us. I'm so glad I pushed myself to run and exercise more in this pregnancy. I think the baby came early as a result and labor was shorter and easier overall.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Ultimate Diabetic Cookie


New diets come with new recipes. With gestational diabetes, I missed carbohydrates like rice, pasta, and fruit more than anything else. Occasionally, I would crave for a sweet treat like a brownie or cookie. Sweet treats at the store contained way too many carbohydrates in the form of sugar or were way too small in size to satisfy any craving I had. I would often just avoid sweets altogether. My husband and son would eat chocolate, cookies, and ice cream bars in front of me while I nibbled away at my raw carrots. I felt lonely, much like a lone vegan would feel at a restaurant table full of company that ate meat. Ha! Eventually, it just didn't bother me anymore.

There had to be a way for me to eat at least two decent size cookies without feeling guilty about it. I searched online for diabetic cookie recipes and found that diabetic cookies were pretty much your regular cookie. They were loaded with sugar. Many even used white sugar and white flour. Were these so-called diabetic cookies for diabetics on insulin medication?!? I don't think you can call it a diabetic recipe if it's loaded with bad carbohydrates and you can only enjoy one of them at a time. So I was determined to come up with my own diabetic cookie. One that would satisfy my sweet cravings, be healthy and I could eat two of without spiking my glucose.

After a few experiments, I think I have finally found that recipe. It's based off on one of my favorite easy and healthy cookie recipes by Chef Heidi Fink. I drastically reduced the sweetness, added more fiber and protein, and used ingredients with lower glycemic indices. I basically applied everything I have learned about being on a diabetic diet and used that to make the cookie as diabetic friendly as I could, without compromising its taste. I have to admit, it doesn't taste much like the original cookie at all but it's still very good. I can easily substitute one cookie in place of half a slice of bread with peanut butter for breakfast and it won't affect my glucose level very much. I can eat two of them at a time with my lunch and be okay. I like to crumble the cookies up and use them in place of granola in my homemade yogurt parfaits. I don't normally have yogurt parfaits but I am really enjoying them these days.

Breakfast: 1 cookie, 1 slice of bread with peanut butter, 1 decaf almond latte.

Homemade yogurt parfait with diabetic cookie crumbled on top.


The diabetic cookie I created is worthy of its name. It's also gluten-free. Yay! It's got banana, coconut, almond, and very little sugar in it. The recipe makes about 3-4 dozen medium cookies and uses only 1/2 cup of golden sugar. The rest is sweetened by bananas and semi-sweet chocolate chips. The almond meal and extra eggs add extra protein, which is needed to keep your glucose from rising too quickly. The extra eggs are needed because coconut flour acts much like a sponge and I didn't want the cookie to be too dry. Coconut flour and almond meal make good substitutes for the flour because they have much lower carbohydrate content. Almond meal is basically grind up almonds with the skins on them and are chunkier and oilier than almond flour, which are blanched almonds grind up to a fine powder. Almond meal is much cheaper than almond flour, easier to find, and I like the fact that the skins are on them since that's extra fiber. In addition to the almond meal, I also added wheat bran to the cookies for even more fiber. Fiber is the good kind of carbohydrate that you want since it will slow down your glucose. I love the cookies the way they are but if you find them a bit dry, you could always add another egg or two. Keep in mind that may dilute the taste a bit so you may need to compensate by adding a bit more banana. Enjoy and feel free to experiment away! :)





The Ultimate Diabetic Cookie
Makes about 40 cookies
(Adapted from Almost Like Muffin Tops at Lip Smacking)

DRY:
1 1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda


WET:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1/2 cup golden or brown sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas, smashed

2 cup quick oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with silicon liners or parchment paper.

Mix together all the wet ingredients until smooth. Add the dry ingredients on top and mix until combined. Stir in the oats, shredded coconut, and chocolate chips.

Scoop little balls of dough on cookie sheet, press down gently and bake. I used 1 1/2 tbsp balls of dough for mine. Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway. I like my cookies a bit toastier but you could bake them for less time, if you don't. These cookies don't spread very much due to the coconut flour and almond meal. Cool on cookie racks.
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