My Journey to a Healthier Low Carb Way of Life

I originally wrote this story on my personal blog, Susan’s Musings, but now that I started my low carb recipe blog, it really belongs here.

I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, as well as their website. This helps me track my daily food intake, and it is a great source of nutritional information. For those of you who use MyFitnessPal, I set my goals at 1200 calories, 10% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 75% fat. Of course, everyone is different, but this is what works for me. It helps me maintain normal blood sugar levels, and I’m slowly losing weight.

My Journey to a Healthier Low Carb Way of Life

I started this journey on July 1, 2015. My last meal the night before I started my diet was on June 30, 2015, at approximately 7:30 pm. I remember the exact day and time because it changed my life!

This journey didn’t start out as a way to lose weight. My blood glucose (BG) levels were out of control and I needed to do something. My blood sugar reading was 230 the morning that I started my diet, and that was with medication and insulin. A normal blood glucose reading should be between 70 and 105, and no higher than 180 two hours after a meal. Well, that’s what I used to think. That is what I was taught.

After doing much research, from what I understand, it is when the blood glucose reaches 140 that it begins to cause damage to organs and nerves. This is why I have neuropathy in my hands and feet, and probably why I have had cataracts and have to get the pressure in my eyes checked every year for fear of glaucoma. I know many of my ailments come with age, but I also know Diabetes has been the cause of many of them.

It had been a real struggle trying to keep my diabetes under control. Over the years, my doctors have gradually added more and more oral medication until, finally, it wasn’t enough and I had to take insulin. I hated it! Having to prick my fingers three to five times a day, shots in the morning, evening, and before each meal. The more I ate, the more insulin I needed. I finally realized that I was just feeding my diabetes.

You see, all the diabetes training that I received from the medical profession didn’t help, because what they were teaching me was all wrong! Well balanced meals and portion control wasn’t working. The high-carbohydrate recommendations were certainly not working. In fact, they were slowing killing me.

The ADA recommends 30 to 45 grams of carbohydrates for meals, and 15 grams of carbohydrates for snacks. As it turns out, I can’t eat more than 50 grams of carbs per DAY! I try to keep it under 6 grams of carbs for breakfast, and 12 grams of carbs for lunch and dinner. I also allow myself 5 grams of carbs for snacks, twice a day.

Before I came to my senses, I kept telling myself that I had no will power. It was foods like fried rice or spaghetti that made it very difficult. Even very small amounts would send my blood sugar readings into the stratosphere. Now, they are not even in my repertoire of recipes when I cook for myself. I do still cook them for my family on occasion, but most of the time they can do without. They are much better off making healthier choices, even if it is me that is making the choices for them. Otherwise, hey, they can cook for themselves, right? I can’t even get my 21-year-old to make his own grilled cheese sandwich. I know, I enable and indulge him. I’m a mother, and that’s what I do. I enable and indulge.

When I do cook high calorie/carb foods for them, I can usually do without and add something I like instead. For example, they love spaghetti and I would never deprive them of my spaghetti and meatballs. So, while the sauce is simmering and the spaghetti noodles are boiling, I spiralize a zucchini (I call them zoodles).

I saute the zucchini noodles in a little EVOO and garlic. I then have the zoodles with a little sauce and meatballs. It is so good!

zucchini spaghetti and meatballs

Zucchini Spaghetti and Meatballs – 195 calories, 11g net carbs

The First Day of The Rest of My Life

I started with a 3-day fast so that I could try to get my insulin dosage where it should be, without food. I then began to add carbohydrates back into my diet. I soon found that my body cannot tolerate too many carbs without spiking my blood sugar too much. So, I settled on less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day (that’s right, not per meal, PER DAY!), preferably less than 30g. I also found out that the delicious fruity, gummy vitamins I was taking added as many as 8 to 10 grams of carbs, so I switched to regular vitamins, even though they may not taste too great. Now, instead of seeing BG readings in the 200’s, I’m seeing consistent readings in the 80’s and 90’s. I couldn’t believe it!

I can’t stress this enough. Not one of the diabetic counselors or nutritionists (and believe me, there have been many, including two-day seminars where we were taught how to manage our Diabetes) even suggested lowering carbohydrates this much. In fact, they taught the opposite – that we must maintain a well-balanced diet, complete with whole grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy, and meat. This is so wrong and, in my opinion, is killing people with Diabetes. We just can’t process carbohydrates the same way “normal” people do, it’s that simple!

According to the ADA, the following is their definition of a Healthy Diet:

Diabetes Meal Plans and a Healthy Diet

What is a Healthy Diet?

A healthy diet is a way of eating that that reduces risk for complications such as heart disease and stroke.

Healthy eating includes eating a wide variety of foods including:

  • vegetables
  • whole grains
  • fruits
  • non-fat dairy products
  • beans
  • lean meats
  • poultry
  • fish

There is no one perfect food so including a variety of different foods and watching portion sizes is key to a healthy diet. Also, make sure your choices from each food group provide the highest quality nutrients you can find. In other words, pick foods rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber over those that are processed.

People with diabetes can eat the same foods the family enjoys. Everyone benefits from healthy eating so the whole family can take part in healthy eating. It takes some planning but you can fit your favorite foods into your meal plan and still manage your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.”

That is true to a certain extent, but the fact is, I can’t eat whole grains, beans or most fruit, and non-fat dairy products have too many carbohydrates, without the added benefits of healthy fats. Even complex carbohydrates are difficult to process if there are too many carbs in one serving. Personally, I prefer to eat more low-carb foods that fill me up and satisfy me, rather than try to eat very small portions of high-carb foods that leave me feeling hungry all day. People who try to do this are fighting a losing battle, and tend to quit too soon. Even doctors know how difficult it is to do. Hence, more medication to handle the higher blood sugars.

It can be very frustrating, I know, but we all have to experiment with different foods to see how they affect our blood sugars.

A Guide to Healthy Low-Carb Eating with Diabetes
By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE |
January, 2016

This article provides a detailed overview of low-carb diets for managing diabetes.

I have about 50 pounds to lose, so I decided to try and restrict my calorie intake as well. Believe me, calories do matter. It takes quite the balancing act to lower carbs and calories at the same time. So, in addition to lowering my carb intake to less than 50 grams of carbs, I now stick to a 1200 calorie diet. It’s not always easy, but it’s doable. I actually get to eat a lot of low carb food, so I’m not feeling hungry all day like I did with high carb, low fat diets. This diet has changed my life! In fact, to me, it’s not a diet at all. It is a new way of eating, a low carb way of life. Hmm, NWOE and LCWOL. Not Low Carb, High Fat (LCHF), exactly, because I’m not comfortable with eating a lot of fat. It makes me feel queasy when I eat too much fat. Besides, I read that too much fat can spike my blood sugar because it contributes to my insulin resistance. However, I don’t eat low fat, either, because I feel that some fat in my diet helps me feel full and satisfied. Like I said, it’s all a balancing act. Anyway, there are plenty of pros and cons out there about the LCHF diet, but I’m not going to get into that. I just want to write about what works for me and, hopefully, give others some ideas on making healthier choices.

Some of my favorite low carb foods:

Low Carb Alice Springs Chicken
Cauliflower Pork Fried Rice
Oven Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings
Low Carb Buffalo Chicken with Cauliflower, Cheese and Bacon
Low Carb Bacon Wrapped Chicken Cordon Bleu
Mashed Cauliflower with White Cheddar and Chives
Sauteed cabbage and sweet Italian sausage served over Cauliflower Rice
Sauteed chicken and green beans
Grilled steak with greens
Oven baked cod and broccoli
Corned beef and cabbage
Eggplant Parmesan
Zucchini spaghetti and meatballs
Romaine lettuce wraps with ham, roast beef, tuna, turkey and chicken salad.
Roasted asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant
Snacks: mozzarella sticks, peanuts, cucumber chips, strawberries and whipped cream. I also found a mock danish that was pretty good.

I would love to hear your story, or any tips or words of encouragement that you might have. Please add your comments below. Thank you! ~Susan

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