We shall come rejoicing, lowering the carbs!

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This guest post was written by type 2 diabetic and chef Ward Alper. It originally appeared on his website, The Decadent Diabetic, and was republished on Information About Diabetes with permission.

Many of us have been told that the way to help control diabetes is to lower your daily intake of carbohydrates. Simple enough ?! Meat Fish, Chicken, butter, and cheese, either have no carbohydrates or are very low in carbohydrates. Of course if you choose to drastically increase the amount of these higher fat proteins you may be risking your heart health. Portion control might be the answer. But do we mean portion control like:

  • 1/4 of a bagel (?)
  • 1/2 a banana (?)
  • 2 ounces of dry pasta or rice(?)

Does anybody really eat like that? Does anybody WANT to eat like that? What do you do with the other half of the banana? Can you really pour sauce over that little pasta and be satisfied?
In the first few months after my diagnosis I tried to eat like that. But I left the table either hungry or sad or both. For me, that did not work. What I realized is that I was going to have to find ways to substitute other things for the carb heavy foods or make what little I did eat of them so good and satisfying and surround them with other foods that would “steal the show.”

I started to use simple sauces to spark up servings of meat, chicken and fish. For desserts I substitute ground nuts for part of the flour, and a sugar substitute.

Vegetables tantalizing done, became the star of the plate.
Like many of you, I searched the aisles looking for the lowest carbohydrate value in a product. As long as it didn’t sacrifice flavor, I choose those over the others. Sugar free products were NOT ALWAYS a good choice. When it came to baked goods, it was the flour and corn starch that was problem as much as the sugar.

Working with a nutritionist, I learned about NET carbs. With her help I discovered breads with only 8-11grams. of carbohydrates in a sheet or slice. Roll-up sandwiches became a staple of my lunch.

For the first eighteen months or so I tracked my daily intake of carbs on a chart on the fridge.

By doing this it became almost second nature to me to learn the carbohydrate value of the foods I was eating and control my intake.

Some days it was very difficult. I thought it would be great to have a cool summer lunch of cottage cheese and fresh fruit salad. When I added up all the carbs of all the fruits I wanted to eat, it pushed the limit for MY meal. I was all but reduced to tears. I was so deflated. Cottage cheese and fruit salad? What could be healthier? It took a while to realize that many fruits were high in carbohydrates and many more were not I figured out that berries were lower per serving than apples or oranges, fresh pineapple was a better choice over mango. The mango surprised me. I thought that it was loaded with fiber. After all it is so fibrous to cut through, just not fibrous enough (or the wrong kind of fiber?) to reduce the carbohydrate value.

It is a journey. Day by day, bit by bit. After seven years I am still learning and still sharing with others. I have kept off the 60 pounds I lost (depending on the day) kept my A1C between 5.3 – 5.6, and am enjoying cooking and entertaining almost as much as before.

Speaking of entertaining, it was difficult to decide what recipe to share with you this week. Then it struck me. It is Super-bowl weekend. Perfect time to be reminded that some of the foods we ALWAYS ate, were still workable for our eating plan. Wings and things and dips for veggies and a favorite….Stuffed mushroom caps. I do them with spinach and sometimes with sausage. Every once in a while I combine the spinach and sausage for the best of both worlds.

Go team and….Enjoy, be Healthy, be DECADENT!

Ward Alper, The Decadent Diabetic