Low-Carb Mug Muffins & Cakes

Going low carb isn’t always the easy thing to do, but when we can whip together something that mimics a muffin or cake, it makes the journey easier and more enjoyable. Here are a few recipes I like throwing together while I round out my daily meals.

Keto Mug Muffin

This simple, low carb recipe is easy to make and pair with a dinner, where bread would traditionally be served. 
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time2 mins
Total Time7 mins
Course: Side
Keyword: Keto, Low carb
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 3 seconds avocado spray

Instructions

  • Spray the mug with avocado spray. 
  • Add all remaining ingredients and whisk together in the mug.
  • Microwave for 90 seconds, or until set.
  • Let cool 1-2 minutes before slicing. Slice into 3-4 pieces. 

Nutty Mug Muffin

Add a little comfort to a traditional keto muffin by adding your favorite nut butter. 
Course: Side
Keyword: Bread, Keto, Low carb, Low sugar, Side, Snack
Servings: 1
Author: Kelly, Diabetic Dietitian

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp favorite nut butter, like macadamia nut butter
  • 1 egg large
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 drops liquid stevia (optional)

Instructions

  • Spray the lining of a mug with avocado spray. 
  • Mix together the dry ingredients with a fork. 
  • Mix in the wet. 
  • Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute. 

Chocolate Mug Cake

Made with almonds and cocoa, combining a good taste and texture for a single treat. 
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time1 min
Total Time3 mins
Course: Dessert
Keyword: Low carb
Servings: 1
Author: Kelly, Diabetic Dietitian

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp Swerve (or 2-3 drops of stevia)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise avocado oil based
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp water

Instructions

  • Spray the lining of a mug with avocado oil.
  • Mix dry ingredients in a mug with a fork.
  • Mix in all the wet ingredients and let sit for a minute or 2.
  • Heat in microwave for 50 seconds. Temp may vary depending on the microwave. 

Could These Small Changes Improve Your Nutrition?

When it comes to your body, you will always be in charge. You are always in control of what goes into your mouth and how much time you carve out to sleep. And yes, I do empathize, because we live in a world of abundance and food choices can seem hard to control. But they don’t have to be.

Grow awareness of what is best for your body and be willing to do the immediate hard thing (avoiding that second glass of wine, or what have you) for the ease later, like enjoying clothes shopping or the likes.

The best way to do this is to actually understand what’s in your food, as well as, improving your thoughts. If you know sticking to a diet isn’t your route, you’ll be glad to know that smaller changes can be way more effective instead. So let’s take a look at some that could help you. 

Knowing What You Need

To start with, you really need to know what your body needs from YOU. You need to slow down and listen to it and your intuition. Often business dulls this inner voice. And understand the benefits each ingredient can have for your body. Or how some things harm you (for myself and many clients, gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy are major problems). So reading up on nutrition and even different supplements, like some of the brands I offer to clients or youngevity 90 for life, is the best place to begin. Because when you know what your body needs, and you read the labels on the foods you buy, you can start to make smarter nutritional choices.

Portion Control

Something that can make a huge difference to how you feel and your waistline, is listening to your hunger and measuring out the right portions. If you are always overeating, then you know that it’s going to lead you to feel sluggish, guilty, and put on weight. So start to control your portions instead and log a few days worth of your caloric intake to learn how much you are eating compared to your needs. I want to emphasize, that the volume of food we eat is important, but we should not become or be calorie-obsessed. Focus more on being calorie aware. 

Nutrient Density

A really quick win is always going for nutrient density. If you want carbs, and you know that fruit has more nutritions that grains, go for that. It’s the same for things like sweet potatoes over chips. Legume-based pasta (like black bean or lentil pasta) over regular pasta. If you choose carefully here, you can make massive improvements without realizing it.

Listening To Your Body

You should also make sure that you’re always listening to your body. Because if you need certain foods or vitamins and you need to stop eating at a certain point, your body will be trying to tell you. So listen to it and always assess your emotions when you want to eat past satiety, or when you have a specific craving for something. You may not need to eat, and you may be wanting food to dull or prolong the feeling. 

When you sense hunger, identify if it’s emotional or physical hunger? Are you craving something specific? Or will you be willing to eat a simple baked white fish and vegetables? Are you even truly hunger? Often we mistake hunger for thirst, and above all, crave eating when we really need more sleep.

Cooking From Scratch

And finally, something that will really start to improve your health is choosing to cook at home (here are some shortcuts). Sure, that premade meal seems easier. And that takeout tastes nice. But both options are not the best when it comes to your nutrition. They can have poorer quality in the nutrients and include excess salt and sugar, which can lead to overeating. But when you’re cooking from scratch, you know exactly what goes into the meal. No MSG, GMOs. No bad ingredients. You are choosing what you are adding into the dish, and you know what you’re feeding yourself.

Small changes can often go a long way.

 

A Few of My Favorite Nutrition Powders

Powders…what’s their purpose in a healthy real food diet?

Modern foods, even when unrefined and pure, they can be deficient in certain essential nutrients. As well, modern life offers higher expectations and often a full agenda that leads to feeling stressed. When I talk to clients about their health beyond their plates, we discuss how stress depletes our magnesium and B vitamins. While it’s not realistic to out supplement a poor diet, powders and specific supplements are essential to help us live our healthier lives. Here a handful of my favorite powders I incorporate in my life and health coaching.

Thrive Market- Organic Greens & Superfood Blend (8.5 oz. bag, 30 servings)

  • Wheatgrass, barley, spinach, alfalfa, and alkalizing greens
  • Free of stevia and soy
  • Quick and easy way to get more greens into diet as a natural energizer and detox.
  • 4 grams of total carbohydrate and 2 grams of protein
  • How do I use it? I add it to water or a smoothie if my recipe is lacking some fresh green vegetables. This is a good product to use weekly, but not daily.

Naked Energy-Natural Pre Workout Supplement (8.2 oz., 50 servings)

  • Unflavored, non-GMO ingredients (including caffeine)
  • 0 grams of sugar and carbohydrates
  • USA- made with no added colors, flavors, or artificial sweeteners
  • Created to increase athletic performance the clean way
  • I find this to be a good swap for a pre-workout morning coffee. I do recommend keeping tabs on how much caffeine one consumes, but pre-workout caffeine can be beneficial for fat-loss and enhanced performance.
  • This product is made by Naked Nutrition

Naked BCAAs- Watermelon Branched Chain Amino Acids (1.3 lbs., 50 servings)

  • First, let’s dive into what BCAAs really are: “Branched-Chain Amino Acids” (BCAAs) is a group of amino acids that included leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which account for 35% of essential amino acids in muscle proteins
  • Structure of these amino acids allows for them to be metabolized directly into muscles to help enhance muscular endurance and athletic performance
  • May increase oxygen-carrying capacity to help prevent easy fatigue during workouts
  • This product dissolves fast, with no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavors
  • I actually like using this product in combination witha . green powder as an afternoon hydration practice and pick-me-up. It can certainly be used with workouts too.
  • As well, this product is made by Naked Nutrition

Amazing Grass Beauty Elixir- Greens & Adaptogens (4.2 oz., 20 servings)

  • Ingredients include fermented greens such as wheat grass, alfalfa with adaptogenic herbs to assist the body with stress metabolism.
  • Plant-based blend of biotin and chaga to increase quality of skin, hair, and nails
  • Also includes other natural flavors, organic stevia extract, and coconut
  • I used this product religiously when I was writing and preparing to film my “Healthy Cuisine: A Wellness Guide for Diabetes.” course which will be live August of 2018. I simply added it to water or a smoothie daily.

Thrive Market’s Grass-Fed Collagen Peptides (20 oz., approx.51 servings)

  • Pasture-raised, non-GMO, 100% pure product
  • Improves health of skin, hair, and nails
  • Each serving included 10 grams of protein
  • Hydrolyzed, unflavored, and dissolves easily in both hot and cold liquids
  • We have tubs and tubs of collagen in our house, using it in everything from protein pancakes, coffee, smoothies, fat bombs, applesauce and more. This is a very healthy protein that is convenient to add to many different foods.

BIOHM’s Probiotic Supplement

  • Affects good bacteria and good fungi improve total gut balance
  • The breakdown of digestive plaque by enzymes (amylase)
  • Vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free
  • Free of eggs, soy, dairy, and synthetics
  • This is especially good for clients who are sensitive to dairy.

Inspiring Others with Type 1 – My Interview with Hanna

Hanna first caught my eye on Instagram, under the name @HannaDiabetesExpert, as she seemed like an eager soul to help others across the world. She has an unconventional approach to managing her type 1 diabetes and I believe her story is not only inspiring others but helping make bold changes too. I am excited to share this interview with you, and please let us know your thoughts on Hanna’s story. Thank you, Hanna!

  • Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a public speaker, writer, and advocate who loves to help fellow people with diabetes to feel healthier and happier with their own care. I’m passionate to find motivational and inspiring ways to bring about a change in diabetes management, and I’ve developed a profound understanding of how things like nutrition and lifestyle choices can balance diabetes. I also co-organise Europe’s first 100% low carb events, called The Low Carb Universe.   

How long have you had diabetes?

I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes for 33 years, since 1985.

What eating style have you found to be most helpful in managing blood sugars? What hasn’t worked?

I was eating a “normal diabetic diet” for the first 26 years after diagnosis, including skimmed milk with meals and extra points for fruits as dessert, not to forget the 45-60% other carbs on my plate. Throughout these years, I could never manage my diabetes like I was expected to, my A1c was always way too high, too many fluctuations in my blood sugar, I was overweight and using insulin like it was water. I quickly got the label of “brittle diabetic” in my file. When I did my education to become a nutrition coach, my teacher, who is not a medical professional, but has more common sense than most, saved my life. When we were learning about carbs, insulin and how they work in the body, he pointed me out in front of the class and said “Hanna, you don’t even make any insulin. If I were you, I’d think once and twice about what I was eating”. That was my aha-moment, and I started cutting down on carbs soon after that. Today I eat very low carb, protein-rich and healthy fat, as I’ve found it works the absolute best for me, my diabetes and my lifestyle.

What type insulin do you use and what insulin dosage method work best for you and your lifestyle?

I went through a lifestyle transformation when I finally said yes to the pump 5 years ago. It’s vastly improved my life, and I love that I can be so spontaneous with it, for example with basal rates. I use Novorapid (Novolog) and have gone from taking about 100 units a day to 15-25.

How do you treat a low blood sugar?

Always, always, always with glucose tablets. I treat them like medicine and they are the most exact way to get to a safe, healthy range again without overshooting. Treating hypos with food never worked for me.

Do you exercise? What do you like to do for exercise? How do you handle activity with controlling your blood sugar? 

I hate exercise, but I love movement! I do a lot of walking, yoga, and body weight exercises, for example. For these movement forms, I don’t feel any pressure, like having the right gear paying expensive memberships, which is also good because I travel quite often. I personally rarely have problems with blood sugar and activity, and if I do, I can quickly correct it back into range again as I don’t have masses of active insulin. But I do know it is a huge struggle for many others.

What tips would you rattle off for someone who is trying to improve their blood sugar control? Or even for someone who is newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

There is always a way! You need to find YOUR way of managing diabetes, which takes some researching. And it definitely doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s or what your healthcare professionals tell you. That being said, with great freedom comes great responsibility. If you want to change your health, you need to be ready and willing to take it into your own hands.

What does a typical day of food look like to you? 

I get up, have a few glasses of water, as well as a giant cup of herbal tea to rehydrate my body after a long nights sleep. I very rarely have breakfast, as I’m generally not hungry then and don’t see the point of stressing my body with food if it doesn’t signal for it. It also gives my blood sugar a chance to stay stable for a few more hours. I wait with eating until lunchtime, 12-1pm, when I have vegetables, protein and fat, such as an omelet with vegetables and ham, smoked salmon and avocado, or just the leftovers from dinner the night before. I don’t typically snack unless my body tells me to. Then, around 7-8pm, I have dinner, which is again vegetables, protein, and fats, like a burger patty with spinach sautéed in bacon fat, chicken with cauliflower rice or salmon with pesto and broccoli.

To some, eating like this might sound boring. To me it means freedom not to feel constant hunger, being able to push meals around according to my schedule, as well as stable blood sugars.

What is the hardest part of being diabetic? What is the best part?

The hardest part for me is worrying about the future, possible complications, and limitations in life diabetes may bring me. Even if I’ve found my way of dealing well with the emotional and mental part of living with a chronic illness, it still gets to me sometimes.

The best part is that I know my body so much better than many others and can tell quickly if something isn’t right somewhere.

Any closing thoughts?

Dare to go out there and find what works for you and your diabetes management. It’s a difficult illness to handle, but it’s entirely possible to live and thrive with it on a daily basis.

This is one of the hopefully many interviews I will be showcasing on my site. If you have type 1 diabetes and are interested in sharing your story and strategies, please send me an email at [email protected]

Gut Health + Multiple Autoimmune Diseases

Just recently, I had an “ah-ha” moment when tuning-in to a podcast hearing Dr. Sarah Ballantyne discusses the risk of getting additional autoimmune diseases for those who already have an existing one. As if 1 disease wasn’t enough, right?! Thankfully, there is something we can do to halt this from happening, but a little information first.

Autoimmune disease affects over 50 million Americans, and if you have an autoimmune disease, you have genetic predisposition to have an overactive immune system. With this, the risk of getting an additional autoimmune disease, according to Sarah Ballantyne’s literature review, is 1 every decade.

Hitting close to home, I felt it in my gut when I read how type 1 diabetes (T1D) is associated with autoimmune thyroid disease (AIT), celiac disease (CD), Addison’s disease (AD), and other autoimmune diseases.

Looking back on my 26+ years of having type 1 diabetes I sense a relationship with this research. In 2009, my life changed when I did a gluten-free experiment. Multiple endocrinologists thought I was wasting my time, as I had proved multiple celiac disease tests negative. Yet, my A1C and blood sugar control were immediately improved and continue to be more predictable and better than ever. Not to mention, my eczema, insomnia and female hormones are better off. Just last July I did a food sensitivity test on myself, and my reaction to wheat was off the charts, followed by gluten. An allergy (celiac) is very different than a sensitivity, and taking my food sensitivity results seriously is improving my overall well-being and are helping to reduce my risk of acquiring more diagnoses. In the last 2 years, I’ve experimented more with my diet, and am now working to wean down or off my thyroid medication (my thyroid tanked with the onset of pregnancy with my second child). It will be a slow process, but things are moving in the right direction. No doubt, food is powerful. Slower than medicine, but powerful.

In the least, it’s a good thing the progression of an autoimmune disease is not entirely determined by genetics. Reseach concludes there are 3 parts:

  1. genetics,
  2. environmental factors (from everything from a heavy metal toxicity, to a stressful emotional event), and
  3. a leaky gut. (Here Dr. Axe does a good job defining Leaky Gut, and below I highlight how to take care of your gut).

It’s valuable to understand that an autoimmune disease can sit brewing in the body for years before a diagnosis occurs and the great news is we can do a lot to prevent the last “straw” from reaching the camels back.

While there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, the best way to be your healthiest and prevent any further autoimmune diseases from occurring or progressing is to focus on 1) what we eat, 2) what we absorb and 3) how we take care of our body/lifestyle. 

Diet/What We Eat:

  1. The AIP is a good starting point for anyone dealing with one or more autoimmune diseases. Not only does it exclude grains, dairy, and legumes like the basic paleo template, it also eliminates nightshades, nuts, seeds, eggs, alcohol, and sugar, leaving a pure and basic diet of meats, seafood, certain vegetables, certain fruits, healthy fats and spices that help to promote anti-inflammatory reactions within the body. Upfront, I want to highlight that while this diet can be a very low-carb diet, it can also be a high carb diet sourcing healthy foods including plantains, sweet potatoes, yams, fruit, yucca, taro, etc. This approach can be tough. Thankfully there are great resources, from books to websites and podcasts. Pheonix Helix is a leader in communicating effective ways of living this lifestyle. Her website is a wealth of information as is her podcasts and guests.
  2. A few other paths to take to make sure someone is eating the right things for their gut is they can do an elimination diet, removing the biggest offenders: gluten, wheat, sugar, eggs, soy, dairy, seed/man-made oils (think corn, canola, soy, safflower seed oils) and corn. Like I did in 2009, begin avoiding one or all of these food groups and take notes on how you feel.
  3. Increasing vegetables and fruit in the diet,
  4. Diversify meals,
  5. Incorporate good spices and herbs,

Gut/What We Absorb:

  1. First REMOVE inflammatory foods and chronic stressors, REPLACE the problem foods with healing foods, such as items listed below, REPAIR the gut with specific supplements, and REBALANCE and nurture the gut, ongoing with probiotics. This is known as the 4 R Protocol.
  2. Research suggests the gut can take on average 2-12 weeks to heal, and likely longer for this of us with an autoimmune disease. For anyone with an autoimmune disease who is also sensitive to gluten and consuming it, it can take closer to 6 months for the gut to heal. And there is little benefit in a “gluten-light” diet. A fraction of a crumb can inflame the body, and I know this first handed when the cook in a cafe I used to work in, would cut my chicken breast with the same knife he was cutting chicken sandwiches with, I’d get ill. I also think of my mother who has osteoporosis, Hashimoto’s and rheumatoid arthritis, but still gets non-gluten free communion at church every weekend. Bottom line, it’s important to be 100% gluten-free when experimenting and if implementing when results are positive.
  3. Increase fermented foods in the diet along with coconut products, bone broth, and collagen,
  4. Avoid food sensitivities – do an elimination diet, tracking your intake and symptoms, or do a blood test to cut to the chase. Feel free to email me if you want help doing a blood test like this.
  5. Moderate saturated fat as it can impair the microbiota,
  6. Replenish nutrient stores with potent supplements, and ask for advice from a health professional to find a high-quality product and the right product for your needs and background.

Lifestyle/How We Take Care of Ourselves:

  1. Prioritize sleep, both quantity, and quality, Did you know in 1965 we got on average of an hour and a half more of sleep per night than compared to today? That’s a big difference, and females need more sleep than males. Here is a list of how to tweak your environment to improve the quality
  2. Engage in adventure and hobbies. If you don’t have the time, shift things around so you do.
  3. Not that you don’t know already, but prioritize blood sugar control. The swings cause inflammation and disturb the peace in our gut.
  4. React better to stress. It’s common to say,  “Reduce stress,” but that thought only makes me a little more strung out. Instead, I put my energy on my response to challenges and tough tasks.
  5. Work on communication so you can be heard and respected.

 

Resources/References:

  • 5 At Home Test Gut: https://www.thepaleomom.com/5-gut-health-tests-you-can-do-at-home/
  • https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/91/4/1210/2843240
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4971288/
  • https://www.healthcentral.com/article/type-1-diabetes-and-autoimmune-diseases
  • https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-28154/what-to-eat-to-have-a-great-poop.html

Lifestyle: Getting Accustomed to Making Your Meals At Home

Eating a balanced diet doesn’t need to be labor-intensive. With planning and being efficient with shopping, you can save your mola and feel good. Here I am highlighting some how-tos on eating home-cooked meals, catered to those looking after blood sugar control, which in a way, relates to everyone. 

“If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” Sketch out 7 days and plot 2-3 meals, based on real food, plus snacks (if needed). Intend to make surplus for the meals so you have leftovers. Looking at your calendar:

  • Do you have plans for meals out this week? Will you need to pack any meals for school/work/appointments? For the latter, can you make things or buy items that can easily be eaten as is, or cooked in the microwave?
  • How many people are you responsible for feeding? 
  • Do you have any long days or night errands to run? You will need something portable
  • Make a grocery list with meals in mind and use ingredients that can come from the freeezer or pantry, in the scenario your schedule changes. No one likes throwing money away. 

A French man once said he walked into a North American grocery store and couldn’t find any food.

What? Well, if you think about and roam the aisles and food labels enough, you will find that this certain man is onto something. A majority of our packaged food is not real food. Just this morning I rant to the grocery and reviewed a dozen products and set them right back down because of cheap, unhealthy ingredients listed on them such as GMO beets (sugar), canola oil (very inflammatory), food colorings, chemicals, HFCS, more sugar, MSG, artificial sweeteners, BHA/BHT, nitrates, sulfates, the list goes on. Yet, my point is, know what is good for you and have an idea of where to get it.

Put together a grocery list before you head out. Ideally capture it on your phone. We often leave home without a list, but rarely forget our phone. Review your list before you go, and make sure the items you plan to buy, reflect the volume of foods you want on your plate. For example, if you intend to have half a plate of vegetables, make sure you buy enough vegetables. Same for protein, make sure your cart is about 25-30% of animal protein and 25-30% of fruit, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.

Additional ways to save and simplifiy:

  • Look at ads, use coupon apps available on smartphones
  • Buy ingredients, not products
  • By produce in season, when cheapest
  • Grow your own vegetables/herbs
  • Never overeat and see how the quality of food, not volume, makes you feel satisfied (intuitive eating)
  • Cook in bulk and freeze portions for leftovers
  • Buy in bulk, and choose ingredients that can used in multiple dishes
  • Buy whole, canned wild fish or frozen fish
  • Buy fruits and vegetables frozen (just as healthy, if not more healthy)
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat and slow-cook it to tenderize it.
  • Don’t major in minor things. Focus on buying real food and don’t stress if you can’t get organic or grass-fed
  • Avoid foods void in nutrition, which can simply just increase appetite. For example, gluten-containing grains, sugar, processed food, granola bars
  • Cut out the extras – bottled water, mints, etc
  • Keep food simple, yet, have variety so your palate doesn’t get bored.

Food prep can be therapeutic; especially when you look at it as a time to unwind and forget about stressors. We need to unplug, to recharge. Set aside time, one time a week, to prep meals so when you come rushing in the door, or out, you have something nutritious to quickly reheat or consume within a short window of time.

Meal Ideas:

  • Frittata – these are great, and can be made in advance, sliced and heated or chilled for a well-rounded breakfast or lunch. The ingredients do not need to be elaborate. Choose some produce, lean meat and spices. 
  • Slow-cooker Chicken Vegetable Soup
  • Salad with Tuna – as simple as it sounds. When I was on the road a lot with work, I would run to the grocery before Monday AM, pick up a bag of lettuce greens, canned tuna, eggs (then hard boil them) and some other type of produce, and throw it all together for 3 lunches or so a week. 
  • Lettuce Tacos – buy some lean meat, mix some spices and throw it over some vegetables or romaine leaves. Leftover meat is great with eggs too. 
  • Grilled Fish and Frozen Veg with spices – buy some frozen fish in bulk, pull out however many filets you need in the morning, thaw in the refrigerator, and cook in a skillet with some lemon, butter and pepper and pair with a vegetable. 
  • No-bread Sandwiches
  • Snack options, including portable food ideas
  • Scrambled Eggs and Ham – simple, cheap and satisfying. 
  • Banana Pancakes – take 2 eggs and one small banana, mash, and make 2 pancakes. 

Real change is not easy, but it is worth it.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kelly

Get Moving for Your Mood

Our happiness is predetermined ~ 50% by genes. This leaves us with a huge opportunity to take action to smile, or want to smile, more often. Overall our brain is like a muscle, the more we influence happiness, the more likely or more easily it can be to attain. You see, happiness is part of a chemical process of neurons and dopamine receptors. If we don’t exercise doing things that enlighten our mood, those receptors can decrease with time and age.

Thankfully here we can hit 2 birds with one stone here! Aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to improve mood. Not only can we look at activity for fitness, heart health, and weight loss, but overall we can improve our happiness and mental health too.

Therefore, maybe weight loss should move to way wayside, and overall mental and physical health should be capitalized? Not a bad idea and research proves that focusing on health, in general, is better and more productive than focusing on losing weight.

As someone with diabetes, exercise impacts my blood sugar control, but that doesn’t hold me back from doing interval training, yoga and heavy lifting weekly. Also, I asked a few friends from “Females with Type 1 Diabetes, Type 1 Diabetic Athletes Group, DMs Supporting DMs,” Facebook communities what their activity looks like, and this is what they had to share:

I have played soccer before and after my diagnosis, and crossfit 5-6 times per week. Crossfit keeps my blood sugar more level than soccer ever did! The most significant differences that I notice are overnight readings. My insulin sensitivity is very manageable as I am more aware working out… When I am not active or in the past when I have not been working out, it was much harder to notice my insulin sensitivities! Being active and staying fit has changed my life incredibly! My diabetes is pure motivation to get to the gym when I can hardly stand to do anything that day! It has really pushed me to have the desire to see within range blood sugar numbers and I know that being active is the only way I will accomplish that. Type 1 diabetes using the Medtronic 530g! Diagnosed for 10 years and 7 months! – Katelyn Partridge 

I start every day with a 2-mile walk with my dog. Then after working 8 hours depending on the night I play racquetball, tennis, do Zumba or yoga. In the winter I ski on the weekends. In the spring and summer, I do distance cycling. Exercise has helped me lose weight, maintain decent blood sugar control and it makes me more sensitive to insulin. Besides that it makes me feel good. Omnipod pump and a Dexcom. Type 1, dxed May 1975. – Clare T. Fishman 

I’ve been t1 for 24 years and got a Dexcom 2.5 years ago. It really helps with hiking. You can see a drop coming before it happens and eat some glucose to maintain nice flat lines. – Kate Sullivan 

I was a competitive dancer most of my youth and started really working out again two years ago. It changed my life and I started to feel strong and empowered again—my insulin needs dropped from 75 units a day to 45 units a day and I’ve been on a pump for 14 years…as I realized I could workout with diabetes as I had a fear that it would hold me back I found a passion in running and have now completed 5ks, 10ks and working towards my first half marathon this spring! I realized when I believe in myself, I can do anything I set my mind to. Diagnosed with Type 1 on st patty’s day 1997. – Amanda Jolene Smith 

Grew up racing BMX and mountain bikes nationally, competed in fitness competitions for a few years and now do CrossFit 4-5 times a week and stay active with my kids! Competing and exercising with diabetes can be tricky, but if you watch your patterns closely, with trial and error you can figure it out. Building muscle and staying consistent has been the best for me with managing diabetes! Also, this was crucial for two heathy pregnancies with diabetes too! Type 1 for 25 years since age 14, currently on Medtronic pump and CGM. – Allison Sigler MacKenzie 

I make it a point to exercise at the gym at least 3 (but I shoot for 5) days a week, with “active rest days” the rest of the week. Anything more than a gentle walk means I have to take extra insulin, but it’s totally worth it. Besides the benefits to my physical health, I dervive huge mental health benefits, too. When living with a chronic disease, we have to take every opportunity we can to feel good about ourselves, and to feel strong. This is how I keep my head up, and keep going on. I’m looking forward to rocking the NEXT 31+ years, whether they find a cure, or not. I got this! T1 for 31 years (pump/CGM), and active for 2 years… – Dana Coltrinari Burke 

I run 5-8 miles almost every day. On days I don’t run, my numbers are all over the place. I also do yoga and stretching almost everyday. The mental health benefits from the endorphin release and clearing of my mind is equally as important in managing this disease. Diagnosed 3.5 years ago, at age 51. I use both the Omnipod and a CGM. – Stacey Boehrer 

I mostly run, 3-5 days a week. Running has helped me reduce the amount of insulin I need to take and makes me more fit, which in the long run will add years to my life. I was diagnosed at age 5, 33 years ago. I use an Omnipod pump and Dexcom G5 CGM. – Matt Barnett  

“Control diabetes. Don’t let it control you” I had amazing parents who went through training and extreme patience when they first had to give me insulin and figure out the diet. We were an active family already so it was a little easier. Its crucial to have the support of your family and friends especially if newly diagnosed. It’s a complete lifestyle change! For those of us who’ve known nothing else it’s a little easier to transition through each phase. I tried the cgm for a week but due to the way the alarms were set, I went super high and super low due to overcorrections or overeating. For me it’s hard to change what’s been working- low carb meals, lots of protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise includes walking the dogs, running, playing with the kids, swimming, tennis, basketball and whatever comes in front of me.Type I diabetic for 32 years- only on the pump for the past 7 years. My A1c has been between 5.7-6.5 for the past 10 years but my goal is to get it back to 6.0 or under. – Joella Davis 

The formula for happiness is not the same for all of us, but figuring out what we enjoy is key. Go out and play and make time for personal play. When this is easier said than done, I make a gratitude list on paper or in my head, and quickly realize, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.” Or at least overly stressed. 🙂

 

To Yolk or To Eggwhite

From A1c%, to cholesterol, triglyceride labs, to CRP – there are numerous tests we draw to understand how our diet is affecting our overall health. While research shows that 90% of heart disease is caused by modifiable diet and lifestyle factors, there is still a lot of confusion of what foods to eat and which to avoid. (1) Zooming in closer, I am going to layout some thought starters on cholesterol/cardiovascular labs, and propose some advice on how to hit optimal targets.

Strawberry Scrambler - 2 eggs, 3 strawberries, fresh parsley, ginger, coco nibs, salt/pepper #antioxidants #swee

Yet, first let’s get the elephant out of the room: high cholesterol is a symptom of some sort of inflammation in the body. It is not necessarily caused from eating egg yolks, and or other high quality cholesterol containing foods. Conclusions from research based in the 1960s suggested that cholesterol was caused from high cholesterol (animal) foods and saturated fat. However, more recent data, and stronger research puts this myth to bed. While 25% of the population may respond to a higher cholesterol intake, the increase does not impact heart health or the LDL to HDL ratio. In other words, I have no problem starting my every day with eggs and or bacon/sausage, and some sort of vegetable of course, even as a type 1 diabetic with an increased risk of heart disease. I digress.

Long-term studies on saturated fat and heart health are just as comforting, if not more. Low carbohydrate diets tend to be high in fat, including saturated fat, and have shown health benefits beyond lowering cholesterol including weight loss, decrease in triglycerides, fasting blood glucose, blood pressure, waist circumference, c- reactive protein/CRP (indicator of inflammation), to name a few. (2)  So once again, understand you are doing no harm to yourself when you consume saturated fat and high quality cholesterol foods.

Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Diet and overall health marry this quote perfectly.

To improve heart health first know your numbers, and what they mean, and how to interpret them. The total cholesterol is not the be all. Nearly half of the heart attacks, take place with people with low cholesterol. With all my clients, I hear their story, understand their lifestyle and interpret labs with this angle:

What is total cholesterol? HDL? LDL? Total triglycerides? The I take it a step further and measure: Total cholesterol/HDL? Triglycerides/HDL ratio?

With these results, I also want to know if my client has lost weight recently, and how long the weight has been stable, and/or if the client is postpartum. All the above can affect the lab results. Further more, let’s use some hypothetical lab results and play with the interpretations:

 

CHOLESTEROL 160 mg/dL
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): <170 mg/dL
TRIGLYCERIDE 61 mg/dL
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): <100 mg/dL
Highly Abnormal (please review with your medical team further): >499 mg/dL
HDL CHOLESTEROL 70 mg/dL
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): >50 mg/dL
LDL CHOL (CALC) 78 mg/dL
Optimal (not to be construed as a target for drug therapy): < 100 mg/dL
Highly Abnormal (please review with your medical team further): >189 mg/dL

As you can see beneath each result are optimal ranges. However, going off what I want to know, I will calculate a few ratios.
Trig/HDL = 0.87
– Ratio is ideal 1:1 or less. If it’s 2.5-3.0 there are some said lifestyle changes to made. If it’s >3 may indicated insulin resistance and increased heart disease.

Total cholesterol/HDL = 2.285
– Goal is to be below 5. Closer to 5 or above, can be an indication of cardiovascular diet/lifestyle modifications.

Ideally want HDL to be above 70 mg/dL for immunity and overall health outcomes.
– HDL increases with exercise, grassfed butter, cream, and coconut oil. HDL is made from fat, so we need to eat clean and quality fat for the raw materials. A little alcohol can also increase HDL.

A high LDL can be a sign of maybe some low thyroid, as well as, miss managed stress, sleep deprivation, high blood sugars, or too many carbohydrates in the diet.

If Triglycerides are high, review the amount of carbohydrate in the diet. Research has shown by limiting carbohydrates to 120-150g per day, can improve triglyceride levels, unrelated to weight loss. (3)

Understand what foods to eat and avoid:

  • Avoid man-made foods, including vegetable oils. Indeed, vegetable oils/margarine were once recommended for heart health.
  • Avoid eating large portions of foods that are high in omega 6 fatty acids. For example: nuts and seeds should be treated like a condiment. Please note the emphasis on “large.” Nuts are healthy and have many wellness benefits, but any good thing, can be overdone.

Feed your heart the nutrients it needs:

  • Eat whole real food, more often than not,
  • Have wild seafood twice a week (omega 3 fatty acids),
  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods at every meal (think produce, coffee, chocolate). An awesome goal to strive for, is 2 cups of vegetables at meals and 1 cup at snacks. Enjoy fruit, but keep quantity less than vegetables.
  • Enjoy polyphenol- rich foods such as cocoa, coffee, spices, tea, wine, vegetables, fruit.

Treat yourself with the care it deserves:

  • Sleep like you are getting paid for it. In a way you are!
  • Get spiritual – religious or not. But make the goal of getting in touch with yourself, being present, and finding calm in our busy lives.
  • Be kind with your thoughts and actions. Our feeling shape who we become.

Above all, remember that it is hard to manipulate nature. I always tell my clients, “Mother Nature cries everytime we throw out a yolk.” Keep things simple. Eat real food, and try to not over think it.

PS – the picture is a Strawberry Scrambler – 2 eggs, 3 strawberries, fresh parsley, ginger, coco nibs, salt/pepper #antioxidants #sweet

RELATED TOPICS

Eat Your Heart Out

Hormonal Balance

I look forward to setting a few minutes aside most days to read one of my favorite e-newsletters from Mind Body Green. Have you heard of them? If not, head their way. They have a treasure chest of feel good health articles, covering diet to meditation to movement. Yet, getting to the topic of today’s post, after reading an article on foods to avoid for hormonal imbalance, I want to give feedback on one of the author’s, Alisa Vitti, statements. And to expand on the word “feedback,” I do not intend to suggest she is wrong, I am right, I just want to add more information to educate consumers as we are on the same team here.

The full article is here, but in summary the author suggests striving for hormonal balance by avoiding:

  • raw kale,
  • soy,
  • stevia (and I really appreciated this on the list as so many women are confused what to use as a sweetener, especially when they are pregnant),
  • red meat and
  • “cooling foods.”

Guess which one I want to address? Red meat.

I am not sure I am sold, as I have written an article on Pregnancy Staple Foods and included red meat (grassfed/organic) as a nutrition powerhouse.

After the listing of “red meat” in the hormone article, the author includes, “Many of my clients with PCOS have been told to follow a meat-heavy Paleo diet, but in my experience, this isn’t the best option.”

I agree with that –  a meat heavy diet would not be good for anyone’s long-term health, let alone hormone balance. Carbs are crucial for health. Yes, there are people fitting for a very low carb diet or a ketogenic diet, but carbs should not be the new weight-gaining phobia. In the 80s people learned to fear fat, and in the last decade or more, carbs have become the bad guy. However, carbs are needed for thyroid health, adrenal health, satiety/sleep and weight loss! Protein is needed, in a calculated/intuitive amount, and healthy red meat is a GREAT option.

All in all, I don’t have beef with beef if it’s sourced well, and I don’t want consumers to either. When able, purchase beef that is grassfed and organic (although, did you see the news on organic meat? Either way, it’s best to err on the side of caution and go with organic). So I think this is a great article, yet, I’d change up the wording of red meat, to avoid a heavy meat diet, especially conventionally raised meat.

Cheers to you and good health.

 

 

My Superfood Superlist

When I first start working with clients, I look at what they are eating and assess if their meals and weekly intake is balanced. From there, I recommend things to remove/add to their routine, then address the quality of the ingredients they are eating, tweak their macronutrients to best, and most quickly, reach their goals and finally we discuss superfoods. The magical thing about superfoods is they target inflammation in our bodies. Inflammation is defined as a biological response of cells to a stimuli, and chronic inflammation can lead to disease. So basically inflammation is the body’s attempt to self-protection and causes of inflammation include, but not limited to: low grade food sensitivities, an imbalance of gut bacteria (do you take a probiotic?), stress, environmental toxins (mercury, lead, etc), constant dehydration, lifestyle (sleep deprivation, inactivity) and certain foods (caffeine, sugar, oils (canola, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower oils), poor quality dairy, conventional meat, alcohol, grains, food additives) and the list can go on. Please note though, some inflammation is good. Too much is clearly bad.

I can continue to cover how to we have an overload of inflammation in our body’s, yet, my takeaway is to focus on good things you can eat daily, optimizing our health. When we focus on the good and healthy things to add to our diet and lifestyle, there isn’t a need (or as much of a need) to focus on what we need to take away.

Enlisted are a few of my favorite superfoods. What superfoods do you consume?

Cocoa Nibs

Why and how to consume? Cocoa nibs are very satisfying, especially if your senses are just after a chocolate taste or your body is in need of magnesium. Yet, cocoa nibs do have a bitter edge. For this reason, to get a chocolate craving satisfied I mix them either with some nuts/seeds and or coconut flakes, which all mix well in Greek yogurt. As you may know, cacao is a nutrient-powerhouse containing over 300 compounds including: protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, chromium (appetite control and insulin sensitizer) calcium, flavanols (antioxidants, known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol), sulfur (strong nails/hair) and magnesium (muscle relaxant and strong bones). If you eat cocoa nibs, or dark chocolate, you want to ensure it’s organic to avoid chemicals from irradiation and spraying of chemicals which are standard practice in growing cacao beans.

“Every study on chocolate is pointing to the same conclusion: there is something in chocolate that is really good for us. That something is the raw cocoa bean, the nut that all chocolate is made from. The cocoa bean has always been and will always be Nature’s #1 weight loss and high-energy food. Cocoa beans are probably the best kept secret in the entire history of food.”
— David Wolfe, co-author of Naked Chocolate: The Astonishing Truth About The World’s Greatest Food.

Chia Seeds

Why and how to consume? Chia seeds provide protein, fat and fiber to our diet, and one of my favorite perks, is they help us detox. To reap the fullest benefits, soak chia seeds overnight in either water, almond milk or coconut milk. I often add the end product to my morning smoothie or I mix in some berries and have it for an afternoon snack. Chia seeds provide satiety, absorbing 12 times their weight and expand in our stomachs. Chia seeds are good for our hearts and bones, providing a dose of calcium ebgs for an alternative to milk.

Maca Powder

Why and how to consume? I stumbled upon maca powder when doing some research for fertility and fatigue/low energy. Wow, was I impressed. Coming from the radish family, maca is touted to aid stamina, support immunity, increase vitality, balance sex hormones (PMS/PCOS/menopause) including an increase in sex drive and enhances memory. I most enjoy this nutty-flavored powder with my morning smoothie, but it can also be added to soups or just water. Maca includes 55 phyto-chemicals, including vitamins B1, B2, B12, and Vitamin C, zinc. It has amino acids, calcium and phosphorus as well.

Brewer’s Yeast

Why and how to consume? Known for its content of B vitamins, chromium and protein, aids in blood sugar control, relieves diarrhea, cold/flu, PMS and skin issues. The easiest way to consume Brewer’s Yeast for me is in my smoothie. Can you tell I like smoothies? I aim to have 2-3 a week, at a minimum. You can also mix Brewer’s Yeast in your eggs.

Shredded Coconut & Coconut Oil

Why and how to consume? Coconut flakes are great by themselves, used as a core ingredient in a homemade trail mix, mixed into Greek yogurt with berries and more. Coconut oil, along with grass-fed butter is the preferred fat to cook with at high heat. Coconut flakes have a nice helping of fiber and both flakes and oil contain medium chain triglycerides, lauric acid, among other nutrients. Overall, coconut has so many health benefits including weight loss my friends. One study out of the Journal of Nutrition suggests that we can expend more calories digesting medium-chain triglycerides (coconut) than digesting long-chain fatty acids (found in almonds, avocados, olive oil). Want to know more? I enjoy this write-up by Dr Mercola.

Grass-fed Butter

Why and how to consume? The difference between regular butter, even organic butter compared to grass-fed butter (I’ll name drop – Kerrygold is my favorite) is substantial. When Dr. Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930’s he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples. Do you find it shocking that butter is America’s best source of absorbable vitamin A? Even more, butter contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against free radicals that damage and weaken the arteries. Yup, Grandma was right – eat (grass-fed) butter to protect your heart. Butter protects against cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, low thyroid and more. As for how to consume, I am not sure I need to explain this one, do I? Grass-fed butter is richer in the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), lauric acid and has vitamin K2. Grass-fed butter is also the best source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which aids in weight loss/weight management and targets cancer prevention.

Kombucha

Why and how to consume? Kombucha is a slightly sweet, carbonated fermented tea. You can make your own, yet, I find it most realistic to purchase a bottle every trip I make to a nutrition/specialty store, such as Whole Foods. The Ancient Chinese called Kombucha the “Immortal Health Elixer” for its health benefits containing organic acids, active enzymes, amino acids and polyphenol antioxidants. Kombucha improves joint pain, immunity, digestion and, again my favorite, helps cleanse the body.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Why and how to consume? One, you can start the day with a shot of it, or you can add it to water with some lemon and honey. The most common way I find myself using it (besides cleaning my house) is on m salad. Please note, unfiltered is what you want to look for when buying a bottle. The unfiltered version has a wealth of vitamins, minerals and acetic acid. Acetic acid helps control appetite, increase insulin sensitivity, and helps decrease fat storage. I can’t fail to mention the alkaline benefits of ACV. Many foods and stress cause the pH of our body to be more acidic, which isn’t favorable.ACV can help combat this.

References:

Lead Contamination in Cocoa and Cocoa Products: Isotopic Evidence of Global Contamination (http://www.ehponline.org/members/2005/8009/8009.html)

Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Cocoa and Chocolate Flavonoids – Implications for Cardiovascular Health

The Journal of Nutrition: Plasma LDL and HDL Cholesterol and Oxidized LDL Concentrations are Altered in Normo- and Hypercholesterolemic Humans After Intake of Different Levels of Cocoa Powder

Yu, L. J., & Jin, W. W. (2004). Study on nutritional components and the anti-fatigue effects of dry powder of maca (Lepidium meyenii). Food Science25(2), 164-166.

Cicero, A. F. G., Piacente, S., Plaza, A., Sala, E., Arletti, R., & Pizza, C. (2002). Hexanic Maca extract improves rat sexual performance more effectively than methanolic and chloroformic Maca extracts. Andrologia34(3), 177-179.

Dini, I., Tenore, G. C., & Dini, A. (2002). Glucosinolates from maca (Lepidium meyenii). Biochemical systematics and ecology30(11), 1087-1090.

Price, Weston, DDS Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, 1945, Price Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Inc., La Mesa, California