Coping with T1D in the Heat

Inforgrpahic about the heat by The Diabetes Diet

A screenshot of the weather in Scotland on The Diabetes DietHeavens above—this isn’t a post I’ve needed to write before but the last few weeks of incredible sunshine and heat in Scotland (Scotland! I’ll say it again, Scotland!) necessitates it.

If you’re a type 1, what special precautions do you need to take when the mercury rises? I prepared this handy infographic to help…

Please note—if you have neuropathy (nerve damage) this can affect your ability to sweat and therefore cool down. Go out early in the morning or later in the afternoon if you can, drink water to stay hydrated and exercise in air-conditioned gyms. Cut down on drinks with caffeine and alcohol, and take care of yourself as best you can.

Inforgrpahic about the heat by The Diabetes Diet

#TalkAboutDiabetes – Diabetes Awarness Week June 2018

What do you struggle with when you’re talking about diabetes? It’s Diabetes Week 2018 (June 11-18) and the theme of this year’s awareness-raising seven days is the stuff we find awkward, embarrassing, difficult or even funny to mention.

Here are mine:

  • I don’t like telling people in general. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed; I just don’t like drawing attention to myself.
  • Jelly baby etiquette. When you eat sweeties in front of someone, politeness dictates you offer them around. But they’re the medicine that corrects low blood sugars*, so stinginess is understandable.
  • Explaining a hypo when you’re in the middle of one. Most of my low blood sugar episodes are manageable. But I can be in the middle of a conversation and my mind goes blank. “Bear with me! My mind’s distracted. It’s screaming ‘SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR’ at me. My word power will return in a few minutes,” is what I should say.
  • Or don’t talk to me. When I’m high, conversation is too much effort. Please don’t take it personally.
  • I don’t talk much either when I’m high because I’m conscious of the nasty taste in my mouth and am reluctant to impose halitosis on anyone.
  • And don’t take the grumpiness low blood sugars produce personally either. First aiders once told me about diabetics who punched people when they were low, so grumpiness seems moderate in comparison.
  • Please know that managing diabetes is like having a part-time job that you do on top of everything else.
  • If you manage to work out I’m hypo long before I do, be aware I’ll deny it in an exasperated fashion. “Flip’s sakes, no I’m not. Look I’ll even do the blood test to show you and here it…oh. Alright then.”
  • Sometimes when I say I can’t do something because of the diabetes, I might be using it as a fab, ready-made excuse. It’s not me, it’s you. OH NO! I’ve just given away diabetes’ best-kept secret!

*I told a little girl my jelly babies were medicine once. She gave me one of those, ‘why do adults lie to me?’ looks.

Baba Ghanoush – Low Carb Recipes

a picture of aubergines on the Diabetes DietAubergines are fan-flippin-tastic done in a pizza oven. Cut the tops off, half them, score the skin and rub with olive or rapeseed oil, sprinkle with sea salt, wrap in foil and place in the heated oven for fifteen minutes.

Done! The best accompaniment to…well, anything if you love aubergines as much as I do. Traditional matches might be lamb steaks. Or you could wrap up some peppers too and make yourself a big bowl of garlic dip to go with them. Ooh, veggie heaven…

Alternatively, why not try some Baba Ghanoush? Ever heard this aubergine dip referred to as poor man’s caviar? If you’ve tasted the real thing, you’re within your rights to argue the supposed paupers’ option is the much better deal. What would you rather eat—a super silky, lemony-garlicky scented paste you can dip things in? (Fingers if you really must; we won’t judge.) Or fish eggs?

Here’s my version, with an alternative method if you don’t have a pizza oven.

Baba Ghanoush

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 medium-sized aubergines
  • 2tbsp tahini paste
  • 4tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
  • 4tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper

Slice the tops off the aubergines, half them lengthways, score the skin and rub with some of the oil. Wrap in foil.

Slice the onion in half too and wrap in foil.

Either cook in a pizza oven (about 250 degrees C) or place in an oven (180 degrees C). The vegetables will take about 15 minutes in the pizza oven. Unwrap from the foil and place in for a few more minutes to char them.

In the oven, allow about 30-40 minutes. You want the aubergines collapsing. Take the foil off for the last five minutes of cooking.

Scrape most of the aubergines from the skin, although you can keep a bit of it for extra smokiness. Place the aubergines, onions and garlic in a food processor with the rest of the oil, the lemon juice and the tahini. Whizz till smooth.

Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.

The whole dish has about 45g carbs and 18g fibre.

 

Low-Carb Adventures with a Pizza Oven

 

Landed—in our garden, one pizza oven. Given that the pizza doesn’t feature in low-carb diets apart from in a bastardised form, what else can you do in an outdoor oven?

All kinds of things, it turns out. Yes, the pizza oven is a vegetable’s dream destination, the wood smoke turning them into delicious, charred things you want to toss into a warm salad and scoff. We’ve yet to try out a steak in there, but the vision already dances in my head.

Black lines, a crispness to the outside and then meltingly soft pinkness within, anointed with a blue cheese sauce that slowly melts into the crevices of the meat…

But for now? Chicken wings, EB! That’s what you’ll do.

Having hit upon the idea, I decided information overload was the next logical step. I headed for the internet and entered the search terms chicken wings in the pizza oven, low-carb chicken wings, best chicken wings etc., until I had far too many options in front of me.

[Does anyone else do this? I usually flip through hundreds of recipes on line before reverting to my trusted Mary Berry cook book.]

A lot of the recipes for chicken wings featured sugar, honey or flour. I found one that used a third of a cup of flour—not a lot, but I used coconut flour instead.

The coconut flour has sat in my cupboard long enough for it to go out of date. But flip, it’s so pricey I couldn’t face throwing the bag out. Now, I was going to use it. And then toss the rest as the use-by date was…

Embarrassingly long ago. Don’t do this at home, folks!

The true joy of chicken wings is the dip that goes with them. You’ll have gathered from the steak description above, blue cheese features so often in my life it’s got my number on speed dial. There are lots of variations on the blue cheese dip, but one I’ve been making for years is criminally simple—Greek yoghurt, mashed up blue cheese in proportions of about one to two parts. Add pepper if you want to be fancy.

I worried coconut flour would make the drumsticks too coconut-y. I love coconut, but the distinctive flavour doesn’t belong in a lot of places it finds itself these days. (Coconut oil for roast potatoes—I ask you!) Luckily, the spices masked the flavour. But swap the flour for cornflour and cut down the quantity to a quarter cup if you want.

Another swap was drumsticks instead of wings, seeing as Morrison’s had none of the former.

Low-Carb Chicken Drumsticks with

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1tbsp paprika
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1tbsp garlic salt
  • 1tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3tbsp rapeseed oil and one teaspoon butter
  • 250g Greek yoghurt
  • 125g blue cheese, crumbled.

Heat your oven – it needs to be about 180 degree C to cook the drumsticks. Mix the flour, paprika, pepper, garlic salt and cayenne. Add to a plastic bag.

Put half the drumstick in the bag and shake well to coat. Do the same with the rest of the drumsticks.

Line a sturdy baking tray with foil and place the oil and butter on it. Heat in the hot pizza oven for five minutes. Place the drumsticks on it and spread out. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turn the drumsticks over and cook for another five minutes until crisp.

Combine the yoghurt and blue cheese and serve. You’ll need plenty of napkins as this is one messy dish.

About 10g carbs per portion and 5g fibre.

Next up—the steak. Or baba ghanoush as a pizza oven would make short work of blackening those aubergines…

And finally, does this count as food porn for we low-carbers? Here’s the pizza we made in the oven. My husband’s a pizza gourmet. He promised me this was amazing. Wood smoke does incredible things to food.

Low Carb Go-To Meals

picture of chorizo sausage, the Diabetes Diet
I’d probably eat this Every. Single. Day.

What are your go-to meals? Everyone has them, the ones you eat at least once a week or more. We choose them for their mix of taste and convenience.

When you throw diabetes into the mix, the go-to meals are usually the ones where you know the exact carb count, how much insulin you need to take with them and they’re probably quick and easy.

I go through phases too—eating one dish for weeks and weeks before getting thoroughly bored of it. I add the odd newbie into the mix occasionally, usually picking something I find online. I like simple dishes—a generous helping of protein, two of vegetables and fat in the form of mayo, cheese or nuts thrown in.

My ‘go-to’s’ are:

  • Chopped cooking chorizo fried with mushrooms on top of salad generously dressed with balsamic vinegar and a bit of chopped avocado.
  • Prawns in home-made cocktail sauce with salad leaves and broccoli
  • Low-fat cauliflower cheese with salad leaves and two eggs to give extra protein
  • Any home-made soup with boiled eggs
  • Roasted chicken legs with broccoli or cauliflower and…you guessed it, salad leaves.

For all that we post recipes giving you lots of choices for your low-carb diet, I wonder how many of you are like me? Do you too return to the same meals time after time and are they as simple (boring!) as mine?

 

A Week of Super Low-Carb!

diabetes diet
Mediterranean trout with kale.

This week, I’m going super low carb. The carb count has crept up lately. And I was ill for a while which sent the blood sugar levels soaring.

And yes, I wouldn’t mind knocking off a kilo or two. Then treating myself to a whole new wardrobe.*

Does anyone else love a spot of dietary planning? You dig out your recipe books, go online, write menu plans and shopping lists. All instead of doing the day job. Bliss!

I’ve researched the recipes I fancy, here and on Diet Doctor which has every kind of keto option you can imagine. A lot of them can be cream and cheese heavy (not a bad thing), but they do offer salad-y type stuff and dairy-free options too.

I thought I’d try these chicken drumsticks, the crunchy coating made from coconut and pork rinds. I’ll skip the coconut, though, as I don’t think I’d get that past my husband. [“Coconut flakes?! On drumsticks? Get thee behind me, Satan.”]

I’ll also be making the cauliflower cheese recipe from our website, and the Mediterranean trout with kale you see pictured above.

And I’ve already knocked up a batch of home-made mayonnaise, using rapeseed oil because I love the gorgeous yellow colour it gives.

Chocolate fudge is in the fridge ready for when the dreaded sweet tooth growls at me. And I’ll be making turkey curry with spinach to handle the spice craving.

I’ll report back on what happens.

 

*Kidding. Freelancing makes even shopping for clothes in Asda tricky. 

Artificial Sweeteners

As a blogger, I get sent press releases regularly. Most of the time, they’re irrelevant (I got a lot of financial information because a media directory had mistakenly classified me as a financial journalist) but I get the odd one that reflects my interests and what I write about.

Recently, the subject line Artificial Sweeteners linked to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, and metabolic dysfunction caught my eye. Our book and blog contain recipes that use artificial sweeteners. The internet abounds with blogs and posts that say ‘no’, but offer up little in the way of compelling evidence.

Anyone remember the Gulf War syndrome caused by diet coke conspiracy theory? (The authorities later dismissed consumption of overheated aspartame as a cause.)

Examine.com which offers an independent, objective and unbiased assessment of nutrition and supplements, provides this recent exploration of artificial sweeteners and their effects.

The press release I received came from the Medisys Health Group in Canada. As they say, sensationalist headlines about sweeteners aren’t new. The average Canadian consumes 88 pounds of sugar from all sources a year – more than four times the daily recommended sugar limit from the World Health Organization.

If excessive, long-term consumption of sugar leads to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, cancer and more, are artificial sweeteners the answer?

I don’t use them in my cooking, but I get a dose of sweeteners daily thanks to my love of soft drinks; Diet Coke, mainly, but also squashes, diet tonic and chewing gum. These are all sweetened with what are called non-nutritive sweeteners (such as saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame and sucralose).

As the press release notes, health implications for them are inconclusive and overall, the ones available on the market are considered safe for regular or occasional consumption. Where the press release says we should be cautious is that they don’t retrain the taste buds, and then can make naturally sweet foods like fruit taste less appealing. There is some research that suggests that artificial sweeteners can increase blood sugar levels and trigger the insulin response*.

The Medisys Group recommends you limit or avoid artificial sweeteners, and focus on whole, unprocessed foods instead, a stance we support at the Diabetes Diet.

MY FEELINGS – I get the sugar retraining aspect, though many of the recipes in our book and on our blog do taste a lot less sweet than their sugary equivalents. The research doesn’t yet convince me that I need to give up diet drinks (though the plastic argument could and should win me over).

As for using it in recipes, sugar is by far the most harmful substance to people with diabetes. If making cakes, puddings and biscuits with artificial sweeteners and low-carb ingredients keeps you away from it, is that not the best solution? We promote low-carb, not primarily as a way of losing weight but of keeping blood sugars steady and therefore making diabetes easier to manage.

Read the full release, including a breakdown of the research into metabolism, sweeteners and losing weight etc., here. You can also read the Diet Doctor’s analysis of sweeteners and which ones have the least impact on your blood sugar control, here.

*I’ve never experienced this as a result of drinking diet sodas.