Plant-Based – Does it Just Mean Vegan?

diabetes diet by Emma Baird
Avocado, mushrooms, bacon and salad – plant-based, hmm?

Happy New Year from all of us at the Diabetes Diet. Here’s wishing you health and happiness in 2018.

Anyone with an interest in health and fitness can’t have missed noticing the current furore around veganism. Proponents tout it as THE ethical and environmental way to eat, and it is very fashionable. Your local supermarket has probably vastly increased its vegan offerings (or the labelling of such foods anyway) and you’ll notice many restaurants and take-away chains have jumped on the bandwagon too.

There are even those who argue a vegan diet is helpful for diabetes, such as Dr Neal Barnard who promotes a vegan, fat-free way of eating as the way to reverse diabetes.

I don’t dispute veganism as an ethical choice. As far as environmental factors go, you could point out that wide-spread veganism would increase the production of mono-crops, a process that depletes the soil and cause issues. The recent over-consumption of coconut oil and avocados in the west has caused enormous problems in their countries of origin.

Health Benefits

When it comes to health, the bonuses of veganism often occur because people shift from a diet of highly processed foods and little fruit and veg to a way of eating that is plant-based. The health benefits may not come from ditching meat, fish and dairy per se, but more from vastly increasing how much fruit and veg they eat and getting rid of processed foods which are hard to find on a vegan diet*.

Let’s argue semantics here. I eat a plant-based diet. The bulk of the food on my plate is plants, nuts, some lentils and pulses and the odd wholegrain.

I just happen to eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy too. Yesterday, I ate scrambled eggs and chopped tomatoes for breakfast, an avocado, mushroom and bacon salad for lunch, and for dinner I had tomato, onion and barley stew with some haddock and steamed broccoli. I ate some peanuts for a snack.

That’s a plant-based diet, isn’t it?

Plant-based Taken to Mean Veganism

For whatever reason, plant-based is now taken to mean veganism. Perhaps someone somewhere thought plant-based sounded nicer than veganism, or they wanted distance from the term, which in the past might have had negative connotations.

Just as Dr Barnard puts forward an argument for veganism as a way of treating diabetes, so do we with low-carb eating. The global diabetes community, diabetes.co.uk, runs an award-winning digital health intervention for people with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and obesity. It was developed using the feedback and opinions of more than 100,000 people who reported good results from low-carb. Like our approach to diabetes, the site’s website promotes lots of vegetables. Plant-based again, right?

If ethical concerns still bother you (as they do me), there are steps you can take.

  • Buy your eggs from the Farmers’ Market where they are likely to be free-range and organic.
  • Buy meat that has an RSPCA stamp on it, or again from the Farmers’ Market where animals are more likely to have been raised and slaughtered in a better way.
  • Eat dairy sparingly, and again choose organic options, preferably from local producers.
  • Investigate where your fish comes from and how it is farmed.
  • Base some of your meals around egg-free Quorn products and tofu.

Here’s to a plant-based 2018! And if you’d like to start a low-carb diet, check out our book – available in e-book and paperback on Amazon.

*Though the food industry is now doing its best to up its production of vegan junk food.

The Pulse of Life!

Diabetes and how you cope with it is an ongoing exploration. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with pulses such as lentils, and beans (kidney and butter) and even (shock, horror) whole grains such as barley.

I find their effect on my blood sugar minimal, and I love the variety they add to my diet. I was vegetarian for a long time, and lentils were a favourite food – lentil curries, patties and stews, all delicious.

Keto proponents don’t approve of lentils and beans because such diets promote extremely low carb intakes as sub 50g, but if you aim for a more moderate carbohydrate intake, such as 90-150g a day, you can easily add in pulses and beans. Remember too, that they have a high fibre content and you’ll probably be able to subtract that from the carbohydrate total when you work out how much insulin you need to cover a meal.

Apart from adding variety to my diet, I’ve also gone back to pulses and beans because of their fibre content. A lot of nutritional research these days points towards the importance of fibre, and it’s difficult to get much fibre on an extremely low-carb diet.

My body seems like the pulses and beans, and my blood sugar results confirm this. If your diet opens up and allows you more variety, this is always a good thing.

So, to celebrate here’s my recipe for hummus. Hummus is high in fibre and relatively low-carb. Used as a dip or sauce, you’ll only be adding minimal carbs to your diet.

Now, one thing I tried with this is the peeling the skins off thing. I’d read about this online, that if you want velvety-smooth hummus, you need to peel the chickpeas. U-huh. I wouldn’t do this every time as it’s possibly the most tedious job in the world, but for a special occasion, absolutely. You get beautifully smooth hummus.

Velvety-Smooth Hummus

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

·         1 x 400g tin chickpeas (save two tablespoons of the water)

·         Juice of one lemon

·         1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

·         2 heaped tablespoons tahini

·         Salt to taste

Drain the chickpeas, reserving two tablespoons of the water. Peel the skins off. The easiest way to do this is to pinch each chickpea between your thumb and finger, and it should pop out of its skin. Do this above a bowl and be prepared for a few to ping across the room.

Pop into a food processor, along with the garlic and reserved water and whizz for a minute or so. You can also use a stick blender, but this is the less messy method.

Add the lemon juice and tahini and whizz again, for a couple of minutes, so you get a smooth, creamy texture.

Add salt to taste – about ½ to one teaspoon.

Use as a dip, spread on your favourite low-carb bread. It’s also lovely spread on lamb steaks.

Total carbs – 24g, minus 11g for the fibre.

 

 

Diabetes Diet Book – Updated & Given a Make-over

We’ve been doing a little work in the background here at the Diabetes Diet. We decided to go for a print version via CreateSpace, and we’ve updated our book and uploaded it onto Kindle.

This is the new cover. What do you think?

diabetes diet
The Diabetes Diet is now on Amazon.

The Diabetes Diet explores what people affected with type one diabetes and type two diabetes, pre-diabetes and obesity need to do to get mastery over their blood sugars, metabolism and weight.

The scientific reasoning behind the low carbohydrate dietary approach is fully referenced and made easy by menu plans and low-carb recipes. You will be introduced to information and case studies that help you decide what level of blood sugar control, carbohydrate restriction and monitoring is most appropriate for your individual needs.

This book can help those with type 1 diabetes AND type 2 diabetes. It won’t cure diabetes, but it will make living with the condition so much easier.

The print version is going though some final checks, but should be ready in a few weeks’ time and we’ll update you.

You can buy the Diabetes Diet on Amazon.com here, and Amazon.co.uk here.

Low-Carb Bread

Joy of joys! I’ve found low-carb bread in Asda of all places…

Unlike the gluten-free and vegan markets, low carb high-fat diets don’t lend themselves easily to convenience foods. Hey, that’s probably a good thing. And it’s not as if you don’t have plenty of choices when you factor in cream, cheese, eggs, nuts, meat and fish and all the other yummy things that do fit perfectly with this way of eating.

But bread. Bread! Ask many people on the LCHF way of life what they miss most, and we are willing to bet it’s bread. Yes, you can make low-carb bread (and we offer a recipe here), but it is expensive to make. This protein bread I found in Asda is made by Scheidner Brot, and it has about 4g of carbs per slice, 7g of fibre and 11g protein. Best of all, it does actually resemble bread – albeit it’s more similar to that heavy rye bread, sometimes called black bread. This packet cost me £1.50. Okay, it does have a lot of ingredients (our low-carb bread recipe, for example, has six things in it) and it’s not suitable for coeliacs, but still…

Ah, the possibilities that open up in front of me are endless! Toast with butter and Marmite! Toast with peanut butter and sliced cucumber… You need the cucumber because peanut butter is claggy, and the cucumber cuts through it. Or what about a healthy dollop of egg mayonnaise? Some chicken liver pate would be nice too, and there is always cheese on toast with a little dash of Worcestershire sauce. You can freeze it in slices for convenience.

I’m in bread heaven!