Diabetes Week

Oops! We forgot to do anything to mark Diabetes Week in the UK (it finishes today), a bit remiss seeing as we’re a blog all about diabetes.

So, to make up for our tardiness, here are some interesting facts about diabetes…

  • The earliest known written record that referred to diabetes is thought to be 1,500 BCE – an Egyptian papyrus report that mentioned frequent urination as a symptom.
  • The symptoms (thirst, weight loss, peeing too much) were recognised for more than 1,200 years before the disease got a name.
  • It was the Greek physician Aretaeus (30-90CE) who was credited with coming up with the name diabainein, meaning ‘a siphon’. This refers to the excessive urination associated with the condition. Diabetes was first recorded in the Middle Ages, the Greek word ‘mellitus’ meaning honey, later added.
  • Early tests for diabetes meant doctors drinking people’s urine to see if it was sweet… Or they watched to see if the urine attracted ants or flies.
  • The writer of this piece remembers urine testing in the good ol’ days before blood testing was available.
  • Dr. Priscilla White led treatment for diabetes in pregnancy. When she joined the practice of Dr. Elliott P. Joslin in 1924, the foetal success rate was 54 percent. By the time she retired in 1974 1974, the foetal success rate was 90 percent.
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were officially differentiated in 1936. The difference had been noted in the 18th Century when a physician spotted that some people suffered from a more chronic condition than others who died in less than five weeks after the onset of symptoms.

And finally – in 1916, Dr. Frederick M. Allen developed hospital treatment that restricted the diet of diabetes patients to whisky mixed with black coffee or clear soup for non-drinkers. Patients were given this mixture every few hours until sugar disappeared from the urine (usually within five days). They then had to follow a very strict low-carbohydrate diet. This programme had the best treatment outcome for its time…

Swings and roundabouts, huh?

To celebrate Diabetes Week, here’s my latest low-carb pudding idea. Take about 200g Greek yoghurt, mix with a rounded teaspoon of cocoa powder, a heaped teaspoon of granulated sweetener and there you have it – chocolate cream!

Add raspberries or strawberries for extra sweetness/goodness. About 5g carbs per serving without fruit.

 

 

Sausage and Onion Frittata

Image result for sausagesHopefully, wherever you are in the world, you get to eat outside regularly. As you may know, the authors of this blog live in Scotland where outdoor eating isn’t possible for most of the year.

We’ve just enjoyed an exceptionally beautiful May in the West of Scotland, though, and it did present opportunities for al fresco dining. Frittatas are delicious anyway, but when you eat them outside, they taste that little bit better.

The frittata is a friend to the low-carb diet. Try this one with some green salad leaves.

Sausage and Onion Frittata

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 good-quality pork sausages
  • 2 small onions, finely sliced
  • 100g mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 large, free-range eggs
  • 1tbsp oil or butter
  • 75g strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2tsp wholegrain mustard
  • A few sage leaves, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

Grill the sausages according to the packet instructions until cook through. Chop into chunks.

Heat the oil or butter in a large pan and fry the onions and mushrooms until cooked. This takes about five minutes. Add the sausage chunks and cook for another 30 seconds or so.

Mix the eggs with the cheese, mustard and sage leaves. Add to the pan and tip to coat everything evenly. Lift the edges of the frittata with a spatula to allow the uncooked egg mixture to run underneath. If necessary, you can finish off the frittata under a grill set to medium-high.

Serve with a dressed green salad or some broccoli with butter. Count 10g of net carbs for two servings and 7g for three.

A Day of Type 1 Diabetes

wp-image-1961591207jpg.jpgWhat’s it like having type 1 diabetes? Like having a part-time job on top of everything else…

I’m like most people – sometimes I manage great control. Sometimes, through no fault of my own, I don’t. And sometimes the fault is my own. My blood sugars go haywire, and I spend the day yawning, wishing people wouldn’t talk to me because it’s too much effort to talk back.

Sorry if you’ve met me when I’m like that.

Anyway, here’s what a day of living with diabetes looks like…

8am. Up and at ‘em! Or something like that. I’m self-employed, and I work from home, so I don’t have to commute. Or go to an office – thanks be to all the stars above. My cat likes to sleep on top of me, so sometimes it takes me ten minutes to get up because I don’t like to shift him…

Blood sugar – 6.6mmol. Oh no, is this going to be one of those terrible goodie two-shoes posts where people show off about their brilliant control?

I take my long-term insulin when I get up – 13 units of Levemir. I give the dose in two injections because I think it works better that way. Being an impatient sort, I need to count to 20 to stop me removing the needle too quickly. (You might not get the full dose if you take the needle out too soon.)

I don’t bother with breakfast. Up and at ‘em feels more do-able when I don’t. I’m accidentally doing the trendy 16-8 thing, where you only eat within an eight-hour window.

I work from 9am to 1 pm. I’m a freelance writer, so I write blogs, website contents, video scripts and more for clients, mainly small businesses that are trying to improve their SEO. Some years ago, my husband built me a standing desk. Once you get used to standing for work, it feels much more comfortable than sitting all day.


wp-image-282956511jpg.jpgBlood sugar – 4.2mmol
. Oh, no! It IS going to be a humble-brag blog.

1.30pm-2pm. Lunchtime. Today, I had chilli, salad and some green beans on the side and I finished with some peanuts. I took half a unit of Humalog to cover roughly 20g net carbs. I didn’t take it until after the meal because my blood was low beforehand and because I was planning a walk afterwards.

2pm. I usually go for a walk. I use a Jawbone app to track my sleep and activity. About an hour of walking a day takes you to 10,000 steps.

3.30pm – a bit more work. I write dog blogs for a client, and as I love animals these are my favourite ones to do.

5.30pm – 3.9. I had a banana to cover the low blood sugar, and then I went to a spin class. The instructor LOVES Lady Gaga. I’m beginning to hate her, as I associate the poor woman with nasty hill climbs.

7.30pm. Blood sugar, 11.1. Not so goodie two-shoes now, eh?! Huffing and puffing exercise sometimes does that to me – sends my body into a panic. ARGH, this is hard! Find sugar! Walking doesn’t do this.

I made myself a cheese and onion omelette. Other omelettes are available, but why would you bother?! It was more like cheese, with a bit of onion and egg on the side. I had one unit of Humalog to cover the net carbs.

wp-image-990815369jpg.jpg8pm – oops, how did that get in there? A cheeky little glass of pink fizz… It was so nice, I had another one. And er… maybe another one after that. I reckoned it would help lower blood sugars ;)*

10pm – second dose of Levemir, 6 units. I try to find a spot on my abdomen that doesn’t look too punctured. Medical staff stress the importance of changing injection sites regularly. I’ve got a lump on my belly that’s been there 20 years because I overused the same spot. I don’t go near it now.

10.30pm. I had an Atkins fudge bar. I didn’t take any insulin with it because I’d had a few glasses of wine. Atkins chocolate bars aren’t as carb-free as they boast – but they do contain fewer carbs than a standard chocolate bar.

Bed time. And that was my Friday.

 

*Usual rules apply – as a condition, type 1 diabetes will vary widely between individuals. What I do isn’t a recommendation or prescription for anyone else.

Seasonal Low-Carb Dishes

diabetes diet
Mediterranean trout with kale.

February is almost at an end – as it the season for many fruit and vegetables we associated with this time of year.

Nevertheless, we’ve done a round-up of what’s in season at the moment. If you eat seasonally, you get food at its best. It also means less food miles, as the food can be produced in the UK and has therefore not had to travel as far to get to your plate.

Fruit

  • Lemons
  • Clementines (coming to the end of their season)
  • Pears (coming to the end of their season)
  • Kiwis

Vegetables

  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Leeks
  • Kale
  • Purple sprouting broccoli

Meat and fish

  • Turkey
  • Salmon

If you want some recipe ideas for what to do with what’s in season, you could try:

Enjoy!

 

Buy Our Book!

diabetes diet
The Diabetes Diet is now available in paperback and e-book.

Forgive our wee plug – but if you’re looking for a comprehensive explanation of how you can use low-carb eating to help with diabetes (type 1 and type 2), we’ve got the answer with our book, The Diabetes Diet. 

How can it help you? If you’re a type 2, we give you detailed menu plans for different levels of carb intakes and lots of recipes, including plenty of baking and treats so you don’t feel as if you’re missing out on anything.

The missing link with many low carb diet plans is that they don’t tell you what happens if you take insulin or any other blood glucose lowering medication. (Hypos!) Our book explains how you manage your medication to prevent or minimise that and how you work out how much medication you need to take for protein. Yes, that needs taking care of too.

We also include some case studies of people who’ve used a low-carb diet to manage their diabetes and how it has helped them, including one from a vegan…

It doesn’t cost much and it might help you a lot.

Thanks in advance! Emma and Katharine.

 

A Day of Low Carbohydrate Eating

One person’s low-carbohydrate diet will look very different to another’s. When you eat low-carb, meals start to lose the distinction higher carbohydrate meals have.

At some point in the 20th Century, marketers decided that some foods were breakfast foods and some should be defined as lunch. Therefore, breakfasts should be cereal and/or toast, and at mid-day you should eat sandwiches, or bread and soup for example. That means you need ready-made products – boxes of corn flakes, or packets of pre-prepared slices of bread filled with cheese, ham and various other choices.

A low carb diet doesn’t usually include cereals and sandwiches, so anything can be eaten for breakfast or lunch. Leftovers from last night’s dinner, eggs and bacon for lunch – why limit yourself to a time of day food marketers have decided to earmark for certain foods?

To this end, I thought I’d document a day of low-carb eating. See what you think.

Breakfast

low carb breakfastsCream cheese and cucumber slices. We’ve been growing cucumbers this year – successfully too. I sliced some up and had them with some Asda soft cheese. It looks a bit like ice-cream doesn’t it?

Lunch

diabetes dietPrawns in home-made pesto, with baby sweet corn. I’ve got a couple of basil plants so I stripped the leaves from most of one, and blended them with 150ml extra virgin olive oil, one clove of garlic, salt, 40g sunflower seeds and 40g grated Parmesan. I use sunflower seeds rather than the traditional pine nuts as sunflower seeds are much cheaper.

This quantity will make you enough pesto to last a week. Store it in the fridge and use as a salad dressing, mixed with roast aubergines, peppers and courgettes, or spread on top of roast chicken.

Dinner

low carb saladsAvocado and chorizo salad. Recipe here.

I also ate an apple and cheese. The carbohydrate count for the whole day was roughly 50g.

 

 

 

 

What do you eat? What’s your favourite meal of the day – or your best meal? Let us know in the comments.

 

Disclaimer: my meal choices are not necessarily recommendations – it’s just what I ate one particular day.

Dana Carpender: Low Carbing on a Budget

Dana, how can you follow a low carb meal plan if you are on a tight budget?

Well, first, you’re going to have to cook. 🙂

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A year or two after I went low carb, my husband started grad school, and had to reduce to part time hours. I was not yet writing for a living. The budget was definitely slim.

I find the greatest friend my food budget has is a freezer. Even a little one, maybe 5 cubic feet, lets you take advantage of loss-leader sales and markdowns. As I type this, mine is full of chicken thighs I bought at 49c/pound and pork shoulder I bought for 99c/pound – oh, and bacon that went down to $1.99. I am not above buying meat that’s been marked down because it’s nearing the pull-by date; that’s how we afford rib-eye steak now and then. One delirious day I got 10 pounds of bacon and 8 pounds of pork sausage because they’d all been marked down to 99c/pound for clearance. Indeed, I rarely buy meat at full price. Heck, I have a turkey in there that was marked down to 79c/pound after the holidays. It’ll be great smoked on the grill this summer.

You’re thinking “How do I afford a freezer?” Check Craigslist; our big chest freezer (and by “big” I mean I could fit a body in it if it weren’t full of marked-down meat) cost us $125 and the hauling; it has saved us that many times over. It’s run beautifully for 6-7 years now. Do shop for one that’s fairly recent vintage; it will cost you less in electricity. You can also shop scratch-and-dent stores. Prices run higher, but you may get a warranty.

Keep in mind that your body doesn’t care if you get your protein from those 49c/pound chicken thighs or from lobster tail. It will be just as happy with cabbage as with out-of-season lettuce. Speaking of seasons, even today there is some seasonal variation in food prices. Take advantage of them.  We just stocked up on eggs when they were cheap at Easter; eggs are great any time of day. When Kerrygold butter went on sale, I bought 6 packages.

I’m a dinosaur; I still get a dead-tree newspaper daily, so I see the weekly grocery store flyers. As a result, I know when Aldi has avocados at 49c a pound, and when Lucky’s has a sale on prime rib – yes, I got a prime rib roast for $4.99/pound. That’s roughly half the usual price. I also try to be aware of who has the best prices on what on a day-to-day basis. We go through a lot of pork rinds, so it’s more than worth it to drive 20 minutes across town to Aldi, where they cost 99c a bag, instead of $2.99 a bag at the nearest grocery store. I buy them a case at a time. If you don’t get a paper, see if you can get the local grocery store circulars online.

Don’t waste food. As I said above, I eat leftovers a lot. I also save the bones from my chicken and steaks in plastic grocery sacks in the freezer, and turn them into broth when I have a bagful.

Most low carb speciality foods are pricey, and none of them are essential.

Two more thoughts:

One, many carby foods are expensive. I have long thought of cold cereal as a conspiracy to get suckers to pay $4 for 15c worth of grain. How much did the potatoes in that bag of chips cost? Why do you think pizza places keep bragging about their crust, or offering “free” Crazy Bread? They can appear generous while sucking dollars out of your pocket for something that cost them pennies. Cut the expensive carby junk out of your food budget, and you’ll have more money for bacon and eggs.

And two, any food that makes you fat, hungry, tired, and sick wouldn’t be cheap if they were giving it away.

 

Dana Carpender is the author of nine cookbooks, including the best-selling 500 Low-Carb Recipes.