My Top 5 Favorite Food Swaps

I understand that it takes a lot of discipline and willpower to change your lifestyle. Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly enough strength to do it for myself right now, but I do understand the importance and what I need to do to better myself and that is always a great start.

On May 6th, I wrote a post about the Top 10 Food Swaps for Diabetics. Of those 10, I have a couple of favorites that I use myself. I do other things too that have helped me on my journey.

1. Quinoa

I’ve replaced white rice with quinoa cooked in low sodium chicken broth just to give it some flavor. However, quinoa is expensive, at least here in Hawaii it is. Almost $13 per pound at some places. The cheapest I found it was $4.50 per pound but that’s still a lot. Quinoa is my favorite swap for rice it’s just expensive.

2. Lettuce

I love using lettuce leaves instead of hamburger buns and bread for sandwiches. They make cute little lettuce wraps with turkey and cheese. It’s light, easy, and fun to eat. It’s less filling by itself but that just means you can enjoy more of them without the added carbs of bread! Instead of two sandwiches, I usually have four lettuce wraps which basically have the same amount of fillings as the two sandwiches anyway just minus the carbs. I always get self conscious of having a stack of sandwiches on my plate but if I have a pile of lettuce wraps, it looks healthier and I trick myself in to thinking I’m being healthy.

3. Fruit-infused Water

Did you know that different combinations of fruits, veggies, and herbs infused in water has different health benefits? Like boost your immune system, flush toxins from your system, and increase energy to name a few. My favorite fruit-infused water is cucumber slices and strawberries with a couple mint leaves. You don’t want to leave the fruits and things in the water for too long though, they’ll get mushy and gross floating there. I have mine sit for an hour or two then take them out and eat them.

4. Use a Small Plate

The reason why I like using a smaller plate and bowl is because it tricks me into thinking I’m eating a lot of food (my “normal” amount) when in reality I’m not. Even if I go back for seconds with my small bowl, it’s really equal to one normal plate. Plus, if we don’t have quinoa and I eat rice, I don’t have a lot of room on my small plate to fit a lot of rice as well as all the veggies I want to eat. It really does help.

5. More Veggies

My grandma pickles cucumbers and Japanese radishes. I love her recipe, they make eating veggies more enjoyable. I’ve been eating more veggies because of it. Every chance I get, I put veggies on my plate. A salad for lunch every now and then is also a good thing.

How to Make the Most of Your Mornings

As a diabetic, you may come across a few days where everything just isn’t going right. Maybe your fasting blood sugar is through the roof. Maybe your test strips aren’t cooperating and you need to take another drop. Maybe you forgot to take your insulin, AGAIN.

Sometimes you just need a little pick-me-up to start the day, but don’t let it be sugar. Instead, let’s try to start our day off on the right foot and make the most of our mornings. Some habits, tips, and advice you can utilize each night and every morning to make sure your day starts right are listed below.


1. Make sure you wake up early every morning.

If you start work at 8am and your commute is one hour, you’ll definitely want to wake up early. A 5am wake up can do wonders for your day. You’ll have enough time in the morning to get ready, eat a hardy and healthy breakfast, and make sure you’re ready for your day before you get to work.

Waking up later can cause unnecessary stress and you won’t be able to eat breakfast which will upset your entire day. Obviously, this means you should be going to sleep early the night before. Make sure you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep and you’ll be golden in the morning.

2. Smile as soon as you wake up.

Even if you’re not happy when you wake up, you have one good reason to smile. You woke up this morning! As a diabetic, we could risk low blood sugar in our sleep and a severe low can cause us to go into a diabetic coma, and you won’t be waking up from that for a while.

Starting your morning with a smile can instantly make you feel better and what’s better than starting your morning with positivity? Well lots of things, but that’s besides the point. The point is, you want to start your day off with positivity and a smile.

3. Drink a glass of water before you do anything.

Have you ever woken up in the morning thirstier than the Sahara? How long did you take to get some water? Was it even water or was it coffee, tea, etc? Hydration is that breath of fresh air in the morning that you didn’t even know you needed. Your body will thank you.

Put a glass of water close to your bed every night. Take the necessary precaution against creepy crawlies and any sudden movements while sleeping to ensure your water stays fresh and in your cup the next morning.

4. Have some quiet time while you’re getting ready.

When you wake up early enough in the morning, you’re able to start your day off right, have enough time to get ready without rushing, and feel all around less stressed. While you’re getting ready, give yourself some quiet time to enjoy your morning while you get ready.

Hopefully, you’re able to wake up and get ready without waking anyone else up. Peace and quiet before the hustle and bustle of the day will be very refreshing.

5. Make your bed and open your windows.

Fresh air and the morning light can make your mood instantly better and your room will look tidier. I don’t like to come home from a long day to a messy room. It makes me feel grumpy. Skip the grumpy and spend the time in the morning to make your bed. Even if your insides feel like a mess, accomplishing this one simple task can make you feel like even if the rest of your day is crappy you’ve achieved at least one thing today.

6. Put on some lively music to get your energy and mood up.

Now that you’re all ready for your day, you look wonderful by the way, now is the time to get your energy up for the rest of your morning. Make your favorite morning beverage to some upbeat music to get you going for your day.

Turn on your radio, bluetooth speaker, or just blast your phone and start making your cup of coffee or tea. My personal favorite is Today’s Hits radio on Pandora with a nice cup of green tea. Keep playing that music for the next few tips too.

7. Go over your schedule and To Do list for the day.

What do you have planned for the day? Does shopping need to be done? Is your shopping list complete? With your warm beverage in hand, now is the perfect time to make sure you know what’s going on today. Don’t forget work, the kids, school, classes, activities, shopping, and anything else you have jam-packed in to your day.

If you have to coordinate with someone else during the day, make sure you’re all on the same page for what’s going on. Get all the who’s, what’s, when’s, where’s, why’s, and how’s. Getting it done now, is better than doing it one hour before you’re supposed to meet up.

8. Make sure you get a healthy breakfast in.

If you’re not hungry, have a smoothie instead. Watch out for the carbs and sodium in the morning, you don’t want to have too much in your first meal of the day. Go for fruits, fiber, and proteins to make you feel fuller and to keep that feeling through the day.

9. Get dinner sorted in the morning.

Getting everything ready for dinner in the morning will help save you time at the end of the day. You’re probably going to be tired when you come home and you might want to take the easy way out and get take out. This can get costly and may be an unhealthier option.

Instead, get the meat out of the freezer and in to the fridge in the morning. Have some extra time? Get the spices and dry ingredients out on to the counter, cut your veggies and put them in a container in the fridge, get your recipe out and make sure you have everything. This will save you so much time later in the day. My husband and I talk about what we’re having for dinner at breakfast and then we get the ingredients ready. By 4pm, everything is ready to go we just need to cook it. No scrambling through what we have and thawing what we need to, it’s already done.

10. Do some morning meditation to center yourself before starting your day.

I put this one last because you can do this at any time of your morning. When you wake up, you can do this in bed. Have to use the bathroom? Do it on the toilet. I’m kidding, of course. Meditate after you get ready, before or after breakfast, or before you step out of your house. Literally any time of the morning is a good time to recenter yourself.


Hopefully these tips can help you make the most of your mornings. I’m trying to do these myself. I’ve found my hormones have been out of balance and I’m hoping that if I do these things, I can rebalance my hormones and that can help with my diabetes and weight loss. If these tips can help me, maybe they can help you too.

I’ll make another post about hormones and how having balance with your hormones can affect your diabetes, because remember, insulin is a hormone too!


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The Journey: Episode Eleven (Memorial Day)

MAY 25, 2020

I want to take the time right off the bat to thank all the men and women who are serving our country past and present. Because of their selfless sacrifice, we are able to enjoy some of the freedoms and liberties we have today. Take that how you will, I still have mad respect for those who are willing to put their lives on the line for their country. I could never make that sacrifice even though I had wanted to join the Navy or Coast Guard when I was in high school.

Memorial Day, in my eyes, has kind of lost its meaning especially this year. Our mayor just reopened the county beach parks and everyone has flocked to the beaches, regardless of the rainy weather, and they’d all much rather enjoy the freedom they have from quarantine than the freedom they always had because of our veterans. Now it’s all about beaches and BBQs. I mean at least everyone is spending time with family right now, but it feels a little lackluster for our veterans.

But I digress. Today, I’m spending it working. Not just on my blog but also at my Office Manager job. We have a meeting this afternoon and I’m going to be busy.

Now about my health. It’s not going so well. I woke up this morning with a fasting blood sugar of 161! That’s pretty high considering I ate before 6:30pm last night and I took 1000mg of berberine before bed so I’m very suspicious of my blood sugar right now. Something is wrong. I think I may need to monitor more for the next week or two and that means I have to monitor at bedtime, 3am in the morning, and when I wake up to see if I’m being affected by the Dawn Phenomenon or the Rebound Effect. I suppose I should do a post about those two just in case for those who want to know, but that’ll be at a later time.

On the bright side, I’ve re-clarified my weight loss goals. I am currently 210 pounds, which is very disappointing, but I can’t let that get me down. I want to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year. There are about 31 weeks left in the year. For a healthy and sustainable weight loss, I need to lose and keep off one pound per week to make my goal by the end of the year. That means weekly weigh ins, daily exercises, healthier food options, and portion control. I’m starting to get the hang of it while I’m stuck at home so I think this is completely do-able.

I will need to do a lot of hard work from here and I’m not going to lie, it will be really tough for me to follow through with all of this. But I have a lot of dreams that I want to accomplish one day and I need to see these through.

I’m going to be losing a part of my support system soon though. My sister is going to be moving in with her husband by August. So because she won’t be able to support me as much as before, I would love to get your support, fellow diabetic, and I would love to support you too. Please feel free to reach out to me and we can support each other.

The Journey: Episode Ten

MAY 16, 2020

So I haven’t posted a journey update in the last two weeks.

Things have been pretty hectic. Boy’s Day, Mother’s Day, my sister leaving for a month. It’s all kind of added up. To start, my health is okay. It’s not the best but it’s okay. I am now up to 70 freaking units of insulin each night. My blood sugar isn’t getting better in the morning. A couple days ago my fasting blood sugar was almost 200! I don’t eat or drink anything after 8pm except water and still it’s high.

We’ve been having kind of later dinners, we’ve been losing track of time. The days are getting longer and the sky stays lighted later now so I’ve been confused lately. Also, my husband and I bought an xBox One last week and we’ve been playing video games while we’re in the house bored. We’ve been having issues with my other sister who is being a bum these days. The stress has been pretty high lately. I’m starting to worry that all this stress is the reason my sugar has been skyrocketing. When we were living in a cottage by ourselves my blood sugar was manageable and within reasonable range with my insulin. Since we moved back in to my grandma’s it has suddenly gone up and up and up even when my insulin goes up and up and up. This is very frustrating.

I’ve been trying to do breathing exercises, meditation and other techniques to get my stress levels down but it doesn’t really seem to be helping. Besides that, my sister is also making preparations to move up to Missouri with her husband.

He’s in the Army currently in training and she’s still here in Hawaii working. The plan is for her to move up completely by August then they’re in Missouri for a month or two until he gets his duty station then they’re off. I’m a little sad that she’s going to be leaving. We’ve spent our whole lives so far within driving distance of each other and during this lockdown we’ve been living in the same house for a couple months. I’d be lying if I said that I won’t be missing her. The fact that we now only have a couple months left is pretty daunting and what’s worse is that she’s visiting him in Missouri until June so she’ll be there for a whole month. She decided to go up no to move the bulk of her things up so when she’s ready to move by August she won’t have to take a lot of things with her. She’s also taking her cat up there and I’m going to miss her cat very much, she’s a roach hunter and we have lots of roaches.

She’s quarantining two weeks up there but she couldn’t find a cheap flight that took less than 24 hours of travel to come back before early June so she’s stuck there until then. Then she’s gonna fly in to the Kona airport and we have to drive out there to get her and bring her home. Then she has a month to get the last of her things packed and say her goodbyes before she leaves for greater adventures.

When she leaves, my husband and I are going to move in to her room so we have to rearrange things, clean, and move our things in to there. All while my husband isn’t working right now because of Coronavirus. We finally got our unemployment benefits and we have food stamps but we still have a bit of bills that we couldn’t get deferred that we need to pay for. I finally got MedQuest insurance so while they don’t cover my insulin, they at least cover the rest of my medication so that’s a bit of a load off our wallets.

That’s pretty much what’s been happening right now. I feel like my health is spiraling out of control and I can’t control what’s going on. This lockdown has got me feeling a little helpless.

Shoyu Chicken

I want to share with you folks a recipe that I absolutely love. Shoyu chicken is one of my favorite homemade dishes. I NEVER order shoyu chicken at a restaurant because I don’t want to risk eating someone else’s shoyu chicken and being turned off by it forever. My grandma makes the best shoyu chicken ever but my husband wanted to make it for me and become my new favorite shoyu chicken. Suffice to say, he was damn close.

What make shoyu chicken so great for diabetics (in my completely biased opinion), there is so little sugar in this recipe. Two teaspoons for a 3-4 pound bag of chicken thighs? That’s not bad right! Plus, it can be paired with just about any veggie side you can think of. I’ve had it with mashed potatoes, while it was weird, it still tasted really good. I hope you all try this recipe out and find it to be just as delicious as I do!

Category: Dinner

Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 2 thighs

Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 – 4 lbs chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 1 c shoyu (soy sauce), we used Aloha Low-Sodium, but use whatever’s available to you
  • 1 c water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 Tbsp Chinese black bean

Instructions:

  1. Bring all ingredients (minus chicken) to a boil in a pot on medium-high heat.
  2. Add chicken to mixture and bring to a boil again.
  3. Lower heat and simmer 40-45 mins, or until chicken is tender.
  4. Serve on a bed of rice OR quinoa with veggie sides.

Feedback:

My husband tried this recipe before and the first attempt (the original) was not as flavorful as we would have liked it, so this time he experimented with it and added more water, shoyu, and oyster sauce. The original called for a dash of Chinese Five Spice but he decided to replace that with Chinese Black Bean instead. Personally, I liked this recipe better than the original. There was a lot more flavor and it was just all around more delicious. We ate our shoyu chicken with takoan (pickled Japanese radish [daikon]), pickled cucumber, and sea asparagus all with a bit of white rice. When I say it was delicious, I mean it was ‘ONO!!!

Side Note: If you want it to be oyster chicken, same ingredients and instructions, just add more oyster sauce. My sister found that out the hard way.

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes is one of the deadliest diseases when left uncontrolled. While diabetes is not a direct cause of death, an uncontrolled diabetes diagnosis can lead to many complications that can lead to death. Diabetes affects your immune system, your blood circulation, your kidneys, and more. Here are some complications that uncontrolled diabetes can lead to.


  • Cardiovascular disease: Diabetes can dramatically increase the risk of cardiovascular problems such as coronary artery disease (angina), cardiac arrest (heart attack), stroke, and the narrowing of the arteries affecting blood circulation.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy): Excess sugar in your blood can injure the walls of tiny blood vessels (capillaries), especially in your legs. This leads to tingling, numbness, burning, or pain in the limbs (mostly the feet). Left untreated, you could lose all sense of feeling and your limb might need to be amputated.
  • Foot damage: Nerve damage or poor blood flow can increase the risk of foot complications. Untreated cuts and blisters can develop infections that often heal poorly. This may require toe, foot, or even leg amputation.
  • Kidney damage (nephropathy): The kidneys filter waste from your blood. Diabetes can damage the filtering system by overworking it as the kidneys try to filter all the excess sugar from your blood. This can lead to kidney failure and the need for dialysis or even a kidney transplant.
  • Eye damage (retinopathy): Diabetes can damage the blood vessels in your retina. Excess sugar in your blood vessels can injure the walls and cause the blood vessels to burst. It can also cause blindness and increase the risk of cataracts and glaucoma.
  • Skin conditions: Diabetes may leave you susceptible to skin problems if you have open wounds. Open wounds for diabetics tend to heal slower than non-diabetics leaving you vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections.
  • Hearing impairment is more common in people with diabetes.
  • Alzheimer’s disease: Diabetes increases the risk of dementia. The poorer the control of your blood sugar, the greater risk you have of contracting dementia.
  • Depression: Common amongst Type 1 and 2 diabetics, depression can affect diabetes management.
  • Ketoacidosis and ketones: This can lead to a diabetic coma. This is caused when your cells don’t get the glucose needed for energy so the body burns fat for energy, this produces ketones. Ketones are chemicals used to break down the fat for energy. When there is not enough insulin to use glucose for energy the ketones go to work, however, this leads to a build-up of ketones in the blood making it more acidic. High levels of ketones can become poisonous to your body and lead to ketoacidosis. The goal is to burn fat, but not as your main source of energy otherwise you’ll have high levels of glucose and ketones in your blood reacting with each other.
  • High blood pressure: A healthy blood pressure is below 120/80, prehypertension is 120/80 to 140/90, high blood pressure is above 140/90. Your heart has to work harder to pump blood through your blood vessels increasing the risk of stroke or heart attack.

This is a list of just some of the complications that diabetes can lead to when your diabetes is left uncontrolled. The goal for diabetics is to keep your blood sugar under control and get your A1C to a reasonable number (as determined by your doctor). If you can do that, you can keep from these very serious complications. Who knows, maybe you could even reverse your diabetes?


References

Mayo Clinic
Diabetes.org


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Top 10 Food Swaps for Diabetics

One of the most important factors in diabetes management is food. You have to have some sort of idea how much sugar and carbs a certain food contains before you eat it because it could spike your blood sugar. Food is probably the only aspect in your life that affects your blood sugar that you can control. Here are some healthier alternatives to some of our favorites.


  1. Instead of mashed potatoes, try mashed cauliflower. Potatoes are full of starch and calories, they also have a high glycemic index. Cauliflower has a glycemic index of 15 putting it low on the blood-sugar-spike scale. If you use fresh cauliflower instead of frozen, you will have better results. You can still use frozen cauliflower, but it might be a little runnier than you’d want it to be.
  2. Instead of rice, make quinoa. Quinoa is a relative to spinach and beets, therefore it has the nutritional value akin to leafy vegetables. Quinoa also has high levels of minerals, fiber, and it is a complete protein with all 9 essential amino acids.
  3. Instead of buns or bread, use iceberg lettuce leaves. An average hamburger bun has about 20-25g of carbs, whereas iceberg lettuce is full of Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, folate, and 19 amino acids, making it much more beneficial than a piece of bread. Iceberg lettuce is also low in calories, nutrient dense, and a good source of fiber.
  4. Instead of drinking sugary beverages, drink fruit-infused water. Fruit-infused water is low in sugar and calories, more hydrating, and very refreshing. It also helps to spruce up your daily water intake if you ever get tired of drinking just water all the time. I will do a post later of different combinations of infused water with some added benefits.
  5. Instead of using wheat flour, use almond flour. I’ll admit right out, almond flour is expensive. In my town at least, it’s cheaper to get almond flour in bulk than buy it packaged at the store. But here are the benefits, almond flour is much more nutritious, can reduce your LDL “bad” cholesterol, and improve insulin resistance. It’s also lower in carbs, higher in healthy fats and fiber, has a lower glycemic index and is gluten-free. My suggestion is to learn more about how almond flour is used before you bake with it, you won’t get the same results as wheat flour.
  6. Instead of using a large plate for food, use a smaller plate. Using a smaller plate helps with portion control and being able to control your portion sizes is very important. It can give the illusion of more food on a smaller plate tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating a lot of food. Another tip, slow down when you’re eating and enjoy your food. Make sure to thoroughly chew your food before slowing, it’ll make you feel fuller faster.
  7. Instead of eating cookies, candies, and chips, eat berries, nuts, seeds, and veggies. Cookies, candies, and chips are full of empty calories and carbs, whereas your healthier option has healthy carbs and proteins that will help keep your blood sugar spikes low.
  8. Instead of having little to no veggies on your plate, make sure more veggies make up half of your plate. Fill half your plate with veggies, 1/4 with protein and 1/4 with 100% whole grains to get a well-balanced meal. This will help you feel full and keeps your blood sugar more even.
  9. Instead of eating white potatoes, eat sweet potatoes. Frying white potatoes is high in unhealthy fats and oils, white potatoes are already full of carbs and have a high glycemic index. Sweet potatoes can be roasted or baked with olive oil and be a healthier option. Sweet potatoes also have a lower glycemic index and lower in calories and carbs.
  10. Instead of microwave popcorn, try stove-top popcorn. Microwave popcorn is high in trans fats, almost 5g. Stove-top popcorn may take a little longer, but it’s much healthier. It has less calories and it doesn’t come already pre-buttered, you can add however much you want to your popcorn. Also it’s cheaper than the organic microwave popcorn brands, they may be healthier altogether, but who wants to pay $6 per bag? That’s theater popcorn pricing!

Hopefully, all of these food swap options can give you some ideas for a healthier diet and hopefully it gets you out in to the internet or books to find even more swaps you can make! There are many other options out there, just do your research and consult your dietician to make your diet healthier and diabetic-friendly.


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Chicken Fingers

Category: Lunch

Yield: 6 – 8 servings
Serving Size: 5 – 6 strips

Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp thyme
  • oil, just enough to cover half the strips

Instructions:

  1. Cut the chicken breast into 1/2 inch thick strips.
  2. Mix the flour and seasonings in a bowl.
  3. Toss the strips into the flour.
  4. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Fry chicken in batches, turning the chicken to make sure they don’t get stuck to the bottom of the pan. About 5 -7 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Once done, put chicken on a paper-towel-lined plate. Eat with a sauce of your choosing.

Feedback:

This chicken strips were really good. The best part was that my husband didn’t use any eggs for this recipe. It was nice and moist and just enough flavor that only a little ketchup was needed. My husband said that you don’t want to deep fry these babies, just fry them. We had ours on a bed of rice with canned corn and pickled daikon (Japanese radish). Really good stuff!