Sunday, 1 May 2011

tips on going low carb

ok, so i've already talked a little bit about eating a low carb diet to help manage my diabetes better, and the amazing change i've experienced since then (as well as some of the dangers commonly associated with it).

but how does it actually work out in practice? and what tips can i give any of you thinking about switching over to low carb?

well firstly i would say - do it! you know it's the wisest thing to do for your health... and really at the end of the day is a slice of pizza or a bite of a donut really worth the increased risk of complications in the future? i think not.

after reading the diabetes solution i pretty much jumped in at the deep end - i went dramatically low carb (like almost 6, 12, 12) overnight. i was convinced that eating substantially fewer carbs was going to be the answer for helping control my levels. and i was right. since the change i've had more predictable levels, more even levels, and ultimately lower levels.

i did go low a lot though that first month - like a LOT. which was ok, because i was always prepared, and i treated it properly each time so i didn't put myself back into rollercoaster mode. and after realising just how low i'd been all the time, i wondered if i should lower my basal rates (it took me a while to catch on - so this is a warning!!). so, i tried and tested over a few days, and literally cut my basals in half - from 0.6 per hour to 0.3.

it's odd how all of a sudden my body was becoming so much more sensitive to insulin. like really weird. my routine hadn't changed so much...just a little extra walking. but obviously the less insulin you use, the less you need. the law of small numbers i suppose.

the other thing is that then my body has become a lot more sensitive to my highs and lows too - i feel highs at 12 instead of 18. and i'll feel them as it's going up, or my set is malfunctioning - it's almost like i can tell when the insulin isn't being effective or is wearing out. and my highs now are way more nasty than they use to be (which i'm grateful for, but highs now render me useless really)

anyway, enough of the serious diabetes stuff, and onto more of the practical fun stuff like, how do i eat?

well, at first i was eating about 30-50g carbs a day. that was, until i noticed i was producing ketones, and was running low on normal energy. i scoured the books and forums for advice, and eventually decided i needed to up my carb intake, reduce my fat intake and increase my protein.

so, now a typical day involves 75-100g carbs. which is still very low by most standards, but is enough to satisfy me and keep me going properly.

i start most days with porridge (1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup water with a little apple puree or St Dalfour jam - about 25g carbs). why? because it tastes awesome, and is the perfect energy i need for the beginning few hours of the day. i tried bacon and eggs, but i found that i just didn't have enough available energy for my mornings.

then at lunch and dinner i'll have mostly salad and vegetables with a good fistful of protein and a little bit of carbs - like roasted swede or carrot fries, or some sweet potato, or brown rice, or beans, or a slice of toasted wholegrain sourdough. i'll follow these with some dessert sometimes if i've done enough exercise that day, and i haven't eaten too much at lunch - dark chocolate, fruit (anything with less than 15g carbs, so 1/2 a banana or a tiny slice of melon is ok) and homemade yogurt are my favorite things to have!

and then of course, throughout the day, i snack! i love prunes, hummus and crispbread, tinned smoked mackerel, dark chocolate, defrosted berries, eggs, avocado, olives, peanut butter, tinned mandarins, etc. there's so many good things out there to enjoy in abundance with no/low carbs in!

but, don't i miss eating lots of carbs? nope. not really. honestly. truly.

there's nothing to miss when you are faced with such delicious foods - seriously check out my food blog not just apples lately, and see what i mean! i'd so much rather eat an amazing chicken and goats cheese salad than a boring tuna sandwich, or snack on cinnamon roasted almonds instead of a big bag of salt and vinegar crisps.   the way i currently eat is the way the italians, french, spanish, greeks, etc have been eating for hundreds and thousands of years - it's good, wholesome and tasty non-'diet' food that anyone would be happy and proud to eat.

there's nothing i don't allow myself a small bite of if i really want it. and that's the key - i think restrictive deprivation 'diets' are nasty, and not so helpful (to anyone). but i have to actually want it for the right reasons! i don't eat to satisfy emotional needs, or to fill a bored moment. if i'm going to have a treat, i make sure it's a good one - like a freshly cooked hot cinnamon donut after a long morning of market shopping, or a cold ice cream on holiday in italy. it has to be really, really worth it!

another thing is that you'll want to check how your body reacts to certain foods - because there's an awful lot of no's on dr bernstein's low carb list which my body can quite happily process without spiking my blood sugar... i've gently put these back into my diet after a few weeks, and measured my reactions. some things are really surprising...

and of course, not keeping high carb things around the house helps a lot! in fact, stock up with low carb snacks and foods keeps you feeling empowered and positive - instead of being faced with things you can't have, you'll be overwhelmed with the amazing foods you get to eat.

and then, last but not least, if you're going to do this, i recommend you sit down with a good carb counting book and look at all the different lists. then measure some of your regular food to see just how much your regular portions actually weigh, and therefore how many carbs are in them - i was so surprised when i did this! there's as many carbs in one small apple as there is in half a tin of mixed beans?

i hope this has been helpful, and i pray that you are all keeping well ♥

if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask... that's what i'm here for!