Managing Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes is “the single biggest global health epidemic of our time” (Hyman, 2012, p. 7). It contributes to many other health problems including retinopathy, kidney disease, gastroparesis, neuropathy, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more. Managing blood sugar is a key to avoiding diabetes and the health problems that accompany it.

Glycemic Index 

The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring how quickly foods raise blood sugar (Cohen, 2010). Foods that are more slowly digested raise the blood sugar slowly, while foods that are quickly digested raise the blood sugar more quickly. The higher the number on the GI, the more that blood sugar will be increased. For those with Diabetes, managing blood sugar is key to managing Diabetes.

Glycemic Load

Glycemic load takes the glycemic index of the food and couples that information with the amount of that food, giving a more accurate prediction of how the blood sugar will respond. Glycemic load is considered to be a better tool when deciding what foods one should eat to manage blood sugar.

Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index

Food Serving Glycemic Load Glycemic Index
White bread 1 slice 10 70
Corn flakes 1 cup 21 81
Spelt Bread 1 slice 12 63
Rye Bread 1 slice 5 41
White rice 1 cup 23 64
Brown rice 1 cup 18 55
Baked Potato 1 medium 18 60
Sweet Potato 1 medium 11 25
Shredded Wheat 1 cup 17 83
Skim Milk 8 oz. 4 32
Oatmeal 1 cup 15 55
Banana 1 medium 11 42
Carrots, raw 3 oz. 1 16
Cashews 1 oz. 2 22
Lentils 1 cup 5 29
Pearl Barley 1 cup 11 25
Spaghetti 1 cup 23 48
Apple 1 medium 6 38
Orange 1 medium 5 42
Sucrose 2 tsp. 7 68

References:

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014). Therapeutic Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.Bauman, E. (4/10/15). Personal Communication
Cohen, S. (2010). Diabetes without Drugs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, Inc.Hyman, M. (2012). The Blood Sugar Solution. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Quick & Easy Deviled Eggs

This is quite possibly the easiest deviled eggs that you’ll ever make. I had a dinner gathering to attend and completely forgot that I said I’d bring an appetizer. We had basically ZERO food in the fridge, but we did have eggs, Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo, a lime, and cilantro. So I decided to give it a go! My uncle raved about these deviled eggs, so I knew they were good enough to make again for Christmas Eve dinner at a friend’s house. There were already deviled eggs at the party, (OOPS!) but mine flew off the platter. Needless to say, I knew I needed to blog about this recipe.

I would love to know your thoughts!

Recipe:

6 eggs, hardboiled

1/4 cup Primal Kitchen Chipotle Lime Mayo

half of 1 lime, juiced

1 tsp. sea salt

paprika, for garnish

12 cilantro leaves , for garnish

Maldon sea salt (optional), for garnish

Directions:

  1. If you have an Instant Pot, you *need* to hard boil your eggs with it. Even farm fresh eggs peel like butter. Add 1 cup of water to the IP. Place 6 eggs in the IP on the removable rack or in a steamer basket. Using the Manual feature and the + / – button to adjust to 7 minutes. (I have found that 7 minutes is the sweet spot for me, but yours may range from 6-8 minutes). When the IP is done, manually release the pressure and add eggs to an ice bath to stop the eggs from continuing to cook. Peel! If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you should get one! In all seriousness, feel free to hard boil your eggs however you like.
  2. Once the eggs are peeled, halve the eggs. Place the yolks, mayo, sea salt, and lime juice in a bowl. Use an immersion blender to combine the ingredients until the texture is smooth and creamy.
  3. Spoon the yolk mixture back into the eggs.
  4. Sprinkle with paprika and Maldon sea salt (if using).  Add a cilantro leaf to each deviled egg.
  5. Enjoy!

 

PS – I can’t wait for Primal Kitchen Santa Cruz to open. I imagine they will be rocking some deviled eggs on their menu too. It is estimated to open in April of 2018.

PPS – Oh and the even better news, these are 21 Day Sugar Detox compliant!

 

Five Packable Clean Eating Lunches

My favorite Lunch Box (it has freezer packs built right in!)

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

MONDAY

Smoked salmon and Paleo Gingered Beets. Be sure to check the ingredients, some smoked salmon has sugar in the ingredients. This smoked salmon from Vital Choice has no sugar.

TUESDAY

Jalapeno-dill Tuna Salad from The 21-Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

WEDNESDAY

Turkey, Bacon, and Avocado Lettuce Wraps

Directions:

Layer sliced turkey, bacon slices, and avocado on the inside of romaine lettuce. Top with a drizzle of mustard. Optional: add additional veggies – sprinkle with diced olives, diced tomato, diced onions, pickles, or peppercinis, etc.

I like to make about 3-4 of these depending on how hungry you usually are at lunch time.

THURSDAY

Shrimp and Avocado Salad and a green salad.

Basic Salad Building Rules:

Greens – Choose your base of greens: spinach, kale, mixed greens, romaine, butter lettuce, etc.

Veggies – Add more veg: bell peppers, carrots, beets, cucumbers, artichokes, radishes, avocado, jicama, cabbage, etc.

Fruits – Add some fruit!

Nuts/Seeds – Add a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, etc.

Cheese – Add some feta, goat cheese, parmesan, or whatever cheese you have on hand.

Salad Dressing – check out this post of my favorite homemade salad dressings.

BOOM! Now you ave an epic salad to go with your shrimp and avocado salad.

FRIDAY

Cobb Salad

Paleo Gingered Beets

Most people feel kind of “meh” about beets and I used to be one of those people. I slowly began liking them more and more, but my husband wasn’t having it. He was firmly on the “meh” train. Enter Paleo Gingered Beets. They have revolution-ized beets for him. He could eat them EVERY DAY. I brought these to Easter too and convinced even more beet skeptics. I highly suggest you try the recipe and see if you become a convert!

Paleo Gingered Beets

Recipe:

2 8.8 oz packages of Love Beets (plain), chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 in piece of fresh ginger, grated

(optional) chiffonade of mint leaves, about 2 T

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1T red wine vinegar

1 T coconut aminos

sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl combine coconut aminos, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, mint, sea salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl (with a lid), add the beets and then stir to combine all the ingredients. Allow the flavors to enhance by letting it sit in fridge for at least an hour. Enjoy!

 

Digestion Help when Switching to Real Food

Many people experience different digestion when switching to a real foods based diet. Sometimes that is for the better and sometimes initially it can change for the worse. Here are some important things to know about digestion.

  1. Digestion begins in the brain. Smelling food, seeing food, or thinking about food can cause the hormones involved in hunger to be activated to prepare the body for food and digestion.
  2. Avoid drinking a lot of water before, during, and after your meal. Water weakens the stomach acid and the digestive enzymes and reduces their ability to help process and break down foods.
  3. Chewing is “pre-digestion” and it vital for optimal digestive function. Be sure you chew your food until it is soft and no longer resembles its original self.
  4. Sit, relax, and slow down for your meals. If you are stressed when you are eating (perhaps at  your desk), your body and your hormones are in “fight or flight” mode. When your sympathetic nervous system has taken over (as in flight or flight mode), digestion is “turned off”. The body prioritizes other functions instead, like vision and fast twitch muscles. For optimal digestive function, it is vital to slow down to eat.

Health begins in gut. Here are some tips for optimizing digestion:

  1. Remove irritating foods. Removing vegetable oils, wheat, grains, sugar, soy, and conventional dairy is important to optimize digestion.
  2. Increase your probiotic rich foods. Add foods like kombucha, (here is a link to a widely available (and no added sugar kombucha), sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, beet kvass, and kefir.
  3.  Heal your gut lining. Consider adding L-glutamine, an amino acid that is vital for gut health, bone broth, aloe vera juice, vitamin c rich foods, and collagen peptides.

Seven Tips for Self Care

Self-care isn’t selfish, it’s actually really important for your health and wellbeing. It’s also important to focus on self-care when you are switching to a real foods diet. Here are my Seven Tips for Self Care:

  1. Create. Whatever you like to do to be creative, schedule some time for yourself. Some ideas include: playing an instrument, cooking (although you may be tired of that during the detox! :-), home DIY, adult coloring books, sewing, scrapbooking, painting, writing. The list can go on and on.
  2. At-Home Relaxation. Schedule a playdate for the kids, hire a babysitter, or call in a favor from a family member. Do whatever you need to do in order to have some time for some at-home relaxation. The great thing about these suggestions is that they are low/no cost. Winning!! This is can include an at-home facial, a relaxing bath with epsom salts, diffusing some calming essential oils, unplug from devices, an at-home foot soak, scrub, and foot massage, or self-massage with a foam roller and/or Yoga Tune Up balls (this is my personal favorite!).
  3. Relaxation. These relaxation suggestions will set you back a bit of money, but are so worth it if you can budget them in. Ideas include: massage, reiki, acupuncture, chiropractor, manicure, pedicure, facial, or even a spa day. These are also good ideas to use as rewards for yourself when you complete a milestone – I love these rewards so much more than food rewards :-).
  4. Quiet Time. In our modern world we have so many auditory inputs that it can be very taxing on our system. Sometimes we all just need a little piece and quiet! Because we are also living such scheduled lives, it can be hard to know what to “do” during quiet time (sounds a little ridiculous, right?). Here are five ideas for your quiet time: read, write, keep a mental or physical list of things you are grateful for, meditate/pray, or even sleep!
  5. Personal Connection. Humans need human interaction and not just virtual interaction, we NEED the live and in-person kind too. Try to schedule some time to connect (or even reconnect) with friends, family, or your children. My personal goal is to have a connection with friends and family at least once per week. You may also consider joining a group of like-minded individuals to provide you with more or different personal connection. Maybe you can join a book club, hiking group, bunco group, sewing group, or a meet up group in your area to increase the amount of personal connection in your life.
  6. Exercise. It’s good for your body and your mind. Our ancestors walked 6-12 miles per day! In our modern world, most of us do not get nearly that much movement in. Whatever you like to do, make time to do it each week. The options are endless, but here are a few ideas: yoga, cycling, crossfit, running, swimming, walking, hiking, tennis, pilates, barre workouts, HIIT, and so on.
  7. Treat Yo’self. Treat yo’self to a dinner out that is still real food, but you didn’t have to cook it. It’s likely that you’ve been cooking more than you normally do and it can be exhausting. Treat yo’self to night (or day) of not having to cook. Sit back, relax, and enjoy every moment of not having to shop, chop, cook, and clean up. Ahhhhhh.

BONUS: Sunshine. Go get some sunshine! Make some vitamin D and feel the sun’s glorious rays on you. The stack your life version of self-care would be walking with a friend (exercise, sunshine, and personal connection) or swimming with your kids (exercise, sunshine, and personal connection).

Five Tips to Improve Sleep

Most Americans are under slept and without enough sleep we are setting ourselves up for unstable moods, hunger cravings, and challenges with weight loss. In fact, in Robb Wolf’s book, Wired to Eat, he notes that Americans, on average sleep 2.5 hours less per night than Americans in the 1970’s. We often taught sleep deprivation like a badge of honor, but it is really a disservice to our health. Wolf also goes on to explain that in order for humans to deal with the stress of sleep deprivation, we are wired to seek out any food, especially highly processed foods. In fact, we have less willpower to resist these foods when we are sleep deprived. Lastly, Wolf goes on to point out there is a relationship between poor sleep and the inability to lose fat.

Five Tips to Improve Sleep

Room Conditions:

  • As dark as a cave! Make sure your bedroom is as dark as a cave. Not only do your eyes have light receptors, but all of your skin does too.The light that is often emitted from electronics should be turned off or covered up. This includes clocks, night lights, TV, etc. Using electrical tape or a washcloth can help. I also LOVE sleeping with an eyemask. I have linked to my favorite Eye Mask and my husband’s favorite eye mask (Blinks Luxury Ultralight Comfortable Contoured Eye Sleep Mask). Blackout Curtains are something else that I HIGHLY recommend. Here is a link to my favorite brand, Eclipse.

Cool it Now! Your body temperature needs to fall a degree or two for optimal sleep and so your bedroom must also have a lower temperature. Between 64°- 66° is the optimal bedroom temperature according to Wolf. 

Supplements:

Magnesium naturally relaxes the body and reduces stress. A supplement like Natural Vitality Natural Calm Magnesium is great way to get magnesium citrate.

Vitamin D can be hard to get enough of in our modern lifestyles due to indoor living and loads of sunscreen. A Vitamin D3 Liquid Supplement can be helpful for improving sleep.

* Be sure to discuss supplements with your doctor before taking any new supplements.

Bedtime Routine:

Folks with children know that bedtime routines really help with getting a restful night’s sleep. The same is true for adults. Having a consistent and regular bedtime along with a regular routine (that hopefully doesn’t involve screen time) will help power down your brain and get your body ready for sleep.

Additional Resources:

Go To Bed by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne https://www.thepaleomom.com/books/gotobed/

Eleven Tips for a Better Night Sleep

Swannies Blue Light Blocking Sleep Aid Glasses

Hearty Turkey, Vegetable, and Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup with Turkey & Veggies

This soup was created with liver health in mind. Midway through my chemotherapy treatment for Breast Cancer, my liver enzymes were too elevated to continue treatment. We had to postpone treatment for at least one week to make sure that my liver was healthy enough to process the chemotherapy. At that time I was in school to become a Nutrition Consultant and I knew there were things that I could do to “Love my Liver”, so I went home and made some BIG changes to my diet for that week and well, IT WORKED! I went back the next week and my enzyme levels were low enough to continue with chemotherapy. Here is one of the recipes that I made for the “Love my Liver” week.

 

Recipe:

1 1/2 C green lentils (soaked overnight)

1 jar diced tomatoes

24 oz. homemade bone broth (chicken or turkey)

2 T butter

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

4 small summer squash, sliced

3 small bell peppers, diced

6 carrots, sliced

6 stalks of kale, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped

1/2 lb. ground turkey

Herbs:

Bay leaf, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano

Sea salt & Pepper

Rinse lentils and let soak overnight. Next day: in a large pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter. Add broth, tomatoes, lentils, and veggies. Add ground turkey. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Continue simmering for 30-45 min.

Enjoy!

To snack or not to snack?

I get a lot of questions from folks wondering what they can eat for snacks when they switch their diet from a SAD diet (Standard American Diet) to a whole foods/ real food/ paleo type diet. Before I give a green light on what to snack on,  let’s rethink the idea of snacking altogether.

The idea of six small meals or three bigger meals with a morning and an afternoon snack is really a new idea. This is certainly not how we evolved. Let’s take a moment and think about blood sugar. In general, when you eat, your blood sugar rises. In order to deal with the rise in blood sugar, the pancreas secretes insulin which allows the glucose (blood sugar) into the cells where they are put to work. When you are always eating (as with six small meals or chronic snacking) your body is always 1) working to produce enough insulin (which prioritizes the production of the hormone insulin over other hormones), 2) dealing with elevated blood sugar, and 3) digesting food, which does not allow for your digestive system to have breaks throughout the day.

Here is the other “issue” I have with snacking. When we are taught to eat small meals, we are essentially setting ourselves up for snacking. You’re simply NOT going to be satisfied with the small meals and you’re going to have to snack. Simple as that. What I propose instead are three larger meals. Crazy, right? Three larger meals, with breakfast being your largest and dinner being your smallest. I’m also going to suggest that you increase your fat intake and possibly your starchy carbohydrate intake. Fat provides the most calories per gram (9, as compared to 4 from both protein and carbohydrates) making it more satiating. Fat keeps you fuller longer. And let’s remember that fat doesn’t make you fat. That is false.

With all that said, sometimes I do snack. So I do have some healthier recommendations for snacking.

    1. Beef Jerky or Turkey Jerky. We found Clean-n-Jerky during our trip to Colorado last spring and we love it. Small business, check. Woman owned and operated, check. Simple, real, and easy to pronounce ingredients, check. Well-sourced ingredients, check. Bonus: it’s also 21DSD compliant.
    2. Dip and veggies. I’m mainly referring to homemade dips because it is amazing what they manage to add to store-bought dips! I always think, I don’t put that into my dip when I make it at home, what could it possibly be used for? Anyways…guacamole and veggies, hummus and veggies, avocado-hummus and veggies, tzatziki and veggies, etc. Make some dip and cut up some veggies and enjoy! While veggies are not the same as chips in terms of flavor and texture, when your dip is delicious, the chips are really just a vehicle for the dip, so why not swap them out for a healthier vehicle or even just a spoon!
    3. Avocados make great snacks. I like to slice up half an avocado (or sometimes the whole thing!) and add a bit of sea salt and lemon and I’m all set! My husband loves avocado with hot sauce, which is also pretty great too.
    4. Fruit is also a great snack. Obviously I’m going to suggest eating whichever fruits are in season.
    5. Nuts or Nut Butters. A handful of nuts is a great option and so is a spoonful of nut butter. Sometimes I like nut butter on a apple or banana too.
    6. Deli meats and cheese. Avoid those conventional crackers because they are crap. No really, they are total crap. Also choose your cheese and deli meat wisely. I look for organic at a bare minimum, but ideally they are from pasture raised animals. Here are a few brands that I like.

      Hopefully some of these suggestions will be helpful to guide your snacking options. You’ll probably notice that most of my suggestions have some fat or some protein – this is intentional. If you just eat a simple carbohydrate, your blood sugar will quickly spike and then quickly fall, which is something to be avoided as much as possible.

      I leave you with two tips: 1) The less processed the better. When you are left with a challenging choice to make, go for as little processing as possible. 2) No naked carbs. In nutrition school, this was one of the first tips we learned – be sure to include some fat or some protein with your carbohydrates for healthy blood sugar management.

Hugs and Health,

Katie