Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Food. Show all posts

Apr 5, 2018

We Now Have GMO Rice

Because rice is relatively high on the glycemic index (meaning it spikes blood sugar), I've never considered it a health food. However, I know many people who consume it regularly...and it's widely found in processed food. Now, though, there's a new reason to avoid rice: The FDA has approved the sale of GMO rice in the United States.

Although this rice cannot currently be planted in the U.S. (it needs approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for this to happen), it can be imported into the United States.

To avoid GMO rice, you will need to follow all the same steps you would to avoid any GMO plant:

1. Buy only certified organic rice. If it's organic, it automatically cannot be GMO.

2. Avoid processed foods with rice-based ingredients. This includes: rice germ, rice bran, rice protein, rice flour, rich starch, rice syrup, and rice blends.

Other GMO foods currently available in the U.S. are:

* Corn
* Soy
* Sugar beets
* Papaya
* Zucchini and yellow summer squash
* Canola (rapeseed)
* Cottonseed
* Salmon
* Apples
* Potatoes

The trickiest part about avoiding GMOs is tht they can hide in processed food, infant formula, and even vitamins.

To learn more about why I recommend avoiding GMOs, and further information on where to find them, click here.

* Cover image courtesy of Ozzy Delaney

Jan 25, 2018

Avoiding Food Waste by Understanding Food Expiration Labels

What Food Expiration Dates Really Mean
Americans waste a lot of food. According to Forbes, enough to fill the Rose Bowl every day - a total of 30 - 40% of all our food. Even worse, much of that food is perfectly edible. And one of the biggest reasons we waste food is our great fear of food poisioning.

While it's obviously smart for consumers to use caution when eating food that could make them ill, we can prevent a lot of food waste simply by understanding the types of "expiration labels" found on food products. For example, the following labels tell consumers nothing about a food's safety:

"Sell by" 
"Best if Used By" 
"Best By"  
"Guaranteed Fresh By"

Instead, each of these labels indicates that after the printed date, the product may not be as fresh - still safe to eat, mind you, but not of as high in quality.

Canned foods often have a “Pack” date; this is designed for the manufacturer's use and has nothing to do with either safety or quality.

Only foods withExpires On” or “Expires By” dates are helpful in indicating safety. If something is eaten after the indicated date, it could potentially cause food poisoning. However, if the product is frozen before the expiration date, it may be consumed much later than the date indicated.

General Guidelines

Cook or freeze meat and seafood within 2 days of purchase. 

The USDA says eggs are safe for up to 5 weeks after their expiration date, if kept in their original box in a cool refrigerator. However, there is a simple test to determine whether eggs are safe to eat: Place them in a cup of water and see if they float. (See complete instructions here.)

If kept unopened, butter can last for months. But if you're not going to use it right away, it's a great idea to freeze it.

Milk is usually safe up to one week after the “sell by” date. If milk is reaching its expiration date and you won't be able to use it before it goes bad, freeze it.

If kept unopened, hard cheeses last for at least 4 weeks. Over time, they may taste more sharp. If cheese develops mold, cut off all the affected part and eat the rest. Grated cheese may be stored in the freezer and used for cooking. (Freezing changes the texture of cheese, so you wouldn't want to eat previously frozen cheese in, say, a sandwich.)

If you have vegetables that tend to go bad before you use them, consider whether they freeze well. For example, I used to have trouble with bell peppers and onions going bad. Now, I chop them up the day of grocery shopping (or the day after) and pop them into the freeze. Added bonus: This makes cooking meals faster! Not sure how to freeze veggies? Visit AllRecipes for tips.

Another option for vegetables or fruits that are about to go bad is to dehydrate them. Dehydration is easy and cost effective; learn how here.

Experts say baking powder should be replaced around every 6 months, but I find mine lasts much longer. To test if it needs replacing, mix 1 teaspoon of baking powder with ½ cup of hot water. It should bubble instantly. The same thing goes for baking soda; test it by dropping ¼ teaspoon into 2 teaspoons of vinegar. It should bubble right away.

Commercially canned foods often last up to 5 years, and home canned foods last virtually forever, as long as they remain sealed. The nutrients in the food will very gradually diminish. However, if canned goods are kept at a high or low temperatures, they will spoil rapidly. Keep them at 50 - 70 degrees F. Rust on cans or lids may indicate air can get to the food, which in turn means the food could be spoiled. Commercially canned high acid foods, like tomatoes or citrus, are more likely to spoil than low acid foods like canned pears. Toss any cans or jars that are bulging. Watch the video below for more tips on discerning whether home canned food is still safe to eat.

Still not sure about a food's expiration date? Check out

DISCLAIMER: This article is designed to offer friendly advice. I am not a doctor or scientist, nor an expert on foodborne illness. Please use common sense before eating anything and always err on the side of caution. I cannot be held liable if you eat a food mentioned in this article and become ill. Isn't it sad that I have to post a disclaimer?

A version of this post originally appeared in October of 2009.

Nov 3, 2017

Saving Money While Eating Keto (or Whole Foods)

Saving Money while Eating Whole Foods
This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Last December, when my doctor informed me I had type II diabetes and that if I didn't want to take insulin I needed to go on a keto diet, I was worried this new way of eating would blow our grocery budget sky high. Maybe you're trying to switch to a whole foods diet but are afraid it will cost a fortune. Or maybe you're still eating lots of processed, carb-laden food but need to trim your grocery costs. Whatever the case, the following tips will help keep your grocery budget under control, just as they have mine.

(An important point: Many people find their grocery budget goes down when they switch to a keto diet, even without implementing these money-saving tips. It helps that keto keeps you more full than the more popular high carb, low fat diet, but it also really depends upon how much processed food you're used to buying. Our budget remained about the same; previously we ate a lower carb whole foods diet.)

Courtesy of

* Keto is a moderate protein diet; it doesn't require huge amounts of meat. That should help your budget, right there!

* Learn which grocery stores in your area have a meat clearance section and what day of the week they mark down their meat. Plan to use that meat the same day, or freeze it for later use.

* Watch for meat sales, via newspaper inserts, store websites, or store loyalty programs. Plan your meals around these sale items.

* But cheaper cuts of meat, and learn to cook them so they taste great. Most cheaper cuts are either less tender (so you'll need to learn to cook them low and slow in a crock pot or Instant Pot).

* Considered canned meat. If you're not used to it, canned meat may seem weird or even yucky. But I assure you that minimally processed canned meat, like chicken breasts, salmon, and tuna, is healthy and delicious! Sometimes it's cheaper than fresh, too - especially if you buy it on sale.

* Prepare your own meat. For example, instead of buying chicken tenders, buy chicken breasts and cut them down to size yourself. Or buy a whole chicken and use the meat for several meals.

Courtesy of Jules

* Buy what's in season; it's almost always cheaper. For example, asparagus is least expensive in spring, when it's naturally abundant. (Not sure what's in season when? Check out the USDA's website.)

* Consider farmer's markets. Sometimes they are less expensive than grocery stores. (But not always!)

* Compare the cost of frozen vegetables with fresh vegetables. Often, frozen is less expensive, yet still quite nutritional.

* Grow as many of your own veggies as possible. Even having a few pots on your porch or balcony can save a lot of money, especially if you choose greens, which grow and grow and grow until killed by frost. (Some greens, like kale and collards will even stay alive in the snow.)

In General

* Shop around. Familiarize yourself with all the grocery stores in your area, so you know for sure which ones are least expensive for the foods you most purchase.
Courtesy of Clyde Robinson
* Keep a price book. Don't rely on your memory to know the best price for the foods you regularly purchase or you may end up buying something on sale without actually saving any money. Click here to learn how to make a simple price book.

* Avoid processed food, even if you think it's keto. This will save you a ton of money - and processed food is frankly never as healthy as whole food. The Internet has a wealth of made-from-scratch keto foods. (Check out my Pinterest boards, for a start.)

* Eat simple meals most days. Few ingredients usually means spending less money to make a meal. Focus on one meat and one veggie for most meals.

* Although organic produce and grassfed meat and dairy are ideal for any healthy diet, don't feel you must buy them in order to eat keto. Sure Kerrygold butter and grassfed steaks are awesome, but you can be very successful at keto while eating conventional meat, dairy, and produce.

* Consider buying in bulk. Find local farmers from whom you can buy half a cow or a pig. When you find a good deal at the grocery store, especially on a staple, buy a lot to save yourself money in the future. For fresh foods, freeze what you won't use right away.

* Meal plan. This will save your sanity, as well as your pocket book, and it doesn't have to be complicated. I usually just determine how many days I'm buying for (typically 14 or so - because the less often I'm at the grocery store, the less I'm likely to buy!), pick that many dinners, and choose basics for lunch and breakfast. Make sure you plan around what's on sale and in season.

* Meal prep. Some people find that if they have pre-made, homemade meals at home in the freezer or fridge, they are less likely to grab unhealthy food elsewhere. If grabbing food-to-go is a temptation to you, commit to spending a few hours every weekend to prep the week's meals.
Courtesy of

* Make your own spice blends. Spice mixes can not only have hidden, unhealthy ingredients (including MSG, soy, and flours), but they are more expensive than homemade mixes.

* Grate your own cheese. Do this first because pre-grated cheese has additives that are high in carbs. Do it second because it's almost always less expensive to do it yourself. Hate grating cheese? Buy a food processor! You can also save a lot of money by buying blocks of cheese on sale, grating it, and freezing it.

* Use leftovers. Either freeze them for a future meal or eat them the next day.

* Avoid eating out. Eating at restaurants or grabbing food on the go is expensive! Bring snacks and drinks with you, and eat out only as a special treat.

* Eat eggs. They are a cheap source of protein. (Even cheaper if you raise the hens yourself!)

* Eat enough fat. Natural fats are healthy and make you feel much more full. (Don't overdo it, though, or you may stall your weight loss or begin gaining weight.)

* Fast. Intermittent fasting has health benefits - and it saves your bank account some cash. Don't starve yourself, though. Just skip a meal; you'll probably find that easy to do after a couple of weeks of eating keto. (Diabetics should only fast if they are unmedicated and have their blood sugar under good control.)

* Avoid snacking. Not only do snacks burn your cash, but they slow weight loss, too. Eat enough at your regular meals that you feel comfortably full.

Courtesy of
* Avoid recipes that contain expensive ingredients. This may seem like a big duh, but a lot of low carb or keto recipes for sweets - something every newbie craves - are costly. Keto-friendly, natural sweeteners, for example, and alternative flours like almond and coconut, hike up your budget very quickly. Keep these treats occasional, and you'll save a ton of money while truly taming the sugar dragon.

* Start doing Swagbucks. This is a site that let's you earn points toward gift cards by doing Internet searches, surveys, and other things. Depending upon where you buy groceries, you can earn gift cards to your grocery store. I mostly shop at Walmart, and find I can easily get $25 - $50 off my monthly grocery bill by using Swagbucks

* Consider a Costco or Sam's Club membership - or find a friend who has a membership and go shopping with her! But be sure to compare their prices to those in your price book! Not everything at these stores is a good deal.

May 4, 2017

What Does Keto Living Look Like? With a Simple Keto Meal Plan

This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site! 

 Many people have written to me, asking questions about my keto (LCHF) diet! I'm so happy word is getting out about this healthy lifestyle (which is good for almost everyone, not just diabetics) and I'm happy to answer questions whenever possible. There are some questions that come up again and again, though, so I think it's best to answer them on the blog.

One series of questions was well asked by long time reader Staci, who actually attempted keto at one point. She wrote:
"I would be curious in hearing what a normal day looks like for you with food - breakfast, lunch, snacks, supper, even a treat. I'd like to see what you eat versus what the kids and husband eat - whether anything is different for them than you or how you incorporate other things for the family that you don't have yourself...
I did [keto] for a full week and a half before flopping...I really felt hungry a lot! I would find myself grabbing some pork rinds...and then just felt like I was still eating junky because of grabbing those.
Also, I felt like I was ALWAYS cooking!!! Sadly, it is faster to grab a package of convenience food than it is to whip up something and leave yourself with dishes to be dealt with afterward. I homeschool four kids, so time can feel tight.  It just seemed like I was adding more work load to my day."

Always Cooking? 

I hear this a lot from people who are attempting to convert to a keto diet - or a whole foods diet, for that matter. I do get it. Life is busy, especially when you're a mom. Cooking can seem like a burden. And then there's dishes to do afterward. Ugh. Here's how I handle it.

First and foremost, my mindset matters. Yes, it seems easier to grab processed food. But what is the real cost of that food? For me personally, the cost is raised blood sugar leading to a host of awful and deadly side effects. For you, it might be less energy (because one thing is certain: going keto will make you feel far more energetic!), poorer overall health, and training children to eat in a way that, if they wish to be healthy, will mean having to re-learn food as an adult. So I try to think of the wonderful health benefits of a home cooked meal, rather than thinking of cooking as a burden.

Second, I don't spend hours in the kitchen every day. Breakfast takes maybe 10 minutes to prepare for myself. On the weekends, I cook a larger, family breakfast and it can take 10 - 30 minutes. (There are ways to reduce that time; more on that later.) I rarely eat lunch, but when I do, I whip up something in less than 5 minutes. Dinner takes the longest, but I generally try to choose meals that take about 30 minutes or less to prepare. So in total, I'm cooking - at worst - an hour a day. I don't think that's bad at all!

Third, a little bit of planning can reduce cooking time a lot. For example, if you eat a lot of bacon, you know it can take some time to cook, no matter your favorite cooking method. So I know people who cook a week's worth of bacon on the weekend. They toss the cooked bacon in a Ziplock bag and bam! they've just shaved off a ton of weekday cooking time. I've never gotten around to doing this, but if I know I'll be having bacon later in the day, I do cook extra at breakfast time, so I don't have to cook it again later in the day.

Other ideas include making egg "muffins" and freezing them; cooking eggs in the microwave; boiling a bunch of eggs and keeping them in a bowl in the fridge (for breakfast or snacks or salads); freezing keto pancakes; making 90 second bread (you can toast it, if you like); keeping meat (canned, or leftovers from dinner, made in the Instant Pot or slow cooker during a spare moment) to pop into salads or "sandwiches"...As you get more familiar with keto cooking, you'll also see it's just as easy to make freezer meals, crock pot meals, and Instant Pot meals as it is with "regular" food.


No one wants this.

My least favorite part of cooking: doing dishes. But you know what? I've learned it really doesn't take long to get this chore done.

I empty the dishwasher (or have a kid do it) in the morning, and pop in the previous' nights dishes. (Yep, I leave dishes in the sink overnight! My hubby has a long commute, and I like to eat dinner with him. So by the time we eat, I'm way too tired to get the dishes done.) If the dishwasher isn't full, we keep adding dishes as we use them. (Usually my kids put their own dishes in the dishwasher, even though I often have to re-arrange them later.) I run the dishwasher when it's full, and then start all over again. 

If there are enough dishes in the sink at any given time, it still only takes about 10 minutes to empty the dishwasher and refill it. And I'm working on training my kids to do dishes, too.

But I'm Hungry!

No one on keto should ever go hungry. The key to feeling full is to get enough fat in your diet. It's not enough to simply cook your foods in butter. You should have a good portion of fat in every meal.

However, if you feel hungry between or after meals, eat something low- or no-carb with plenty of fat in it. A piece of cheese, a handful of walnuts, or some pork rinds should do the trick. The ever-popular keto "fat bombs" work, too. Just watch the carb intake and make sure you don't often eat sugar substitutes. (More on that in the "desserts" section.)

My Basic Meals

This is what works for me. If there are things here you hate to eat, don't feel obliged to eat them. Keto offers tons of food options, so there's no need to choke down food you hate (which is a sure fire way to tempt yourself to cheat).
Keto pancakes or crepes.

Breakfast: I usually eat eggs and bacon for breakfast. For me, it's filling enough I rarely need lunch, and I like that. I use backyard fresh eggs cooked runny and I dip the bacon in the runny yolks. Yum! Sometimes I'll cook scrambled eggs, or make an omelet, or so some other egg variation. I always cook the eggs either in bacon drippings or lots of butter, and I salt my eggs liberally (because your body requires more salt when eating keto).

When I want to mix things up a bit, I have keto crepes/pancakes, or I eat non-breakfast food for breakfast.

Admittedly, my children are not huge fans of eggs, so they often have something different. Currently, they tend to have a carb-laden food, like bagels with cream cheese - but I want to change their carb-loving ways, so we're working on this. Sometimes, I give them leftover dinner food. (Low carb pizza is their favorite breakfast!) Whatever the case, I keep their breakfast quick and easy to prepare. My husband grabs hard boiled eggs from the fridge on his way out the door each morning.

On weekends, we typically all eat the same breakfast foods. I do sometimes make toast or English muffins with homemade jam (or store bought peanut butter) for the kids.
Cherry tomatoes make carb counting easier.

Lunch: When I first started keto, I ate lunch every day. Usually I had no-bread BLTs: A piece of large leaf lettuce with mayo on it, two slices of bacon, and three cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. (I like cherry tomatoes because they are much easier to carb-count than large tomatoes.) I had two of these "sandwiches" at a time. Other times, I had chicken or tuna salad: meat, lettuce, maybe some hard boiled eggs chopped up, a little mayo, and sometimes up to 5 cherry tomatoes. 

Once I got into my keto groove, I found I wasn't often hungry at lunch - so I usually skip it! Because there are benefits to intermittent fasting. But please, if you're hungry, eat.

My children do eat lunch, but again, I keep it simple: Dinner leftovers, sandwiches, and meat roll ups (basically a sandwich using thin-sliced meat in place of bread) are common. 

My husband eats at work these days, so I prepare his lunch the night before. He always has some tinned fish (What can I say? He loves it!) and a salad. I try to vary his salad, but it's typical for it to have chopped hard boiled eggs or meat leftover from dinner, in order to get more protein in the meal.

Snacks: My husband has a long commute and doesn't get home until hours after the regular dinner hour, so I often snack in the afternoon. My most common snack is a handful of walnuts. Sometimes I also eat what I call "pleasure food:" 4 strawberries, raspberries, or cherry tomatoes (if I haven't had them already that day and won't be having them with dinner), or maybe up to 4 squares of Lilly's dark chocolate. Sometimes I also eat flavored pork rinds. (I'm working on ways to flavor my own so I can feel better about consuming them. Remember, thinking of pork rinds as junk food goes with your old ideas of healthy eating. Good, clean pork rinds are a great source of fat, and have zero carbs.) Other times, I might eat some salted hard boiled eggs or a small serving of fermented sauerkraut.

My kids mostly snack on nuts, fruit (home dehydrated and fresh), trail mix, and cheese. (Again, I'm working on trying to get them more low carb.)
Meatballs can be low carb! Photo courtesy of Mack Male

Dinner: Typically, we all eat the same dinner. I have a Pinterest board of keto recipes, as well as a Facebook group of shared keto recipes, that I draw inspiration from. Sometimes the meal is simple, like meat and one veggie. I up the fat content of the meal by making a sauce from heavy cream, or by adding cheese, or by adding tons of butter to my plate.

Desserts: I try to keep sweets to a minimum...for several reasons. First, our bodies sometimes get a spike in blood sugar after eating any type of sweet - even if it's Stevia or an artificial sweetener that's not supposed to spike blood sugar. This hasn't happened to me yet, but those who eat such sweeteners a lot are more apt to have it happen over time. Second, I think it's healthier to train ourselves away from sweets. Third, it's easy for the carbs to creep up accidentally when we eat sweets. That said, I do make my chocolate icy, and I do eat Lilly's dark chocolate bar squares. (Health food stores usually sell them cheaper than Amazon.) It's really all about chocolate for me, folks! I have also twice eaten some Stevia-sweetened cheesecake my mom-in-law made, and I plan on experimenting with some of the very low carb baked goods in the Cooking Keto with Kristie cookbook.

Chocolate icy dessert.

Simple Meal Plan

Breakfast - 2 slices bacon and 2 eggs cooked in bacon drippings.
Lunch - 2 breadless BLTs (Two slices bacon, three cherry tomatoes sliced in half, mayo, all on a large leaf lettuce)
Dinner - Pork chops with spicy green beans
Snack - Handful of walnuts

Breakfast - Cream Cheese Pancakes with butter
Lunch - Tuna salad (Canned tuna, mayo, celery, hard boiled eggs, lettuce)
Dinner - Cauliflower Chowder
Snack - Chunk of cheddar cheese

Breakfast - Omelette with cheese, mushrooms, olives, and spinach
Lunch - Bunless burger (wrap it in large leaf lettuce or eat with fork)
Dinner - Creamy Chicken Garlic
Snack - 5 strawberries with cream

Breakfast - Sauteed greens with 2 scrambled eggs and 2 slices bacon
Lunch - Chicken salad (canned or roasted chicken, mayo, lettuce, celery)
Dinner - Steak with pan fried eggplant
Snack - Jalapeno poppers

Breakfast - 2 egg "muffins" (basically, scrambled eggs baked in muffin cups; add chopped green bell pepper, some chopped bacon, and some cheese.)
Lunch - Leftovers from dinner
Dinner - Nachos made with pork rinds instead of chips
Snack - 2 hardboiled eggs

Breakfast - 2 scrambled eggs, a slice of ham, and 90 second "bread," toasted with butter
Lunch - Turkey roll ups (thin sliced turkey with mayo or cream cheese, shredded cheese, sliced olives)
Dinner - Keto meatballs and roasted broccoli
Snack - Pepperoni slices microwaved until crisp

Breakfast - Bunless burger topped with an egg
Lunch - Chicken wings
Dinner - Country Vegetable Lasagna
Snack - Flavored pork rinds
Dessert - Chocolate Icy

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor should anything on this website ( be considered medical advice. The FDA requires me to say that products mentioned, linked to, or displayed on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this web site is designed for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for qualified medical advice or care. There are no assurances of the information being fit or suited to your medical needs, and to the maximum extent allow by law disclaim any and all warranties and liabilities related to your use of any of the information obtained from the website. Your use of this website does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. No information on this website should be considered complete, nor should it be used as a substitute for a visit to, consultation with, or the advice of a physician or other qualified health care provider.

Apr 17, 2017

How I Reversed My Diabetes

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are my own. Please see FCC disclosure for full information. Thank you for supporting this site!

Shortly before Christmas 2016, I had blood tests performed for the first time in about 8 years. I'd switched doctors - and it turns out, my new doc was much more on his toes than doctors I'd seen previously. He called me a few days after my appointment and gave me some bad news: I had type II diabetes - and I had it bad. My blood sugar was 260, and my A1c test, which indicates what a person's blood sugar has averaged in recent months, was 9.5%. At 9% medical guidelines say to put the patient on insulin.

I was shocked. In fact, I was so upset, I mistakenly hung up on the doctor before he was done speaking with me!

But unfortunately, this wasn't my first brush with diabetes.

Beginning to Understand Messed Up Diabetes "Science"

Eight years earlier, while pregnant with my second child, I'd been diagnosed with prenatal diabetes - a type of diabetes that only strikes pregnant women, and then (usually) disappears. (Though having it means you're at higher risk of developing type II diabetes later in life.) At that time, I had to be medicated, and went through all the standard nutritional training that's given to diabetics of all types.

I had a terrible time getting my blood sugar under control, and I remember thinking, "Carbohydrates turn to sugar in the body. What if I just lower my daily carb count?" So I did, and my blood sugar improved...but my dietitian freaked out and told me I had to eat more carbs. Once she ordered me to go home and eat three cups of popcorn. "It will be good for you," she insisted. I did as ordered...and got very sick, my blood sugar skyrocketing.

In fact, every time I followed the dietician's advice - which was just standard American Diabetic Association stuff - my blood sugar got worse. When I ate lower amounts of carbs, my blood sugar improved. I hated being medicated while pregnant, so eventually I just stopped telling the dietician I was eating fewer carbs, anyway (one piece of bread a day, no pasta, no rice, and no popcorn). My blood sugar stabilized (though it was still high) and my baby was born healthy.

And yet, my doctors scolded me, saying, "If you just eat the way we tell you to, you'll avoid getting diabetes later in life." When I explained that previous to my pregnancy I ate just the way they were telling me to eat now, they looked at me incredulously.

A Whole Food Diet Wasn't Enough

Fast forward to my recent diagnosis. I'd been eating a whole foods diet for a long time - and a lower carb one at that. I avoided wheat and rice, though I did not entirely omit them from my diet. I ate tons of veggies, and rarely ate fruit or sweets. So I was frustrated when my doctor said, "You really need to stop drinking soda."

"Doc, I never drink soda. Not even diet soda."

"Well you need to stop eating sweets."

"Doc, I very rarely eat sugary things. Not never, but rarely."

"Well, all that processed food..."

"Doc, I almost never eat processed food!"

When I explained how I did eat, he was surprised. We concluded that my genes play a big part in my diabetes, since there is type II on both sides of my family. (In fact, everyone on my father's side has type II - even the thin folks. Yep, you can be thin and still get type II diabetes.)

But then my doctor said the words that changed everything: "Look into a keto diet."

The Key Diet for Diabetics

I'd heard of the ketogenic ("keto") diet before. I knew it was "another low carb diet," but didn't know anything beyond that. In fact, I figured it was pretty much the same thing as the Atkin's diet (which, incidentally, was the only diet I ever successfully lost weight on...and trust me, over the years I worked hard at soooo many diets!).

So I went home and started Googling. Fortunately for me, I ran across a fantastic Facebook group called Reversing Diabetes. Here I learned that it wasn't just a keto diet I needed - it was a therapeutic keto diet that was required. If I followed that diet, I learned, I could, like many thousands of other people, reverse my diabetes.

Happily, the diet was pretty effortless for me. I cut all wheat and rice from my diet. I cut all fruit. I chose only lower carb vegetables. I made sure I ate only moderate amounts of meat. (There is some controversy about whether or not high amounts of protein can cause problems for diabetics.) And the biggest change? I dramatically increased the good fats in my diet. In fact, healthy fats (like olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, bacon drippings, and lower carb dairy like butter, cheese, heavy cream, sour cream, and cream cheese) now made up 70% or more of my diet!

For most people, all that fat is a hard thing to wrap their mind around. But study after study shows that "good fats" are GOOD for our bodies. (I'm not talking about unhealthy fats - processed polyunsaturated fats such as corn, canola, soybean, peanut, sunflower, and grapeseed oil, or processed trans fats, like margarine and vegetable oils.) In fact, countless studies show the saturated fats that have been demonized in recent years are even good for you. (Read more about healthy vs. unhealthy fats here.)

The amazing thing about this was that unlike every other diet I had ever been on, I'm not hungry all the time. I feel totally satisfied, even with smaller meals. In fact, I often skip lunch because I'm just not hungry.

The Results of Keto
Left: Before keto. Right: 25 lbs lighter after 3 months...and still losing!

And doing this therapeutic keto diet (also called "Low Carb, High Fat," or "LCHF"), here were the results:

* Within a few days, my blood sugar had dropped to the low 100s - not quite "normal," but much better and definitely out of the immediate danger zone.

* Within about a week, my blood sugar was in the 80s and 90s; that's generally accepted as totally normal!

* After three months, I'd lost 25 lbs. and three clothing sizes. The weight just melted off. I've always struggled with my weight, but this weight loss was effortless!

* After three months, my cholesterol, which had been a bit high, was normal. My bad cholesterol was down and my good cholesterol was up.

* After three months, my A1c was 5%. NORMAL! In fact, according to my blood work, I no longer have diabetes!
Of course, there is no cure for diabetes. I am still diabetic. If I change the way I eat, my blood sugar will rise again. BUT as long as I continue to eat therapeutic keto, my blood sugar will remain in the normal zone. Without medication!

Living with Keto

Can I live with this diet for the rest of my life? Absolutely, unequivocally YES! I feel full and energetic and well. Do I miss some foods? Occasionally. If I have cravings, which isn't often, it's mostly for popcorn. (I think because it's hard for me to get enough salt in my diet...because when your body starts burning fat instead of clinging to it, it also stops clinging to salt; so you need to consume more salt while doing keto.) Eating flavored pork rinds (I know! I can hardly believe I eat them, either!) totally wipes out that craving. And fruit. How sad is it that I finally got the fruit orchard I've longed for and now I can't eat the fruit?! But I can eat some low carb berries, like raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, in small quantities. And, joyfully, I enjoy and appreciate them more now than I used to.

Most of all, knowing that I'm preventing all the horrific complications of diabetes, including:

* Heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke
* Loss of vision
* Nerve damage and loss of limbs
* Kidney disease
* Hearing impairment
* Gastroparesis (slow emptying stomach)
* and Alzheimer's disease

is all I need to keep me on track! If I'm ever tempted to stray, I just remind myself of the very real fact that carbs/sugar are poison to my diabetic body. I really have no desire to eat poison.

This is so do-able. Many thousands of type I and type II diabetics have done it.

But What About the American Diabetes Association?

I know some diabetics who go on therapeutic keto and get their blood sugar down like mine, only to have their doctor tell them they must eat more carbs because their blood sugar should not go below 7%.


Notice that the doctor clearly understands that more carbs equals a higher blood sugar count.

Also notice that the doctor doesn't want his patient's blood sugar to be normal. (Normal is 5.7% or lower, folks.)

How can this be? I can't get into the minds of these doctors, but my opinion, and the opinion of Dr. Bernstein (who is a type I diabetic who was the first in modern times to write about how low carb diets control diabetes), many doctors see diabetics as cash cows. Get some diabetic patients, and you're in for years of expensive medical treatment due to direct treatment and complications. I hate to think any doctor would put his financial gain over the health of his patients, but I can come up with no other reason why doctors would insist their patient's blood sugar should be above normal. (By the way, my doctor is not that way. He celebrated with me when my blood sugar returned to normal.)

What about the American Diabetes Association? Why do they advocate a high carbohydrate diet for diabetics (even while mentioning that carbs raise blood sugar)? Again, that's tough to answer. Certainly plenty of research shows that high carbs equal high blood sugar in diabetics, while low carbs equal low blood sugar in diabetics. So one has to wonder if the ADA is also playing the money game. Are pharmaceuticals funding the ADA? I don't know, but it sure makes me wonder.

Frequently Mentioned Concerns

But going into ketoacidosis is deadly!

Yes, it can be. But fortunately ketoacidosis is something completely different from from going into ketosis, which is what you do on a keto diet. Learn more about the difference here.

But you have to eat carbs or your body shuts down!

First of all, no healthy diet should have zero carbs, because you'd be unable to eat any vegetables. Secondly, you do not need to eat carbs. If you reduce your carb intake, your body simply starts making it's own carbs! And it starts burning fat instead of carbs. Don't believe me? Check out these sources:

BioMed Central: "Very low carbohydrate diets and preservation of muscle mass"

Huffington Post: "Actually, You Don't Need Carbohydrates for Energy"

Graeme Thomas: "Are Carbohydrates Essential Or Not?"

Do you get enough nutrients without eating fruit?

Yes! Eating a good mix of lower carb veggies gives me all the good vitamins and nutrients I need.

But fruit is good for you!

Sort of. Fruit is full of sugar, which is why historically it's been treated like a dessert. Yes, it has nutrients in it, but nothing you can't get from vegetables and animal-based foods. And yes, it has fiber. But that does not take away the high amount of sugar/carbs the fruit has, and the fact that they affect your blood sugar.

But low carb diets count net carbs!

Most low carb diets do; that's true. They go by the theory that fiber in food "cancels out" some of the carbohydrates - so eaters subtract the fiber from any given food's carb count. This is why some people refer to certain recipes as "zero carb" even though they clearly have carbs in them.

The problem is, the carbs in such foods still affect your blood sugar. Fiber may delay your blood sugar reaction, but there is still a reaction. So while counting net carbs might be fine for non-diabetics, it's a no-no for diabetics.

But how can you lose weight while eating all that fat?

Because you've been lied to. In the 1980s, dieticians demonized fat, but the science was based on now-acknowledged made up stuff and some very dubious studies. And did you know that one of the big pushers of the modern low fat diet/whole grains movement, Nathan Pritikin, discovered, (according to Sally Fallon in her landmark book Nourishing Traditions), that a fat-free diet lead to many medical problems, including depression, difficulty concentrating, mineral deficiencies, hardened arteries, and weight grain?

Fallon also points out that fat wasn't officially blamed for heart disease until the 1950s. Since that time, "the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to four." And yet, the rate of heart disease and obesity became epidemic during that same period.

Natural fats are good for you. Your body needs them!

But you'll die of heart disease eating all that fat!

Actually, no. The world's top cardiologists now say dietary fat has nothing to do with heart disease. In fact, they say healthy fats can improve your heart health and that carbohydrates are probably more to blame for heart disease. This, this and this are just three of the many studies that have come out in recent years that support these claims.

I could never eat such a restrictive diet.

Actually, unless you eat anything and everything, you already eat a restrictive diet. :)  But truly, I don't feel deprived. One of the joys of adding fat back into your life is that everything tastes so good! As any good chef will tell you, fat equals flavor. And there is such a wide variety of really delicious food you can eat on this diet, it's hard to feel deprived.

Get real; what's most challenging about this diet and how have you overcome these things?

I haven't had a ton of cravings, but when they hit, they hit hard. I already mentioned my popcorn craving and how flavored pork rinds vanquish them. (They have to be flavored for me to find them edible. I'm going to experiment with making my own, more wholesome flavorings for plain pork rinds.) I also sometimes really miss the freshness of fruit in my mouth, even though I really never ate much fruit until we moved to our new homestead last year. I overcome this by knowing the exact carb count of cherry tomatoes (1 per tomato), and often have 4 or so for a snack. I also cautiously eat a few strawberries or raspberries now or then. Chocolate cravings at that time of month are challenging, too, because I think I'm allergic to Stevia (I feel lousy after eating it), and I just can't make myself eat bad-for-you artificial sweeteners. I plan to experiment with some other natural sweeteners (like Erythritol) soon. When I was sick a few months back, I craved carbs - I suppose because that's what I grew up eating while sick. I learned to make "90 Second Bread," which has only 5.7 carbs per serving.

Another challenge is eating out. We don't do it often, and if we go to an American style restaurant, I'm just fine. But if my hubby craves Chinese or Mexican? Yikes. Recently, I picked what I thought would be an okay meal at a Chinese restaurant: beef and green beans. But it spiked my blood sugar; it had a sauce, which I'm sure had either sugar or flour or both - even though I questioned the waitress about any sugars or flours in the dish and she assured me it would be without them.

People tend to think family gatherings would be challenging, but I'm blessed with a family that understands the seriousness of diabetes and tries to make sure there's something I can eat at all gatherings. If you're not so fortunate, plan to bring keto food to the gathering, or eat before the gathering.

Further Reading

The Skinny on Fat
Why the War on Fat Was a Huge Mistake
23 Studies on Low Carb and Low Fat Diets 
The Ketogenic Diet 101
A Guide to Healthy Low Carb Eating with Diabetes
Facebook's Reversing Diabetes Group Files 
My Facebook Group of Keto Recipes (Very Low Carb/Keto/LCHF Recipes)
My Pinterest Page of Keto Recipes (LCHF Diabetic Recipes)
Diabetic friendly recipes on this blog
Signs You May be a Diabetic

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