As someone who is passionate about yoga and living a healthy lifestyle, you might think I’m an expert on the best foods to eat for optimum health. The truth? I’ve always been a picky eater.
I can remember distinctly hating anything green as a kid. The smell of broccoli made me swoon, green beans tasted like cardboard and I used to ball up the meat on my plate shove it in a napkin, excuse myself and flush it down the toilet. My staples growing up were pizza, sugar sandwiches and breakfast cereal. By the time I was 18 (and living in Australia) I’d fallen in love with sausage rolls, meat pies and violet crumble bars.
I can’t quite remember how I ended up at Karin Cutter's naturopathy clinic at 19 with the worst candida infection ever. But there I was. After 40 minutes of listening to a woman whose hair was piled up like a UFO on the top of her head, I was convinced; change my diet or suffer a long slow demise.
In one day I gave up everything and announced to my family that I was going to be eating vegetables, lentils and drinking drops of tea-tree oil. Everybody worried about me but me. I learned to make healthy stir-fries, bought myself a ton of Moosewood cookbooks and delighted in feasting on three wholesome meals a day…
When I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2008 it was devastating. By then I’d been eating ‘clean’ for nearly 23 years. I wondered… could all that unhealthy eating in my youth have done such irrevocable damage?
Luckily my CDE informed me otherwise.
Shortly after diagnosis, I went to see an iridologist and naturopath. We discussed the inherent weakness in my digestive system, my tendency towards Candida and the steps we could take to nourish my system and stabilize my blood glucose levels. When I outlined my daily diet she was floored. “You eat this simply and you still have all these problems? All I could do was shrug my shoulders.
I’m someone who's pretty disciplined; it's actually easy for me to stick to diets. If there is a problem, it’s that I’m too disciplined. But that doesn't mean my diet is perfect. I can get stuck on a food and overdo it. Take almonds for instance. I love them, but my blood sugar doesn't love them… I eat them anyway!
About 6 months before I started insulin my functional medicine doctor suggested I start a ketogenic diet. I did all the research and gave it a try. I cut out grains, legumes, and higher carb fruits and added green vegetables, seeds, lots of ghee (clarified butter) and olive oil. I got really good at making just about anything with eggs.
Once on Insulin I bought Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution book and read it from cover to cover. While I didn't agree with everything, most of it made sense. I’ve been living low carb ever since (sticking to about 40 grams max per day) and so far I haven’t had to bolus for meals and require very little long acting Insulin. It looks like my diet, yoga, breathing and meditation practices are helping me to preserve what little beta cell function I have left.
So what do I eat?
- Lots of leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, parsley, asparagus, zucchini, green beans
- Eggs and more eggs (usually 3 a day) Salmon and Sardines when sustainably sourced
- Hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin and sesame seeds, coconut and almonds (in moderation)
- Ghee, olive oil, lemon and salt, turmeric and cinnamon
- Sauerkraut and Kalamata olives in salty brine
It’s amazing how creative I can be with simple ingredients.
Right now I am having fun making muffins for snacks, veggie quiches, and green egg drop soup.
Here’s my favorite muffin recipe:
Mixed seed muffin
(makes two small muffins)
- 1 ½ TBS pumpkin seeds
- 2 TBS sesame seeds
- 1 TBS hemp seeds
- 1 small egg
- 1 TBS ghee
- Pinch Ceylon cinnamon
- Low carb sweetener like stevia or xylitol (knife tip)
- Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder (I use mine specifically for seeds so there is no coffee residue)
- Combine ground seeds with egg, cinnamon, and ghee till it forms a thick batter
- Place in greased muffin tins, or silicone molds (rinsed with water)
- Back at 180 C or 325 F for 10-15 minutes… keep your eye on the muffins as they cook fast…
- Cool and enjoy as a snack with your favorite spread (like ghee, butter or tahini) have it with soup for dinner, or with scrambled eggs for breakfast
I want to thank Anna Norton and Sarah Mart and everyone at DiabetesSisters for all they do to help those of us living with diabetes find peace, healing, and happiness through the sisterhood of support. The last 6 months of sharing and reading everyone else’s blogs has helped me immeasurably.