Tag Archives: healthy eating

How I eat: Liv

This week I (Liv) wanted to take a little time to share my own personal relationship/struggle with food. You’ve read a lot about Andy and how our lives have changed post Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, but Andy wasn’t the only one with food issues prior to Spring 2011.

By now you should have a decent idea of how dinners work around here, and last week Andy shared his daily eating habits. This week it’s my turn. And I’m not going to lie–my eating habits aren’t pretty.

Unlike Andy, I can’t eat the same thing day in and day out. I need variety. On the other hand, I have the pickiness of a 5-year-old and won’t eat just any old thing. (Ask me some time about chicken wings, meatloaf, and coconut oil!) If it were up to me, I would eat candy, ice cream, and pizza every day and be perfectly happy*. But I’m a grown person with some food allergies and as awesome as daily ice cream sounds, I know it will just make me sick.

Also, I’m pretty horrible at taking care of my own needs when it comes to food. By the time I’m finished planning our weekly dinners and making the grocery list, I oftentimes forget that I haven’t planned anything for my own breakfasts and lunches for the week. This means that by Saturday afternoon I’m scavenging through the fridge trying to find something I can eat for lunch. Weekday lunches tend to be leftovers (if we have them), and breakfasts range from leftovers (again if we have them, but even if we do sometimes I’ll pass because too many leftovers don’t make me a happy camper) to smoothies to weird salad combinations to coffee and Brazil nuts. Like I said–not pretty.

Earlier this year (read January 1st–hello New Year’s Resolution!), I decided to try the 21 Day Sugar Detox. I’d been over indulgent through the holiday season and my body needed a break. And. It. Was. Awesome! It was the first “detox” I’d done in a while (I’ve dabbled in years past) and my body responded super well. I wasn’t hungry, I had lots of energy, I only had a few hours of official “carb flu”, and I lost over 7 pounds. 21 days turned into 24, and then my brother got married and my eating schedule got kerfuffled.

I tried to get back on the wagon in late February, as the 3 weeks following my brother’s wedding had completely undone all the benefits I had experienced from the detox, but for some reason my heart just wasn’t in it this time around. I’ve been struggling ever since. I’ve allowed myself way too much processed sugar and dairy and have felt puffy for a couple of weeks. I also aggravated an old shoulder injury which has given me more pain than I’ve experienced in over 5 years–I know this is due to the internal inflammation caused by the sugar.

So this week I’m back on the detox. I know what needs to be done, and while the indulgences of the last 6-8 weeks have been “fun”, in reality they’ve been quite destructive and have wreaked havoc on my body both inside and out. My face is more broken out than it’s been in some time–plus I have this weird hivey/rash thing along both sides of my face near my ears, which I’ve never had before. I’ve put on some extra weight, and I’ve noticed other signs of internal inflammation that just make me feel kinda blechy (it’s of the digestive sort and I don’t want to gross anyone out).

I was very intentional about planning our dinners this week to provide enough leftovers for easy lunches, I stocked up on smoothie ingredients (my go-to breakfast earlier this year), and grabbed some snackable items to enjoy as well. I know it’s not going to be easy, but I know that in the long run it will be worth it. So here’s to calming the sugar flame and getting this inflammation under control!

Stay tuned tomorrow for my favorite smoothie recipe!

*You can read all about my struggles with sugar here.

A tale of a sweet tooth

This week I (Liv) wanted to take a little time to share my own personal relationship/struggle with food. You’ve read a lot about Andy and how our lives have changed post Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, but Andy wasn’t the only one with food issues prior to Spring 2011. Here’s a little bit of my story:

For as long as I can remember I have loved sweet things. From candy to donuts, muffins to ice cream, if you put something sweet in front of me I will eat it. I’ve never smoked. I’ve never done drugs. Sugar is my addiction.

When Andy and I first started dating, I would get home late at night and dig into the freezer for the German chocolate cake ice cream my mom had stashed away. There’s something very special about eating ice cream with a fork (those cake pieces were pretty big) at 2:30 on a Saturday morning.

There was rarely a time when I needed an excuse to indulge in a treat. Usually “I want it” would suffice. Andy would chuckle and call me his little junky.

After Andy was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I started to take a hard look at my own health journey and realized that I may have a slight problem. Little junky indeed. My reliance on all things sweet was beginning to be a crutch. Any day of the week warranted a side trip to the store for some candy. Whether I’d had a good day (Hooray, candy!), or a bad day (Blerg. I need candy.), I was becoming overly familiar with my store’s candy aisle.

Sometimes the candy would be completely gone before I got home. It was only a 5 minute drive, and I’d have no idea where it had gone. Not good.

After a fairly indulgent family vacation week in 2012, I decided to curtail my sugar habit. I didn’t want to rely on any food (much less candy) to provide me with life happiness. So I stopped. Cold turkey. And frankly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. Sure, I still had mild cravings, but the first few weeks were a breeze.

After that, the cravings came back full force. If possible, they might have been even louder. For those who say the cravings go away, well, they lie. For me anyways. My struggle with sugar is still daily battle (you’ll see what I mean later this week). Almonds don’t replace See’s Polar Bear Paws. Cashews and avocados don’t replace Brach’s Bridge Mix.

I did notice, however, that my blood sugar issues drastically diminished. Low blood sugar used to plague me at least once a week. In the first six weeks of “no sugar”, I think I had 2 episodes, and they were much less severe.

Over the last 3 years, my relationship with sugar has had its ups and downs. I haven’t kicked the habit fully but I do have a better understanding of how my  body responds to sugar, and what it means for me when I do indulge.

Coming down the mountain

This week I (Liv) wanted to take a little time to share my own personal relationship/struggle with food. You’ve read a lot about Andy and how our lives have changed post Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, but Andy wasn’t the only one with food issues prior to Spring 2011. Here’s a little bit of my story:

Did you know that walking downhill is actually harder and more physically taxing on your body than walking up hill? It seems counter intuitive, but it’s true. It’s certainly that way in the dieting world. It’s very easy to eat yourself up that food mountain, but the descent is always a rude awakening—at least it is for me.

The first holiday season after Andy’s Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis was difficult. While we were definitely eating better than the previous year, by the time we hit Andy’s birthday in mid-February, we’d hit full stride up that sugar/carb mountain. At the end of a long birthday weekend—where we essentially ate out every single meal—Andy and I decided that we needed a major food break.

And so began the descent. Our bodies were so overwhelmed with the food we’d been eating that the first couple of days were a relief. We were eating our standard diet of lots of lean protein, veggies, and fruit. It was refreshing! Then our bodies started detoxing. We weren’t detoxing intentionally, but when you stop eating processed food all those toxins eventually start leaching out—and that’s when my cravings hit. The kind of sweet cravings that can’t be satisfied by an apple or some pineapple.

I’ll be straight up, Andy is much better at this food self-control thing than I am. I caved more than once on the journey from his birthday to mine (exactly six weeks later). Most women’s food issues are much more deeply rooted than men’s and I shamefully used that as my excuse. I wanted candy, so I had candy. Not to the extent that I was eating it before, but enough that my climb off the sugar mountain had a lot more hills and valleys than Andy’s. Slowly–finally–my metabolism, blood sugar, and willpower returned to pre-holiday levels.

Lifestyle changes are difficult (no one ever said they were easy), but in those six weeks I found that I didn’t need a “night off” in the kitchen at least once a week. Eating out wasn’t cutting it anymore. Andy’s diagnosis had changed more than him– it changed us, and me.

Recipe: Andy’s chili

I (Liv) originally started making this chili for Andy 4 years ago for his lunch. One batch would typically last a week. After a few months, Andy took over making this and adjusted the spice level a little more to his taste. These days a batch of chili lasts about a month (he freezes each weekly portion and thaws it out each Friday for the following week). This combined with roasted cabbage and steamed broccoli gives him the perfect amount of fat, fiber, and protein to get him through his day.

Chili base:
1 TBL olive oil
2 onions, chopped (yellow or red–whatever you like)
20 oz lean, ground turkey

Spice blend:
4-5 TBL chile powder
3-4 TBL cumin
TBL red pepper flakes
TBL oregano
TBL chipotle powder*

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of (14.5 oz)black beans, rinsed
2 bell peppers, chopped (red, yellow, or green–whatever you like)
1 package of frozen stir fry veggies (onions and peppers)
2 cans water

Heat your pan or pot over medium-high. Add olive oil, pinch of salt, and onion. Cook onion until translucent. Add turkey and another pinch of salt.

Brown the turkey, then add all the spices to the meat. I like to combine all the spices in one cup and sprinkle them around so it distributes evenly.

After the meat is thoroughly coated with the seasoning, add the  tomatoes and 2 cans of water. Stir, then add the beans and chopped pepper. Stir again and allow to cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered for an hour and a half to two hours, stirring regularly so the bottom doesn’t scorch. You want as much water to cook off as possible without the chili becoming paste-like.

*This amount of chipotle makes for a very spicy chili–too spicy for Liv. If you have a more sensitive palate, you may want to scale back significantly.

How I eat: Andy

Okay, technically, Andy isn’t writing this, but the information about what he eats came directly from his own mouth so it’s almost the same thing.

If you’ve been following this blog at all, you will have noticed that our weekly meal plans only cover dinners for the week. There are a couple reasons for this. 1) Andy has eaten basically the same breakfast and lunch every day for the last 4 years. 2) My relationship with food is a bit more complicated. We’ll get into how I eat during the day next week, but here’s a look at what Andy eats day-to-day.

Breakfast: Apple, banana, avocado, 2 cups of coffee with coconut milk.

Lunch: Roasted cabbage, steamed broccoli, 2 eggs*, chili.

Andy is one of those rare creatures that can eat the same thing day in and day out, which makes meal planning and building the grocery list super easy. It also makes weight management/maintenance fairly straightforward as dinner is the only wildcard is dinner.

While I don’t expect everyone to follow Andy’s daily eating regimen (goodness knows I certainly couldn’t!), I can certainly see the appeal and it does make aspects of my life fairly easy.

Stay tuned later this week for Andy’s chili recipe!

* Andy’s eggs are actually a frittata-like mixture of eggs and peppers. We’ll post the recipe soon!


A bit of a backslide

There were times that first year when Andy and I would convince ourselves that we really could eat the way we used to and be just fine. One Saturday in particular, after a long day of excursioning (in and around town), I was tired. The last thing I wanted to do after a full day of errands was make a healthy dinner. As we headed home I had a brilliant idea! Andy had mentioned how he had a hankering for sandwiches, and I thought that would be an awesome dinner idea—if we kept it on the healthier side.

I pitched the idea and he was all in. We stopped at the store to grab some fixins’: a loaf of Dave’s Killer Bread (like I said, we were trying to be healthy), some deli lunch meat, a tomato, and a bag of salt and vinegar Kettle Chips. (Okay, we weren’t trying to be *that* healthy.) We had pickles, cheese, avocado, and mayo at home already.

I’m not going to lie, it was the most amazing dinner I’d had in a long while. It had been so long, I’d almost forgotten what a perfect little package a sandwich is. And the salt and vinegar chips were scrumptious. We both had a sandwich (or two) and polished off the bag of chips in one sitting.

We had done our best to be as healthy as possible. The bread we chose had plenty of fiber, protein, and the smallest number of carbs we could find. The sandwiches were topped with lean protein, just a bit of cheese, and some nice veggies. We’d really gotten into the habit of lots of lean protein and veggies, and we honestly thought we’d be fine.

An hour after dinner we both had a headache.

The next day was even worse. I’ll be the first to admit that I suffer from a bit of the “hangries”. I’ll get into my own personal blood sugar issues at a later point, but they can be pretty awful. Ask Andy. He’ll tell you. Even so, it’s unusual for me to wake up with low blood sugar, eat breakfast and still have low blood sugar, and then eat a snack to see if that will help and still have low blood sugar. And then have lunch. And another snack—all good combinations of fruit, nuts, healthy carbs and lean proteins—and still have low blood sugar. Now, I wasn’t a raging maniac, just low-level cranky, but 8 hours of feeling low-level cranky sucks the fun out of a lazy Sunday.

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I reminded myself of the delicious dinner I’d had the night before. Chock full of whole grains, and heavily processed white potatoes.

The truth of the matter is, our new lifestyle required sacrifice. But is it really a sacrifice to eat healthier and feel better? Every now and then we still get a hankering for a taste of our old life. We just have to remind ourselves that it’s not worth a headache, the hangries, or the digestive issues (not to mention the temporary, or not, weight gain). At this point I’ll take an apple with some cheese over a sandwich any day. And I know Andy would agree.

March 27th: Weekly meal plan

Here’s a peek at what Andy and I will be eating this week–and here’s our grocery list!

You’ll notice that it’s significantly longer this week, and has things like sugar and chocolate chips. We’re hosting Easter next week for Andy’s family so I wanted to give myself a leg up on food prep and the budget and get a few things this week. Also, it’s Andy’s chile prep weekend which means a few extra ingredients that I usually only buy once a month.

Have a great week!

– Brussels sprouts gratin (I’m playing around with the ingredients a little bit and will post the recipe if it’s a success)
– “Texy Mexy” skillet (based on this recipe, but I’m tweaking it because we don’t eat rice or beans. Again, if it’s successful I’ll share the recipe!)
– Stuffed cabbage casserole
– Chicken enchilada rice bowl
– Gyro meatball salad with tzatziki dressing
– Fried eggs with roasted veggies and salad
– Hodge Podge!

Everyone’s got an opinion

If you’ve done any research at all on Type 2 diabetes- based diets and lifestyle changes, you’ve probably noticed that everybody’s got a cure-all. You’ve got high-protein/low-carb, low-protein/high-carb, vegetarian, vegan, whole grains, no grains, all meat, raw, and the list goes on!

After Andy’s diagnosis, I played around with dozens of diets to see if I could find the miracle cure that would get us back to normal. We tried South-Beach (neither one of us is a big fan—no matter how much we ate we always felt hungry). We tried recipes from diabetic cookbooks (I’m not a numbers person, so it was difficult to remember how many carbs we weren’t supposed to be eating). We tried switching entirely to whole grains (it just never felt quite right for us).

We realized that for our situation, no one-size-fits-all diet plan was going to work. We needed to find a combination of foods that worked with our chosen treatment program—one that kept our blood sugar in check, didn’t leave us hungry, and didn’t leave us missing all the food we’d “left behind.” This can mean different things to different people. But for us it meant more veggies and lean protein and less starchy carbs (including grains).

Andy and I were blessed because his diagnosis hit in early spring heading into the peak produce season of the year. We filled our plates with fresh fruits and vegetables. From tomatoes and broccoli to pineapple and watermelon our plates were always colorful. We found that a diet low in carbs (both whole and refined), high in lean protein (we eat a lot of eggs and ground turkey), and high in fruits and vegetables perfectly complemented Andy’s workout routine. Just enough food to energize his day, not too much leaving him dragging and sluggish.

We encourage you to play around—it’s very likely that certain elements of several diets will be your winning combination. And be patient. It will take you a while to determine which foods will and won’t work for your lifestyle.


March 20th: Weekly meal plan

I’ve always been a list maker. I’m so dedicated to my lists that sometimes if I do something that wasn’t on a list, I’ll add it just so I can cross it off. I know. I have issues. When Andy was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, the best way for us to stay on track with healthy cooking and eating was to create a weekly meal plan along with a grocery list. It helped establish and maintain a grocery budget, and it made shopping so much easier than just wandering through the aisles grabbing things that looked good (even if they weren’t good for us).

Over the years, my grocery lists have taken several forms: Good old pen and paper, the Our Grocery app, and most recently a spreadsheet in Google Docs.

So that you can see how our weekly meal plans translate into a grocery list, I’ve decided to share our weekly grocery list with you! If you have any questions about what you see (Seriously, 5 heads of cabbage? That can’t be right!) please let us know. There is a method to our madness.

And without further ado, here’s what we’ll be eating this week!

Garbage stirfry from NomNom Paleo
– Cobb salad
– Brussels sprouts hash with fried eggs
Braised cabbage with fried eggs
– Pork tenderloin with roasted sweet potatoes, turnips, and Granny Smith apples
– Zoodles (zucchini noodles) with mushroom tomato ragu
– Hodge Podge