Tag Archives: diabetes and food

Wednesday Revisit: Why Low Carb Works Best for Me



Back when I wrote this post I thought I was doing a low carb diet because it was so much lower in carbs than my previous diet.  However, I eat a small amount of legumes, sweet potato, and fruits throughout the week and these are high carb foods.  So maybe I eat more of a moderate carb diet while trying to omit processed foods.  I think those are the real culprit for me, anyhow. 

In this post I explain why limiting a lot of carbs helps me keep a low A1c.

Originally posted August 2nd, 2009

Check out: Why Low Carb Works Best for Me

What Does Your Body Want?


The most general, most unspecific, ambiguous word I know is “healthy”.  We know it means “wellness” but, as far as the means to get to healthy, we have so many discrepancies…it’s hard to know what to do.

I kind of wish we’d throw the word out of our vocabulary except we, myself included, would have a hard time with that.

I’m not that sure what works for one works for all.

There are people who eat Paleo diets which consists of foods only our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate like meat, fowl, fish, nuts, fruit and veggies.  And many of them are trim, energetic, and free of disease.

Some of those people might assume that including meat is the best thing for everyone.  Yet, what about those who totally thrive on a vegetarian diet? 

It had never occurred to me until recently, that what is one man’s food is another’s poison.  Did you know they’ve done studies on indigenous people and found that when they strayed from their original and longstanding diets, they suffered health problems and body deformations, including crooked teeth?  Isn’t this what we find amongst ourselves?  That some of us do better with certain foods than others?  So is it in our genes?  Hmm…maybe that’s why two people on the same diet can have very inconsistent results?

Then there is the subject of exercise and what is appropriate for us.  Some people say marathon runners hurt their heart organ and their knees.  But, so many of those extreme athletes live long, active lives.  Maybe some can be marathoners and some can’t?

I’m a naturally good sprinter and was often one of the first placed to bat in softball because even though I could never hit the ball hard, the coach counted on me to steal a base with every pitch.  However, I have never had the cardiovascular endurance for a long distance run (even after many months of trying). 

How come I feel energized after a salad with chicken and blah after a steak?  Over time I’ve come to the conclusion I should use my body to guide me to what is right for me. 

A great tip that works well is to remember that after a meal (assuming blood sugars are in range) we should feel more energy, not less.  We eat food for fuel.  If you are sleepy after lunch, take a look at what you ate and try something different the next day.  Keep experimenting until you hit the right combinations of foods which leave you feeling wonderful after meals.  You shouldn’t feel like you need a siesta.  Unless you ate a big turkey meal or something…  Honestly, this is difficult to do for diabetics, considering post meal blood sugars can make us feel lethargic and therefore unaware of how a certain food makes us feel.  It’s worth a try, though!

I do this with exercise, too.  I never run more than three miles at a time because it doesn’t feel right.  It never did, even before diabetes when I was really young, super thin, and athletic.  I feel great with short bursts of sprinting, dance, yoga, pilates, and weight lifting, though.  When I do run, I jog 2.5 minutes and sprint 2.5 minutes and continue alternating back and forth. 

Here is what I’m thinking to focus on lately when it comes to food and exercise:

I’ll exercise in the way my body will allow me to (meaning taking in consideration various pains) and do what feels good and gives me energy, rather than what takes it away).

I’ll eat as many whole organic foods as possible.  I’ll make sure to eat plenty of veggies (focusing on the green ones more than the sweet ones).  I’ll eat my Ezekial bread because it always makes me feel good.  I’ll eat chicken.  I’ll eat nuts in moderation (a tough one!).  And I’ll have legumes in small portions because even though they make me feel energetic, they are a little trickier to cover with insulin do to their slow moving carbohydrates. 

I’ll try to stick to the above regardless of what weight loss or “health” fads come my way because the above plan is based on pretty good medical evidence that it’s “healthy” and my body confirms it.

What’s your body telling you it wants every day?

(Don’t say “sugar” unless you’re talking about treating a low)

(I know…I was tempted, too)

Portions and Calories Requirements






Photo courtesy of Savit Keawtavee
Photo courtesy of Savit Keawtavee





Today’s post is an article written by Registered Dietitian, Emilia Klapp.  We’ve asked her questions before but, this time I wanted to ask her to refresh our memories on portions and calorie requirements.  Many of us know how to eat healthy.  We’ve got that down.  Unfortunately we can do that all day and if we are eating too much of the good stuff, that too, can damage our health and cause us all sorts of weight gain.  So I hope you’ll read this article along with me so we can adjust our plates :)

For more great health info visit Emilia’s website, The Diabetes Club.  Her book, which centers on the mediterranean diet, is now available in digital format in her store


If you are set on a 2,000 daily calorie intake regardless of how tall you are or how much you weigh, you may want to revisit some parameters health authorities have already developed for us. These parameters consider age, weight, and height when it comes to calculating the servings, portions and calories requirements that you need in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Portions in Mediterranean countries

Not too long ago I was with my sister in Madrid, Spain, in a cafeteria. I ordered a bottle of water (my favorite drink) and my sister asked for a coke. I couldn’t help noticing the size of the coke: 8 ounces! I thought my sister would ask for a larger glass, but she didn’t. She seemed to be pretty satisfied with the size of her coke and during the two hours we stayed at the cafeteria, she didn’t order anything else.        
And then, a bothersome thought came to my mind: what do Americans think when traveling in Mediterranean countries and presented with such small sizes of soda? In the United States we are used to be served “supersizes” and we feel we are not getting our money’s worth when presented with anything shorter of that.

The portion factor

Much has been written in the last few years about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and many of us know that the virtues of the Mediterranean Cuisine reside in the selection of its basic elements: fruits and vegetables, grains, fish and seafood, olive oil and red wine in moderation. But are we aware that a very important element of this diet is also the size of the portions?

How much you eat, it does count

If you have made the decision of eating healthy because you want to lose weight, all the potential health benefits will be lost if your portions are double of what they should be. Why? Because portions such as the ones we are used to in the United States lead to obesity.

So, how do you know what a “normal” portion is?

The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) has developed food guidelines to help all of us in this area. I am showing you here a brief sample of servings for different food groups. To get a detail of servings classified by gender and age you can go Go to MyPyramid.gov. You will find here a complete list of different servings and portions for meats, grains, fruits and vegetables, fat, etc. that are adequate for you and your family.

Remember that there is a difference between servings with portions. A serving is a unit of measure. In general, portions count as more than one serving. The number of servings you require to maintain weight depends on how many calories you need and it is based on your age, height, and weight.

For example, the Pyramid suggests 6 to 11 servings of grain products each day. An individual consuming 1600 calories would need 6 servings of grains while an individual consuming 2800 calories would need 11 servings of grains.


A Guide to the Serving Sizes Established by the USDA


Food Group

Food Item

Serving size

Portions (Total servings)


 Whole fruit – individual pieces

 1 medium

2 – 4


Orange juice

¾ cup



Dry fruit such as raisins, dates, etc

¼ cup



Fresh fruit cut in cubes

½ cup







Raw leafy vegetables

1 cup

3 – 5


Cooked vegetables

½ cup



Raw vegetables (no leafy)

1 cup



Tomato juice

½ cup







Beef steak, ham, fish, chicken, seafood

1 ounce

5 – 7





Dairy Products


8 fluid ounces – 1 cup of milk

2 – 3


Cheddar cheese

1/3 cup shredded



Swiss cheese

2 slices, ¾ ounce each







Pasta, rice, cooked cereal

½ cup

6 – 11


Cold cereal

1 ounce




1 slice






Dry Beans

Cooked dry beans, lentils, garbanzos

½ cup







Almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.

1 ounce






You want to get your money’s worth when eating out

 Restaurants want your money and the way to get it is to serve you very large plates with a lot of food and a “supersize” soft drink. And to add insult to injury, sometimes the meal even includes a “supersize” refill. Getting all this food may make you happy since for a reasonable amount of money you are getting a substantial amount of food and you feel you are getting your money’s worth.          
Unfortunately, what is happening here is that the restaurant is getting your business and you are getting the calories; definitely, not a win-win situation. In fact, many studies show that the more often people eats out, the more body fat they have.

So, what can you do when at the restaurant or at the fast food place?

  1. When presented with a too large portion, before even getting your teeth into that tasty food, ask the waiter to take half of it and save it for you in a doggy bag (in the refrigerator, of course) until you leave.
  2. Share your meal with your fellow diners.
  3. Do not order supersize soft drinks. It is true that large sizes only cost a few cents more, but you get a lot of unwanted calories (A 12 ounce can of soda has the equivalent of 11 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. You can do the math for a 32 ounce soft drink). Instead, order water. According to Odilia Bermudez, Ph.D., of Tufts University, soft drinks and other sugar-added beverages have overtaken white bread and are now the main source of calories in the average American’s diet.

And how about calories?

If you control your portions, chances are you will get your calories about right, unless you eat too many times during the day. Many people follow a 2,000 calorie a day diet, but the amount of calories you need may vary greatly based on your current weight and whether or not you are physically active.

Finding out the calories you need may get a little complicated at times but if you click on My Pyramid.org you will find a table that will guide you on the calories needed.

However, if you enjoy math, here is one equation, the Harris-Benedict, you can use to calculate your daily calorie requirements. Here is how it works.

An equation to calculate calories

Formula for Females 655.1 + (9.6 x kilos) + (1.9 x inches high) – (4.7 x age) =

Formula for Males 66.5 + (13.8 x kilos) + (5.0 x inches high) – (6.8 x age) =

To calculate kilos divide your weight in lbs ÷ 2.2; to calculate inches: 5 feet = 60 inches


A 23 year-old female with a body weight of 64 kg (141 lb), 5’3” tall (63 inches)

665.1 + (9.6 x 64) + (1.9 x 63 inches) – (4.7 x 23)

(665.1 + 614.4 + 119.70) – 108.1 = 1291.1

Next step: multiply the resulting amount of calories by the activity factor.

Activity factor = Low activity 1.3; average activity 1.5 – 1.75; highly active 2.0

If you are average active: 1291.1 x 1.5= 1936.65

As you can see, it takes a little time to figure out all this. You may prefer to stick to the tables developed by the USDA.

Putting it all together


Sample of Servings for Three Different Energy Levels


Food Group- Servings

About 1600 Calories

About 2200 Calories

About 2800 calories





















Dry beans








Total fat grams





Final words

Remember that all these equations and tables are just estimates, but they can be a good guide when it comes to serving the food at the table for you and your family. Eating adequate portions and calories, along with adequate exercise, could be the best recipe to maintain a healthy weight in a healthy individual.

To your health!

Emilia Klapp, R.D., B.S.


I don’t know about you all but, I really needed this info!  (Somehow it seems my portions get larger in the winter…and thus so do I)

Thanks so much Emilia!