I’ve had Type 2 diabetes for 14 years. Finding the right combination of low-GI foods and living a “normal” life has been really trying. A few months ago, I decided to start eating “clean.”
How do I define clean?
No processed food.
I also don’t eat carbohydrates like potatoes, pasta, rice, bread and sugar of any kind. I eat very little fruit, and I stay away from sodas, even diet sodas.
So what’s left?
A lot. Thanks to this diet I no longer take medication for Type 2 diabetes.
These are the top 10 foods that help me manage my diabetes:
- 85% Dark Chocolate: When I was a kid and tried my very first Hershey’s Special Dark from the bag of mixed mini chocolate bars, I was horrified at how bitter it was. I picked all of them out and (gasp) threw them away. As an adult, I grew to enjoy the subtleties of dark chocolate. I learned to appreciate that it’s not a treat that’s meant to be chewed quickly and devoured. It’s meant to be savored and allowed to melt on your tongue. A single 1-inch square after dinner is my regular treat at the end of the day.
- Sparkling water: I used to drink a 6-pack of Classic Coke every day. Sure, that was back in college when we all thought we were invincible, and I haven’t binged to that extent in 20 years. I never drank diet soda but I know that there are studies that show diet sodas cause insulin resistance. Nowadays I get my soda “fix” with zero-calorie sparkling water. I drink it ice cold in a fancy glass with a twist. I discovered it’s the fizz I like, not the sweetness.
- Cauliflower: As a vegetable, it’s okay. But as pizza crust or mashed “potatoes,” you can’t beat it! . In a nutshell, for faux potatoes, steam the cauliflower until it’s cooked. Drain. Mash with a potato masher or a stick blender and add whatever seasoning you like. For pizza crust, you just need cauliflower, eggs and cheese. Whiz the cauliflower in a blender or chop finely by hand. Add the eggs and grated cheese, then bake with your favorite toppings. You can also make “breadsticks” this way.
- Frozen pomegranate seeds: I’m one of those people who will sit in front of the TV and de-seed a pomegranate by hand, even if it takes two hours. I store the seeds in gallon-size zip-top storage bag and lay it flat in the freezer. The seeds turn into tiny frozen flavor bombs that are a perfect pick-me-up with no added sugar.
- Sugar-free ketchup: I know some folks can be sensitive to Splenda and other artificial sweeteners, but I’ll throw this out there anyway. (There are ketchup brands that are made with stevia/other natural sweeteners.) To make a dipping sauce I use my grandma’s recipe: two parts ketchup to one part reduced sodium soy sauce. You can adjust these ratios to your liking. You can also add a touch of vinegar, a dash of hot sauce or a pinch of pepper flakes. It won’t take a lot of sauce to flavor your dish, either! I now just dip the tines of my fork into the sauce before I go for the piece of shrimp or chicken.
- Zucchini: I am not a fan of zucchini, but when it’s transformed into noodles with a spiral-cutting machine, I don’t really taste it as the zucchini you’d find in a vegetable medley sauté at a steakhouse. I add them to Japanese ramen broth with shiitake mushrooms and a hard boiled egg or pan-fry the “zoodles” in a little butter or olive oil and add salt and pepper.
- Eggs: Remember when I mentioned cauliflower breadsticks? I love to dip them into a soft-boiled egg. For the perfect soft-boiled egg, bring water to a boil then reduce to a rapid simmer. Add the eggs and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
- Grainy mustard: Yellow mustard has its place for sure, but there’s a nice tanginess to grainy mustards that don’t “bite” as much as yellow mustard. I use it for marinades and for dipping. A little goes a long way. You can coat chicken legs with it and roast them in the oven.
- Celeriac: This is also known as celery root. And guess what? It makes incredible baked “French fries” or fauxtato chips.
- Full-fat Greek Yogurt: You can’t really top this as a breakfast staple: “FFGY” with a few walnuts or pecans, (even a tiny drizzle of honey) and some fresh blackberries. Or sometimes I go with the savory route and mix in some horseradish for a rich, creamy condiment for steak or pork chops. I’m not afraid of “full fat” foods. They fill me up quickly and overall I end up eating less.
Consult your doctor or healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet.