The Healthiest Choices at the 10 Biggest Fast Food Chains

Fast food: so temptingly convenient, but so fraught with danger. Most fast food joints specialize in exactly the sort of starchy, crispy, greasy food that people with diabetes are supposed to avoid. Nothing triggers those frustrating sticky blood sugar highs like the delicious blend of fat and carbs found in pizza or French fries. And it doesn’t help that they’ve been loaded with lip-smacking sodium, expertly engineered to keep you reaching for more—and why not order a large soda to wash it all down?

There’s no doubt about it, a fast food menu can be a minefield. But despite some notable recent setbacks—like in 2020, when McDonald’s discontinued its salads—the fast food options for healthy eaters are mostly growing. And as diners continue to demand more healthy options, it means you’re less and less likely to get a weird look when you ask for a lettuce-wrapped burger.

We’ve ranked America’s ten biggest fast food chains, from the healthiest to least healthy, and selected the best diabetes-friendly option at each one.

#1 – Panera Bread

Panera Bread must be the only major chain that specializes in food that most Americans would identify as healthy. The chain has grown like crazy in the last decade, proving that we can crave more than just grease and sugar. And while you might not guess it from a restaurant with the word “bread” in its name, it’s also a great option for people with diabetes. There’s a beautiful variety of low- and medium-carb salads and soups, some of which don’t need much customization at all. Skip the pastries—and don’t even think about the mac & cheese bread bowl—and you’ll probably do just fine.

Best choice:

It’s tough to beat a classic Caesar Salad with Chicken. This dose of delicious lean protein only has about 500 calories and 17 grams of net carbohydrates, even with the croutons included.

#2 – Chipotle

Chipotle stands alone in the fast food landscape as an exemplary keto-friendly option. It’s always been easy to customize your order at Chipotle, and as a result the chain has been popular with the low-carb crowd for years. (Double protein? No problem.)

Chipotle has always prided itself on using high quality ingredients prepared fresh on the premises. While doctors may bristle at the characterization of sour cream and slow-cooked carnitas as “healthy,” at least we can be sure that they’re not likely to spike your blood sugar. And Chipotle has embraced the carb-avoiding community to a unique and commendable degree: the latest innovation is cauliflower rice, launched nationally in January 2021.

Best choice:

For easy one-click ordering, choose from Chipotle’s line of “Lifestyle Bowls,” including several different Keto Bowls. Or start with a Salad, which swaps the Burrito Bowl’s white rice for lettuce, and add whichever ingredients you feel comfortable with.

#3 – Subway

It’s very easy to eat low-carb at Subway—any time you can see your food assembled in front of your eyes, it’s going to be easier to control what ends up in your body. Subway has also recently Chipotle-fied their menu and now offer a selection of salads and protein bowls.

Best Choice:

The Black Forest Ham Protein Bowl has only 9 grams of net carbs, and less sodium than other dishes in the category, along with a ton of chopped veggies.

#4 – Wendy’s

Wendy’s has several healthy options, at least as far as fast food burger joints go, and is easily a better choice than the more popular burger chains coming next on this list. The chain offers multiple salads, both as entrees and sides, and savory wraps. (And you can always order a burger without the bun.)

Source: Wendy’s

Best Choice:

The Southwest Avocado Salad is a complete meal that doesn’t require any fuss when you order it. Grilled chicken, bacon, avocado and southwest ranch dressing: all told, it’s 560 calories, and only 10 grams of net carbs.

#5 – Taco Bell

Tortillas everywhere means blood-sugar spiking simple carbs can be tough to avoid here. Taco Bell is one of several joints on this list that have recently de-emphasized salads, but in this case it’s not much of a loss, as the salads here tended to just be tacos and burritos in a slightly different shape. But Taco Bell has always been happy to customize your order, and a newer menu addition has really opened up the possibilities.

Best Choice:

The Power Menu Bowl is Taco Bell’s attempt at Chipotle-style fare, and they want you to customize your order. You can go light on the rice and beans, or omit them entirely, add extra meat: whatever you’d like.

#6 – Chick-fil-A

You might be surprised to learn that the crispy chicken juggernaut, not often associated with prudent dining, has openly courted keto diners. Chick-fil-A has grilled chicken sandwiches and several salad options, and it’s an easier place to find healthy choices than you probably imagined.

 

Source: Chick-fil-A

Best Choice:

Perhaps the single healthiest entry on the entire list, and certainly the simplest, Chick-fil-A’s Grilled Nuggets are pretty much just chunks of marinated chicken breast, served fresh off the grill. Okay, meat on a plate isn’t terribly exciting, but combine with a side salad and some less sugary dressing—try the buffalo or ranch sauces—and you’re in business.

#7 – Dunkin’

Just like Domino’s and its “Pizza”, Dunkin’ has dropped its “Donuts” in a bid to grow its menu and its market share. Good news: that means more options for us. You’ll still want to avoid any donuts, and tiptoe around the rapidly growing menu of super-sugary coffees and teas. But people love Dunkin’s black coffee for a reason, and the newer hot breakfast menu has some diabetes-friendly possibilities.

Best Choice:

Try a Turkey Sausage Wake-Up Wrap. Dunkin’s wraps top out at just 15 grams of carbohydrates, and in addition to the traditional ham, sausage and bacon, you can choose turkey or BeyondMeat’s vegan sausage. They also offer sandwiches on thin multigrain bread—and of course you can ask them to hold the starch entirely.

#8 – Domino’s

Our first real challenge. Domino’s has dropped the “pizza” from its name, but most of the newer entrees remain tricky, like pasta and sandwiches.

Domino’s does have a Caesar’s salad available, but we’ve already recommended two salads, and besides I’m not sure that Domino’s is the first place I’d go for fresh ingredients.

Best choice:

If you’re bored with salads already, try the Chicken Wings. They are dusted with a little starch to make them crispier, but even so don’t pack much of a carby punch. A side of Mild Buffalo Wings clocks in at 260 calories and about 10 grams of net carbohydrates. Some of the other sauces can get pretty sugary—it’s probably best to avoid anything with “sweet” or “pineapple” in the title.

#9 – Burger King

Burger King seems to have mostly removed salads from its menu, which makes healthy ordering a challenge. And while there’s plenty of fish and chicken on the menu, nearly every last scrap of it has been enrobed in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Grilled chicken may be available at certain locations. Just about the only thing on the national menu within spitting distance of “healthy” is the side of apple sauce—hardly a meal.

Best Choice:

Your best bet is probably to order any Burger with No Bun. The chicken nuggets may be another option—an order of 10 has only 25 grams of carbs. If you’re lucky, your location has Grilled Chicken Sandwiches and Side Salads too, but these are not reliably available.

#10 – McDonald’s

The world’s biggest fast food chain does not make it easy to eat healthy. It was, admittedly, pretty big news in the 80’s when McDonald’s unveiled a line of salads. It was somewhat less noticed more recently when McDonald’s pulled them off American menus entirely. The fast food behemoth no longer has so much as a single side salad on the menu. The grilled chicken was lost to the same purge. It’s slim pickings now!

Best Choice:

Errrr … do we have to pick one? The only really healthy choice at McDonald’s is to eat less instead of more. The simplest burgers, from the Hamburger to the Double Cheeseburger, use a bun with about 28 grams of net carbohydrates. You can manage to put together a keto meal by refusing the bun altogether. Either way, please hold the fries.

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is a lonely healthy-ish (but high carb) option for breakfast. The Sausage Breakfast Burrito has more potential as a keto option, if you were to scrape the filling off of its tortilla.

Conclusion

In some ways, it’s easier than ever to find healthy and diabetes-friendly fast food. Chipotle has led the way in the protein bowl revolution, and now there are many joints that will dish you up meat and veggies with little or no added starch and sugar. If there’s a single takeaway here, it’s to be wary of the biggest burger chains, which are sliding backwards, contrary to the trends, and making their menus even less healthy. If you choose the wrong restaurant, you might find that there’s no right answer.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Achieving a 6.0% A1c by Eating 40 Grams of Carbs Per Meal

My 6-Month Experiment

“6.0”. I didn’t think I heard him correctly. I asked my endocrinologist to repeat himself. “I said 6.0%. You’re A1c was 6.0%.” My mouth gaped in astonishment. Practically non-diabetic. The lowest A1c I have ever had in my 10+ years of type 1 diabetes.

How Did I Do It?

Over the past ten years since my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes, I would consider myself a “good diabetic”. That means multiple fingersticks a day, remembering to bolus at mealtimes, and an overall idea of what kinds of foods were entering my body. My A1c hovered between 6.8-7.4% — which my doctors thought was just fine. I had a strong desire to lower my A1c, but nothing in the past seemed to significantly work.

About a year ago, I began medical school and became inspired to take better control of my diabetes. I began doing a lot of reading on the subject and started to toy with the idea of lowering my carb intake. There have not been many (if any) conclusive studies on the effects of low-carb diets in type 1 diabetics, yet I had a hunch that something like that could be my long-desired solution. I decided to perform a six-month-long clinical trial testing the effects of a low-carb diet on a particular type 1 diabetic — me.

The Rules

I recognized that diabetes is a lifelong condition and that any new diet I would undertake would have to be sustainable over a long period of time. Many popular diets only allow minuscule portions of daily carbs, and I knew that would not be maintainable long term. I didn’t want my diet to be unbearable and rebound. I, therefore, decided at the start that my diet was not to lose weight, and was not to start eating healthier. I allowed myself to eat cookies, cake, etc. (although I did naturally end up eating more vegetables in order to stick to the rules of the diet).

The diet consists of just one golden rule, plus 2 common sense rules.

The Golden Rule:

  • Maximum 40g of carbs at one sitting (eating to treat/prevent a low doesn’t count)

The Common Sense Rules:

  • Don’t eat any foods that make my blood sugar go wonky (some examples for me are pizza, bagels, and deep-fried foods)
  • Always try to bolus at least 15 minutes before eating

As part of The Golden Rule, each “sitting” is separated into three-hour chunks. For example, let’s say I eat lunch one day consisting of a hamburger (meat is zero carbs, the bun is 25g) and an apple (15g). Two hours later, I find myself hungry. What are my snack options at this point? Well, since I already reached my 40g maximum and it is within three hours of my meal, I must wait one more hour (i.e., three hours from my lunch), at which point the clock resets. I can then eat a snack up to 40g. However, let’s assume my lunch consists of just a tuna sandwich (2 slices of bread=30g). Two hours later, I find myself hungry. What are my options at this point? I can eat up to 10g of carbs because my lunch was 10g shy of the 40g limit.

I also toyed with the idea of imposing a daily maximum on carb intake, but I later nixed it. As mentioned, I wanted this diet to be highly sustainable long term, and I felt that a daily carb maximum might impede that goal. Also, diabetes diets that impose daily carb maximums are somewhat controversial in the medical field. Some medical professionals believe that such diets could even be harmful to people with diabetes, and I wanted to stay clear of that controversy.

Why Did I Think It Might Work?

Most people who start low-carb diets are trying to lose weight. Although I did lose a few pounds since I started this diet, this was not at all my intention in this endeavor (although truthfully, it was nice to finally fit into my wedding suit again). The reason I began doing this is twofold:

Reason #1: The Post Prandial Spike

Following a meal, there is inevitably a spike in blood glucose. The size of the spike is proportionate to many things (the types of carbs eaten, the timing of insulin injection, etc.). However, my personal experience has shown that for me, the spike is most directly related to the number of carbs I eat. Therefore, fewer carbs = smaller spike. (Similarly, giving at least 3 hours between meals allows time for the spike to come down).

Reason #2: The Guessing Hypothesis

Guess how much a single banana would cost you at your local grocery store. Go ahead, guess a price. You may have guessed 15 cents. 25 cents? 50 cents? One dollar? $1.50? The actual price is about a quarter. You may have guessed a quarter (you may have even bought a banana before and this, therefore, was not a guess). Or you may have been off by a bit. You may have even been off by a lot. However, most likely your guess was not off by more than a dollar. Now guess the price of 500-seat Boeing 747. Go ahead, think of a number. A quick Google search priced it at $357 Million. Was your guess off by a couple million? The point here is clear: when dealing with larger values, our estimates tend to have larger ranges of error. By keeping the carbs low, we are giving ourselves a better chance of correctly estimating our carb intake.

Conclusions

My main goal was to achieve better control of my blood sugar and somewhat lower my A1c. Yet, since the start of my diet, I’ve reaped numerous benefits and gained far more than I could have expected. My A1c has dropped a full percent, a stark reduction to a degree I had not anticipated. My day-to-day blood sugar has become much more predictable, and those horrible whacky-blood-sugar days that all people with diabetes experience have become much less common. Additionally, my average daily insulin usage dropped from 50.2U a day to 40.8U – almost a 20% decrease! As a nice fringe benefit, I lost a few pounds and really feel better overall.

One thing that people often ask is if my lower A1c came at the expense of more frequent hypoglycemic episodes. When I started this diet, I did indeed see a slight increase in hypos along with my tighter glucose control (however, I cannot quantify this with an exact number because I don’t have records of my hypo occurrences prior to starting this diet). Once I began noticing that my lows were becoming more frequent, I made a conscious effort to keep an eye on my CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) and be more aggressive in preventing them. Following that adjustment, I believe I have been having just as few hypos as I did before I started this diet.

I want to point out that my 40g maximum per meal is a completely arbitrary amount. It’s an amount that is feasible for me and is also fewer carbs than I was normally eating per meal. If you are reading this and thinking that you could never manage on such a meal plan, I would suggest coming up with your own maximum-carb-per-meal formula and giving it a try. Every person with diabetes is different, and this plan may not be the solution for everyone looking to gain better control of their blood sugar. However, this diet has had huge advantages for me, and I believe that there are aspects of it from which every diabetic can gain.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

ChipMonk Keto Bites: A Decadent and Wholesome Dessert

It has been just over a year since I first reviewed the fabulous assortment of cookies offered by ChipMonk Baking, a new company dedicated to “bringing back keto dessert for so many people who are struggling with challenges like diabetes, the keto lifestyle, and celiac disease.”

The company has since expanded, now offering a variety of other goods, including keto bites, dry mixers, sweeteners, and more on their website. I recently had the opportunity to try out the Keto Bites, and overall, I was very impressed. I received the products at no charge and all opinions are my own.

What Are “Keto Bites”?

Keto bites, much like they sound, are very low-carb, high fat, bite sized desserts. Somewhere between a muffin and a brownie in texture, they are available in a variety of flavors, including:

They are made with almond flour, butter, and eggs, and include allulose and monk fruit as the sweeteners. Some other natural ingredients used include psyllium husk powder, konjac powder, and fibers from plant sources, such as lemon and Norwegian kelp. All products are gluten-free and come in at only 1-2 g net carbohydrate per bite!

My Review

I really liked these! They were filling and delicious and did not affect my blood glucose levels, requiring a minimal and predictable insulin bolus. My personal favorites were the Toasted Coconut and White Chocolate Macadamia flavors, whereas my four-year-old really liked the Chocolate Chip Pecan variety. Even my 1-year-old approved of these, which is saying a lot. He preferred the Peanut Butter ones.

Overall, I enjoyed the chewy texture and thoughts all the flavors were tasty. Most importantly, these were filling and very easy to manage blood sugar-wise. I also appreciate the wide assortment of flavors – something for everyone!

The price point wasn’t the lowest, at a bit over $1 per each bite. However, you get what you pay for, and the ingredients used, texture, and taste all delivered! I would recommend trying these out for anyone who has a sweet tooth but needs to be mindful of sugar and carbohydrate content for health reasons.

You can purchase these directly from the company website. Be sure to check out the FAQ section and read the multitude of positive reviews, as well.

Finally, for a longer shelf-life storage, consider storing them in the refrigerator.

Have you tried Chipmonk Baking products yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Know of any other pre-packaged desserts that are easy on blood sugar levels? Please share!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Survey Reveals the Heavy Burden of the Pandemic on People with Diabetes

The COVID-19 pandemic has now been ongoing for over a year, and even with the light finally visible at the end of the tunnel, it is undoubtable that it will have lasting effects, for years to come.

Late in 2020, we partnered with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to conduct a survey-based analysis to assess the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Americans living with diabetes.

Approximately 2,600 responses were collected from the Thrivable online patient panel. People from all 50 states shared their experiences during the pandemic, describing the impacts on access to healthcare, food, outlook on receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, and more.

Key Findings: Reduced Health Care and Food Access

  • About 4 of 10 Americans with diabetes delayed seeking routine medical care, with more than 50% stating the fear of COVID-19 exposure was the primary reason.
  • About 1 in 5 Americans with diabetes have foregone or delayed getting an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor (CGM).
  • More than 1 in 4 stated their access to healthy food was reduced, with about 1 in 5 relying on food assistance programs.
  • Almost half who receive assistance report that the food they receive negatively affects their diabetes management.
  • About 1 in 5 people who receive nutritional assistance report not having enough food to eat.

Moreover, about 1 in 5 Americans with diabetes have reported having to choose between buying food vs. affording their diabetes supplies.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are widespread and span across multiple facets of people’s lives. For people with diabetes, many of whom are already struggling to afford their healthcare expenses, the financial effects of the pandemic may be particularly grim.

Perspectives on the COVID-19 Vaccine

When asked about their comfort level of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is made available to them, people with diabetes reported being more likely to want to receive it right away as compared to data collected from the general population.

Less than half as many people with diabetes stated that they would never want to get the vaccine as compared to data on the general population (10% vs. 21%, respectively).

It is perhaps not surprising that people with diabetes feel more strongly about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine than the general population. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that people with type 2 diabetes  “are at increased risk  of severe illness” from COVID-19, while people with type 1 diabetesmight be at an increased risk for severe illness.”

Other Insights: Barriers to Clinical Trials Participation

In addition to exploring the financial burden of the pandemic and assessing readiness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, we also gathered information regarding previous participation or willingness to participate in a clinical trial. As per the recent press release,

“People with diabetes have participated infrequently in clinical drug trials in the past (only 11% report having done so), but the majority – 60% – say they are likely or very likely to participate in such a study in the future. Yet nearly a quarter of those who responded to the survey said they didn’t know how to participate in a drug trial if they wanted to do so.”

Check out the full press release from the ADA as well as the more data below:

New Data Alert: COVID-19 Brings Crisis of Access for Millions Living with Diabetes

Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on People with Diabetes

Methodology and Panel Demographics

These figures are based on Thrivable’s survey of more than 2,500 people with diabetes nationally, between December 7th and December 14th, 2020

  • A multiple-choice survey was distributed online to people with diabetes (U.S. residents) who signed up for the Thrivable Insights panel.
  • Participants were not compensated for their responses.
  • Data was analyzed using Qualtrics and Excel.
  • Details on panel breakdown include:
    • N = 2,595
    • o 47% with type 1 diabetes, 53% type 2
    • o 69% female, 31% male
    • o All 50 U.S. states are represented

Source: diabetesdaily.com

My Review: Sun Basket Meal Kit Delivery

Here at Diabetes Daily, we recently tried out several different meal kit delivery services and we learned that while pricey, they did save us a lot of time and mental efforts when it came to preparing meals for our family. One of the caveats for our family’s meals is that we often eat a lower-carb diet to help optimally manage our type 1 diabetes, while other family members may eat a little bit higher carbohydrate than we do, not entirely avoiding items like pasta and potatoes.

One of the reasons we chose to try out the Sun Basket meal kit delivery service was because they seemed to offer a lot of different options we thought would be able to meet our very low-carb requirements while also offering additional options that would please other family members. We received several meal kits and snacks at no charge and all opinions are my own.

Sunbasket box

Photo credit: Sun Basket

Sun Basket

Sun Basket offers a variety of meal kit delivery plans and strives to provide numerous options, including, among others:

  • Gluten-Free
  • Mediterranean
  • Pescatarian
  • Vegan
  • Carb-conscious

The company aims to source their food responsibly and be environmentally-friendly by working with local farmers and ensuring that their packaging is recyclable whenever possible. Also, over 99% of the food shipped by Sun Basket is organic.

Excitingly, the company offers a variety of meal types, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snack items as well.

You can view the specific meal kit plans here and also check out the pricing breakdown here. The average price per serving comes in at about $11-12 USD.

Our Review

We sampled the following items from Sun Basket:

Overall, we were very happy with the product packaging (complete in a brown paper bag), protein and produce quality, as well as with the ease of following each recipe.

Photo credit: Allison Caggia

We thoroughly enjoyed all of their meals and found them to be easy on our blood sugars. One stand-out was the steak with roasted sweet potatoes. I had never tried chimichurri before and was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. Also, I am a sucker for sweet potato fries and the little cubes only took a few minutes in my air fryer. I plan on preparing them this way moving forward. I also enjoyed the other meals and found the instructions very easy to follow and perfect for the cook-challenged.

Conclusions

Overall, here at Diabetes Daily, we were very happy with the meal kit and snack options offered by this company. We like the idea of having the a-la-carte options when it comes to the snacks, in addition to the variety of meals that are offered each week. We appreciated the organic protein and produce and was very pleased to see that everything was very fresh. The available options made it easy for us to stick to lower-carb eating while allowing our families the option of having more carbohydrates on the side. If you’re considering investing in a meal kit delivery service, Sun Basket should definitely be on your radar, especially if you need a variety of options to please your family!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Home Chef: Meal Kit Delivery That Fits Your Needs

Meal kit delivery services have been gaining popularity in recent years, and it’s no wonder why. It sure is convenient to have all the premeasured ingredients, all ready to prepare the predetermined recipe delivered to you every week, cutting down on both time and food waste.

Recently, I reviewed several meal kits from Home Chef, in particular to assess the more “diabetes-friendly” options. I received two meals at no charge and did not receive any additional compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.

Who They Are

The mission at Home Chef is to “provide everything you need to bring more delicious meals and moments to the table, no matter how busy you are”. Their meal kit delivery service allows you to fully customize your preferences in terms of the types of food, quantities, and cost. You can also choose to skip any weeks when you do not need meal delivery.

Services Offered

When you sign up with the service, you can select from several dietary preferences to get suggestions. Select your preferences, as well as the number of people and meals per week, and you’re almost ready to go!

Photo credit: Home Chef

You will be given suggestions from the current menu, based on your choices. You can still choose to customize all your meal choices within the particular week’s menu options.

Photo credit: Home Chef

Some meals take about 30 minutes to prepare from start to finish, while others boast just a 15-minute prep time. You can also select from the oven-ready or grill-ready collections as well as the classic culinary collection. Finally, there are also entrée salads available for purchase.

The total cost per week will vary, depending on your specific delivery preferences and menu choices. Meals start as low as $6.99 per serving!

My Review

I chose to sample two meals: The Sirloin and Mushroom Demi-Glace for the culinary collection as well as the Pesto Parmesan Chicken with Tuscan Tomato Green Beans from the oven-ready section.

I was impressed with the appearance of the food upon delivery. Everything was appropriately packaged and at the correct temperature. The proteins and produce all looked fresh, and I also appreciated the recyclable packaging materials that were used.

The Sirloin dish was one of the 30-minute meals (*aside: no matter which meal kit I try, it always takes me a bit longer; clearly, this is likely a user issue). The recipe card made the cooking process easy and seamless, as the instructions were very clear, and provided illustrations as well. Most importantly, all the food tasted great! It really delivered a classic and gourmet meal in the comfort of your own kitchen.

The potatoes au gratin with spinach and gorgonzola cheese were particularly a hit with the family. Despite my lower-carb lifestyle, I sampled a small amount these as well, and they certainly delivered on flavor and richness, and were a great accompaniment to the star protein dish – the steak! I used leftover steak and mushrooms for my lunch over a salad the following day and wasn’t disappointed.

Although it was a simpler and plainer dinner, I was absolutely thrilled with the oven-ready chicken and green beans. As a mom of two young kids, working several jobs remotely, it was really a treat to just be able to stick the trays in the oven and have a delicious, nutritious, and carb-conscious option ready to go for everyone to enjoy.

This particular meal was a great option for blood sugar-friendly outcomes for those with diabetes. Can’t go wrong with plenty of lean protein and lots of green veggies covered in a tasty sauce – delicious and healthy for the whole family!

Summary

Overall, the entire family enjoyed both meals that we sampled. I appreciated the produce and protein quality and the clear instructions on how to prepare. Having all the ingredients ready to go, without extra planning or visiting or ordering from a grocery store certainly saves time and effort! Most of all, I really appreciated the multitude of customization options that Home Chef offers, whether by price, food type, dietary restriction, or frequency of delivery, to name a few.

If you’ve never tried a meal delivery kit service before, I would say, you can’t go wrong if you start here!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Keto Diet Isn’t for Everyone: A Type 1 Diabetes Perspective

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Christel Oerum

I’m a firm believer that there is no such thing as a “Diabetic Diet,” but that we each need to find the best diet for our bodies and mental happiness.

In the search for the diet that’s right for me, I tried the keto diet, and this is what happened.

Why I Decided to Try the Keto Diet

I’ve been living with type 1 diabetes since 1997 and didn’t pay much attention to my diet or followed any specific nutrition regime for the first 17 years. I just ate and adjusted my insulin to my food. And you know what, that worked pretty well for me.

Then in 2014, I started preparing for my first bodybuilding competition and I really had to focus on my diet in a way I never had before. Back then, my coach had me on a high protein, medium/low-carb, and very low-fat diet.

After that experience, I became fascinated with different nutrition approaches and I’ve tried out quite a few diets in the name of research and just plain curiosity.

What is so fascinating about nutrition is that every approach has its die-hard followers and I’m always curious to see if I’ll love it as much as they do.

So, in the name of research, I set out to try the keto diet on my own body.

How I Implemented the Keto Diet

The keto diet restricts the amount of carbohydrates and protein consumed, which means that you primarily rely on fats for your daily energy. The goal is to consume very few carbohydrates (~5% of your daily calorie consumption, or 20-50 grams max), thereby forcing your body to burn fat for fuel.

Fans of the keto diet usually like the approach because it supposedly helps with blood sugar management as well as weight management. And let’s face it, if you’re into bacon and cheese, it sounds very alluring.

Many say that they’ve seen weight loss even though they don’t pay attention to calories, simply because a diet high in fat is very satiating, making them feel full quickly so they eat less.

Based on all of this, I decided to eat less than 50 grams of carbs a day (including veggie carbs/fibers), about 80 grams of protein, and as much fat I needed to feel full without keeping a track of my calorie intake.

My Experience Following the Keto Diet

Christel

Image source: Beyond Type 1

At first, my experience was great. I enjoyed the cheese, nuts, seeds, and avocado that my diet predominantly consisted of.

When it came to my diabetes management, I saw a flatter blood sugar profile with fewer spikes on my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that I often see when I eat a more carb-heavy diet (which is not surprising since carb are what gets converted into glucose the fastest in the bloodstream).

But my experiment quickly went south. I started to become increasingly insulin resistant after only about a week, which meant that I needed more and more insulin to manage my blood sugars, even though I was eating very few carbs.

I still wasn’t seeing any major spikes in my blood sugars, but since fat slows down the release of glucose into the bloodstream, my blood sugar would continue to slowly creep up. To keep my blood sugars in-range, I had to increase my long-acting insulin significantly while micro-dosing my rapid-acting insulin more often.

The reason for the micro-doses rather than doing larger doses was to adjust my blood sugar without ending up with low blood sugar.

Not only did I become more insulin resistant and had a harder time managing my blood sugars, I also started to have a lot of digestive issues and was gaining weight at an alarming rate.

None of the last two issues are really a surprise.

  1. My digestive issue was most likely related to my diet being low in fibers and volume
  2. And when it comes to my weight gain, fats are very calorie-dense compared to protein and carbs and since I wasn’t monitoring my calorie intake, I was eating too many calories for my needs. I have a healthy appetite and fats alone were just not satiating enough to make me feel full quickly.

After about a month of sticking to the keto diet, I switched back to my moderate/low-carb way of eating. At that point I didn’t feel good, I was constantly bloated, couldn’t fit in my clothes, and my endo was not impressed with how negatively it was impacting my diabetes management.

If you only take one thing away from this post, I hope that it will be this: that you can (and should) try things out, and if they don’t work for you, then “cut your losses.”

It’s Not a Failure, It’s Just an Approach That Doesn’t Work for You

So maybe the keto diet intrigues you, or the Paleo or Vegan diet sounds more appealing. My recommendation would be to research the diet, talk to others who have tried it, assess if it might trigger any unwanted eating patterns, and then try it out if you like.

There are thousands of people with diabetes who follow any of the three diets I mention above with great results so they clearly work for a lot of people – they just don’t work for all people. It may take some experimentation to find the diet that works for you.

If you’re interested in trying the keto diet, you can find a keto meal plan with recipes on Diabetes Strong.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

What to Eat for Better Heart Health

As the famous saying goes, “You are what you eat,” and it is in fact true that our diet is intimately connected to health outcomes. When it comes to something that we have a lot of control over – our diet – why not take the next steps to make it healthier!

This article focuses on research-backed tips for achieving a more “heart-healthy” diet, which is especially important for people with diabetes, since the condition can increase the risk for heart disease.

Choose Unprocessed Foods

Many researchers will agree that population-based nutritional studies can be prone to many limitations. It can be very difficult to draw accurate and consistent conclusions about the specific effects of a single food or food group; instead, it is generally accepted that the overall dietary patterns and combination of specific foods consumed paint a more complete picture. However, most studies do agree on the importance of choosing whole foods over highly processed items.

For instance, ample evidence points to the harmful effects of highly-refined, high-glycemic load carbohydrates (e.g., corn syrup, white bread, most pre-packaged desserts), when it comes to cardiovascular health. The Cleveland Clinic recommends eschewing such carbohydrate sources and instead choosing less processed sources, like whole-grain bread and quinoa, for example.

Similarly, there has been some evidence to suggest that eating processed meats may increase heart disease risk. When possible, choosing unprocessed or minimally processed protein sources is the better choice.

Eating “clean” in this regard can also help you minimize your intake of trans fat, which has been consistently shown to increase heart disease risk.

Incorporate More Plants

Numerous studies point to the heart health benefits of a plant-based diet. Did you know that the vast majority of our pharmaceuticals are derived from plants? It’s no wonder that eating more plants can mitigate disease risk – they are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and numerous other beneficial substances.

Have you ever heard of “eat the rainbow”? Choosing a variety of fiber-rich and colorful vegetables and fruits will help you incorporate a diverse array of heart-healthy nutrients.

Of course, for people with diabetes, the carbohydrate (sugar) content matters, so be mindful and opt for lower-glycemic-impact choices, like leafy green vegetables, zucchini, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and peppers. Consider choosing berries, and high-in-fiber, lower-in-sugar fruits to get the nutrients you need while also keeping the blood sugar level steady.

Photo credit: Foundry (Pixabay)

Don’t Shy Away from Fats

For many decades, it had seemed that dietary fat was public enemy #1 when it came to heart health. In particular, saturated fats and cholesterol (and thus many nutritious foods, like eggs and meat) earned a bad rep.

However, the picture turned out to be much more complicated. Experts explain that there has been a lack of consistency in the available data regarding the effects of saturated fat and cholesterol intake on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Importantly, while some studies showed an association between red meat consumption and CVD, most of these studies were focused on processed meat products (see above).

Photo credit: GerDukes (Pixabay)

What is well-established is that incorporating “healthy-fats” (in particular, omega-3 fatty acids) from sources like fish, avocados, and nuts, appears to have favorable effects on CVD risk. This is a large component of the famous Mediterranean diet, which has been consistently associated with improved cardiovascular health. In contrast, keep trans fat intake at bay (which should be easy enough when mainly eating whole, unprocessed foods).

Choose Water

Besides choosing whole foods (read: no sugar added!), it is equally important to stay smart about beverages. We live in a society that makes it easy and normal to choose sugar-laden drinks (from the orange juice or Macchiato in the morning to the soda at lunch, to the sweetened iced tea with dinner). Choosing to forgo sugar-sweetened beverages is highly recommended for better heart health.

Summary

While many nutrition studies can be inherently messy in their design and interpretations, a few well-accepted notions regarding a heart-healthy diet have consistently emerged. Overall, whole-foods-based, unprocessed meals that are low in sugar and high in omega-3 fatty acids, incorporating a variety of plants, and drinking water or unsweetened beverages, can help reduce CVD risk.

References

Anand SS, Hawkes C, de Souza RJ, et al. (2015) “Food Consumption and its impact on Cardiovascular  Disease: Importance of Solutions focused on the globalized food system.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 66(14): 1590-1614. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4597475/

Cleveland Clinic (2018) “Heart Healthy Diet.” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17079-heart-healthy-diet

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2020) “Preventing Heart Disease.” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/cardiovascular-disease/preventing-cvd/

Kim H, Caulfield LE, Garcia-Larsen V, et al. (2019) “Plant-Based Diets Are Associated With a Lower Risk of Incident Cardiovascular Disease, Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, and All-Cause Mortality in a General Population of Middle-Aged Adults.” Journal of the American Heart Association 8(16). https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.119.012865

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Top 20 Healthy and Affordable Walmart Food Finds

Walmart, America’s most popular retail chain, has been increasing its options of healthy foods, with plenty of plant-based, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and keto-friendly options at affordable prices. They also have a private-label organic line, Great Value Organic, which offers quality tasting organic products that are more affordable than its brand name competitors.

Here is a list of healthy and affordable Walmart finds that not only taste great but won’t break the bank.

1. Walmart’s Great Value Organic Frozen Fruit Line

I love fresh fruit but I don’t eat it quick enough and usually wind up having to throw most out. With Walmart’s own line of frozen fruit, I can buy affordable frozen fruit in bulk. Fruit is a great source of fiber and antioxidants and I love adding them to a protein smoothie or mixing into my favorite Greek yogurt.  You can’t go wrong with the $8.47  price tag for 32 ounces, especially because none will go to waste.

2. Great Value Pesto Spirals

These tasty frozen pesto spirals made from zucchini and carrot noodles are only 5 grams of carbs per ¾ cup serving and low-calorie too. They can be used as a simple side dish or turned into a restaurant-quality cuisine. Try adding grilled chicken or shrimp, and your favorite sauce! They are only $2.98 per a 12-ounce package and the options are unlimited!

3. CauliPower Baked Chicken Tenders

This is one of my favorite finds because it is something that my whole family can enjoy. These baked chicken fingers are gluten-free, coated in cauliflower and only 10 grams net carbs per serving (about two chicken fingers). My kids love it as is and I like to get creative with it and turn it into salads and entrees with healthy spices and sauce. It is affordable to feed the whole family with a price of $5.98 for a 16 oz package.

4. Jimmy Dean’s Delights Broccoli and Cheese Egg’wich

This high-protein, low-carb breakfast option is made with egg frittata flavored with broccoli as the “wich” with chicken sausage and cheese layered in between. This great on-the-go meal is packed with 14 grams of protein and only 8 grams of carb, making this a perfect, low-carb choice to start your day.

5. Pb2 Peanut Butter Powder

This is an item I was reluctant to try for quite some time. Once I tried it, I wish I had sooner since there are so many ways to use this product. You can either mix with water or almond milk to use like peanut butter (I enjoy it with a few Bake Believe chocolate chips) or simply add the powder to any desserts or shakes for an added punch of peanut butter flavor. With only 5 grams of carb, 45 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per serving, this is definitely an item worth considering. It costs $8.47 for a 16-ounce jar and will last you for quite some time.

6. Deebee’s Organics Superfruit Freezie

This product is such a great find. I first became familiar with these ice pops at a friend’s house and all the children devoured them. The mom specifically purchases these because they are free from the top 8 allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, fish and shellfish, soy and wheat, making this a safe choice for her 7-year-old daughter who has multiple allergies. They have no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and come in at only 7 grams of sugar per ice pop, making this the perfect treat when your kid is already operating on a sugar high. Each box comes with three delicious flavors–Strawberry Lemon, Mango Orange and Blueberry Pomegranate and costs 3.98 for 10 bars making it an affordable dessert when having guests.

7. Bake Believe Keto-Friendly Chocolate Chips

I reviewed this product last year and have been buying it ever since. Unlike their competitors, their price is affordable and it tastes great too. This is still a best-kept secret so make sure to scoop these up if your store has them in stock. With only 60 calories, 4.5 grams of fat and 1 gram net carb per serving you can indulge without worrying about your nutrition goals or your blood sugar. Bake Believe chocolate chips cost just a fraction of the other brands, with a price tag of only $3.98 for a 9-ounce bag, making this one of my favorites on this list!

8. Badia Organic Chia, Flax and Hemp Seeds

This variety of seeds is a great plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc and iron. They come in a handy container that you can put right into your fridge or freezer to give it the longest shelf life. The chia seeds are extremely affordable at $19.44 for an enormous 5.5 lb container that will last you a long time and won’t spoil.

9. Great Value Coconut and Almond Flour

I love baking my own low-carb alternatives to some of my favorite desserts but it is very expensive to do so. In a regular retail grocery store, almond flour can cost around $10 dollars for a 1-lb bag. For two pounds, Great Value’s organic coconut and almond flour are considerably less than my normal go-to brands with a price of $4.98 for coconut and $12.98 for almond flour.

10. Whisps Cheese Crisps

This gluten-free and keto-friendly snack comes in individual portions, perfect for back to school, for both you and your children. With only 1 gram carb, 110 calories and 6 grams of protein, this is a great choice that will not spike your blood sugars. At Walmart this product costs $3.47, the lowest of anywhere I’ve ever purchased. I will be sure to pick some up on my next visit!

11. Kale

For just $1, you can get a 1-lb bag of frozen kale — plenty of health benefits and the cooking options are limitless. This one is a no brainer to add to your shopping cart.

12. Great Value Deluxe Mixed Nuts

As with many other items, Great Value boasts some of the lowest prices for nuts that I’ve ever seen. This one is a particular favorite of mine; make sure to get the lightly-salted version. A large container weighing 15.25 ounces will only cost you $7.98! Store the nuts in the fridge for longest shelf life.

13. Great Value Oils

The selection of oils at Walmart is impressive and there is no doubt you’ll find what you are looking for. I prefer to use avocado oil for my grilling due to its ability to withstand high heat. And I use a lot of coconut oil when I’m baking. Both of these oils cost less than in my local grocery store, with coconut oil costing $4.62 for 14 ounces and avocado oil $ 7.47 for a 25.5-ounce bottle.

14. Fairlife Chocolate Milk

With 50% less sugar than regular chocolate milk and 9 essential nutrients, Fairlife chocolate milk is what I give my kids to make sure they are getting a healthy source of vitamins and minerals. It is also packed with protein coming in at 13 grams per cup. I personally use Fairlife to treat my low blood sugar. It has just enough sugar to raise my sugar and some fat and protein to keep it stable. It also happens to be delicious! At Walmart, you can find Fairlife for $3.18 for 52 fluid ounces.

15. Good Food Made Simple Egg White Patties

I think my mouth dropped to the floor when I found this gem. These patties are already cooked and can become a part of your favorite breakfast sandwich or wrap, or eaten on their own, with some bacon and avocado on the side!  This is an easy and protein-packed food to put on your shopping list and only costs $3.98 for 6 patties!

16. CauliPOWER Margherita Pizza

It can be difficult to find a store-bought, plant-based pizza option without it costing a small fortune. These delicious cauliflower-based, gluten-free pizzas have 30% less sugar than other leading pizza brands and only cost $6.48 for a personal pie.

17. LaCroix Sparkling Water

LaCroix sparkling water is a delicious alternative to high-sugar soda and a nice change of pace from plain water. With no calories, sugar or sodium, you can feel good about keeping this stocked in your fridge. LaCroix comes in an assortment of flavors and can also be great as a mixer with your favorite adult beverage. And you can’t beat the price of $11.99 for 24 cans.

18. Oscar Meyer P3 Chicken, Monterey, and Cashews Portable Protein Pack

This is an incredible option for those who are carb-conscious and looking to get in some protein, too. Each individually-sized pack comes with seasoned rotisserie chicken, cashew pieces and Monterey Jack cheese. It contains 12 grams of protein, making it very macro-friendly. If your children like it, this is a great and affordable option to bring to school at just $1.50 each.

19. Great Value Pasta Sauce

This sauce has a full serving of veggies and contains only 9 grams net of carb in each ½ cup serving. There are also other options, like Marinara sauce, that are even lower in carbohydrate and equally as delicious! This sauce is also gluten-free and contains no saturated or trans fat. It’s taste rivals that of its brand name competitors but its price of just $0.88 cents cannot be beaten!

20. Green Giant Riced Vegetables Cauliflower Risotto Medley

Green Giant used to just mean soggy string beans or corn niblets in a can. Now you have an assortment of vegetables turned into “rice” with a fraction of the calories and carbs. The Cauliflower Risotto Medley tastes rich and creamy but only has 20 calories and 4 grams carb per serving. This is a favorite of mine and is very affordable coming in at just $2.48 for a 10-oz bag.

Walmart is a one-stop-shop for many of us and saves us from running a ton of errands. Now, with Walmart offering all of these delicious and affordable options, we can save time and money while also looking after our own and our family’s health!

Have you found any delicious, healthy and affordable foods at Walmart? Share and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Review: The Impossible Burger – Good for People and the Planet

The folks at Impossible Burger, along with their dedicated team of scientists, farmers and chefs have spent years trying to figure out how to deliver the goodness of a burger without the killing of animals. By creating this meatless burger, Impossible Burger uses a fraction of the Earth’s resources. Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water, and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. Hearing these statistics made me really want to try it, and start exploring alternate types of burgers.

What Is It Made of?

Impossible Burger is made from proteins, flavors, fats, and binders just like any other burger except the ingredients come from plants. The “magic ingredient” that makes these burgers seem like the real deal is called heme. Heme is a basic building block of life on Earth, including plants, but it’s uniquely abundant in meat. This is what makes the burger smell, cook, bleed, and taste like a hearty burger. The Impossible Burger 2.0 replaced the wheat protein with soy protein, which not only added flavor but some dietary fiber as well.

One thing I loved to see is that Impossible Burger delivers the same amount of protein, 19 grams per serving, and iron as a beef burger — but its protein comes entirely from plants, it contains no hormones or antibiotics, does not create a reservoir for dangerous pathogens, and contains no cholesterol or slaughterhouse contaminants. The bioavailable protein, iron, and fat content are comparable to conventional 80/20 ground beef. Launched in 2019,  the new Impossible Burger contains 30% less sodium and 40% less saturated fat than their original recipe. Here are the ingredients and nutrition facts for their current recipe.

From Impossible Foods website

How Does It Taste?

I prepared the burger on a bun, smothered in cheese and pickles and it looked exactly like a beef burger. The smell also matched what I would expect from a burger joint. When I bit into it, I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor and found it to be quite juicy. It had a texture and taste that rivals meat and didn’t seem like the other veggie/plant-based burgers I have tried.

When I tried the original burger a few years back, I had to take into account that it contained wheat when figuring out my insulin dose. This time I took a very modest amount and it didn’t spike my blood sugars at all. The replacement of soy protein was a great improvement with the 2.0 but make sure to look out for a delayed protein spike about an hour or so post-meal.

 Impossible Burger

Photo credit: Impossible Foods

Where Can I Get Impossible Burger?

Since my last review, the Impossible Food brand has grown quite a bit. They are now available in restaurants and groceries worldwide, including Starbucks! Check here for locations near you.

What’s Next for Impossible Burger?

The team at Impossible Burger is working to transform the global food system by inventing better ways to enjoy the food we love, without sacrificing flavor. The Impossible Burger is their very first product, and they have since added Impossible plant-based pork and sausage to their list and I am anxiously awaiting their next new product. Enjoying food that is good for your body and your planet is a win-win!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

1 2

Search

+