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A beer, a large pretzel, two white sausages, and sweet mustard on a picnic table

“Weisswurst lunch at Viktualienmarkt” by Thomas Kriese, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Last year, my now-fiance and I took a vacation touring various parts of Germany.  The entire trip, I showed little restraint on food, as I absolutely LOVE German food. So, I happily ate sausages, pretzels and beer.

And to my shock, I not only didn’t have any issues with my blood sugar and hypoglycemia, but I also lost weight!

Ever since then, I’ve been curious as to why that is, and during a recent call with my dietitian, I asked. Here was the highlights of her response:

  • While I wasn’t working out like I usually do, and the walking all day probably didn’t burn extra calories, walking all day is a slow carb burn vs. a big, fast carb burn with an intense workout. She advises her clients, if they do gorge on carbohydrates, to go for a 10-15 minute walk after to start the burn process. So, while I was walking, I was slowly burning the carbs off vs. the high/low calorie/carb burn of my usual day.
  • The fat and protein in the sausages probably kept me full, allowing me to eat less often and eat less calories.
  • There’s a difference between American and European wheat, which could impact how it impacts my hypoglycemia. I’ve actually noticed this myself, when I drink American beer, I end up feeling ridiculously hungry and not well. If I drink German beer, however, I don’t feel this way. I think it has a lot to do with the additives and such we put in our beer.
  • Portion sizes are smaller over there.  Maybe so, maybe not, I’ve eaten some pretty giant pretzels and drank some giant beers, but overall, probably so.

We just came back from a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands (I know, poor us).  While we made both our breakfasts and lunches on the trips, we splurged on dinners and I splurged on calorie-dense tropical drinks (I choose the lowest-sugar ones I could).

We got home late, thanks to both of our planes being delayed, but thankfully I’d taken the next day off, which allowed me to do the most important part of coming back from a vacation and getting back on track with healthy eating: Go to the grocery store ASAP.

When we got home, the fridge was practically empty, and the next morning was a scrounge to find food, but right after breakfast, I headed-out to all of the stores.

Why is this so important?

It’s too easy, after a trip like this, to continue to eat out because it’s what you’ve been doing the last week or so and there’s no food in the house. This, I believe, adds to the weight gain of vacations. The quickest way to break this is to get healthy food stocked back up in your house ASAP. It took me 3 hours, but the photo shows our fridge now, well-stocked with healthy food options. And, we’re back on track.

So the next time you plan your vacation, also plan a half day to hit the stores and stock back up. Your weight and your blood sugar will thank you.

 

Our fridge stocked with lots of fruit and vegetables, lean dairy, and good protein options, including eggs, deli turkey, and tofu. In the giant green bowl is my chopped veggies for snacking.

Our fridge stocked with lots of fruit and vegetables, lean dairy, and good protein options, including eggs, deli turkey, and tofu. In the giant green bowl is my chopped veggies for snacking.

I’m a heavy magazine reader (mostly nerdy stuff). This week, I polished-off a Women’s Health and a National Geographic:

  • The Women’s Health* May issue (page 112) has an article titled “Can you build a better sugar?” which basically concludes that sugar substitutes have their issues (they may actually cause blood sugar spikes) and that it might be best to just stick to the more natural sugar.
  • National Geographic included an excerpt of the book, Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong and highlighted how margarine and Crisco basically introduced trans fats to the American diet and cause up to 250,000 deaths per year in the U.S. We’d be better off sticking with the more natural butter.

So, both concluded that we’d be better off sticking to a food closer to it’s original form than one created through a highly lab-intensive process. SHOCKED, shocked I tell you! (sarcasm)

I’m definitely guilty of some processed foods, but whenever possible, we should try to avoid them, especially as hypoglycemics, as there can be serious blood sugar consequences.

Am I saying go to town and eat as much sugar and butter as you want? Nope. Moderation is the key, a combination of portion control and cutting-back on how much sugar, butter, salt, etc. we add to things. For example, our sweets in the U.S. are ridiculously sweet compared to sweets in other countries and they are HUGE. We could easily fix both.

 

 

*I’m in no way advocating that Women’s Health is a good source of actual health advice. Some of their articles are great and well-researched, but many are not, and contradict each other. Read with caution.

 

Wedding cake

As a bride-to-be, I’m in the process of cake shopping for our wedding. Those of you who know me can imagine that this is particularly entertaining for me, as I’m a marketer by trade, and used to help my grandmother make wedding cakes.

So I was a little taken back when one bakery refused to make me a sugar free cake, saying “We only make ORIGINAL recipes here.”

I mean, I get it, no one wants to walk into their store, expecting one thing and getting another. At the same time, we’ve learned a few things since 1965 (when this particular bakery originated), like that margarine is worse than butter, that high amounts of sugar and fat can harm you, that certain color dyes can cause harm or death.  And, of course, we know people various diseases and disorders, like hypoglycemia and diabetes, shouldn’t eat certain things.

And I’m also sure that ORIGINAL recipe went through many renditions, somewhere along the line, prior to becoming the recipe it is today. So, it’s not the original recipe; at some point, you all just decided it was great and quit innovating.

The reality is, there is a place for novelty and nostalgia, but to refuse to change is to refuse progress and discount all of the things we’ve learned. We have to be open to changing our food and recipes, as hypoglycemics or just regular people, as we learn more about the impact of those foods on our bodies.

As one of my favorite teachers once said, “The only way to coast is downhill.”

 

 

If you just take one thing away from reading my blog, please let it be this, please don’t try “natural remedies” that have been promoted by celebrities (cough…Gwyneth Paltrow or Dr. Oz) or in general.

Natural remedies could kill you

Any medicine has it’s risks (as the joke goes, that’s why they call it “practicing medicine.” But going with something untested has very high risk, where doing something that’s been throughly tested and vetted has very low risk.

So, while a special diet may not seem harmful, or even a recipe, you need to think twice before doing something that’s unproven. It may just save your life.

Medical blogs I recommend:

 

 

Check out this Lifehacker article, What I learned from weighing myself 15 times in a day. Not only is it fascinating, but it’s funny too (come on, you know you laughed at the poop thing).

And it’s a good reminder not to stress about a few pounds, particularly if you are female, as you can fluctuate a lot during any given day.

One of my friends isn’t feeling well, so she had to cancel our dinner plans for tonight (if you read this, I hope you feel better!). She gave me plenty of notice, but then I got into a busy spiral of work and wedding planning and failed to plan for dinner. But not to fear! This Mediterranean vegetarian salad will save me!

This sucker is a lot of food for a low amount of calories. I always end up feeling full and my blood sugar staying even.

Ingredients:

Preparation (11 minutes):

  • Prepare the Falafel mix according to package instructions
    • Mix with water
    • Let sit for 10 minutes
    • Pan fry
  • Put your salad together. The hummus and yogurt dip act as dressings.

Nutrition info:

Note: I didn’t factor the cooking spray, cucumber, and spinach, because these are so small calorically it’s laughable, but if you want to tack on 20 calories for that, be my guest.

  • 350 calories
  • 11 grams of protein
  • 10.5 grams fat
  • 54 carbs