Friday 31 May 2013

A day on the plate of a low-carber

Everyone knows that I had a complete blast at the AnimasSports Day weekend.  I mean, a bunch of other people with diabetes (PWDs), talking, playing sports, eating food and drinking wine; what's not to love? What I was keen to know when the weekend subsided and real life kicked back in, was just how much use the talks were to those who attended.  Mine in particular, as it was a bit of a first.

On the whole the feedback from the weekend was excellent but we were offered some specific feedback that the talks we gave on weight loss would have benefited from some specific information on what exactly I ate, or what the professionals recommended to eat, to aid weight loss.

Don’t get me wrong, I don't exactly recoil at the sight of a potato, quite the opposite in fact; I love a big ol’ bucket of carbs as much as the next person.  But I have learnt a lot in the last year – particularly since getting my Dexcom G4 Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) - about what carbs do to me; even the low GI ones people rave about.

So armed with the knowledge that people want to know more, I thought I would share a little more about what I’ve been eating and how I make normal meals into lower carb versions.  Don't worry, you don’t need to go out finding any weird and wonderful carb-free yam noodles just yet (FYI, the most disgusting food to have been invented, ever).

So here they are, some of the typical foods I eat.  Excuse the stock photography - by the time I'd taken all the pictures myself we would've all retired and would now be living somewhere we wouldn't need to cook for ourselves any more.


Omelette, with cheese and tomato.  I am horrible at making omelettes, so invested in one of these little bad boys.  It makes an omelette in 3-4 minutes and tastes amazeballs every time.  This meal keeps me from getting hungry for about 4-5 hours. 

Greek yogurt with berries.  The best ones I have found are the ‘Total’ Greek yogurts.  Not the low-fat version which has a lot more carbohydrate (when you remove the fat, you have to add taste somehow, so low-fat yogurts are usually packed with sugar – even the unflavoured ones).  People seem to have freaked out about fat in the last 30-40 years, but we forget that we still need it; it is vital to our cells and key to avoiding things like depression.  So don’t freak out about the little bit of fat in a Greek yogurt.  For the berries, I find blueberries the best as they are low-GI and don’t cause too much of a spike.

Cooked breakfast.  Rather than fried, I have a cooked English breakfast with grilled tomato, bacon and sausage, and will have scrambled eggs rather than fried.  I do have mushrooms in a tiny bit of butter (not marge; marge isn’t a real food to me) but that's the extent of naughtiness in this one.

Smoked Salmon and scrambled egg.  I can't even write this one without going to make myself some.  Back in five...


Tuna mayo salad.  A handful of salad leaves (stick with dark leafy greens like Spinach, Rocket and Watercress as they are much higher in iron. I once heard iceberg lettuce described as ‘nutritionally useless’, which left a lasting impression).  I then have cherry tomatoes, spring onion, red pepper and any other veggies I have to hand that make a good accompaniment.  I then have tuna and a tablespoon of mayo.

Bacon and Avocado salad.  Same as above but minus the tuna and mayo, and plus grilled bacon and avocado.  Literally the best thing ever.  Anything with bacon is, this is a fact.

 Ham salad. Same as above but minus….Can you see where I’m going with this?

Couscous salad.  I have limited success with couscous, but in order to not get bored and to jazz things up a bit, I occasionally have a couscous salad with coleslaw, beetroot, onions etc to liven the diet up a little.  This will need more insulin but gives a bit more of a ‘bulky’ salad if you fancy a change. 


Stir Fry.  The only danger with low carb is that you could end up eating more red meat.  It is always worth remembering that too much red meat isn’t recommended, so we throw in a stir fry a couple of times a week with tofu.  I suppose I’m lucky that I absolutely love tofu, so it’s not hard to incorporate.  If you don’t, you could use chicken, turkey or quorn type replacements, if you don’t mind that kinda thing.  I shove in beansprouts, sliced carrots, broccoli, green beans, spring onion and buckets of fresh ginger, chilli and garlic.  In order to avoid any sweet sauces, I use Amoy’s rich soy sauce and red wine mixed to give it an oriental kick.

Spaghetti Bolognese.  Unlikely seeming I know, but make your usual Bolognese sauce and swap out the spaghetti for a pile of green beans.  Get in touch if you get hungry.  I never have, and I’m also now never bloated or tired a couple of hours later.

Chilli.  Same as above, switching the rice for green beans.

Salmon with Beetroot and Horse Radish crème fraiche. If you are low carbing and want to watch the meat content, fish is a really good way to go.  I’m not a lover of fish per se, but this recipe is to die for.  Packed with goodness and barely touching the BGs. Get in touch if you want the recipe, it was a touch long for this already monster post.

Piri piri roast chicken.  This one is a total favourite.  It is a chicken breast covered with crushed garlic and Schwartz Piri Piri shake.  Not a carb or sauce in sight.  Roast this with a whole beef tomato, butternut squash, a couple of mushrooms, carrots and parsnips.  It is incredibly delicious, easy and a total of about 30g carbs from really nutrient-dense sources.

Cottage/Shepherds Pie. Make your usual meat part of the meal and swap out the mashed potato for mashed swede and carrot.  You will thank me.  Even when we aren’t strictly low-carbing we now eat this as it is such a welcome change and doesn’t leave you weighed down with potato and insulin on board.

Sausage casseroleThis one is credited to the Hairy Bikers who between them lost about 4 stone (56 pounds) by removing carbs.  Check it out.

Bean casserole.  As above but remove the sausages and add in borlotti, butter and any other kind of bean you like.  It’s awesome, trust me.  Even though beans have a reasonably high carb content, they also have a really high fibre content, and as fibre carbohydrate isn’t digested, it doesn’t affect BGs.  So load up on these little bad boys.

Jamie Oliver’s stew for Jools.  This one is again, simply adapted.  Remove any potato ingredients and pack it more with other veg.  It halves the carbs but none of the flavour.  Jamie has even worked out the carb content for us.

Pasta’ and Passata.  This one sounds a bit misleading.  We used to have a passatta sauces with veggies and pasta but since low carbing just swapped out the pasta for green beans.  Again this one is to have some veggie recipes on the go and lower the amount of red meat we eat.

Although this isn’t exhaustive, it will hopefully give an idea of how we adapt our foods to remove some of the carbs and pack in bag-fulls of veg, quality meats and flavour.  Dr Kelly’s talk touched on how to increase protein by 10% and lower carbs, making the switch to a way of eating more likely to result in healthy and long-term weight loss.

I don’t do the extremes of low-carbing that many do, and often our passata will feature one or two pieces of garlic bread, or a tiny desert of some kind.   But at least the 'treat' at those meals brings the meal to 60g carbs, rather than 120g, because I saved the wasted carbs from sources I don't miss, and used them on the ones I want.  

The meals I've included are now my fail-safe recipes for a good BG and as such, a more likely trip to the gym and general better feeling about all things D.  I tend to stick to no more than 30g per meal as this keeps me within decent upper and lower limits, even when things go a little awry.

If you have any of your own recipes you want to share please, get in touch. I'd love to know how you also tame the diabetes beast.


  1. Great post, and some fab ideas. I've printed this so I can try some of your ideas. Thanks!

    1. Thanks Lesley. Any favourites you have, feel free to share. Decent low carb recipes are hard to come by! :)

  2. Looks like we're same track Anna - most of those meals are almost exactly what I eat! Cheesy 3 egg omelets are a winner! Normally I eat between 50-100g carbs per day but sometimes a little more if I've had a tough training session. I try to keep any carby meals to post-excercise when they a. help recovery and b. have much less impact on blood sugar. Good to see some different approaches to the 'low Gi/ 'healthy' wholegrains doctrine. Sorry I missed out on Loughborough this year, hope to make it back next year.

    1. Hey Brian,

      Shame we weren't there together this year, but by the way it is shaping up every year next year should be a winner too. Out of interest, how many carbs (and in what form) do you take after exercise? I still struggle to incorporate but I think a lot of mine is about learning how to manage the exercise itself first.