Monday, December 29, 2014

I Love Making Christmas Cookies!

Once Upon A Time there was a woman who loved coloring sugar cookie dough, cutting out 3" Christmas Shapes, sprinkling sugar on top and throwing them in the oven.  She'd bring the baked cookies to Christmas gatherings.  She enjoyed eating them and sharing them. 

Then one day, this woman was diagnosed with Diabetes.  While sugar cookies were still allowed, she could only eat one or two in a sitting before her glucose would go up.  Having sugar cookies around the house became very difficult for her.  So, she tried to find a way around it.  

One year she got a  set of 1" cookie cutters from her husband.  So, she made tiny little, itty, bitty cookies.  After trying to get the dough off and cut out a dozen of these little cookies, the woman decided it just wasn't worth all the tediousness.

The next year, she didn't make cookies at all.  She saw her cookie cutters sitting unused in the cabinet and wondered if she would ever use them again.  She pondered giving them away, but she just wasn't ready. 

Then, the third year, she was bound and determined to use those dang 3" inch cookie cutters to make Christmas shapes.  She started thinking about it and then it hit her.  One sugar cookie can range from 10-18 grams of carbs.  However, one whole piece of bread is around 15 grams of carbs.  She figured she could get about 2 shapes out of one piece of bread and that didn't use the whole 15 grams of carbs.  Hmmmm....What do you do with shapes cut out of bread?  You make French Toast!!  

So, the woman scoured ideas for cutout French Toast, on Pinterest and found a few recipes for hearts etc...  She formulated a new plan for Christmas this year and made Christmas French Toast instead of cookies.  

The moral of this story is that you can still have your cookie cutting fun and eat more....even if you are Diabetic.  

Below is the recipe with absolutely NO sugar added. 

First off, I used white bread because it doesn't really bother my glucose and most of our family would prefer white bread.  I also wasn't sure how the color would come through.  Maybe next year, I'll do a loaf of wheat and a loaf of white.  If you try wheat, let me know how it goes!

Prep Time: 75 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
(I'm always slow the first time I try something, these times are high estimates.  However, this is a project, so it's not a normal, do this every day, kind of thing.)

2 mixing bowls
Serving container for finished French Toast (we put them in a pyrex portable dish with a hot pack to keep it hot)
A pair of Surgical gloves (to keep your fingers from turning black). 
Two whisks
Large (12") frying pan

2 loaves of sturdy white or wheat bread (or one loaf of each)
1 dozen eggs, divided
1 cup milk , divided
1.5 tsp cinnamon, divided
1.5 tsp nutmeg, divided
red food coloring
green food coloring

1) Cut shapes out of bread, 2 shapes per piece (I did this the night before, storing them flat, 1 dozen cutouts per batch, in single layers, in ziploc baggies to keep them fresh and fluffy.  This saved time and tediousness the next day).

2) Crack 6 eggs into one bowl and the other in the remaining bowl. Beat eggs with a whisk in both bowls. Whisk 1/2 the milk, 1/2 the cinnamon and 1/2 the nutmeg into each bowl.  

3) Whisk red food coloring in one bowl and green food coloring into the other bowl until you have the right color. 

4) Spray pan with cooking spray and heat to medium. Put on surgical gloves.  Cooking one batch at a time, dip, fry and flip as you would french toast, until done. 

5) After each batch, remove pan from heat, stir egg mixture and spray pan again.  Switch out colors as you see fit.  I did all red batches first, then all green.  Just stick to one color per batch.  

6) Serve with sugar free syrup or a little powdered sugar on top.  Personally, I really enjoyed them as is.  The cinnamon and nutmeg were very tasty. 

As you can see they look like cookies, but they aren't.  Best of all, I estimate that I can eat about 5 of these puppies for the price of 2 cookies.  I call that working the system.  

What ideas have you come up with to work the carbs system?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I have become a carb snob

I do a lot of reflecting at the end of every year, so this post is me reflecting on how far I've come over the last few years.

I've become a carb snob!  There was a time when carbs were the only thing I really wanted to eat.  I love mashed potatoes, sub sandwiches and crunchy munchies.  I was a meat and potatoes girl.  At the beginning of this year, I would see pictures of carb-filled fast food meals on tv and think "Mmmmm, that looks yummy!"  Something changed this year.  I'm not sure exactly when or how, but I crossed the carb snob threshold.

Now I see pictures of carb-filled fast food meals on tv and think "Ugh!!  That has WAY too many carbs in it."  It's not appealing.  It's not healthy and it doesn't look tasty to me.  I think my tie-dye addiction has moved into food.  I want a plate with lots of color on it.  Not drab white and orange.  I want greens and reds too (Maybe I just like Christmas color foods now...LOL!).

I don't remember where Hubby and I were going, but we were having a conversation about what food would be available.  At one point, I whined and complained that there weren't going to be enough vegetables.  Everything was carb.  I lamented how I was going to be bored with my meal.  That was the moment when I realized I'd become a carb snob.  I now judge every meal by how many carbs vs. vegetables are on the menu.  I don't even want to go eat at restaurants that are carb heavy...unless there's a good salad bar.

Hi, I'm Kristen Beireis and I'm a carb snob.  Do I care?  Absolutely not.  My snobiness is going to point me in a healthy direction and keep me eating yummy, healthy foods.

Are you a carb snob? Or is there some other food you're a snob about?  Come on, share what you point your nose up at when it comes to food.  Admit it.  Love it and let your snobiness reign free.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

I do not diet in December

So, I went to the Endocrinologist yesterday and found out that I have lost another 4 pounds!  Woo hoo!!  This brings me to 18 pounds lost this year and a total of 53 pounds lost in just under 3 years.  I'm only 4 pounds away from a healthy BMI.

I'm going off my diet!

First, let me define what "diet" means to me.  Diet = cutting back on calories.  My diet from July through yesterday, has been 1500/day.

I know, it seems backwards doesn't it?  I lost 4 pounds in a month and I only have four to go...why stop there?  Because it's DECEMBER!  There's a lot of hectic-ness in December which is a bit stressful.  Add to that, I have choir concerts throughout the month, with the Community Choir.  Not to mention I'm auditioning for a musical next week and rehearsals would start right away.  While I love every minute of all the things I'm doing...hectic=stress.  Um, and as a Diabetic...this is not good.  So, I refuse to add any fuel to the fire.

It's a bit stressful to choose to eat less calories.  It takes a lot of thinking, tracking and choosing things that aren't necessarily easy to find.  It's not so hard when I'm going about my normal schedule and eating in controlled environments.  When it comes to family gatherings and home cooked treats, that's not really a controlled environment.  I don't even have the luxury of always choosing restaurants at this time of year.

So, I've decided to make the holidays easy on myself and give myself a gift by not dieting.  I'm committed to counting my carb servings (no more than three at a meal and no more than 2 at a snack).  That's an every day thing and I've been doing it for almost three years, so it's second nature to me now.  I don't care how many calories I eat in and around those carbs though.

In the winter, it's not as easy to get the fresh vegetables and fruits that I love so much.  So, I tend to eat a lot more calories.  So, I'm going to play winter by ear.  I'm going to try a maintenance diet of 1800 calories a day and that may go up to 2000 calories when I'm more active. I may stick to that during the show or I might decide to go back down to my 1500.  I can guarantee once I'm back to hiking next year...I'll be focused on dropping those last 4 pounds.  Next year, I will hit my goal weight (and maybe shave off a few more pounds for good measure) and then stop and maintain from there.  Until then, I'm content to play it by ear based on how I feel and what I want to eat.

I hope you enjoy the holidays and give yourself a gift of some sort to make it easier.  If you do, leave a comment and share what your gift to yourself is.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving and why I am a Thankful Diabetic

I hear so many people complain about how Thanksgiving is going to blow their diet.  I feel the exact opposite.  I'm thankful for the Thanksgiving feast.  Let me count the reasons why:

1) The main course is fresh baked turkey!  Turkey is the lowest calorie meat, lowest cholesterol and lowest fat.  I eat turkey through the year, but there's no better turkey than fresh off a carcass on Thanksgiving day.

2) There are always veggie sides.  Our family typically has green bean casserole and something purely veggie.  This year it will be salad and crock pot mushrooms.  Yummy!  I can have tons of those!  

3) Mashed potatoes.  While I won't eat my pre-diabetes amount of 2 gigantic helpings, fresh whipped spuds are still a favorite of mine.  I never make them at home, because we would never eat them all.  So, Thanksgiving is the only time to get them and they are yummy.

4) Pumpkin pie.  Hubby's Grandfather makes a fresh pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.  I choose not to eat pumpkin pie any other day but on Thanksgiving day and it's worth the wait every year.  Sometimes I'll eat it at Thanksgiving.  Sometimes I take it home and savor each bite later.

5) Leftovers!!  I love having leftover turkey to eat on sandwiches and/or cook with.  This year, I am scoping Pinterest for a tasty turkey recipe to make for dinners later this week.

Thanksgiving is actually one of the healthiest family dinners we have through the year.  I'm very thankful that I get to spend my day with family and stuff myself with lots of healthy food and a bit of not so healthy food.  

What about you?  What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Healthy freezer food for the diabetic who doesn't cook.

Hubby and I are not big on leftovers.  I can deal with them for a couple days, but I get tired of the same food over and over again.  Last winter I had some pre-made foods in the freezer and pantry that I could easily work with for meals.  I need healthy, ready to eat, foods for those snowy weeks, when driving is a little crazy and we just don't want to go out for food.

This year, I've been eating lower calorie and the pre-made foods seem to be a lot higher on calories.  Also, I'm auditioning to be in a show and rehearsal schedules get crazy.  In the winter, I'd rather eat at home than stop somewhere on the way and eat out. So, I decided I wanted to try freezing foods and stocking the pantry.  Now, I know there are a million posts on the internet about how to freeze meals or ingredient packs for the winter.  Most of them assume at least one of the following;

  1. You are willing to cook ahead.
  2. You are willing to plan your meals for a month at a time.
  3. You are willing to spend time prepping and putting ingredients together for an afternoon (or day!).
NONE of which I am willing to do!!  So, if you're anything like me and really don't enjoy prepping, planning and putting together meals, but do want (or need) to cook at home through the winter, then maybe you can try this idea along with me.  I'd love to hear how it works for you.  

Here are my assumptions:
  1. You have 5-6 basic recipes that you know and can easily make.  
  2. Some of the recipes share at least a couple ingredients with others.  
  3. You are willing to write out a list of all you will need for these recipes.
  4. You are willing to spend a couple hundred dollars on a stock up trip to the grocery store.
  5. You are cooking for yourself or you and one other person (not a family of 4)
  1. Find recipes 
  2. Write out ingredients
  3. Look to see what you don't have on hand
  4. Make a shopping list of what you do need
  5. Go grocery shopping
  6. Store foods
  7. Put menu on the fridge with meal options you can pull 
That last one is huge for me.  I can have all the ingredients in the freezer, staring me in the face, but for the life of me...I can never remember what I was going to cook with them.  So, I need a list of it saves time and I don't let all the cold air out of the fridge while I try to figure it out.  

The longest part was figuring out what I would need to stock.  Once I had a shopping list, it was actually really easy.  It took me less than 15 minutes to put it all away and I was done!  

Now, I will say that I did do one piece of prep ahead of time.  I used part of an onion for a recipe the other day and decided to chop up the rest and stick it in the freezer.  You can buy recipe starter frozen onions, though.  So, this step is unnecessary.  

Below are the recipe options and the shopping list.  Keep in mind that many of the cold foods, I keep on hand and use in recipes or in snacks I make all the time.  I also have on-hand some of the ingredients/spices for making these dishes, like Chicken Broth for the Herbed Chicken. 

Main Dish Options: My list of Main Dishes is more a list of options.  I don't have enough to make all of these recipes, but many of the ingredients are interchangeable, so I can mix & match.  I'd rather have options than HAVE TO make one specific thing.  Thus the reason I didn't do bags of pre-made, crock pot ready, raw food.
Chicken Tacos with Black Beans and Corn cooked with the meat
Chili Mac (Beef Broth Base with no tomatoes)

Side Dish Options:  For the side dishes, I don't have a lot because I usually have fresh veggies in the fridge to make salad or some other kind of fresh vegetable dish (like fresh brussel sprouts).  

Plain Brown Rice
Mexican Rice with beans and corn (mexican spiced tomato sauce)
Italian style Green beans (Italian spiced tomato sauce)
Green Beans with Bacon
Parmesan Broccoli (steam and add butter/parmesan)

Grocery Pantry Items
Mushroom Soup (Low Sodium)
Canned Mushrooms
Corn (Low Sodium)
Peas (Low Sodium)
Green Beans (Low Sodium)
Black Beans (Low Sodium)
Red Kidney Beans (Low Sodium)
Light Kidney Beans (No Low Sodium available)
Beef Broth (Low Sodium)
Tomato Sauce
Tomato Paste
Dijon Mustard

Taco Seasoning (Low Sodium)
Spices (I went through and tossed what had expired and replaced only what I need for these recipes.)
Tapioca Pudding mix

Whole Grain & Regular Macaroni Noodles (Hubby doesn't like the whole grain stuff, so I make both)
Whole Grain & Regular Egg Noodles
Individual Microwave Brown Rice Cups (Brown Rice, Hubby eats)
Oyster Crackers
Tortillas - 16 grams of carbs each (I got a bag of 20 and froze them in bags of four...1 meal per bag, for me and Hubby)

Grocery Meats
Cubed Chicken 2.5 lbs divided (the meat counter will cube it up and package in two pieces for you)
Ground Chicken 2 lbs
Ground Sirloin 5 lbs in 1 lb tubes 
Italian Marinated and individually wrapped chicken breasts (5 per bag) 

Grocery Dairy/Fresh/Frozen Foods
Mexican Cheese (Low Fat)
Shredded Carrots
Frozen Green Peppers
Frozen Broccoli

Prep when I got home (less than 15 minutes)
Our butcher put the chicken cubes on a Styrofoam tray and wrapped it in saran wrap.  I put that in a zip-lock bag.
Tortillas - I put 4 in a bag at a time, let them cool in the fridge with the bag open for an hour, then sealed the bags and moved them to the freezer. 
Put everything away

Plans as I go through the winter
I do plan to replace some things as I use them.  Broccoli, canned goods and maybe some meat if we feel we'll eat that recipe again.  It depends on how fast we go through the food.  While we'll still go out and eat when we can, I suspect having food in the house will be very convenient when we just don't want to go out in the cold.  If we have a winter anything like last year, that will happen often!  

Let me know if you plan to try the ingredient method of freezing.  If so, leave a comment and share your thoughts.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Progress on the calorie activity front.

I know, it's been a while since I've updated this blog.  This summer was a time for me to commit to enjoying being healthy.  My shoulder is doing better (although, it will never be pain free and I'm good with that).

Since my diagnosis of Diabetes in January of 2012, I had made huge dents in my weight and taken my A1C down to a pre-diabetic level.  I've made great strides and my Doctors were thrilled with my progress.  For the most part, I was good with it too.  Then I did a show last fall and lost some more weight.  So, I thought I'd see what I can add in to take it to the next level.  I put no expectations on anything and just thought I'd try a couple things.

So, I decided to try eating only 1500 calories a day, allowing for an every other week splurge day where I can go up to 2000 calories.  I also decided to work towards 150 minutes of cardio every week. All of this I have been tracking in the MyFitnessPal app (feel free to connect with me, if you're on there too).

In June I was tracking my calories without making any changes.  I wanted to see where I was at the time, before changing it up.  I was averaging about 1800-1900 calories per day due to my protein intake, trying to offset carbs and still feel full.  Then in July, I started shooting for 1500 a day.  It took a couple weeks to get there, but eventually, I was able to start figuring out how to eat within my carb count AND calorie count.   I traded meat & cheese snacks for low carb nuts and veggies.  I also added more fruits to my diet and took out some of my crunchy munchy processed foods.

With the cardio, I didn't look for "cardio" workouts necessarily.  I looked for fun things to do that would get my heart rate up.  Hubby and I kinda took a break from squash, but the weather has been beautiful, so I've been walking the neighborhood (3 miles at a time) and going on at least one 3 mile hike a week (Picture at the top of this post taken at the end of one of our hikes....great reward!).  Meetup is a GREAT way to get out and go hiking when Hubby is busy (he isn't a hiker), so I take advantage of that whenever I can.  I'm even leading hikes now and I got new hiking shoes with gaitors so I can hike in the mud (pictured left) without getting my feet wet and my pants all yucky.  I don't always get in my 150 minutes, but I do tend to average 300 minutes per two weeks.  Some weeks I'll do more, while others I do less.

Now that the weather is turning colder...I'm not much of an outdoor, cold weather person.  I'll take advantage of days that are in the 50's, but beyond that it's inside exercise.  Our Meetup hikes are in the evenings and I don't like hiking in the dark (it's hard to see what's under my feet!).  So, hiking season is pretty much over (although I may lead a Saturday hike in November...we'll see what the weather does).

To prepare for winter, I went shopping for healthy winter foods (new post coming in a couple weeks).  I also am auditioning for another show, so that will get me out of the house.  I'll be painting sets and working around the theater as much as possible during the set construction (always a good workout).  I also discovered a group that goes line dancing.  So, I might go with them more this winter.  I went last week and had a lot of fun.  I have dance training, but it's been a while since I went to a class.  So, it's a fun way for me to honor the dancer, keep up learning routines and get some exercise.  I haven't tried my shoulder at Zumba yet, but I do have a Kinect game for Zumba that's fun and my Physical Therapist suggested some modifications.  So, hopefully, I can get back into that.  I'm not expecting to be AS active as I have been, once it gets cold, but I'd like to at least keep losing a little weight.

Speaking of weight, I've been dropping it with all this eating light and exercising.  I dropped 8 pounds in the first month.  I don't weigh myself at home often and only really go by what the Doctors scales say, but I'm pretty sure I've lost at least another 5 more (13 pounds, woo hoo!).  If so, then I'm only 8 pounds away from my ideal BMI and I have lost a total of 50 pounds since January 2012.  I have a Doctors appointment at the end of next week and another in December.  I'm hoping that I'll have hit my goal by then, but if not...I'll keep at it. Even if it means that I slack off to maintenance level over the winter and then gear up for the rest in the summer.

I didn't know it was possible to get back to this body again.  Since college I was pretty steady about the weight where I am now.  I had a few years where I went close to my ideal BMI, then my thyroid conked out and I gained a ton of weight.  So, my hope (not my expectation) is that I can actually get there soon.  We'll see.  Here's a comparison picture of my face from 2012 to now.  there's a definite difference!

What's your goal?  Whether it be cutting carbs or getting more exercise...share it in the comments.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuscan Chicken Skillet Recipe

I've been enjoying my summer and getting outside.  How about you?  My shoulder has been better (all though I still have days where it's a little niggle of an annoyance), so I've been able to do more this last month.  Yay!!!

This evening I tried a new recipe that I thought I'd share with you.  I've been watching my calories, so I can lose the last 20 pounds I need to lose for my BMI to be "Healthy".  So, I've been looking for low calorie, healthy dishes and I stumbled across a recipe for Tuscan Chicken.  I've changed it a bit below, because there are some things I just don't like (like sun-dried tomatoes) and I can't have a lot of onion.  I also don't like having to take things out of the skillet, then cook something else and then take that out etc... I want to throw it in and have it done.  Either way you do it... it's very tasty.

Original Recipe

My Recipe (a lot more soupy, but still very tasty).  I had a 3/4 serving of this with some salad, leftover corn, leftover parmesan broccoli and skillet potatoes.  Total calories for the dinner was 611.  Total starch carbs for the dinner was only 27 for the potatoes and corn.  Healthy, tasty and filling.  Feel free to substitute oil for the butter.  I've been cooking with light non-hydrogenated butter lately and enjoying it.

Nutrition Facts
Provided by
Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
Calories 278
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5 g7 %
Saturated Fat 1 g4 %
Monounsaturated Fat 1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 120 mg40 %
Sodium 551 mg23 %
Potassium 314 mg9 %
Total Carbohydrate 6 g (non starch)2 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g7 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 53 g106 %
Vitamin A5 %
Vitamin C6 %
Calcium2 %
Iron5 %
*Percent daily value is based on a 2000 calorie diet. 


2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 Onion
3 Cloves Minced Garlic
12 oz. Sliced Mushrooms
2 lbs. Chicken Tenderloin
1 Cup Diced Tomatoes (2 large Roma)
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Step 1: Melt some butter in a large skillet placed over a medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken and brown for 3 minutes on each side.

Step 2: Stir in the diced tomatoes, oregano, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to eat out and eat less carbs.

As you know I'm not a big fan of cooking.  So, I tend to eat out a lot.  People wonder how I eat out and stay healthy as a Diabetic.  There's a myth that Diabetics shouldn't eat out.  I say it's how you order that matters.  That's why I have several tricks that help me eat healthy.

1)  Ask for a half portion of carb foods.  I've done this with full dinners (like Spaghetti) and with side dishes (like potatoes) too.

2)  Choose upscale fast food instead of drive-thru.  There are a lot of restaurants that let you pick your toppings etc....  They have a wide variety of options and they put it together as you ask for items.  I usually ask for a small scoop or half scoop of carb-filled items and then ask for double meat and veggies.  This cuts my carbs and I get some really good food in the process.  It's still a meal that fills me up too!

3) Add an extra side of veggies - I think most people are aware that you can change out a side of fries for a vegetable.  However, I learned early on that I wasn't eating enough carbs when I did that and I also wasn't filling up.  So, I've started ordering an additional vegetable. Yes, I order the obligatory salad and I make sure I have enough carb servings to make a meal.  Then I order an extra non-carb vegetable, so I can eat the right portion of carbs and fill up.  The more non-carb veggies I eat, the better my numbers are.  So, ordering extra helps.

4)  Order a side of something special.  Spaghetti is another of my weaknesses.  It's hard for me to go Italian and NOT order it.  When I do order spaghetti, I ask for a "side dish," "small order," or "lunch portion".  Now, if I"m familiar with the restaurant and know even a small order will be more than I should eat, I still ask them to give me half!  The wait staff usually look at me like I have two heads, but I tell them I'll pay for a small order, just give me half of what a small order is.  They usually bring it, put it down on the table and look at me that all you wanted?  I usually look at them and say; "That's perfect!  Thank you." They let it go, but they still think I'm weird.

5)  Go ahead be weird.  I have accepted that I have to order most things "special order" and my requests are weird.  I get that wait staff are confused and don't understand.  I don't care.  It's my body and I'm going to do what I need to do to keep it healthy.  If they don't like it, then that's their problem.  Go ahead be weird.  In fact, make it a point to earn nicknames or get people to tease you about the way you eat.  Then proudly own that you are doing something different and brag about.  Watch as other people start joining in.  You'll be surprised!

Yes, I'm a Diabetic.  Yes, I can eat out and keep my numbers in their optimal range.  I just order to fit what I need.  What are your eating out tricks?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A consult with the Doctor helps.

For the last few years, I've been dealing with a shoulder injury from a car accident.  This injury flares up and prevents me from doing some of the activities I like to do.  This year, I'd had enough and really wanted to get rid of it once and for all.

I tried Massage Therapy, Chiropractic and Physical Therapy.  None of which made me feel like I could fully use my arm without a flare up. Every single one of these practitioners thought they could fix it and every single one of them ended up shaking their heads, not knowing why I still had pain and flare ups.  As a last resort, I went to a surgeon who diagnosed it as tendonitis.  He gave me some pills and referred to me to a pain clinic.  This made me really nervous.

For those of you don't know, most of what pain clinics do is give you a steroid shot into the joint or muscle to help alleviate pain.  These steroids are commonly known to make sugars go high.  Not that it happens with everyone, but it is a very common side effect.  Not a side effect any Diabetic likes to hear.

I wanted to go to the pain clinic armed with information.  So, I talked to my Endocrinologist.  He was very helpful.  He talked to me about where I am in the disease and what the risks are.  He gave me some sound advice on how to minimize a high.  He also defined what "high" means for me.  He mentioned that his office could help get me on insulin, if it goes too high.  He did NOT say "Don't do it."  In fact, given how in control I am and my plans for more activity if the shoulder pain goes away, he encouraged me to do one and see what happens.  Reminder: I AM NOT A DOCTOR and this is certainly not what works for everyone, but this is what was recommended for me.

I was still feeling a bit skiddish though.  Insulin?  I don't even know how to do insulin?  Do I want to find out in the middle of a high?  Do I want to push the limits...even if it means my glucose will come back down?  Eeeks!  Scary stuff, if you ask me.

Next step was to get information from the Pain Dr.  She, too, said the long-term gain is worth the short-term risk.  She said the glucose can be managed if we need to.  She also said one shot might just do it.  It's also going to be a shot next to a tendon, NOT in a muscle which is a lot less risk for high glucose.  That's 2 Doctors who have said it's worth it.  Was I convinced?  No.  I had to go ask my family Doctor.

What did the family Doctor say?  The long-term benefits outweigh the short-term risk.  Glucose can be managed.  I'm so well-managed that even if I do get a high, it's not even going to affect my A1C.  Do it!  She said.  Ok.  Three Doctors saying this isn't as big and scary as I think it is.  That's enough.

So, I decided to move forward with the shot.  I let my Endo know that I'm moving forward and I'm in contact with his office nurse.  So, I can call her if I need anything and they will help me from there.
This is why it helps to talk to the Doctor.  Now I know that my glucose can be managed and that I have a team behind me, if I need.  It also helps to have a Hubby in a medical field who is supportive of this decision as well.

I decided to do it in spite of my fear...because I have to live life and I can't let a painful shoulder slow me down...especially if I can get rid of said pain (prognosis is good).  I have visions of swimming, dancing and kayaking without pain and flare ups.  So, I did it!

Yesterday, I got the shot, I guzzled tons of water and took a couple walks (as directed by the Endo).  I'm not sure I needed to do that, but I'm happy with the results.   I'm over 24 hours out and my glucose is staying well within my usual limits, which I'm grateful for.  So glad I talked to everyone so I'd know what to expect and how to take care of myself.  I'm sore, but I'm good.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Lessons from the road.

As you know, last week I was at a conference (My first since being diagnosed with Diabetes).  Before that, I stayed with my Dad for a few days.  There are several lessons I learned on this trip that are not only Diabetes related, but also just "being healthy" related.  Here they are.

  1. Pack food if you can - I packed a cooler to take to my Dad's so I'd have choices.  Best decision ever!  It made eating at his house for lunch and snacks very easy for me.  I had fresh veggies, fruits, meat and my favorite lower carb bread.  Plus cheese and turkey sausage.
  2. Planning ahead to get up early doesn't work for me - So, I'm very aware that when I don't get enough sleep, my sugar is higher in the morning.  I thought I'd be smart and take time a few days before the conference to get on an early morning schedule.  Well, the first night I only got 5 hours of sleep.  Not enough to keep the sugar at my norm.  However, it did help me adjust to getting up early and I was good for the next couple days.

    Then the back fire.  I couldn't sleep the first night of the conference (too excited and too many things running through my head...could not shut it off!).  I only got 4 hours of sleep that night...ugh!  Another higher than usual morning.  So that was two high mornings.  Next time, I'm not preparing.  I'm just going to get there and sleep when I can.  Take one high morning, instead of two.
  3. I have to take more down time AFTER the trip.  I've been tired all week, which hasn't helped my numbers much because I don't really want to exercise.  I figured I'd bounce back fast if I took time out in advance.  Nope!!  I don't work that way.  From now on, I'll back load my trip with time off.  It's Wednesday and I'm still I think I need a week off AFTER my trips and I need to work right up until the trip.  I'll try that next time.   For now, I'm giving myself some space to recoup, but this weekend...I'm back to moving again.
  4. Eating at white table cloth restaurants means lots of tasty veggie options.  When Hubby and I eat out around home, we usually go to the bar & grill or buffet style places.  While I can find things to eat, there are usually only one or two dishes that I make work for me.  When I was visiting my Dad, we went out to nice white table cloth style restaurants, which was a nice treat.  There were always plenty of tasty veggie options, plus lots of low carb dinner options.  In fact, (dare I say), at times it was hard to find enough carbs!  Must raise my level of income so I can do that more often.  SO much easier to eat out that way.
  5. When the conference is full of Gluten Free and Vegan people, there is plenty of healthy food to eat.  I never went hungry and there were always plenty of choices for me at the buffet line during meals.  It was very easy for me to eat.  I didn't even need my leftover snacks from Dad's house. 

Again, planning ahead works when it comes to the food.  Obviously, when it comes to sleep, I don't do so well on planning ahead for that.  I live, I learn and I change it up next time.  That's how I find what works.  What about you?  How do you find what works?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Conference Conundrums

So, I'm getting ready to attend my first conference since I was diagnosed with Diabetes.  I'm an organizer for this one, so I have a lot of duties to attend to throughout.  As I've been planning, I've been thinking about when/what I'm going to eat during our long 14 hour days.

The good news is, there are scheduled meal breaks!  You can't change the time on a meal that the hotel is providing.  So, meal times are set.  So is the schedule for the entire conference.  I've just spent some time going over when we are scheduled to eat.  It looks like the biggest gaps are 5 hours and the shortest gap is 2.5.  Given I need to eat every 3-5 hours, then this should work out well for me.

Here are a couple potential challenges that I'm looking at what I'm going to do to prevent/cope with them.

Challenge #1 - Activity
I will likely be moving around the conference venue a lot.  I'm in charge of making sure the Emcee has everything she needs, plus making sure signage is visible and everything looks good for our guests.  This means a lot of walking and possibly a little running.  I have no idea how much of this I'll do, but it could be quite a bit.

Concern - The last thing I want is to have a low.  Those 5 hour breaks could be a bit too long.  I may need an extra carb or two to keep that from happening.

Solution - Eat!  I plan to eat bigger meals (3 carb servings) before the longer breaks.  That way I have plenty of fuel.  I'll also eat at every opportunity there is to eat.  Two meals and one snack are provided for us each day.  So, I will definitely eat at all of them.  I've budgeted out 9 carb servings (I'm allowed 11) for the day.  Then there's room for 1 or 2 snacks if I get hungry during one of those long breaks.  Now, I can just count carbs per meal and know I'm on track.

Challenge #2 - Food Options
As an organizer, I have access to the person who ordered the food.  I was most concerned about the one snack we get in the day.

Concern - I can't live on bagels and muffins (which is usually what conference snacks are).

Solution - I asked about the snacks. Thankfully, we have a large Gluten Free and Vegan contingent, so the snacks are built around them. Nuts, popcorn, fruit, cheese and veggies will be available.  Yay!!  I'm SO glad I asked.  Now I know that it won't be a problem to get a carb and non-carb at snack time.

So, I just need to make sure I bring a carb snack to prevent lows. What?!  Usually I have to bring veggies and protein for trips.  For once, I'm actually going to need carb.  Easy!  Some diabetic snack bars should do just the trick.  If I get hungry 2.5 hours in, I can eat.

I thought this was going to be a bigger deal than it is.  It would have been, had I waited until I got there.  I find that planning in advance when travelling and/or doing long days, works very well.  Ok. Now that I've figured out the food, I can go back to conference planning activities.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

It's ok to play with your food if you are diabetic.

People think I'm crazy when I order sandwiches out.  They give me the "Are you supposed to eat that?" look.  I can eat anything.  It's how much I eat that matters.  Especially with sandwiches, my rule is "If you didn't make a mess, you didn't do it right."

For example, the picture above.  This is an example of what my plate and hands look like after I've had a really good, juicy burger at a restaurant.  Messy!  I don't go sticking my tongue out with food in my mouth or do anything crude like that.  I just make a mess and usually need extra napkins.  Why?  Because I have a trick to eating hamburgers.  It helps me eat only half the bun (notice there's no meat on that burger bun above).  This works at most NON-fast food joints.   Fast Food burgers have a tendency to stick together too much for this....that's why I order a double from the cheap's a smaller bun.  Here's The Burger Trick:

Step 1) Make sure both bun pieces are separated from any cheese or sauce.
Step 2) Re-position toppings so they are still on the burger part, not just between bun.
Step 3) Use fingers to push burger and toppings (if possible) so they are hanging over the edge of the burger.
Step 4) Take a bite.
Step 5) Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the meat is gone.

My Husband makes me laugh, because every time I order a burger he asks; Are you playing with your food again?  My answer is always a resounding "YES! Of course I am."

I find that if you order the smaller burger (usually 6-8oz) at most restaurants, the bun is a little big.  So, I've been known to push everything to the edge and then peel off a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the extra bun from the beginning.

I do a similar thing for The Wrap Trick.  They usually fold over excess wrap around the side.  There is also a bunch of wrap folded up at the bottom to keep everything in.  Who needs to keep everything in?  Unwrap that puppy and let all the veggies and protein shine.  Then eat it more like a taco.  Depending on how much the wrap is stuffed, I can sometimes get it to only half the tortilla.  At a minimum I skip 1/3 of the wrap. Oh, yes, and I have some very messy hands.  That's what they make napkins and soap for though.

Then there's The Sub Sandwich Trick.  Subs are one of my serious weaknesses.  I absolutely love fresh baked sub buns stuffed with meat and veggies!  So, what do I do?  There are a few options here.

1)  Take out the bread - Some restaurants have an option to scoop out the excess bread in the middle of the bun. This is a great start to cutting bread carbs, so I look for this first.
2)  Order it cut - Order a 6" or 7" sub (depending on the restaurant) and make sure they cut it in half.
3)  Move it over - Take out the innards of one half and stuff them into the innards of the other half, throwing away half the bun.

This way, you get a big gigantic, stuffed to the gills sub and only eat half the bread (or so).

With all three sandwich tricks, I still get bread in every bite.  It's just not as much as I'm served, which can save up to 20 grams of carbs for a sandwich.  Leaving me room for some fruit, yogurt etc...  Yummy!

What are your sandwich tricks?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You bet I want birthday cake!

Mom and I in our tie-dye
at my Bday BBQ
So, Monday was my birthday.  A couple weeks ago, My Mom was asking Hubby what I wanted in terms of dessert.  I, of course, wanted dessert didn't I?  Oh, you betcha!!! Thankfully, I spoke up in advance and told Hubby that if there was to be dessert, I wanted something special.  So, he sent Mom my Direction.

If left her to her own creative devices, my Mom was going to get a sheet cake with tie-dye frosting.  While I do love my tie-dye (if you know me, you know I'm kind of a tie-dye addict) and this is an AWESOME idea, but a sheet cake is not the best choice for me.  First of all, there are way too many leftovers.  Second of all, the pieces get cut in all sorts of "way too big" sizes.

I've always enjoyed German Chocolate Cake on my birthday too.  Mmmm....gotta have me some of that.  However, German Chocolate cake can be even more dangerous than a sheet cake.  It's hard to stop eating the stuff!!  It also comes in a triple layered form, most of the time.  2 layers of icing?  Eeeks!  That's not the best idea.

So, as I was thinking about how I could have my cake and eat it too, I came up with an idea.  Cake pops!  I've seen a lot of specialty cake/cupcake stores starting to offer cake pops.  It's just a ball of cake on top of a stick.  I could have one of those!!!  Possibly even two, depending on how big they are and how much icing is on them.  Not to mention, you can order just enough for the group of people coming to the party...minimal leftovers.  Oh, yeah.  That was it!  I had to have German Chocolate cake pops!  So, I specifically asked my Mom to get them.

Luckily, my Mom works with just such a person who makes specialty cake items.  So, yay!  I got my cake pops.  They were rich, chocolaty, coconut goodness.  These cake pops were about 1.5-2 inches in diameter, so 1 was more than enough.  They were so sweet and good that I really didn't want any more than that either.  I did hold one back for later too.  Just ate it for a snack this afternoon.  Soooooo yummy!

What have I learned from this?

  1. ASK for what I want in terms of food.  If you tell people you have a specific request (especially when it's a special celebration for you), they are very willing to honor it.
  2. Use my creativity to find a solution that everyone will enjoy.  Everyone at the BBQ thought the pops were such a cool thing.  They didn't even think about portion size.  They had no idea that it was a  "Diabetic friendly" way to have dessert until I said something.
  3. There is always enough tie-dye when I'm need to have it on the cake too.  :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Confession #2: I do not always make the healthiest choices.

Just because my numbers have been good, doesn't mean I'm always following the rules of eating healthy.

I confess! I do fall off the healthy eating wagon.  The last couple months, I've been extra busy.  It's been hard to find time to cook and prepare fresh snacks.  I own that I could make time and that I could scale back on my commitments.  I love my busy life, though, and it keeps me moving.  So, I'm not trading it in.

About the end of March I noticed that my numbers were starting to creep up a little.  In fact, I had taken my A1C down to 5.3 while I was singing and dancing in a show last year.  I have a sneaky suspicion, I'm now back to 5.9 (or possibly higher).  I'll find out next month.

I started thinking about it and I realized it's because, while I've been busy, I've been making some not-so-healthy choices.  I will have 2, 15 carb gram, bags of crunchy munchies in a day instead of the 1.  I'll have store bought mashed potatoes instead of corn.  I'll have a couple sandwiches in a day instead of a sandwich and a meal.  I also noticed that I was "stuffing" myself at meal times.  I had gotten good at eating til I was full, but lately, I'd been eating until I was stuffed.

When I fall off the wagon, there are guidelines I follow to help me get back on track.

  1. Don't panic!!  My first instinct is to panic and run right to the grocery store to buy the healthiest food I can find.  I followed that instinct once.  All the healthy food I bought went bad because I didn't eat it. So, this is NOT helpful.
  2. Choose in the moment.  I find it's better to choose in the moment instead of forcing myself to eat healthy.  So, the next grocery trip I look for foods that sound good.  Then I ask myself what the healthier option may be.  I don't trade in my mashed potatoes for broccoli.  I trade my mashed potatoes in for some new potatoes this week.  I like new potatoes, but I don't eat as much of them as I do mashed potatoes.  So, I still get my potatoes, but I'll eat a healthier portion.

    Gradually, by honoring my craving with healthier alternatives, I stop craving the bad foods.

    The same applies to stuffing myself.  Each meal, I choose to stuff myself less. I find that if I have a pile of tasty, healthy snacks in the house, this is easier.  For some reason when I'm in stuff myself mode, I worry I'll be starving later.  If I know that's not true, I can choose to eat a little less.  As I continue to reduce how much I eat in a sitting, it gets easier to not want to stuff myself.

    A few weeks later (sometimes longer) and I'm back on track.
  3. Learn from my mistakes.  Usually, when I fall off the wagon, it's because something has changed and I haven't taken the time to figure out how I want to manage it.  I need to learn how to incorporate it into my life.

    This year, I've been out of the house/office a lot more.  I've been doing things in the evenings and my business has been busier than I'm used to, so snack times are rushed.  I have not quite figured out how to do busy life and eating healthy.  Now that I'm aware of this change, I'm looking for new ways of coping.  I've discovered low-carb frozen dinners with a little side dish (30 grams of carbs or less) are good between work & evening activities.  Then I eat again after the activity (again, 30 grams or less).  So far, this works well.  In fact, because I'm in a hurry, I don't really care what I eat.  I just need to eat so I can enjoy my evening without a low.  As long as I have quick, healthy choices, there is no choice.  I just eat what's there.

  4. There is no bad girl here.  Sometimes my brain wants to blame myself and get all mean.  I put the k' abash on that really quick. Things happen.  I'm not perfect.  Always eating healthy does take work and sometimes I get off track.  That's ok.  I'm human and I accept my flaws.  What's important is choosing to get back on track.  It's always a choice.  If I focus on making that choice, I get back to where I want to be.
  5. Celebrate!  Once I feel I'm back on track, I celebrate.  I congratulate myself and do something for me.  I've been known to buy clothes to celebrate weight loss.  I'll give myself a techy toy.  I'll dance around shouting "I rock!!" When Hubby's not home, of course (he doesn't need to witness that).  Pat myself on the back.  Give myself a hug.  Brag to Hubby or a friend who loves to hear these things.  Anything to celebrate getting back on track because darnit, I did the work to get back and I deserve to celebrate that.  
I'm in the process of getting back on track.  It make take me until the end of May, but I'm definitely moving in the right direction.  

What do you do to get back on track?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I did food prep. I think the world might be ending.

My least favorite part of cooking is food prep.  Slicing, dicing, mixing etc... Ugh!  So time consuming and annoyingly tedious.  

Because I hate prep so much, Hubby actually bought me a mandolin when I first started cooking.  As a former Music Teacher, I always thought a Mandolin was an instrument.  I had no idea there was a mandolin that that would help me slice faster and easier.  That mandolin has been a great addition to my kitchen!  I don't have to know how to slice and dice.  I just run it across my mandolin and it's done!

That doesn't mean I like doing prep.  In fact, I still hate it and try to find recipes that don't have much prep required.  

Since I've been so extremely busy lately, I've been finding it hard to prepare fresh snacks to eat.  On my busy days, I just don't have the time.  This week, I got home from the grocery store with all my fresh veggies, fruits etc... and decided to take some time, right then, to do some snack prep.  NOT something I've ever done, wants to take time to do food prep when you're not going to eat it right away?!  Seriously!

I did it anyway.  I REALLY wish I could afford to hire someone to do food prep for me every week.  If anyone wants to come do it for free, just leave a comment and I'll take you up on it.  :)  

In doing the prep on Monday, I've had all sorts of fresh foods to eat this week.  It's very easy to choose healthy when I'm busy and everything is ready to eat.  I also found that I've had less kitchen clean-up at snack times.  When I prep at the time I eat...I tend to feel like I'm always cleaning up the kitchen.  Especially since I eat 4-5 times a day!  So, I might...I say MIGHT...just have to do this again.  

For those of you who are wondering what foods I prepped and how I made them into quick snacks, I've included that below.  
  • Green Beans - Fresh green beans were $0.99 a pound.  So, I grabbed me a bag full. 
    • Prep-Wash, snap off the ends and put in a veggie bag to keep fresh.
    • Snack-I've been eating them raw and they are a very crunchy, tasty snack!
  • Strawberries - Strawberries were on sale too, so I grabbed one container of those (probably should've grabbed two, but you live and you learn). 
    • Prep-Peel off the leaves, core out the stem and slice.  
    • Tools-Hubby got me a couple handy, dandy strawberry tools for Christmas this year.  One of them takes the stem core out and the other slices them like an egg slicer.  Easy!
    • Snack-Strawberry and yogurt parfait.  Pile out some strawberries (2-3 strawberries sliced), spoon a couple heaping teaspoons of vanilla yogurt on top, sprinkle a tiny bit of granola on top of that and you have a tasty dessert.
  • Cucumbers - These are one of my favorite veggies to snack on. I bought two, so I'd have plenty.
    • Prep-Peel off four stripes and slice.  The mandolin is very helpful for this.
    • Snack 1-I get those little pre-drained cans of tuna.  Add a little mayonnaise, some pre-shredded carrots, some dill relish for tuna salad.  Then I take one cucumber slice, add a bit of cojack cheese and then scoop on some tuna salad.  This makes a tasty, very low carb snack!
    • Snack 2-Or shall I say, lunch side dish.  Hubby and I have been munching on these with our lunches raw.  Yummy!
 If you have any tips on food prep, I'd love to hear them. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Confession #1: I do not consistently exercise.

I've been successful in my Diabetes Management.  Because of that, I've been accused of exercising like a "good girl".  While I do feel it's important to follow the Doctor's advice, I am the one living this life.  So, sometimes I choose to go off track.

Confession:  I'm terrible at consistently exercising.  I don't like exercise for exercise sake.  I would much rather do a physical activity because it's fun.  I just can't do the same activity ALL the time.  I get bored way too easily.  So, I go through spurts. 

 I'll be really into Zumba for a few months (I love dancing and Zumba feels like I'm in a NYC dance class again).  Then I just won't feel like going one week.  So, I stop & don't get back to it for months.

Last year I was in a musical where I was in about 7 dance numbers.  So, I was active for a few months there with rehearsals, then performances (and even dropped 5 lbs.).  Afterwards, I needed a break, so I didn't do anything but rest for a month.

This year, I've been dealing with an old shoulder injury flare up & a lower back flare up.  I was in Physical Therapy for two months.  I did exercises that kicked my butt at PT for 45 minutes, 3 times a week.  Then I did exercises for 20 minutes at home every other day.  7 days a week of exercises for two months straight.  Yikes!!

After PT, I was kinda done and wanted a break.  I didn't want to do any kind of activity at all.  So I took a few days off.  

Hubby & I have now picked up Squash and joined a club near our house.  It's convenient and we can get a great, totally fun workout in 30-45 minutes.  I've also begun hiking again.  I have a couple groups I go with when I can squeeze it in.  One week I walked or hiked a total of 10.5 miles in 8 days.  Yeah, it was a loooong winter and I'm enjoying getting outside whenever I can.  Hubby and I plan to take a canoe or kayaks out this summer (provided I can paddle without pain).  We did that a couple years ago and really enjoyed it.

Do I do my 5 days a week of PT exercises?  No. While my back is doing well, I still get pain with my shoulder when I do my exercises.  So, I've stopped and I'm seeing new specialists for that.  My shoulder gets aggravated playing Squash & hiking, but it's just achiness and won't do any further damage.  I'm having fun, so I'm willing to deal with a little achy pain.

This is how it works for me.  An ebb & flow of exercise.  A constant choice.  Sometimes I'm gung-ho and get a lot in, other times I take a break.  Most Diabetic Educators will tell you that consistent exercise is best.  My numbers concur.  The more consistently active I am, the better my numbers.  At the same time, I am just NOT a consistent person.  I accept that and I accept the higher numbers when I'm less active.  (NOTE: high numbers for me are not dangerous. You may need to exercise more consistently if your numbers are dangerously high.  Check with your Doctor or Educator).

I don't push myself to do something every day or even every week. I need to be able to be active for the rest of my life and that means allowing myself to find new things, take breaks and be inconsistent.  This, I can keep up with long-term.  If I HAD to do something every day or even 150 minutes a week, I'd always be "cheating".  By giving myself permission to be inconsistent, I get to enjoy and celebrate the fun things I find to do.  

This past year I've been able to keep my A1C in check by being inconsistent.  If/when that changes, I'll re-evaluate and make adjustments.

Also, what I've noticed is that I want to get out of the house more.  I find myself looking for reasons to have fun being active.  I could get more consistent over time.  Who knows. My list of choices grows every year.  I feel it's more important to create long-term habits instead of pressure filled requirements that I can't keep up with.  I will continue to find sustainable ways to be inconsistently active.  

How do you adjust what you're "supposed to do" for sustainability?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shopping for Diabetes does not have to cost a fortune.

Hubby and I haven't actually changed our budget for groceries since I was diagnosed with Diabetes.  However, we did set aside some money to allow me to stock up on spices and pantry items in the beginning so I would have what I needed to cook at home more.  Now, we just replace as needed.

I have some weeks where I'm very under budget because I cooked enough for leftovers and other weeks where I go over because I need to stock up a little.  We also still go out to eat most days and sometimes we adjust on the caliber of restaurant to save money for groceries.  All in all it balances out to the same yearly budget we've always had.

I buy lots of fresh vegetables.
The biggest change we've had is that I buy more vegetables than I used to.  I can eat 3 snacks on one cucumber and it only costs me a dollar and change.  In the fall I buy those little lunchtime apples (just small enough to be one carb serving) and get generic cheese cubes to munch on for snacks as well.  All of this is very inexpensive, delicious and healthy.

I sometimes go back to canned and frozen foods.  Broccoli, Brussels sprouts (no sauce), grilled chicken and turkey burgers are frozen staples in the house.  When I have a lite extra cash, I'll buy a big bag of frozen, cooked, peeled & deveined shrimp.  We always have canned green beans, tomato sauce, corn, black beans and soup in the pantry...all the low sodium versions ($0.25 more than the usual kind at most, but usually the same price).  All of these things can be easily turned into lunch, dinner or snack at any time.  I replace as I run out, so I don't have to spend a fortune in one trip restocking.

Healthy doesn't have to mean expensive.  Notice I didn't say I buy low-carb this and low-carb that?  First of all, low-carb products DO cost a lot more.  They also usually taste like crap.  I have yet to find a low-carb product I like.  I buy whole grain foods which cost the same as the other stuff.

Eating for diabetes means eating regular food in different quantities.  I eat more veggies and meat now than I used to.  Fresh veggies and meat can cost a little more than pre-packaged meals, but if you mix up canned/frozen with fresh, it's about the same.  I eat real food.  I make dinners from real food.  That is the biggest change from before my diagnosis and it doesn't cost a fortune.