Thursday, July 30, 2015



(Get rid of that post lunch carb funk and shine in the afternoon.)

Don't mistake that afternoon funk for fatigue.  In many cases it turns out to be a life-sucking carb coma a couple of hours after lunch.  An article I read about insomnia suggested a high carbohydrate snack two hours before bed to induce drowsiness.  I started thinking about lunches that most people consume:  Sandwiches, pasta salads, French fries, potato chips, baked potatoes, wraps, burritos, pizza, etc.  Almost all lunch fare is high in carbohydrates, which means that a couple of hours later you're gonna crash.  I thought perhaps some rearrangement might help. 

Go for proteins and veggies early in the day.  Heavy duty proteins crank up your metabolism and energize your body for hours as they're digested and released into your system, so consume them early in the day for sustained energy and alertness.

Be adventurous and discard meal segregation.  I have never been one to relegate foods to certain times of day, so you can find me eating leftover stir-fry for breakfast and Cheerios for dinner just about any time.  If you expand your breakfast menu to encompass all foods, you'll have a lot more variety in your morning meals, but several traditional breakfast foods more than fill the protein bill:  omelets, cheese, sausage, yogurt (plain with fresh or juice-packed canned fruit stirred in, add cinnamon for heart healthiness), cottage cheese with some fruit, (try a little unsweetened apple butter!).  Peach halves stuffed with cottage cheese sprinkled with cinnamon is a favorite of mine. Smoothies with plain yogurt and fresh fruit (and a little peanut butter if you're a fanatic like me) are great for on-the-go. 

Eat when your body signals that it's truly hungry.  Don't get hungry until late morning?  Then go for a late breakfast or early lunch.  More a lunch than dinner person?  Make lunch your main, high-protein, high vegetable, low carb meal of the day and go lighter for dinner. 

Evening is the time to start winding down.  You've given your body the energy-stoking proteins it needs to stay charged and alert all afternoon, and completed all the activities you've planned for the day without nodding off even once.  

Go for carbohydrates for dinner and evening snacks, particularly if you suffer from insomnia. Dinnertime is when to go for that nice pasta salad, baked potato, or spaghetti with marinara. 

Low-fat carbohydrates are ideal for snacks about two hours before bed.  That's when you want to set yourself up to crash.  I crunch away on dry cereals mixed up and sprinkled with cinnamon (very heart healthy).  Popcorn, toast and some herbal tea like chamomile, baked chips or rice cakes.  All good. 

With your carbohydrate calories reserved for the end of the day, you can relax and count on nodding off for a great night's sleep, and in turn waking up refreshed and ready to stoke up with protein to start your activity cycle all over again.


Insomnia article



How I turned my high blood-glucose frown upside down. (This is one where you should consult your physician to make sure you're doing it right for yourself, okay?  Your body is different than mine.  Take no chances with your health, my friend.)

I found out a few months ago that my (fasting) Blood Glucose level of 120 mg/dL, placed me in the pre-diabetic range, meaning I was at risk for becoming diabetic. 

Turning that scary number around became my primary mission in life.

The numbers.  Got myself a blood glucose monitor, and designated Fridays 'Goodbye to High Blood Sugar Day.'  On that day each week I tested four times a day, shooting for numbers in the normal range:

Fasting Number: (no food for 8 hours) 70-99 mg/dL
After Meal Number: (2 hours after eating) 100-110 mg/dL
Pre-Meal Number: 80-120 mg/dL 
Bedtime Number: 100-140 mg/dL. 

The dreaded Fasting number, which had previously been 120 mg/dL most concerned me.  Once I implemented my changes, the numbers started looking better and as of yesterday were: 

Fasting: 92 mg/dL
After breakfast 96 mg/dL
After lunch 104 mg/dL
At bedtime, 134 mg/dL 

Whew!  My efforts paid off and then some!  Speaking of my efforts: 

The food.  All about carbs--that's me, and it's A-OK in moderation.  Even though I'd switched to whole grain pasta, rice, and breads, my crazy huge portions were still unhealthy.  

So my first change was to slash my carb portions (45-60 grams daily; max) and up my portions of non-starch veggies (with yummy dressings). I came up with a healthy snack mix* and allow myself two containers a day that count as my daily carb portions. 

*Snack mix: In a very large container combine: 1 box shredded mini-wheats (NOT frosted), 1 box plain Cheerios, 2 (16 oz.) jars unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, 1 or 2 cans French fried onions (optional), your fav non-salt/non-sugar seasonings, (garlic, cinnamon, chili powder, oregano, etc.).  Mix well and divide into 4 ounce smidgie containers. 

The exercise. I'm a disabled writer; you don't get much more sedentary than that.  I used to love literally walking my butt off, BD (Before Disability). A whole lot less vertical now, I devised my own seated exercise plan.  I work out 15 minutes at a time every two hours, four times a day minimum. (I started out with one minute.)  I have more energy, my glucose numbers are down, and I'm dropping a little weight!  Even with physical limitations I'm becoming a lean, mean, normal glucose machine! 

The mindset.  I meditate to approach my life calmly, but necessarily squared off against my unhealthy habits, slowly and methodically destroying them to gain the energy, sense of accomplishment, and peace of mind I now have since conquering my pre-diabetes.  Additional benefits include energy in the afternoons and evenings, less anxiety about future illness, and a 'can do' feeling that's improved my general outlook and mood.   

What will your healthy nudge be?    










Healthy Nudge:  Cheat Day

(One day a week, satisfy your cravings.

Sometimes you have to give in a little and treat yourself. 
Changing your eating habits for the healthier is commendable, but kicking anything unhealthy off your menu for life is setting yourself up for failure.  Living without roast beef subs and onion rings is a deal breaker for me. 

Even on cheat day, no fair eating anything that will put you in the hospital.
Life-threatening health issues trump cheat day.  If you're diabetic, cheat day doesn't mean you can binge on chocolate sundaes.  Or if caffeine destroys your mood stabilizer's effectiveness, you should probably rethink washing down chocolate covered coffee beans with Pepsi. Cheat day is not about self-destruction.

Cheat day doesn't mean you eat everything that doesn't eat you.
Ordering a large pizza, roast beef sub, fried chicken, French fries, onion rings, potato salad, a half pound cheeseburger, a quart of mac and cheese, a chocolate shake, a hot fudge sundae and an entire pecan pie, seriously?  Let's keep it real. 

Keep a list during the week of foods you drooled over the most.
When you get to your cheat day, look over the list.  Cross off anything you're not seriously jonesing for.  Usually I either choose one food and have a lot, or two or three foods and have modest to small portions. 

For instance, I love coffee with enough hazelnut creamer to make it taste like coffee ice cream.  I reserve it for breakfast on cheat day, accompanied by biscuits.  (I've pared my biscuit recipe down to make only two biscuits, and I 'health' them up by adding oatmeal, shredded coconut, raisins and lots of heart healthy cinnamon to the batter.)  When cheat foods are a little healthier, and the portions are reasonable, they won't send you three indulgent steps back after two healthy steps forward during the week. 

When you're picking up foods for cheat day, buy single portions only.  No large economy size.  If you can go to a restaurant and buy yourself one serving, and not even bring the stuff into your home, do it that way.  Like, go to the ice cream parlor and get yourself a cone or a sundae rather than to the grocery store to buy the ingredients which sit in your freezer tempting you over to the dark side.  If your cheat is something homemade, whittle down the recipe to a single portion; OR have company, make the full recipe, and when your company leaves, insist they take the leftovers with them. 

Little deals: If I want extra on cheat day, I exercise more during the week to earn it.  I do fifteen minutes of exercise, four times a day.  But if I see temptation to overindulge on the way, I add extra exercise sets each day during the week so I don't ruin my healthy progress on cheat day.