Thursday, December 14, 2006

I'm Hypoglycemic/diabetic and Veggie: What Can I Eat? (Hypoglycemia/Diabetes/Vegetarian Information)

As some of you know, I'm not only hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) but also vegetarian as well. One thing that I always hear is "What do you eat?". And the answer is: same as a regular veggie but whole grain, no sugar, lots of protein, etc--so at times even healthier than a regular veggie! It does take some time getting used to, but there is no reason a person can't be veggie while being hypoglycemic or diabetic at the same time (though since my B12 levels are kind of low and my metabolism is really fast so I require high amounts of calories, I don't know if I can ever be vegan healthwise; which is why I'm trying to be more cruelty free in other aspects of my life like crafting cosmetics! Anyways...). In addition,the hypoglycemic diet is really similiar to the diabetic one (except in some instances the hypoglycemic diet is probably a tad stricter since diabetics could probably still eat some of the things severe hypoglycemics can't), so the following tips are also helpful for veggie diabetics as well.

So here are some general tips for hypoglycemics/diabetics who are veggie:

1) Avoid white sugar, white rice, white flour, white pasta, and anything highly refined and processed. These four items will shoot your blood sugar up rapidly, then it will drop rapidly, often below what you started (and for diabetics, it'll rise up and stay there). The thing is that white sugar and white flour are in pretty much EVERYTHING so be sure to read labels carefully. I pretty much cook everything all my meals myself, and don't eat too much processed/pre-packaged foods.

2) Also you need to avoid things like honey, maple syrup, brown sugar etc.

3) I don't eat any white sugar or the sugars above--aside from fruit (note: super severe hypoglycemics may not be able to eat fruit at all), agave nectar in small amounts in the very occasional baked good, and the VERY small amounts of white sugar in breads (it's a very small amount of sugar compared to say a cake or something) and in some meat substitutes (again a small amount). The good thing I've found is that once you don't eat sugar, you don't crave it, so it isn't as hard as it sounds. Though some super severe hypoglycemics may not be able to tolerate sugar in any amount (in that case you'd have to bake your own bread).

4) My blood sugar problem is pretty bad so I don't really eat corn or potatoes that much anymore (too starchy). If I do, I only eat it in very small amounts and eat it with lots of protein. Note: when you cook potatoes, boil them in water which removes much of the starches. I've found I can eat a small amount of mashed potatoes with no problems (as long as I eat protein with it) but when I have potatoes that haven't been boiled, I sometimes feel sick.

5) Protein and fiber and fat are good at regulating blood sugar because it helps slow down the absorption of glucose/sugar. Be sure to eat a small amount of protein at every meal. Note: as a veggie, I hate it when people are convinced veggies don't get enough protein--it's actually the easiest nutrient to get! I always get asked "oh you're veggie, how do you get enough protein?" which to me is silly, because basically if you eat you get protein. As a hypoglycemic I eat so much protein it's almost disgusting. Personally as a veggie I am more concerned with getting enough B12.

6) Eat 5 to 7 small meals or snacks a day instead of 3 big meals a day. It is very important for hypoglycemics to eat every couple of hours to regulate blood sugar problems. For some it may be every 1 1/2 hours, for others every three hours. I usually eat three meals and 2 to 4 snacks a day.

So what to eat?

Avocados are your friend! They have protein and fat (good fat) and a natural chemical in them that helps regulate blood sugar.

Garlic and onions and cinnamon help lower blood sugar (I don't eat too much of these, only sometimes in small amounts. These spices/herbs would benefit someone who's diabetic though).

Whole wheat pastry flour is a good sub for white flour since it is not heavy or grainy at all (though don't try making cookies with this, it'll make them fluffy like little cakes. Ask me how I know). Also good: spelt (high in protein but can make breads etc dry so add more liquid) and whole wheat flour. I also use oat flour.

Whole grains instead of refined grains. Eat brown rice instead of white, whole wheat pasta instead of regular pasta, etc. Spelt and quinoa (which are high in nutrients and protein) are your friend.

Lots of veggie protein: tofu/soy, veggie burgers, quorn, seitan, tempeh, eggs, dairy, lentils, beans, and nuts galore (the nuts may be high in fat but a lot of times has the 'good' fats)

White sugar subs: One sugar I've found that doesn't affect blood sugar levels is agave nectar which has a low glycemic index. It is primarily frustose (which the body takes longer to break down, since the body has to convert it to a usable form: glucose). Also good is glycerin (I use glycerin in making natural cold syrups; make sure you get veggie glycerin).

Chocolate and carob: when I occasionally eat chocolate or carob I get grain sweetened chocolate from Sunspire, and also their unsweetened carob (available in veggie and vegan formulas).

Eat organic. Organic foods have more nutrients and less chemicals

Brown bag suggestions:

Whole wheat french bread with fresh mozzeralla and pesto/basil and tomatoes, black pepper. If you are using basil rather than the pesto add a drizzle of olive oil and basamic vinegar.

Calzones (pizza pockets) filled with lots of veggies, low fat cheese or soy cheese, veggie pepperoni, or maybe something like an indian filling.

Samosas; an indian pastry filled with an indian curry (usually potatoes and peas). Make the pastry with whole grain flour. And maybe other veggies if you can't have potato.

My favorite pita: feta (low fat or use a soy cheese), herbs (I like sage), olive oil and vinegar, a veggie burger (I like amy's california burgers), roasted peppers, olives, artichokes, tomatoes.

Cold pasta salad.

Cold bean salads.

I sometimes like to do an assortment of breads, cheeses (low fat or soy), veggies, fruit, guacamole and other spreads and make a bunch of small different sandwiches.

Veggie wraps with a soft herbed low fat cheese or soy cheese or marinated tofu.


Anonymous said...

*** Lots of veggie protein: tofu/soy, veggie burgers, quorn, seitan, tempeh, ...***
*** Samosas; an Indian pastry filled with an indian curry (usually potatoes and peas). ...***

Here's a mind-blowing combination of the two that has become a favourite with my family: Samosa filled with Quinova (quinoa tempeh). Quinova is a new vegan meat-substitute food, made from organic quinoa. More info on company website

PS Wifey is a post-doc with lots of research on aroma and essential oils versus human skin. I am a veggie. And a believer in alternative therapy from natural foods and stuff, so your blog caught my eye.

lidarick said...

Did you try stevia (or stivia?) as a sweetener? My mother is diabetics and using the stevia powder (since it's good for baking too), while I prefer it liquid.

Solarkat said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the suggestion and the link. It sounds delicious :)


Solarkat said...

Hi Lidia,

I haven't tried stevia yet. Thanks for the tip :) I've researched it some, and there seems to be a debate on whether or not it is suitable for hypoglycemics (since some sources say it is well tolerated by hypoglycemics and others say that it can aggrevate blood sugar problems by lowing blood sugar). I'll probably try it eventually.