Culinary Challenge? Game On!

Written by Alma Schneider

In my last blog post, my second opinion confirmed that I did indeed have prediabetes. As horrible as this was, I needed to accept my confirmed sugar levels and move forward.  I tried to be positive and think of all the ways in which I had the foundation of healthy food and lifestyle habits, and how I had a successful record of making healthy changes to my life. I was ready to push this even further!

I planned on taking walks to get more exercise and to de-stress. I already knew about healthy shopping, prepping and cooking of wholesome foods—I'd been teaching these things for years in my TakeBacktheKitchen workshops. I was already ahead of the game by belonging to a vegetable co-op, and made a point to regularly incorporate vegetables into my dishes. I thought about how I would tweak my meals to make them even more healthy which both excited me and kind of depressed me.

You see, I like a culinary challenge. I like figuring out how to prepare foods that have certain requirements like no dairy, no sugar and no gluten and making creative substitutions. The deflating aspect of this new regimen, however, was that the substitutions seemed so much more limiting now and less appealing.  With the gluten substitutions, for example, I had been making a lot of chick pea flour breads. I now was finding out that chick peas have a low glycemic index but still had carbs. I also thrived on the ever so healthy lentil hummus, fava bean hummus and white bean hummus. All of these now needed to be limited because they were also carb filled. Limiting these for a few weeks to get a good blood sugar reading from my doctor was doable but doing it forever? That stinks! 

In all honesty, I really do not care for vegetables (don’t tell my kids). The only way I can enjoy vegetables is to serve them with, you guessed it, carbs! I like them with quinoa, brown rice, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and parsnips or a pasta made with black bean flour. I imagined a boring dinner plate filled with just broccoli and zucchini and this made me sad. Very sad.

But then I remembered: FATS! I read that I could eat delicious, creamy fats! Avocados, cheese, nuts-I LOVE these foods. Instead of incorporating all that brown rice into my menu, I could substitute grains and other starches with tasty, healthy fats! Maybe I actually would feel satisfied.

Now for tackling the other nagging issues about this diagnosis, like socializing and modifying menus with the family which would take some getting used to. I was finding that I wasn’t getting excited to go out to dinner or parties where the main draw used to be the food. I even felt a little self-conscious socializing since I had to decline carb-y foods. Whether it was true or perceived, I worried that people would not believe me about the prediabetes, and would think I was avoiding the bread basket and dessert to stay thin. I did not like having to say “no thank you” when the molten chocolate cake was offered to me. I really wanted it! I also wanted to be able to have fun with my kids and get a frozen yogurt or ice cream every once in a while since they were starting to think I was a stick in the mud when it came to never eating junk. For my kids, candy equals happiness and let’s face it, it often does.

Nevertheless, I held to it for my health and did what I was instructed to do. That is, until I didn’t. Stay tuned for the next blog post where I enter the angry, rebellious stage of  my prediabetes diagnosis. It’s not pretty.