Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tips for going Sugar Free

Guest Post- originally written on February 20, 2009 for a fitness blog my friend writes: Fit Me Pink

I thought I’d offer a few tips for how to go sugar-free, or low-carb. A little about me to introduce myself to the readers… I’m 28 and have 2 kids. I’ve had diabetes for coming up on 8 years. I have type 1 diabetes which means that I am insulin resistant (ie, I have to take insulin to control my sugars and essentially stay alive). Because I was diagnosed as an adult (20 years old) I was basically expected to figure things out for myself. At the time of my diagnosis, I pretty much went information crazy. I looked up everything I could find about diabetes and learned a lot. I continue to read a lot about the condition and find it very fascinating. I love to talk about diabetes and how it affects my life. I also blog about my diabetes occasionally. You can check out those posts on my blog by clicking on the diabetes label link.
Life post-diagnosis has changed in some ways greatly and in other ways very minimally. I can still eat like pretty much every one else, I just have to monitor all of my carbohydrates. As a diabetic, I’m concerned with all sugars: glucose, fructose, and lactose. But what I have to pay attention to most on a food label or food item that I’m eating is the total number of carbohydrates. I count carbs in everything I eat and drink so that I know how much insulin to take. My diet is not completely carbohydrate-free and I don’t really recommend that sort of an approach.

Having children is one way that diabetes greatly impacted my life. I have to monitor my sugars extremely carefully and work really hard at keeping them within a very normal range. I’ve had two healthy baby boys and they both weighed about 8.5 pounds. Their lungs were fully developed and neither boy suffered any post-birth effects from my diabetes. These are my greatest diabetic accomplishments. While living with diabetes can be difficult, there are even days when I forget that I am diabetic, and for that, I am very thankful. It wouldn’t be possible without the help of all of the wonderful diabetic advancements and improvements science has brought us.
Here are my tips for going sugar free! (Very timely for me, with my not-very-successful-so-far-sugar-fast!)
  1. Decide what kind of carbs you want to cut, and then set some goals.
  2. Cut the unnecessary carbs. Desserts and things high in sugar often have an alternative. Be aware that some things that say "sugar-free" or "no sugar added" on the labels actually do have some carbs, so you’ll want to check the label to find out how many. If you compare it with a regular product, you usually notice at least a 20% decrease in total carbohydrates.
  3. Just because it’s "sugar free" doesn’t mean it tastes like cardboard! There are a lot of really good "sugar-free," or "no-sugar-added" products that taste pretty good. Some of my favorites are: Jell-O sugar free pudding, light Dannon yogurt, Smuckers no sugar added jelly, light maple syrup, and Dryer’s slow-churned no-sugar-added ice-cream.
  4. Choose a favorite sugar-free treat...and stock up! There are actually treats out there that have very few carbs, and some have none. 7-11 has a great Crystal Light Slurpee with only 5 calories per 8 ounces and zero carbs. The Cheese Cake Factory sells a "Carb Free" cheesecake that only has 6 carbs! My suggestion is to take it home and add some sugar free cherry pie filling on top!
  5. Eat the good carbs! Fruit and fruit juices are good carbohydrate choices that often satisfy your sweet-tooth!
  6. Try to never drink carbs or calories! There are so many great diet drinks out there…drinking empty calories or carbs really doesn’t make sense. My one exception to this rule is while working out…a good sports drink with some electrolytes can be an excellent choice.
  7. Keep a back up for when you’re feeling you may cave! Gum works really well. Apparently the ever-so-obvious people from product placement at the Biggest Loser think so too!
  8. Choose a day to cheat. Sometimes it’s okay to cheat. Set aside a cheat-day for yourself. One day a week (or less, if you’re brave) is good enough. A friend of mine eats whatever she pleases on Sundays. She doesn’t count calories or carbs on this day, and she’s been able to maintain an 80 pound weigh-loss for 8 years!
  9. Remember how good you feel. Going low-carb can be a difficult thing to do. However, it does make you feel great. My sugars get much more level, and overall I feel so much better. Remember that when you’re about have some leftover birthday cake.
  10. Do it with a buddy. Having support makes things much easier!

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