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The Man's Guide to Living with Type 2 Diabetes
Okay, so ya got Type 2 Diabetes, huh, fella? Yeah, that sucks. You can't eat what ya want, you have to take medicine, you have to check your blood sugar, too bad. That's what happens when you don't take care of yourself. But it's all good. You can be a diabetic and still not turn in your man card. So, without further ado, I now present:
THE MAN'S GUIDE FOR LIVING WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES
Now the first thing you have to do is realize that you can still eat manly food and manage your diabetes. And what's more manly than MEAT? Yup, you can have all the meat you want, as long as it isn't processed, like lunch meat usually is. That's because meat generally has no carbohydrates. And it's carbs we have to avoid, because that produces too much insulin for your body to process, and that leads to high blood sugar and thus, diabetes.
Meat is something all red-blooded American males love, but you need to be a bit more selective when going to the grocery store. (Hey, there's nothing wrong with spending an hour at the local Weis or Safeway, particularly if you're buying meat.) You should try to avoid fatty meats. Try buying lean meats, especially anything above 90 percent lean, because the body processes it faster. The more lean meat you eat, the better you feel. So always get the leanest cuts possible.
And if you hunt or have a buddy who hunts, grab all the deer meat you can. Venison is naturally lean, and as long as you get younger deer, it's quite tasty. The younger deer meat also isn't as gamey as say, a 10-point buck. I had problems eating the stuff because of the ungodly smell that emanates when you cook it, but if you can stand a little deer stench, it's not bad, and usually more tender than regular beef or pork. In fact, any wild game is usually leaner than the traditional fare you find at the grocery store. It's not everybody's cup of tea, but it's very good for you.
Now, one of the staples of a man's diet is potatoes. Unfortunately, those are loaded with starch and not really something a diabetic should eat. So much for those french fries with you steak or burger, or hash browns with your bacon or sausage in the morning. Try some veggies, like peas, beans of any kind, or corn. Corn does have a lot of starch in it, but it burns off pretty quickly, so it doesn't stay for long. You can have one baked potato once in a while, but use a margarine substitute and some barbecue sauce or a garnish of chives and salt and pepper to give you the flavor you need.
Mashed potatoes are really high in carbs. Ungodly so. So, be smart. If you must indulge, make a reasonable amount. Not more than two servings. That way you still get your mashed potato fix but you don't go overboard.
Sweet potatoes are also lower in carbs than regular white potatoes, so if you like yams, just substitute those for the white ones, but don't go too far.
WHAT ABOUT SNACKS?
Now, real men love to snack. They like to sit around watching the ball game while munching on a bag of Doritos or cheese puffs or nacho chips and salsa. Not exactly a diabetic-friendly proposition. But what snacks can we have? How about popcorn? Popcorn with just a butter is a good, low-carb snack to eat, and you can eat quite a lot of it. A 10-ounce bag of chips is a good 150-180 carbs, depending on the flavor. A similar amount of popcorn (buttered) would be 60-70 carbs! Not bad.
Actually, I found a happy medium in a product called Popchips. It is a popped version of potato chips that is very low in carbs (54-60 carbs in a 3 oz bag) that can be finished off in one setting, if you're so inclined. And they taste great! I've found them at Walmart, and they're very good.
BUT WHAT ABOUT SWEET STUFF?
Good question. Candy bars are useful for when you have an attack of low blood sugar, but the days of eating the big bars of Hersheys chocolate are over. Instead, try some protein bars. Now, most of them are nasty, chewy, and taste like eating a wet book, but there are some that are pretty good. In particular, Advantage bars, made by the Atkins Diet people, are very nice. I like the peanut butter fudge crisp bars, which have a net total of 7 carbs a bar! Basically, since it has high-fiber and is also made with sugar alcohol, those carbs can be halved and deducted from the total carbs in the product. So, you can have a couple if you want.
There's another product confusingly similarly named AdvantEDGE, which makes tasty protein bars, but their product is all about carb control. Their bars have 28-32 carbs, but are made with 18-21 grams of sugar alcohol. With 5 grams of fiber in each bar, you're talking about 14 net carbs a serving. And they are quite delicious, also.
But what about ice cream? Yeah, I know. You gotta have ice cream, now don't ya? Well, there's are ways to cheat on that, too. Breyers makes Carb Smart ice cream in half-gallons of vanilla and chocolate and in single-serve packs of fudge bars, chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bars in both regular and almond crisp flavors. And the individual ice creams have anywhere from 6-9 net carbs per serving. Breyers use sugar alcohol to make its products carb-friendly, so it's okay to splurge and have a couple at once if you're so inclined.
My favorite grocery store, Weis Markets, also makes a no-sugar added ice cream in many different flavors: vanilla, chocolate, buttered pecan, and my favorite, peanut butter ripple. This product also uses sugar alcohol to keep the carb count down. And honestly, there's no difference in taste between this stuff and the regular version. Kinda comforting when you want something sweet to eat.
Now, cookies and pies are out for the most part, but I cheat with Tastycake's Tandy Takes. A typical package of two cakes are only 20 carbs, so you can have two packs if you want to. It all comes down to reading the packages. Yeah, I know, who wants to read when you don't have to? Just do it. It's not that hard.
BUT WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DRINK?
I could just say water and end it right there, but who wants to drink nothing but water? I drink a bottle every day, and it's all I can do to accomplish that. But unfortunately, fruit juices are out. Except for diet versions, if you can find them. I drink the Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Juice, and honestly, it tastes better than the regular version! But diet juice is hard to find. You're better off just eating the orange or apple and not worrying about drinking that type of juice.
Now we come to the one diet product that most people find disgusting: DIET SODA. Before I got sick, if I accidentally drank diet soda, it would make me want to spit it out. Most people find it repulsive, and I agree to a point. Most diet cola tastes the same. So if you don't want to spend lots of money on Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, just get the store brand. I went out to Walmart today and got 2-liters of Sam's Club for 68 cents each. I mean, really, if you need a diet cola fix, go get a store brand. You won't notice the difference.
But there are some good diet sodas. The IBC Diet Root Beer is pretty good, as is Barq's Diet Root Beer. Diet Orange Crush or Sunkist is not bad. But the big surprise for me was the Weis store brand of Diet Cream Soda. I don't notice a diet <gack> to it. It tastes wonderful, and as a store brand, it's naturally cheaper than name brands. Also, Diet Dr. Pepper gives me the bite I need out of a soda that makes up for the diet taste. Again, Walmart's Diet Dr. Thunder is a low-cost alternative that isn't bad at all. And Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale is pretty decent. So, you can have your soda fix with any of these products right here.
(Warning: DO NOT GET THE DR. PEPPER 10 OR ANY OF THE SODAS THAT ARE 10 CALORIES. They are not diabetic-friendly. A 20-ounce bottle of Dr. Pepper 10 has 5 carbs So, you can't have a load of them, either. Read the labels, folks!)
Diet Teas are a dime a dozen, but I find the Turkey Hill and Gold Peak Diet Teas are pretty good, with Gold Peak having more of homemade fresh-brewed flavor to it. You'll get a carb a serving, so don't guzzle a whole gallon at once, but it's a nice alternative for diabetics.
WHAT ABOUT FAST FOOD?
Yeah, that's a problem. Gone are the days of three Big Macs, a large fry, and a large Coke. But you can still pig out as long as you what to order. When I go to McDonald's, I get a 20-piece Chicken Nuggets (59 carbs), skip the fries, and get a diet soda. Since I don't like McDonald's salad offerings, I go elsewhere and grab a salad with it. And for dessert? I get a cup of soft ice cream (only 27 carbs), and I'm good to go!
Other places have carb-friendly offerings. The local Burger King will make you a low-carb burger, without the bread and the ketchup if you order it that way. I haven't tried their salads yet, but they don't have many carbs. There is one thing to remember when getting salads, though. DON'T GET THE CROUTONS! Croutons are bread, and they mess up the carb count of your salads. Also stick to Italian, Caesar, or Ranch dressings. They all have 1 carb per serving, you can't go wrong with that.
Now, as far as pizza goes, forget it. Pizza is basically bread, so eating any more than one slice is just asking for trouble. An alternative is to make your own, and there are some good recipes on the web, but if you gotta have some pizza, just get it by the slice and have a salad or some other veggies with it. Then, you can be okay.
I love spaghetti. Any kinda pasta, I can eat for days (and have). But pasta, even wheat pasta, is loaded with carbs. So, to get the pasta taste without the carbs, here's my suggestion: Get a pack of meatballs from the frozen food section of your grocery store, pop it in the microwave for four minutes, take it out, and put either spaghetti or pizza sauce on it, topped with a low-fat shredded cheese like mozzarella or jack cheese. Throw it back in the microwave for two minutes, and presto,...you have a nice meal or snack for around 45 carbs. Spaghetti or pizza taste without the spaghetti or pizza. This is one of my cheats that diabetic bachelors can use to make a fast meal. Not hard at all.
I have yet to try spaghetti squash, but I'm told it's very tasty, and a good low-carb alternative to spaghetti. So, I'm gonna do that shortly.
I hope this has been educational for not just cave-man types, but for anyone who wants to eat good food while maintaing their diabetic health. I wish y'all good luck and good eating!