As a budding nutritionist in school and a veteran food writer with a natural curiosity for all things that come in a glass or on a plate, I experimented with scores supplement routines, alternative therapies, healing modalities and a wealth of different nutrition plans.
Some of them were incredibly extreme and complicated to follow, but I’ve always been a person who can follow through with any goal I set for myself – I just do it! So when I was given a blood sugar stabilizing diet of eating 3 meals and 3 snacks a day I threw myself into it. I read all the assigned material and it began to dawn on me that this diet would keep your blood sugar at a certain constant level – but would it not be better to just lower it and keep it lowered?
Blood sugar fluctuations as you probably already know is not the greatest thing for your body. Constant spikes and drops send insulin levels through the roof, can cause fatigue and sleepiness, insatiable cravings for carbohydrates, irritability, brain fog and if not addressed, will lead to insulin resistance and eventually obesity and diabetes.
So I began to research blood sugar issues and found there are a few things that can help not only stabilize blood sugar levels but keep them in a normal range. You can remove all refined carbohydrates from your diet, you can skip a meal, you can eat more healthy fats and you can time your meals so you eat in an 8 to 10-hour window every day.
Of course, I did all four. From my diet, I cut out the five most blood sugar disruptive foods: refined sugar and flour, rice, potatoes, and all dairy products. What was left I discovered was an almost comically long list of vegetables with meat added in for flavour and a good dose of healthy fats. Yes, vegetables are carbohydrates but fresh vegetables are what we call a whole food, that is the sugar is balanced with fibre, vitamins, minerals and an abundance of other nutrients so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels as a refined product that is solely sugar does.
So what did I eat? I had giant, colourful salads that looked more like Buddha bowls with seeds, nuts, marinated artichokes, black olives, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil. When I wasn’t chowing down on a large salad, my plate was full of sautéed vegetables cooked in butter with whatever meat I felt like eating. I had marinated flank steaks, roasted lamb shanks, simmering duck legs, grilled salmon and lots of glistening shrimp and scallops. Breakfast was an egg or two cooked in butter or a savoury soufflé (ok, I broke the dairy rule for this). I ate as much as I wanted as long as I stuck to my rules of no refined carbs. Basically, I was living like a queen!
When I began, my diet was already pretty healthy so I didn’t think that cutting out these five ingredients would be such a huge deal. Boy, was I wrong. The first four days were not so dramatic, but then it happened – my body suddenly clicked into a different mode. I had an overwhelming feeling of contentment, my body felt lighter, I lost all cravings for carb or comfort foods and the excess fat on my body started to melt away.
That’s when I decided not to eat if I wasn’t hungry. At first, I skipped one meal a day and to my surprise, I could go without food almost all day long if I wanted! As long as I stuck to whole foods and drank plenty of clean liquids (water, herbal tea, and bone broth), my body was content and I was somehow happier.
After a few weeks of eating this way I had lost inches around my middle, inflammation disappeared, I was sleeping better at night, my moodiness and irritability was gone, I had a high and consistent levels of good energy, I didn’t experience anxiety, I started exercising again, could think clearer and – my blood sugar levels were consistently in the normal range and stable.
I’m proud to say that during the holidays I only fell off the wagon once – I had a glass of champagne at New Years. For the most part, there were so many great foods to eat that it was easy for me, but then I’ve always had a pretty good diet to begin with and that definitely helped. I think if anyone eats a lot of refined and packaged foods, then they may have a more difficult time and it may take longer to reach the same results, but it is possible. Eating this way reminds me of my grandparents who ate mostly from the garden, preserved food for winter, made their own sausages and almost bathed in olive oil (they consumed so much).
It’s been about four months since I started this way of eating. I have scaled back on the fats (the initial high levels are important for satiation) and I have allowed some grass-fed, non-homogenized dairy products and some quality cheeses back into my diet (not the refined dairy so common today). I no longer have a taste for pasta, pizza, bread, pastries or any other calorie-dense, nutrient-poor, refined carbohydrate.
My family asks me if I’ll stick to this diet and I try to explain, “it’s not a diet”. It’s a change in the way I eat that supports a healthier me. So yea, I’ll stick to it because removing refined sugar and flour, rice, potatoes and dairy will go down as one of the best things I’ve ever done for my health.
My Favourite Breakfast
1 portobello mushroom cap, dirt dusted off
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
large handful of spinach
1 red chili (optional)
1 tsp butter
1 tomato slice
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450F. Place the portobello, rib-side up on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and turn it over to let the excess moisture drain.
Meanwhile, in a skillet add the olive oil and chili (if using) and warm over medium heat. Add the spinach and let cook for 5 minutes until well wilted and water has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the spinach, add the butter and let it melt. Crack in an egg and let it cook over medium heat to your liking.
Put it all together by placing the mushroom on a plate, top with spicy spinach, then the tomato slice and finally the egg. Season and enjoy.
Cooking Tip #1: This recipe serves 1 but easily multiplies to accommodate the number of diners.
Cooking Tip #2: If you prepare your vegetables in bulk, you will already have cooked mushrooms and sauteed spinach on hand and all that’s left to do for this quick and easy breakfast is to cook the egg while the vegetables are warming in the oven and enjoy.
To learn how to eat healthy, for time-saving cooking tips, how to stock a healthy pantry and more check out FOOD 101, an introduction to medicine that tastes good. It’s a 5-week program to get you started on a change in eating that you will love too!