One of the biggest ways I keep my sugar under control is by carb counting. 15 grams of carbs equals one carb unit. For breakfast, I generally eat 2-3 carbs (depending on how low my sugar is when I wake up, and how long I’m on the treadmill). For lunch, it’s usually 2-3 carb units (depending on if I walk at lunch). For dinner, 1 or 2.
Because my carbs are limited, but I’m still a hungry girl, I’m always on the hunt for food that is low in carbohydrates, but still tastes good. (Not all low-carb food is created equal.) I take forever in the grocery store (drives my husband batty) because I scan the shelves for anything new and read labels religiously.
I mostly shop at Strack and Van Til, a grocery store that’s maybe a step above a Food For Less, and a step below a Dominick’s or a Jewel. They carry a lot of stuff, they carry it fairly cheaply and the store is a clean, well-lighted place (my homage to Hemingway). It’s not a specialty store by any means.
So, here are some of my favorite finds that fit in with my eating plan…
1. Ocean Spray Diet Cranberry Spray
carbs: 2g for 8oz.
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, the hardest thing to give up was juice. I know I can still have some, and I do, but I used to drink a lot of juice. I would rather have a glass of juice than a glass of pop, milk, water or beer. The Cranberry Spray is awesome—I feel like I’m drinking juice, but I’m not getting all the carbs. I can actually pour a large glass.
2. Carr’s Cheese Melts
carbs: 7g for 3 crackers
A big cracker, big taste and I can eat six (SIX) of them if I’m looking for a one-carb snack. I feel like I’m cheating even though I’m not. One of my more recent finds, and as you can see from the box, a newer product on the market. The time before last when I went to the grocery store they were out of them. The horror! The last time I went, I bought two boxes, just in case…
3. Reese Imported Original Holland Rusk Light Crisp Toast carbs:
11g for 2 pieces
It’s like toast in a box, only it’s not a box, just some cylinder-shaped paper. I’ve always been a big bread girl, but it doesn’t always fit into my eating plan. When I discovered these, I was thrilled. Now I can have peanut-butter on toast and not break the carb bank. And since they’re already toasted, I can bring them to work for lunch (I don’t have a kitchen at work, and bringing homemade toast from home leaves me with a soggy piece of bread by lunchtime). P.S. They’re also great for tuna melts…
4. La Fuerza del Sabor Healthier Choices Whole Wheat Wraps
carbs: 13g for 1 wrap
These are like tortillas, which are usually two carb units while these are only one. I make my turkey-spinach-Neufchatel wraps with these, enchiladas and quesadillas. They come in different flavors (spinach, jalapeno), but I like the whole wheat version. (Sorry! I couldn’t find a photo and my camera skills are lacking. They come in a plastic bag just like regular tortillas.)
5. Damascus Bakeries Whole Wheat Roll Ups
carbs: 17g for 1 roll up
I discovered these before the La Fuerza Wraps and used to make everything from them. They’re rectangular shaped and have a little more substance to them. While they made an okay enchilada, they just don’t work as good as La Fuerza. HOWEVER, these are awesome for making flat-bread pizzas. I love pizza but it doesn’t always agree with my blood sugar, so this is a great alternative. I stick a roll up in the oven until it gets crispy, then pull it out and add all my toppings and stick it back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts. It’s filling and fabulous. Plus, I get to do whatever toppings I want, and I do try everything. I made a pretty spectacular green olive, mozzarella, blue cheese, feta, mushroom pizza the other night…
6. Tropicana Light N Healthy Orange Juice
carbs: 13g for 8oz
As I said, I’m a former juice addict. And while 8oz doesn’t always seem like enough, it’s enough to keep my addiction in check. And when I’m sick and I have a cold, there’s nothing that makes me feel a little better like a little orange juice. The fact that the Light N Healthy version has 1/2 the carbs as the regular version makes that glass easier to swallow. And because I don’t want to fill this whole blog with juice, I’ll just add that the Welch’s White Grape Light juice is the same deal and also a staple in my pantry.
7. Kozy Shack No Sugar Added Tapioca
carbs: 11g for one serving-size cup
I love dessert and sweets, even though my carb counts don’t always let me have them. (Although I’ve been known to forgo “real” and “healthy” food for dessert…) When I do want something creamy and sweet, this is a perfect snack. I’ve read that they also have No Sugar Added Butterscotch Pudding but have yet to be able to locate it.
8. Sugar Free Jell-O
Okay, I’ve read some debates online about this and how it’s a scam and really does affect sugar levels, but it doesn’t affect mine, so it’s still a favorite. I tend to binge on Jell-O for a while, then ignore it for a couple months, then go back. Since summer is arriving (supposedly, although doubtful here in Chicago), I’m back on the Jell-O kick. I buy the snack packs for convenience and because I like the taste better than making it myself. As such, I buy the black cherry/cherry and the lime/orange version. (I can’t wrap my mind around Watermelon Jell-O.) Also a must: Cool Whip for the top. The carbs are negligent as long as you don’t over-do and eat the whole tub (no, I never have).
9. Ziploc Bags
No, not really a food item, but a necessity. I used to buy the 100 Calorie Packs, which are almost always 1 carb unit. Then I realized (duh) it would be cheaper to buy the product in its regular size and divvy it up in 1 carb unit portions in Ziploc baggies. So I buy the big bag of pretzels or Cheez-Its, do a little math and use my trusty digital scale to measure out the right portions. Then I stock them in my food bowl in the kitchen and grab one for my lunch or whenever I need a boost.
10. Kellogg Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars
carbs: 26g for one bar
Definitely NOT low-carb, but a necessity in my life. These are one of the things I discovered that will help raise my sugar and keep it pretty steady for a little while. In the morning, if I’m low when I wake up and I want to hit the treadmill, I eat half of one of these and it carries me through my workout. In the afternoon at work if I dive-bomb for no reason, I can eat half a one and make it through the rest of the day, and still be able to eat a normal dinner. I rarely eat a whole one at once, unless I’m pressed for time at breakfast and eat one while I’m driving to work. The good news is that I like them stale almost more than I like them fresh, so the half a bar that sits there for a day, loosely wrapped in its packaging, tastes pretty good the next morning. I like the Cherry and the Mixed Berry versions.
So there you go. I know there’s lots more out there that I haven’t tried yet, so if anyone has any great low-carb or good food finds, let me know.
As always, more to come…