Highs and Lows

“Yes, but those spikes in insulin cause weight gain and all sorts of horrible diseases!”

“Mmm hmm, mmm hmm…”  Inside, I was saying “Blah, blah, blah!  Whatever!”  I was on the phone with my mom and she was, once again, defending her low carb lifestyle.

I did Atkins once.  I pretty much killed or nearly killed everyone around me within one week’s time.  Atkins + Mac = homicidal… or at least general bitchiness.  Anything that makes me feel like I could single handedly initiate world wide Armageddon can’t possibly be healthy.

Fast forward to the very  next day.  I was just finishing up my grocery shopping trip, walking out to my car when, WOAH!!!  What was that?  For a split second I was actually losing consciousness.  In every other way, I felt fine… I felt like I could have been one of the victims of the recently canceled “Flash Forward”.  If the sky had been glowing, it might have felt like “LOST” which would have been infinitely cooler.  But no, I drove the five blocks home as quickly as I could, because with NO warning whatsoever, I had nearly passed out!

Fast forward to the ER visit my OB/GYN instructed me to make as soon as I got her on the phone.  A tall, middle-aged man in a lab coat introduced himself as the doctor handling my case.  A simple finger stick had confirmed I was hypoglycemic, and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich they fed me had me feeling much better.  “You see, you’re not a teenager any more.”  (Why do those words sound so hateful?)  “You can’t just eat all the carbs you want and not expect a crash later!”  I already saw where this was going.  “Concentrate your diet with fewer carbs, more proteins and fats.  Especially in your condition.” (I’m pregnant.)  “You’ll have to talk to your OB/GYN about a diet plan that will work for you.  I like to carry packets of nuts and trail mix with me to snack on throughout the day, but of course, I work out quite a bit…”  Are you KIDDING me?! “You see, we think fats are the problem, but its actually the carbs that cause these insulin spikes and inevitably can cause all kinds of diseases if we let it get out of hand…”  And now I’m talking to my mom again?!  I grabbed some extra peanut butter packets, payed my $50 and got myself home.

I’d like to say I changed my life after this… but no.  I just tried to snack more often.

Fast forward to last Monday.  I get a message from Stephanie.  She’s in a bind, and needs someone to stay with her 5 billion children while she runs an important errand.  I had plenty of notice that morning.  I knew where she had to be and when she had to be there, but I admit, time got away from me, and I didn’t feed my son before I got to her house, close to 1PM.  She greeted me apologizing profusely:  At the mercy of others while she scrambled to get everything ready to get out the door, she hadn’t had the chance to get her kids their lunch yet, either.  What followed was an adventure of epic proportions.

It has never taken longer for a pot a macaroni and cheese to boil.

The youngest was the first to start screaming.  My own son soon wondered into the kitchen… seeing a baby screaming, he seemed to think he needed to do the same thing.  I tried to tide him over with juice, but nothing seemed to make him happy.  One by one, and in order of age, each child made their way into the kitchen, each with a unique compliant, and each started bawling.  None of them complained of being hungry, except for possibly the oldest boy, who, when I asked why he was crying, could calm himself just long enough to utter some indistinguishable mumbles.  I’m pretty sure the gates of Hell sound exactly like Stephanie’s house when food is late to the table.  (This must be how she found her passion for cooking.)  I was also starving, and also felt close to tears as I tried to figure out how I was supposed to calm all these babies and still get lunch finished.

Rewind to the night before.  (I know.  Non-linear storytelling is overrated, but bear with me.)  My husband had just left for a week-long work trip.  I was pretty much beside myself.  It’s not that we’ve never been apart, but for some reason, I was just seriously bummed out this time.  I had been moping all night.  The loneliness hit even harder after I put my kiddo in bed.  Overall, the world was just seeming like a dark dark place, and once again, I felt close to tears.  Enter a fresh bowl of strawberries.  Within minutes… I felt rational again.  Marcus would be back, and I would even get to see him for a mid-week visit.  Within an hour… the world was a bright happy place again.  I wasn’t depressed after all!  I was just hungry!

Back to Stephanie’s kitchen with thousands of screaming babies.  Don’t fire me, Stephanie, but I just realized it was time to ignore everyone and just get the dang food on the table!  Within minutes: Silence.  Mouths were full, tears were dried.  We started up a rousing game of Bee Bee Bumblebee.  The rest of the visit was spent peacefully playing, showing each other silly kid tricks, enjoying some classic Elmo… as soon as they were fed, her 400 million kids were about as easy to care for as my singleton.

Well, THIS experience, much more than my tall middle-aged doctor that works out all the time, has had me changing my mind about watching those blood sugar levels. I’m finding my mood swings aren’t so much a pregnancy symptom as a symptom of poor nutrition. Those life changing 10 minutes waiting for the macaroni to boil got me digging out some of my old health food books to look for things with plenty of proteins, good fats, and unprocessed carbs.  If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s probably the best place to start!  Here’s my own protein pancake recipe.  A food processor and an electric griddle will get a week’s worth made up in about 30 minutes, but I’ve done it using just a blender and a skillet.

1.  Heat up that griddle!  I pump it up to 400 degrees.

2.  Run three cups of old fashioned oats in the food processor till it’s like flour.

3.  Toss in one 24 oz carton of low-fat cottage cheese, one 16 oz carton of egg substitute, a splash of vanilla, a few shakes of cinnamon, and six packets of your favorite sweetener.  Blend till it’s batter!

4.  Use your 1/4  measuring cup to scoop your pancakes onto the griddle.  It depends on the variety of egg substitute and the brand of cottage cheese exactly how they’ll cook up on the griddle.  A runnier consistency will have bubbles on top when it’s ready to flip, while a thicker consistency will require you to watch a little closer.

Makes apx. 20 pancakes.  I refrigerate or freeze them and pop them in the toaster throughout the week.  Last night, my son kept helping himself to the stack I had cooling on the counter!  It’s great snack for toddlers that are picky about meats and other proteins.  I like to top with a good brand of sugar free maple syrup, (such as Smucker’s) or sometimes just some fruit.  The options are endless!

Do you have stories of low blood sugar woes?  Or do you have great ways to hide extra protein in your meals?  Please share.  My husband and son will thank you.

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