Vegetarian Low Glycemic Foods

>> Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So, I guess I should just start by sharing that I’m not eating zero sugar. Still, I had been dealing with some major sugar highs and lows, dizziness, and other weird symptoms from eating too many carbs and sweet things. What started out as a mission to level out my blood sugar quickly turned into a quest for more protein. I have discovered that a lot of the low glycemic foods I am choosing to fill my stomach with are also the ones I need to fill other nutritional gaps in my diet.

What I was eating before, at least on the surface, didn’t seem that horrible to me. Then I started to see how I was relying on bread to make up the bulk of basically every meal -- after have evaluating myself for this same issue multiple times in the past.

I’d begin the day with a homemade bagel, have a sandwich for lunch, and then pasta, pizza, and quesadillas for dinner. Of course, I’d mix in fruits and veggies, too, but bread was still the main filler, the thing I’d go back for seconds of. When the meal was over, I’d snack on chocolate chip cookies and other baked goods. So, more sugary carbs.

I was eating basically everything on this Foods to Avoid list.

It’s easy to see how my blood sugar was rising and falling all day long. I’d reach 2 pm and feel like I needed a nap, but I couldn’t figure out why I was so tired. Obviously, if you’ve been reading here long, you know I’ve experienced this sort of stuff before. But it’s funny how easily you can slip back into bad habits.

This time around, the dizziness has prompted me to seriously reevaluate the situation. I noticed I’d actually get lightheaded a little while after a sugar-heavy meal. When I swapped foods, I’ve been without this awful symptom every since, even with the occasional treat.

Here’s some of the foods I’ve been enjoying:
  • Cottage cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Tofu
  • Fish*
  • Nuts
  • Homemade peanut butter
  • Avocados
  • Barley
  • Ezekiel Bread
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Almond milk
  • Berries
  • But usually vegetables over fruits


Notice anything about this list? 

Yeah. Me, too. A lot of these foods are also vegetarian protein sources. In all the bread I was eating before, I calculated that I was maybe getting half my protein requirement . . . at most. (I’m using this scale, which says I should get around 75-80 grams each day.) Now? I’m not having trouble meeting that mark almost every single day.

* You also notice fish. I've been a vegetarian for a long time. I have absolutely no desire to eat fish from a craving or taste perspective. In fact, it’s like taking medicine for me right now. I experimented with cooking it for dinner last week to see if it might be a good protein to add to the mix (Stephen eats fish). I’m still not sold, but I will likely try it a few more times because when I had finished the meal -- we cooked tilapia in foil pockets with a mix of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, lemon, and herbs atop some cauliflower rice with sautéed kale on the side -- I did feel pretty great. Clear-headed.


That being said, I have easily been able to meet protein requirements eating totally vegetarian and also low sugar, which is great. Here’s a sample of what I ate yesterday.


Steel-cut oats with pumpkin
1/2 cup Greek yogurt in the mix
2 tablespoons homemade peanut butter

25 grams protein


2 eggs scrambled with 1 ounce of cheese mixed in
2 slices Ezekiel bread
1 avocado (spread on the toast)

30 grams protein


1 cup soy milk with protein powder

20 grams protein


Roasted butternut squash + portabella mushrooms
Homemade miso-tahini dressing
Homemade WW naan bread (Greek yogurt in recipe)
1 serving tofu

20 grams protein

For the day, that’s around 95 grams of protein. I mean, wow. I seriously doubt I was getting anywhere close to that in the past. And I didn’t feel tired or foggy-headed all day long. I did have a dessert with some sugar -- 2 tablespoons of cookie butter from Trader Joe’s. Otherwise, I think I did really well keeping the sugar low.

And why do I care so much about the protein? It keeps me fuller for longer. It helps curb the cravings.

This post ended up being a bit less organized than I had intended, but I hope it is helpful to you. I think it’s easy as a vegetarian to get caught up in a carb rut, especially this time of year. During the spring and summer months, I eat a ton more fresh produce from the market, and as the temperatures drop -- the offerings dwindle and I’m lured more by comfort foods and treats!

If you have questions and thoughts, I’d love to hear ‘em!

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