Dietary Restrictions: No Carbs, No Cholestorol
April 7, 2007 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I have a friend/roommate with some interesting dietary restrictions. Any help?

Apparently her condition is some sort of pre-diabetic one, and the limitations are similar to those of someone on the Atkins diet (although she is not). So, no carbs - meaning not only no bread but also really no fruit or things with sugar. Apparently berries are ok because they have lots of fiber.

Additionally, she has recently been diagnosed with high cholestorol, probably because one of the only breakfast foods that she can prepare easily and quickly are eggs. So she's trying to steer clear of foods with any cholestorol in them. So far, she has been pretty much eating oatmeal and this truly awful concoction. As a lover of ingredients and food, it kills me to watch her do this. She has also expressed a desire to try different things, but is not a terribly adventurous cook. So I'm specifically looking for easy, quick things that would be relatively easy to make.

To be honest, I sort of doubt the validity of some of her restrictions (personally, I would have gotten a second opinion), but that's not the point. I'm just trying to give her some suggestions.

Additionally, I think she is going to see a nutritionist as well, who can hopefully give her some more specific pointers and ideas. Until then, hope me AskMe you're my only help, etc. etc. etc.
posted by rossination to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Egg white omelettes with onions and peppers would be a decent cholesterol-free breakfast. Sear some tomatoes and you're golden.

If she wants to check out diabetic-friendly recipes, anything with a low GI should be good.
posted by glip at 1:06 PM on April 7, 2007

GI = glycemic index... when I read "low GI" I saw it as "lower gastrointestinal"
posted by rolypolyman at 1:08 PM on April 7, 2007

Oh - I also ought to mention - she doesn't really like soups (how could you not like soup!?!?). So those are probably out.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by rossination at 1:11 PM on April 7, 2007

Lentils, refried beans, beans in general if they're made without pork or seasoning meat, hummus....Or were you mainly looking for breakfast foods?
posted by dilettante at 1:16 PM on April 7, 2007

[All foods are good].

OK, I'm going to stop over-moderating here.
posted by rossination at 1:19 PM on April 7, 2007

There is really no reason for her to eat *no* carbs. She should be eating whole grains and carbs with a low glycemic index, like glip mentioned.

Sprouted wheat bread is often a much lower glycemic index than regular bread. She might want to look into that along with lowfat sandwich fillings to have an easy lunch.

Lowfat cottage cheese topped with frozen raspberries that have been heated in the microwave with some Splenda (they get sorta syrupy) is really heavenly.

Quiche cups made with egg whites are a good, easy to prepare in advance, idea for breakfast or snacks or whenever.

Sauteeing chicken with some onions and fajita spices is great - if she can't have it in a low carb tortilla, it's good over a salad too.
posted by tastybrains at 1:22 PM on April 7, 2007

I recently experimented with cutting out most carbs because I am becoming a fatty fat fat (I'm back on them with a vengeance now, but I kept at it for a couple of weeks). I found that almost anything that is good over rice, noodles, or jacket potatoes will probably be good over salad leaves. Chicken breast sauteed with peppers, tomatoes, and italian spices and sprinkled with a tiny bit of feta is really good over spinach. Chili with minced beef and red beans over iceberg, sprinkled with a little cheddar and topped with soured cream. Chinese-style stir fry is awesome over a big pile of chopped, lightly sauteed cabbage. Try to work beans and other legumes in as much as possible, because no carbs could mean a serious lack of fiber, and that will make going to the toilet absolutely no fun at all.

The absolutely-no-carb rule does sound a bit strange, but perhaps her doctor is starting with this hard-and-fast rule so her body can maybe make a u-turn from its pre-diabetic state and is planning to introduce a small amount of carbs in the future. I am not a doctor so I really have no idea, it's just an idea. And you're awesome for being such a good friend.
posted by Wroksie at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

So, no carbs - meaning not only no bread but also really no fruit or things with sugar. Apparently berries are ok because they have lots of fiber.

There are other very-high-fiber fruits, particularly dried figs. Apples and pears are as high in fiber as strawberries. Perhaps her doctor gave her sort of simplified dietary guidelines that she is further interpreting?

NutritionData is helpful for analysing foods. She can search by low GI and low cholesterol and see what pops up in any given category.
posted by desuetude at 1:47 PM on April 7, 2007

she has recently been diagnosed with high cholestorol, probably because one of the only breakfast foods that she can prepare easily and quickly are eggs.

Most grocery stores now have some form of pre-separated egg white-based egg substitute, e.g. egg beaters -- if she scrambles the eggs these are even easier than real eggs.

But she may want to know that, saturated fat intake (and trans-fat intake) is a much more significant factor in high HDL levels in the blood than actual consumption of dietary cholesterol directly. Here's a source via google. Relevant quote: "In a study of over 80,000 female nurses, Harvard researchers actually found that increasing cholesterol intake by 200 mg for every 1000 calories in the diet (about an egg a day) did not appreciably increase the risk for heart disease." So what she needs to cut from her diet are saturated and trans-fats, while leaving unsaturated fats. She really should go see a nutritionist about all this...
posted by advil at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2007

Apparently her condition is some sort of pre-diabetic one

What EXACTLY is her condition? 'cause everydiabetic class that I've been too since being diagnosed says that carbs are ok, just in tight moderation. For instance, based on my size and activity level, I only have 30 grams carbs (a pack of granola bars or 40oz bagel) in the morning.

You're right to question these restrictions, they sound very odd.

If she's overweight, she needs to start getting regular exercise, that'll help A LOT.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:19 PM on April 7, 2007

Seconding the "good" carbs. How about stuff with omega-3 content, like fish or flaxseed? The omega-3s are supposed to help with LDL cholesterol. There are breads, cereals, even snack chips with flaxseed in them now, or she could even stir some ground flaxseed into her oatmeal. Plus salmon, tuna, etc. are good protein sources.
posted by cabingirl at 2:27 PM on April 7, 2007

How about unsweetened yogurt with raspberries or another sanctioned fruit, and maybe a sprinkling of some almonds or other nuts?
posted by bassjump at 2:40 PM on April 7, 2007

If she can eat oatmeal, then obviously she's allowed to eat carbs. She just needs to eat high-fiber whole-grain carbs. So she could probably try brown rice, or barley. For breakfast she could probably do high-fiber cereals. She should switch to egg whites or 'egg beaters' if she enjoys her current breakfast. Seriously, there are lots of options. Try buying a "g.i. diet" cookbook for lots of possiblities.
posted by Kololo at 3:10 PM on April 7, 2007

That disgusting "mock danish" thing you posted has 34% of a day's saturated fat, which is probably doing more to raise her cholesterol than any eggs might (plus, it has an egg, so WTF?) I second the advice to go see a nutritionist, because what you say your friend is suffering from and what she is eating do not add up.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:43 PM on April 7, 2007

Shrimp sauted in margarine with garlic, black pepper and a little red pepper flakes.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:03 PM on April 7, 2007

If she is switching to high-fiber whole grains rather than refined carbs, which is what it sounds like (and which is always good dietary advice), then one option would be grape nuts or a similar cereal with non-fat yogurt and berries. Or any whole grain cereal and skim milk. Whole wheat toast with peanut butter or almond butter. There are also a lot of soy-based fake meat products out there - I like the morningstar fake bacon.

Other than breakfast foods - more beans/legumes, and more veggies, as everyone else has been saying.

And definitely get more clarity from a nutritionist! There's no reason to eat badly on just about any diet, and nutritionists should have lots of good ideas on how to make it work.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:43 PM on April 7, 2007

Nice of you to want to help your friend out.

I have heard that oats are supposed to have cholesterol lowering properties, which is probably why she was told to eat them.

Having said that they are clearly carbs - so she should be ok with some starchy veg like root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips) and sweet potato and squashes - in addition to leafy veg and protein....that would open up a host of meal options...

It would proably help if you both don't focus on the food she is not allowed but on the host of foods open to her which she has never explored...if she tries a little bit of something new every day she is bound to find loads of new foods she really likes...

As for breakfast - if she is happy to eat non-breakfast specific foods she could just eat the kind of stuff she eats for lunch/dinner at breakfast, too. There is after all no law to say you have to have cereals for breakfast or indeed in your diet and many people do well without including grains of any significance in their diet.

What sort of protein is she eating - if her protein choices are highly processed I would suggest you go shopping together and get some fresh/frozen fish or meat to prepare from scratch. This does not have to take long (foil baked cod, stir fry) but you loose all the c@&* which is added in processing.

Good luck.
posted by koahiatamadl at 2:02 AM on April 8, 2007

I think one of the key things to a low-carb diet, and one of the reason why a lot of the meat-obsessed guys fail on them, is that you're supposed to eat lots of vegetables, in fact to get most of your carbs from vegetables rather than from starches.

Some diets allow whole-grain stuff, too.

That, plus plenty of chicken and fish. Frozen chicken tenders are real easy to stir-fry and the fish are real good on a Foreman grill.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:26 AM on April 8, 2007

There are other very-high-fiber fruits, particularly dried figs. Apples and pears are as high in fiber as strawberries. Perhaps her doctor gave her sort of simplified dietary guidelines that she is further interpreting?

The usual reasons that diabeticcs & people watching their carbs tend to choose berries are that they are lower in sugar than other fruits, not necessarily because they are higher in fiber. Many other fruits, especially dried fruits, are extremely high in sugar and can have a similar effect on blood sugar levels as candy.
posted by tastybrains at 9:51 AM on April 10, 2007

Raspberries in particular are high in fiber, which is probably where the "berries are okay because they're high in fiber" statement by the OP came from.

Here's what Nutritiondata does when you search for fruits highest in fiber and lowest in sugars.
posted by desuetude at 11:29 AM on April 10, 2007

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