Wednesday, December 14

The Truth About Pizza

As I pay more attention to the things I eat and their effects on my blood sugar, this is a truth I have learned of late: anytime you see an article with the headline 'The Truth About....', there is a VERY high chance that the article is going to tell you why that thing is so bad for you. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, it is usually something like 'The Truth About Fried Foods', or 'The Truth About Potatoes '. If you don't want to feel guilty from that point forward, DO NOT read past the headline. Usually, by the end of the article, you are armed with all of the reasons WHY dairy products will indeed cause your untimely death. Now, since becoming a person with Diabetes, I have learned which foods I can have that will keep my blood glucose low and I have also learned which foods will cause it to climb completly out of control. Sadly, pizza is one of these 'out of control' things. Now, I LOVE pizza. I cannot look back on my life and remember a time without it. Seriously. The earliest time was when I was about 5 or so. I remember my parents had a friend who owned a Pizza Inn restaurant. I remember eating pizza there. I remember the smell of the place. I also remember that for many years after that, whenever I saw a Pizza Inn, I thought my parents friends owned it. Later on, when I was about 11, we had moved to Houston. I walked to a Pizza Inn near our house with a friend, and proceeded to tell the manager that I knew the owners and they wouldn't mind if we were given a free pizza. He was very kind and smiling, and he did indeed give us a free pizza. I looked very cool in front of my friend, but it turned to embarassment later on when I found out that Pizza Inn's are franchises and our family friend only owned the ONE store. I guess the manager just felt sorry for the arrogant and mis-informed 11 year old, and looking back on it, the 'manager' was probably the owner. I remember having pizza parties. They were all the rage back then, right up there with roller skating parties. Chuck E. Cheese pizza parlor. I even have a picture of me in my little cheerleading uniform with my mom and sisters and a person dressed as a giant RAT (who was supposed to be Chuck E.) at a Chuck E. Cheese pizza party. Then, for awhile, we all loved Mr. Gatti's. Then Godfather's. Then I remember when Pizza Hut came out with a stuffed pizza. I so clearly remember eating that. As I grew older and became involved in drama, we had the cast parties at my house and we always had pizza. In college we had Pizza Hut at least once a week. A large pepperoni, thin and crispy, cooked just so the outer edges of the pepperoni were slightly brown and crisp. OHHHH, just thinking about that sends me into complete ectasy. I LOVE PIZZA! Until recently, I had never had frozen pizza. There was no point, since I lived in America, a vast land of endless pizza eating opportunities. (Well, I had tried pizza rolls back in the 80's, remember those?) Then I married a Norwegian and moved to Norway. Here, everything is expensive. You can get pizza, but it is really not any good and it costs a small fortune. As a result, the Norwegians have a HUGE assortment of frozen pizzas. Like I mentioned before, I have been sort of a frozen pizza snob. They were just sub-standard in the world of pizza. Not being able to afford a 40 dollar pizza, and faced with no other options, I had no choice but to try a frozen pizza here in Oslo. I remember pouting about it in the grocery store. My husband assured me that they were really good, so begrudgingly, I chose one called 'Ristorante Speciale'. It had mozzarella, mushrooms and pepperoni, the all important thin crust AND the mandatory Italian sounding name. So, we bought them and trudged home with our frozen pizzas. Suprisingly good. That is what my verdict was. I'm not sure if it was because it had been so long since I had had a 'thin and crispy' pepperoni pizza, or if it was really that good, but irregardless, it became clear that my pizza eating would go on uninterupted here in Norway.

Then came Diabetes. Pizza and Diabetes are like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, Tom and Jerry, God and the devil, you know, arch enemies. Not just plain old enemies, but ARCH enemies. After having pizza, my blood glucose is so CRAZY high that I often think, 'surely my meter is broken' and test again, but no, it's not broken, my glucose is just CRAZY high. So, what's a girl to do? I truly cannot imagine not being able to eat pizza. Well, I decided to try 'alternative' recipes for pizza. Here is a summary of each of those attempts.

1. Dr. Lindbergh's Low Glycemic Pizza
Here in Norway, Dr. Lindbergh is kind of like the South Beach doctor, Dr. Agaston, except he is not a cardiologist, but an endochronologist. He is a Diabetes doctor and has created an entire diet based on a Low GI approach. Slow carbs they are called. I think elsewhere in the world he is called 'The Greek Doctor', because he is originally from Greece. Anyway, he came out with a frozen pizza for those of us trying to lead a healthy and responsible lifestyle. Well, I tried it. It tasted like cardboard. As I ate my 'special' pizza and my husband had his 'normal' pizza, I found myself getting very grumpy. His looked and smelled 1000 times better, and I knew from experience, that his tasted better. Maybe if we had both been eating the 'special' pizza, it would have been ok, but the low GI pizza simply could not compete. It was not a good experience. But my glucose reading 2 hours afterwards was NORMAL.

2. The Zucchini Crust Pizza
I got this idea off of a South Beach Diet forum. It sounded very promising. So, I whipped up my pizza crust made of zucchini and egg, baked it and topped it with pizza toppings and voila! I had pizza! Except it wasn't. It tasted more like pizza toppings. I think if you are one of those people who just likes the toppings, this is a GREAT alternative. (I have never understood those people who leave the crust when eating pizza. I LOVE the crust. I am a crust girl and am always the one who says 'Are you going to eat those crusts? No? Can I have them?') It was a great idea, but just didn't give you that pizza eating feeling. Plus you had to use a knife and fork. Again, I tested my blood glucose two hours afterwards and it was NORMAL.

3. The Low Carb Soy Flour Crust Pizza
When I found this recipe, I was very excited. The author said that everyone who tried it was saying stuff like 'this is soooo much better than normal pizza!'. I knew it was too good to be true, but I am a sucker for the faint possiblilty that it just might be better. No. It was not. I ended up just scraping off the toppings and eating those. Maybe European soy flour is different, or maybe, it's just mind over matter. Even more annoyingly, 2 hours later, my blood glucose? Yep, NORMAL.

How annoying right????? I think we can all conclude from these experiments that it is the crust on the normal pizza that causes the whacked out blood sugar! The toppings are all the same. Why oh why, must the crust be evil? That is my very favorite part! Clearly it is not the toppings. It's the flour. The beautiful, soft, innocent looking flour. So what is the conclusion? Must I go through life with only my memories of pizza to sustain me? I think not.

Here is my solution. I think this whole Diabetes thing is about a lifestyle. Especially for us Type 2's. We must have a lifestyle change in how we eat. So, that is what I have done. Well, for the most part, that is what I have done. My theory is, if I am good and eating right for 29 days out of the month, there is NO reason why I cannot have a treat on the 30th day. 29 days of good clean eating surely must outweigh one day of NASTY eating right? So, I look forward to day 30 (or sometimes day 31). That one day, enables me to EMBRACE the other 29 or 30. Knowing, that if I can just get through those, my reward awaits me. PIZZA. Real pizza. With a crunchy, crispy crust!!! So, in order to have it, I must make sacrifices elsewhere. What's your 'pizza'? Don't let Diabetes steal your joy in food! Instead, find a way to incorporate your favorites into a new healthy lifestyle. It is worth it and you will be amazed at how much better your favorite food will actually taste when you are not having it everyday!

So, the truth about pizza?? Well, the truth is that there is just no substitute for the real thing.


Elizabeth Snouffer said...

I love your story on Pizza! It is so true. We all negotiate our way through diabetes and figure out how we can manage our diets and still treat ourselves occasionally.
You're right, pizza has always been one of the worst things to eat -- and because the glycemic index of a pizza isn't obvious, we take it for granted. Anything made with potatoes is another totally off the charts food (crisps, chips, fries, baked et al)!
Great blogging! Please keep in touch with me as you are one of my few European comrades!

Pem said...

Good solution! Another possible one is to eat pizza right before going hiking. An afternoon's hike should burn off even pizza.

Allison said...

Hi! My name is Allison, I'm coordinating the OC Diabetes Choice Awards- I couldn't find your email address, but I wanted to tell you that you are nominated for Best Type 2 Blog. Voting is going on now and ends Dec. 31. We will be having an awards show at the Talkfest chatroom on Jan. 4 at 9pm EST. I hope you can be there. Please email me and let me know if you think you can come. Thanks! Congrats!

TechieGurrl said... I'm drooling for a slice of pizza and I JUST finished lunch. Which I'm sure was no where as good as pizza. But my turkey lunchmeat on low carb torilla with cilantro/olive salsa will have to do :-)

SUPERMOM said...

Boy what great pizza descriptions!! My daughter loves it too. I guess for us we are fortunate she is Type 1 because although it makes her go high we are able to counter it with insulin over a longer period and it takes care of it. I have a suggestion for you. I am not a doctor etc but my mom has Type 2 and we had a theory that was tried out and worked great. Here goes. Have a glass of wine with your pizza. We all know that alchohol lowers the blood sugars. My mom ate spaghetti/meatballs/bread and then had pie for dessert. All no-no's but she was feeling like who cares its the holidays. So she has a glass or two (not more than that) and says to herself "well I know I will be higher than usual come morning but I just don't care at the moment" next mornign she wakes up and is 130. Lower than she has been in weeks. So another night that week when she was goig to eat something that usually makes her too high she has another glass of wine. Low and behold again she is right in range later on. The nurses at her health class have told them about the benefits of a glass of wine. It worked for my mom. Worth a shot I would think.
Too bad my daughter is only nine. We would have tried it out on her. Works great for me. Doesn't lower anything for me but makes me relax over my daughter's numbers just fine!

Lawrence said...

Hi. I am Lawrence Husby. Married, two children living in Matthews-NC.
I come from a Viking family too. My grandpa (father side) was from Norway. He emigrated to Wisconsin early 20th century. I was born in Brazil.
It's been a month since I was diagnosed with diabetes. I am still getting used to the glucometer and food labels.
Reading your article simply encouraged me to move on. You are so brave. Thanks for sharing the recipes. I will try to be a good boy for 29 days so I can get my real pizza on the day 30.

Marla said...

Awesome suggestion about the wine! I always hear that is good for you to have a glass a day, but didn't think about helping counteract the effects of the high glycemic pizza crust! We will try that!

Dprotho said...

I just found out I was Type 2 last month, at age 41. I went with my daughter to "Take Your Parents to the Doctor Day Free Blood Pressure and Diabetes Screening" and........surprise!!!! I'm keeping up with the exercise and meds, but like the author, I have a list of things that I love. Beer, an occasional cigar, buffalo wings etc.etc. I've been too scared to try any of those things since the diagnosis, but I can't see myself going to the grave without watching a Steeler game on a Sunday afternoon with one of my guilty pleasures. I won't let my love of certain foods kill me before my time, but I do see a day when I will want to try something that isn't kosher for diabetics. Like the author I just wish I knew how much long term damage an occasional order of buffalo wings or a quality Dominican cigar will do to me.

Eaglenation5 said...

I feel you. I just learned two months ago I am type 2. I'm a 40 yr old male. Since then I've lost 13 pounds and have been really regimented in my new lifestyle diet. But today? Yeah, I had to have pizza. Real pizza. And I did. Two slices of lovely, greasy pepperoni. And I just checked my bloods, and yep, 194. Nasty. A couple shots of whiskey will pull that down tho. Thanks for the article. Comforting that I'm not the only one.

Divas said...

Hi, I do not agree. I want it all the time and have a way that tastes as good as regular with no big blood sugar spikes. I use a blend of resistant wheat starch which is basically a fiber, White Flour, Vital Wheat gluten, Inulin Fiber and Wheat Dextrin. It has about 25 carbs with 15 grams of fiber per slice but the taste is near identical , probably impossible to distinguish. The inulin is a probiotic fiber that does not give you the trots or flatulence and actually enhances taste naturally. Make sure you use an inulin powder that is not sweet(I use NOW brand). Wheat Dextrin is a fiber used in many frozen pizzas and batters as it keeps it crisp and is somewhat of a moisture barrier helping to prevent soggy crust. Basically just mix 1/3 part flour to 1/3 part resistant wheat starch and 1/3 the rest of ingredients divided equally. Per every 3 cups of this mix add some salt package of yeast a tsp of molasses 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp cider vinegar and some active yeast and water, do not make a wet dough but a kind of a drier dough, start with 3/4 cup of filtered water and add till forms a ball, it may take up to 1-1/2 cups depending on environmental conditions and brand of ingredients. Mix and knead as you would a normal dough. Let rise for hour till doubled. Punch down, let rest and roll into a thin but not too thin crust. I am diabetic but my A1c is super low at 5.4, at least here in USA that is low. I got this idea from a friend of mine who works at Dreamfields pasta Co. which makes a pasta that has about 50 carbs but only 5 or 6 carbs are actually digested and has little effect on blood sugar. If you don't think this is true then just try the tastes the same as regular pasta, not detectable as a low carb version like all the others, they have a patent on the formula. As good as the best Italian pasta like Barilla or Dececco.

I make a basic but very good pizza sauce ,with Tomato paste water, tiny bit of splenda, some dried basil oregano, garlic pepper, salt, bit of Parmesan cheese and olive oil, Mix together heat it up and then let cool. I top it with some Italian pepperoni, mushrooms, thin sliced onion, Green bell Pepper diced and Italian sausage. Don't make sauce too watery as you want a crisp crust. Make sure if you use canned mushrooms to squeeze them dry. The addition of the meats and cheese add protein and fat which both slow the sugar somewhat. Try it I think you'll eat pizza a lot more. I eat 3 slices and have no spikes in glucose. You can buy most ingredients on good luck Billy D from RI USA

Divas said...

I forgot the whole milk mozzarella

MsBeeteaches said...

Thanks for sharing your insights on pizza. Love your blog! I was looking for a better crust for diabetics for my brother-n-law and stumbled across yours. While researching I found another blog with an interesting pizza recipe. Might be worth a try. Here's the link:

Unknown said...

Here is the perfect solution for eating pizza and it is very simple - drink a glass of wine with your pizza and your blood sugar will not rise at all. I have been doing it for years.