Courtesy of The Butterfly Project, I got to participate in a bit of diabetes awareness just over a month ago; and I never would have thought it would have sparked a bit of an addiction on my part!
The event was held at Culinary 19 in Damansara Heights - A picturesque, secluded house tucked into a street I had never ventured onto.
[The Grounds of Culinary 19]
Upon registration, we got to mingle with a few of the organisers, and their enthusiasm for the entire experience was rather contagious.
We were then taken into the little cooking studio where we got to indulge in a little taste of things to come.
[Diabetes Awareness Made Fun!]
[Photo Backdrop - A necessity for bloggers!]
[The Impending Addiction]
We were also given a bit of a taste of what we were here to experience - Glucerna!
This isn't a product I'd heard of prior to attending to event, but a little chat with a diabetic friend had me a little wary because she wasn't a fan of the taste when she tried it years ago. Naturally, I was a tad bit wary when offered a little shot of Glucerna blended with fruit; but the guinea pig in me couldn't resist. Bananas and strawberries make everything better right?
[Glucerna blended with fresh bananas and strawberries]
[Left: Bananas; Right: Strawberries]
Can I just come out and say it? This stuff was delicious! I snuck a few of them because they kept putting them near me and I have no self-control!
And after much Glucerna-consumption, the event kicked off. The atmosphere was very relaxed and convivial, and definitely more interactive than a lot of other events I've attended.
[Welcoming us to the event]
There was a nutritionist on hand to give us the ins and outs of why management was so important based on the statistics at hand, and how we could make little changes in our lives in order to prevent the onset of diabetes whether we have a propensity for it, or it afflicts us as a result of our lifestyle.
[The Science Behind it All]
I like that her view was that simple steps like cutting down potion sizes would work, as well as a few substitutions here and there. I can appreciate advice like this, as opposed to omitting everything fun from my eating habits!
[Scaring us Skinny!]
We were given a comprehensive talk on the statistics, as well as useful tips on how to incorporate little changes into our lives from monitoring through to exercise.
The numbers are truly rather alarming. In 2013, diabetics worldwide hit the figure of 380 million, with 2.6 million of those found in Malaysia. The figure is expected to almost double within the next two decades. I'm not a fan of turning into a statistic, especially when the complementary complications associated with diabetes are so horrifying. They include anything from cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease, neuropathy, hypertension, eye complications (even blindness!), leg amputation. etc. No! Pass me another Glucerna shot please!
It's never too late to change, though, and while I'm not going to turn into the healthiest person ever, I can definitely do little things in my own way because I quite like my legs, and I'm keen on keeping them for the duration of my life.
Where do we start then? Diet and exercise. Now, the word "diet" has so many negative connotations that it's got quite the startling reputation. In all fairness, all it actually means is that you find an eating plan that works for you and your goals. That can be anywhere from eating less candy, to upping your intake of vegetables.
And, of course, you need exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is more or less the most effective way to kill your body. Speaking from the evolutionary aspect, we are made for foraging and hunting. This does not include hunting through the cupboards for that bag of potato chips you hid from the rest of your family members so you could eat it all (yes, I'm speaking from experience). So, exercise is crucial in the bid to maintain your health for as long as possible.
It all starts with knowing how your heart rate functions. Cardio is all about upping your heart rate, but not to the point where you collapse from exhaustion. There is a set percentage your heart rate should increase in order to give you effective results.
[Ella measuring her resting heart rate]
As mentioned above, monitoring makes all the difference where goals are concerned, and Glucerna has launched a programme which aids in promoting a healthy lifestyle. Sometimes, it's impossible not to have an end date to something because you don't know when you're meant to see results. As such, the programme is a 12-week long stint in which you log your goals, activity and nutrition into a simple system which you can access through your computer or smartphone. More on this later.
We were then given a bit of a sweet treat! First, a little about what Glucerna actually is. It's meant to be a meal replacement of sorts in that it substitutes milk and contains all the vitamins and minerals you need in a day that your body doesn't naturally product. It comes in powdered form, and is easily dissolved in room temperature or cold water. Here, they demonstrated its use in the form of Pandan Hokkaido Cake with Pandan Custard! By substituting out some of the more taboo ingredients for diabetics, such as milk, you can make it that much healthier. Of course, don't substitute it all, just a touch. Everything in moderation!
[Baking Station Upcoming!]
We were all invited to come up close so that we could actually see how it was all put together.
[Inviting Us Over]
[Explaining the Ingredients]
[Getting the Glucerna On!]
[Volunteers at the ready!]
[Caroline in action!]
[Getting to Soft Peaks...]
[Ladies Filling the Cups]
[The Boys Got in on the Action, Too!]
[Custard in the Making]
[To Prevent a Skin from Forming]
That wasn't the end of it though. We were all pitted against each other in a cupcake decorating competition! We were given fruit and some frosting to work with.
[The Rarest Attendee: Our Mamasan!]
Now, if any of you have been on the receiving end of my baking, you'll know that it's always visually challenged. I have absolutely no knack for decorating dessert, so my attempt was downright disturbing!
[Me & My "Decorated" Cakes]
[Are my knife skills being called into question?]
[Rane and her lovely cuppies]
[Hard at work Instagram-ming their handiwork!]
[Mahadi's Look Yummy!]
[Ella's Little Beauties]
There was an Instagram competition for the best decorated pair, and while judgement was in progress, we were treated to a lovely lunch.
[After all that cake, something savoury was necessary!]
After a bit of mingling over lunch, the winners were finally announced!
They truly deserved it!
Over lunch, we were informed that extreme heat does destroy some of the nutrients in Glucerna, which is why it's best consumed with room temperature or cold water. So, while using it as a baking substitute to prevent ingestion of too much milk is a good thing, expecting it to give you all the health benefits may not work to your advantage.
What attracted me most to Glucerna (other than how awesome it tastes), is that it's not just for diabetics. As it contains all the nutrients and minerals that you body doesn't naturally produce, it's an ideal addition to anyone's diet. I've not been one to consume vitamins and whatnot, but I do have a magnesium shortage. I was rather keen when I saw that it contained enough magnesium to keep me intact!
As mentioned above, the 12-week programme comes with everything from a glucose tracker, to meal plans and exercise suggestions for your overall well-being. All you need to do is sign up and put in your goals. It's such a use-friendly site that that shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to do. It allows you to work with recommended settings based on whether you sign up as a diabetic, pre-diabetic, or neither. You can input what you intend to use the programme for, be it maintenance of weight loss, and it will give you suggestions on how you should plan out your exercise and nutrition schedule.
[Suggestions for Consumption]
What's very cool is that the site comes with recipes tailored to our cultural preferences. So instead of just stuff like bread and oatmeal, and the like, you get options like noodles and rice as well. This is absolutely essential because we do love our rice!
You can sign up for your very own programme at www.glucernachallengeme.com.my
There's also an app available for your smart phone via the Apple Store and Play Store so that you can monitor your progress on the go!
As we were leaving, we were given a sachet of Glucerna to try out for ourselves. While it was delectable blended with fruit, the true test was the product on its own. 1 serving is produced with 5 scoops (scoop provided in the tin) of Glucerna and 200 ml of water, and comes in at 225 calories. Since this is meant to be a meal replacement, that's pretty decent on the scale of things. If you're trying to maintain your weight, or just be that little bit healthier, replacing your afternoon-dip snack with this stuff would do a great job of it! The minute I tried it, I got hooked. It was so, so good! I went out the very next day and bought myself a tin of the stuff.
Now, I make my own cold brewed coffee at home, and I tend to drink it with milk. So, I started off by substituting the milk with the recommended amount of Glucerna, and some water.
[Glucerna with Cold Brewed Coffee]
[1/3 Coffee Concentrate]
[5 Scoops of Glucerna]
[Cold Water and Mix!]
What I noticed was that my caffeine dip didn't come as quickly. Cold brew tended to be my only source of breakfast, so I'd be pretty hungry by lunch time, and craving lots of sugar and/or caffeine because cold brew is about 50 times stronger than regular coffee and espresso simply because it is in contact with coffee for far longer. As such, the caffeine content is through the roof, and your crash comes very hard. The caffeine withdrawal is also rather killer. I was quite surprised that the Glucerna actually tempered this.
As the G.I. of Glucerna is actually lower than oatmeal, your blood sugar barely spikes, and it stays constant for far longer. Unlike consuming cold brew with milk, my blood sugar wouldn't plummet suddenly. It actually remained rather constant for extended periods of time. What shocked me most was that when I was in a rush one morning, and I hadn't had coffee the entire day, I didn't get as bad a headache as I usually did. So, I say this to you as a caffeine addict. I switched to cold brew to stop myself from drinking 5-6 cups of coffee/tea a day, and this helped to mellow out the 1 strong coffee I had in the day so I wasn't as dependent on it. It's not going to completely eradicate your need for caffeine, but it makes it bearable.
In a bid to be healthier, because breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day, I've started incorporating something resembling a proper breakfast into my diet. This happened around a week ago, and I've been seeing good effects from it.
[The Recipe for Happy Mornings]
[1/4 Cup Oats]
[1 Tbs Peanut Butter Powder]
Peanut butter powder is the healthy version of peanut butter. It's powdered because they remove all the fats and extra oils from the peanut butter so that 2 tablespoons will only run you 45 calories. Nothing in the world will replace my love for full-on peanut butter, but it just doesn't mesh as well with this concoction.
[1 Tbs Chia Seeds]
Chia seeds are an energy-giving superfood. My interest in them was sparked from a time when I was an avid runner, and they definitely work to give you a sustained level of energy. They're a little heavy on the calorie end, but I like how chewy they are, so I add this much. Feel free to halve it.
[5 Scoops of Glucerna]
Yes, this was my second tin of the stuff! It's all gone and I'm on my third, and very happy about it!
[Put them all in a jar...]
[Add 200 ml of water...]
[Put on the lid and shake it! Then put it in the fridge overnight]
While this in itself tasted fantastic, I started adding 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and a little ground nutmeg into it as well, which just upped it to awesome! Cinnamon makes everything better, and nutmeg in large quantities is a hallucinogen, so it just makes you feel happy in moderate quantities.
Like I said, I'm a bit of an addict, so in the morning, I add 50 ml of cold brew to the mix. You'll be tempted to add more water, and I've tried it, but 250 ml of liquid is more than enough to maintain the integrity of the flavour. Glucerna itself is lightly vanilla flavoured and this makes everything so delicious!
[The Done Deal!]
At the event, they also gave us a little Glucerna tumbler for on the go. Most days I'm teaching from 3:30 - 10:00 pm without a break in-between, and eating a sandwich while trying to explain to people that they are wrong is not conducive. A couple of weeks back, I figured that this would be worth a shot to tide me over without the hunger pangs making me grumpy. It's meant to be a meal replacement after all!
[Add 5 Scoops and Out the Door]
All I need is a bottle of water and this to make me less of a moody person when I'm teaching and starving simultaneously. I'm really happy with this, and I'm going to keep drinking Glucerna to see how it fares.
On days when I consume the overnight oats, I find that I'm less hungry throughout the days, and I don't crave as much junk food. Essentially, my body is getting what it needs so it isn't trying to be sneaky by getting me to eat empty calories. Glucerna on its own isn't really a substantial breakfast, and the recipes on the site pair it with bread and other food as well. I'm happy with my take on it, and if you try it out, do let me know if you love it as much as I do!
For more information on Glucerna and the 12-Week Challenge, go to www.glucernachallengeme.com.my
Glucerna is available at all major pharmacies and supermarkets. Caring and Guardian are currently having a promotion on it at RM86, as opposed to RM93+ elsewhere, so head over now!