Since finding out I'm diabetic and learning how to control it with diet, I'm having some thoughts about the 'healthy' diet advocated by nutritionists and even the American Diabetes Association. This healthy diet is supposed to consist of lean proteins, complex carbs, and a very small amount of unsaturated fats. The complex carbs include a large percentage of grains in many forms, like cereals, breads, and pastas.
Consider that the finest cuts of beef are those with a lot of marbling, fats that ripple through the muscle and bathe the proteins as it cooks down into a tender steak or roast. Animals that develop good marbling are raised on grains.
The rage for healthy diets is grass fed beef, pastured chickens... Less grain, more greens. Grain fed chickens lay higher cholesterol eggs. Beef raised on pasture has less saturated fat.
The healthy American diet contains a high percentage of grains. Anyone besides me see a problem with this? Especially for diabetics, egads.
I'm a foodie and like studying the history of foods throughout human cultures. Fois gras originally came of force feeding geese grain until their livers literally turned to fat. Before we became aware of what healthy proteins are all about, the best pork and pork livers came from pigs that were essentially forced into becoming diabetic, raised in tiny pens with no exercise and very high carb diets of easy to grow high sugar root vegetables.
While I agree that carbs are good for fast energy and many of the foods containing carbs are very nutritious, I'm wondering if a case could possibly be made where people gain weight because they eat too much fatty food. I've tried experimenting, and frankly, you can't eat enough fat to actually put on pounds. You can eat sugar and starch far beyond what you need without making yourself sick on them (unless you count heartburn, nausea, and headaches), and if you don't burn those carbs off *right away*, your body naturally converts those calories to fat. We're told not to eat fried foods, like they're fattening, but turn around and consume enough carbs to bloat ourselves over the years into tubs of moving lard.
I want to disclaim that I was a tub of moving lard and have nothing against fat people. I think they're cute. My problem is with the American Diabetes Association telling us that eating complex carbs as the larger percentage of our diets is healthy. Some of us will go out of our way and spend more money for pastured meat because it's healthier, then spend extra money on super whole grain cereals that have double the carbs per serving of sugared up refined cereals. Anybody else catching the problem here?
Grain fattens animals. A 'healthy' American diet contains a large percentage of whole grains.
Seriously, I could NEVER put on five pounds eating all the bacon and butter I want. I've actually tried. I've actually lost 35 pounds now eating all the bacon and butter I want. Bacon and butter are not what is bad for you, because you will burn all that off if you don't eat cereal, toast, jelly, and milk with it. I'm very serious. I never dreamed losing weight could be so easy.
Limiting calories is part of it, naturally. Research on lab animals has proven over and over that animals that simply eat less live longer than animals that get fat, no change in the kind of food they eat. Research on people also shows that lowering triglycerides is more important than lowering cholesterol. Guess what raises triglycerides. Worries About High Triglycerides - The People's Pharmacy® "Ways to lower triglycerides include: reducing carbohydrates, especially sugar; taking fish oil; eating nuts; and losing excess weight. Red yeast rice, which contains natural statins, actually appears to lower triglycerides as well as cholesterol (Circulation, Aug. 24, 2004)." What? They didn't say to cut out fat??
I grew up on a farm and now keep chickens. I've read many articles on grain vs. greens and natural proteins that come with "pasture". (Let's be honest, raising hens on a cattle pasture is pretty meager, they need wild greens, bugs, little reptiles, dirt for probiotics, and little rocks for grit. Wild quail and prairie chickens would die on a cattle pasture.) Frankly, it's tough raising chickens in an environment that comes equipped with optimal nutrition without also dealing with optimal predators. But this is beside the point. We can manipulate animals to produce more and better protein for us by adding grain to their diets, then we say it's unhealthy because it has saturated fats and cholesterol, then we turn around and say WE need whole grains in our own diets to be healthy, and then we take pills of all kinds to lower cholesterol and control blood sugar while we avoid fats (we need healthy fats, and people are terrified to eat them because they supposedly make us 'fat') and exercise our legs off. And it's really hard to lose weight unless there's some kind of gimmick.
No gimmick. I stopped eating 'healthy' grains. I stopped eating high starch vegetables and rice. I stopped eating baked goods and stopped drinking several gallons of milk a week, and whadayaknow, the weight melts off by itself, one or two pounds a week. All the bacon and butter I want. No diabetes meds. Lowered my blood pressure meds. My liver is getting healthier. I have more energy. (Energy with no carbs???) I have more stamina. I don't get heartburn and throbbing headaches any more.
Three things helped me turn my life around.
First of all, my doctor discovered I'm diabetic and put me on a 1500 calorie diet. I took pills for 12 days and had to stop them because I have so many problems taking meds, and I was probably suffering acidosis from years of too many meds and high blood sugars, being overweight and immobile. No magic diabetes pills for me, they made me sicker. But I took the 1500 calories very seriously, because my mom died from diabetes, not long and slow with swollen legs, but fairly quickly with very aggressive strokes, hundreds of them, to the point of complete loss of function. I don't want to lay in a bed and have people feed me and tell me to swallow and then clean me up. It wasn't that hard getting used to 1500 calories, you just divide it up and snack all day long, feels like you're always eating.
The second thing was discovering the glycemic index and glycemic load, courtesy here of the South Beach diet people. Glycemic Index Food Chart Notice that even healthy non-diabetic people lose weight best when they cut carbs. Other sites with info on glycemic index are Glycemic Load Diet, Glycemic Index and Diabetes: Low-Glycemic-Index Foods, and The Glycemic Index. Once I got the hang of eating lower glycemic carb foods, I was able to control portions and thereby control blood sugar spikes. I've become very good at it. I combined this with the 1500 calorie diet of snacking all day and kept losing weight while I controlled my blood sugar.
The third thing was discovering the Rosedale diet. Seriously. Someone out there has actually figured out how to list everything I absolutely don't have to worry about eating with my diabetes. If I want to keep my blood sugar down without even trying, I just eat foods off this list. When I want carbs, I work them in, small amounts at a time. I am able to eat a well balanced diet, very healthy, and STILL losing weight. I stay below 1500 calories (again, snacking all day, I'm feeling full), I count my carbs when I eat them, and I stick to proteins AND healthy fats. I had a doctor who used to shudder that I would eat avocados. You know what? Super low glycemic and very healthy fat, a nutritional super food, guacamole, here I come. When I cut out other fruits and juices, I NEED this nutrition. People avoid avocados on most diets because they have fat. I eat one nearly every day. And I'm still losing weight.
There really is hope for overweight diabetic people, and it's not necessarily in medications. I'm not saying get off your meds, especially if your have high sugar spikes, but I am saying you can control those spikes until you may need to lower the med doses or even get off of them. I realize some kinds of diabetes still require medical control, especially during sick days and other emergencies. I myself had an acute cashew allergy a few weeks ago and got a dose of prednisone at a clinic that kept my blood sugar up for several days. I was able to wait it out and keep it from going higher with the Rosedale diet (thank goodness!), but there are times people need to take steroids regularly and need help controlling their blood sugars, because steroids force the body to pump out more glucose into the bloodstream. So I'm not saying just stop taking your diabetes meds.
But I'm sharing hope with you. After years of being unable to lose any weight at all no matter what I tried, there it goes. After at least two years of not realizing my 'anxiety attacks' were high sugar spikes after meals, I'm not having any more anxiety attacks. Years of throbbing migraines, gone. Multiple problems I had with my eyes and skin, nearly gone.
One additional note. If you happen to have low thyroid, whether you realize it or not, you really need to take care of that in conjunction with changing your diet. Makes losing the weight so much easier if your metabolism is at optimum levels with a healthy thyroid. Diabetes is one of the most common medical problems, thyroid is, too. Hormones work together for balance, your thyroid and pancreas (makes insulin) work together to keep your body at a healthy weight. If one is crippled, the other has a harder time.