Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Diets

Although I don't want this blog to become a fitness & nutrition blog, I've been pretty focused on those things since my last post. Right now, fitness is pretty easy for me. Since I broke my arm and had major surgery this year, it consists of walking 2-1/4 miles, Monday-Friday. I can do that. It doesn't strain my still healing upper arm and shoulder the way a lot of other types of exercise would. It's also gradually strengthening my abdominal muscles.

Diet is another issue. It's much more complicated. So, I've been reading and doing research. Here's what I've concluded:

  1. Some people get sick eating a vegan diet. Others get sick eating a low-carb diet. Yet others get sick eating a high-carb diet. Yet others can eat any of those, but specific foods make them sick.
  2. Therefore, everyone should not eat the same diet. 
  3. However, no one should eat highly processed, refined flours, sugars, and junk food. I've not seen any research or indications that anyone is made healthy by eating those foods.
  4. If you're eating the high-carb diet recommended by the major medical associations, you should make it a low-fat diet.
  5. If you're eating the low-carb diet recommended by many diabetes specialists, you should make it a high-fat diet. 
  6. The jury is still out on whether saturated fats cause heart disease, especially since most saturated fats are not totally saturated. It's simply not that simple.
  7. No matter what diet you choose, getting enough protein is important.
  8. If you're eating vegetarian, you can do a low-carb diet. If you're eating vegan, you can't.
When I was in the hospital, drugged out from surgery, they kept sending people in with information about how to manage my diabetes. It kind of went in, but didn't really take hold, thanks to the drugs. When I got out and off the drugs, I read through the information they gave me. I went online and read everything the usual experts recommended. My reaction was, "Huh?"

The thing is that what they were telling me to eat was exactly what I was eating when I got the disease. Plus, since diabetes is a disease where your body doesn't handle carbs well, It didn't make sense to me that eating more of what my body didn't handle well was going to help me. "Well," I figured, "I'm not carb counting and keeping my carb intake even throughout the day." Maybe that's what makes the difference from what I was doing vs. what they're telling me to do. So I did that for a month. My glucose numbers were very stable in the normal to a bit high range. They only went into the diabetic range once-after I ate a very small baked potato. DAMN! Potatoes are one of my favorite foods.

Well, turning my fingers into pincushions wasn't giving me any new information, so I decided to take a break from testing. I'd learned that my sugar was a bit high in the morning. Completely normal after breakfast and lunch. And a bit high at bedtime, as would be expected because we eat a late dinner. I learned that my blood sugar hits its high point a bit faster than average-1-1/2 hours after eating, rather than 2 hours.

I also decided that since my numbers were a bit higher than I wanted them to be, the standard recommendation of high-carb, low-fat diet was not working. I decided to try what many diabetes experts recommend and go low-carb. However, all the research said that I should be monitored by my physician if I followed a low-carb diet. Even though I know it's a CYA, I think that's wise advice. But, I don't have a physician, so I decided not to do a program like Atkins where you immediately drop down to 20 carbs a day and gradually add them back. I decided to use my research and make up my own program.

This is what I decided to do:
  1. No sugar. 
  2. No refined flour.
  3. No potatoes.
  4. Cut carbs in steps, starting with 90 carbs/day, spread out evenly.
  5. Walk 5 days a week.
Results:

The walking is going well. I got back to 2 miles fairly quickly, then about a week later added another quarter mile. That's about all I can do right now, but I've gotten the speed up to an average of 3 mph.

I'm doing really well with the sugar, refined flour and potatoes. I have eaten a bite of my husband's dessert and a couple of french fries. It's getting easier to "just say no".

I've dropped down to an average of 70 carbs/day. I wasn't trying to drop to a lower level. I just seem to end up there. It's as if my body prefers that level of carbs. I'll reassess the number of carbs I'm aiming for after I start measuring my blood sugar level again.

I'm having an interesting reaction to the low carb diet. When you read about low-carb dieting they always say you don't get hungry. I don't think that's accurate. I think it's more accurate to say that you get full. On the high-carb, low-fat diets I'd finish eating my portion and want more. With the low-carb diet, when I'm finished, I'm full. When I was on the high-carb, low-fat diets I'd want to eat when I wasn't hungry. With the low-carb diet, after I've eaten I don't want food again until I'm physically hungry. I actually know when I'm hungry and when I'm full. It's really, really hard to eat too much. My stomach just says NO to more food. That's a real revelation to me because my biggest complaint my whole adult life is that I don't know when I'm full and when I'm hungry and I thought that was why I overate. Hmmm...maybe not. Maybe I was just eating the wrong foods for my particular body's needs.

I've lost 7 pounds. Weight loss isn't my goal, although I hope it will be a side effect of what I'm aiming for, which is good blood sugar control. However, I don't know what my blood sugar levels are yet. I wanted to give my body a few weeks to adjust to my new way of eating before I measured them so I plan to measure the first week of October.