Reader Gail left this comment the other day: "I thought complex carbs (whole grain bread etc.) broke down slowly and so don't cause the sudden upswing in blood sugar. I heart my brown rice and whole grain bread, and need some good reasons to say goodbye to them."
This refers to the Glycemic Index (GI) which measures the speed at which different foods containing carbohydrates break down to glucose. The faster the food converts to glucose the bigger the spike in your blood sugar. For a diabetic, the goal is to have a fairly level and optimal amount of glucose in the bloodstream during the course of a 24-hour period. One way of managing diabetes to eat foods that are low on the GI to meet this goal. And yes brown rice and whole grain breads are lower on the GI than white rice and wonderbread.
I stopped eating grains as part of managing my diabetes. It's not for everyone. Bread, cookies, pasta, etc. are all trigger foods for me so I had to remove them completely from my diet.
I loosely follow what's called the Paleolithic diet. "Diet" here means the food that comprises what we eat, not diet as in eating to lose weight so you can go back to eating the things that made you fat in the first place. This is pretty much the way I'm going to eat for the rest of my life.
My friend/trainer Kristn has a great post on her blog about this way of eating. I've stolen a little bit of it to share, with her permission. I recommend going over and reading the rest of what she has to say about the thinking behind eating this way.
- Every meal or snack should include protein, fat and carbs.
- Protein sources should be mostly meat, poultry and fish and whole eggs. The less processed the better.
- Kristn's hierarchy of carb sources:
- Non-starchy vegetables (most of your carbs should come from these)
- Brightly colored starchy vegetables (yams, carrots, winter squash, beets)
- Whole grains & legumes (if your body can handle them). Be very careful with wheat, it is not tolerated well by many people.
- Eat an ounce or two of nuts and seeds every day.
- Dairy (if you can tolerate it):
- Cheese 1-2 ounces/day
- Yogurt (unsweetened)
Sugar (in all forms like honey, maple syrup, etc.)
White flour, pasta, white rice
Processed Foods (anything pre-made or in a package)
Note that she doesn't say not to eat whole grains, just try not to make them the primary source of your daily carb intake.
The bigger challenge for me than giving up bread (and that one was hard), was not eating processed foods any more. It's a hell of a lot easier to heat up a frozen dinner (or, let's be honest, eat cookies) than to prepare a comparable meal from whole foods. And since I'm sort of a workaholic, I tend to eat a lot of my meals while I'm working. It took some serious retraining as well as learning to cook extra portions and eat leftovers (which I've never liked) at subsequent meals.
The processed food industry is a topic unto itself, along with that most-favored-by-food-processors additive, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). For now I'll just say HFCS is bad mojo. I plan on talking about that next week. If you're at the store this weekend, look at how many things contain HFCS. It's in everything. (Okay, okay—MOSTLY everything.)
And on that note…I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. I've heard rumors that the sun might be out in Seattle tomorrow!