Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mastering the Carbohydrate Challenge

I inherited many wonderful attributes from my father. Unfortunately, I also inherited a problem with high blood sugar. Two years ago, I began taking prescription meds to help my body absorb insulin. I had developed Type 2 Diabetes. Some of this was my own doing, as a result of an unhealthy diet, weight gain, and a lack of exercise. One of our goals for the first year of retirement was to “Get Healthy”. I needed to lose weight and wanted to get off my meds. No excuses anymore.

A low-carb approach seemed to make sense for me. Not only would it result in weight loss, but it would deprive my body of the simple carbs (e.g. glucose) that go right into the bloodstream and spike insulin production, making it difficult to control my blood sugar level. Complex carbs (starches) break down into glucose molecules more slowly, so don’t have as quick and dramatic an effect on blood sugar. Carbs are not bad – some are required to fuel the body with energy. But too many carbs (simple or complex) can be problematic, especially for people who tend toward diabetes.

I used a lot of information from the Atkins Diet to modify my eating habits. I replaced sugar with Splenda, stopped eating bread, pasta, potatoes, and rice, and ate more carb-free proteins, salads, and low-carb veggies. I also started being more physically active. Every morning, I tested my blood sugar.

Here’s the amazing thing… After just 3 days of lifestyle changes my blood sugar level dropped dramatically, to the point where I had to discontinue my prescription medication to allow my blood sugar to rise into the normal range! Now it stays there without medication. In 8 months I have lost 25 pounds by reducing my carb consumption and doing cardio exercise 4 to 5 days a week. I am thrilled, and so is my doctor.

A sample of a meal plan for an average day follows. I don’t specify portions here, but they should be reasonable, as calories can’t be completely ignored.

BREAKFAST: Coffee w/Splenda, 2 eggs scrambled with cheese, 2 slices bacon, 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt, 6 fresh raspberries.

LUNCH: Canned tuna fish with mayo, sliced cucumber, 1 small sugar-free Peppermint Patty.

DINNER: Caesar salad, tilapia baked in olive oil & lemon with capers, cauliflower mash, several glasses of wine.

Sorry for my soapbox, but I’m not quite done with this subject. Next week, a few specifics about counting carbs, “healthy” foods with “hidden” carbs, and some tips on how to avoid feeling deprived on the low-carb lifestyle.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, 25 pounds! Congrats! I can't wait for the installment on how to avoid feeling deprived ;)