Diabolical Diabetes Part Two: Reading is in my blood (sugar)
My doctor said I had to get my blood sugar down from the 300s to normal levels. It would affect my kidneys, eyes and other organs as I slogged my way through my 50s.
So I said to myself, “Okay, let’s do it.” And when faced with something of which I know little and want more information, I do what man has done since the days of the caveman – I read a book about it! 🙂
My doctor recommended Sugar Busters (or The New Sugar Busters! Cut Sugar to Trim Fat) by H Leighton Steward, Morrison C Bethea, Sam S Andrews & Luis A Balart, ISBN 0-345-45537-1 by Ballentine, 2003. Since my wife works at a library, it is fairly easy for me to get and read such things.
It starts with explaining refined sugars and enriched flour and how bad such things are for us – and strictly eliminates them. My wife refers to the book as “Sugar Nazis” and I agree. But I am also an all-or-nothing sort of person and I need such absolutes. At least for now. No white bread. No bread at all if I can do it.
In later chapters it compares itself to other “diet plans” – if only to avoid copyright infringement. And it spends some time on the famous Atkins Diet. I find the differences between the two small. Atkins says no carbs, Sugar Busters says carbs in moderation and “good” carbs – the aforesaid brown rice and whole wheat.
What helps for the rest of you is that the “diet” doesn’t concern itself just with diabetes, but childhood obesity and women’s weight issues. This plan can be done by the whole family.
That’s because it is chocked full of recipes. It tells you what kinds of food to stock (whole wheat flour, veggies, fruits) and what to throw out – white flour, sugar, etc. And then it includes lots of recipes – including recipes from famous restaurants and chefs from across the country. I especially like the fresh spinach salad with bacon. I add a bit of Dijon mustard to the vinaigrette. Yummy.
An interesting takeaway is this: eating fruit 30 minutes before a meal helps with the fruit’s digestion. It’s filled with good tidbits like that.
My doctor made a good suggestion. Well, no wonder; she also has excellent taste in patients, too …
My wife recommended The Insulin-Resistance Diet by Cheryle F Hart & Mary Kay Grossman, ISBN 978-0-07-149984-2 by McGraw-Hill, 2008. She thought it was less intense than the “Sugar Nazis”. And it is. It’s a book for the rest of us who do not have the willpower to cut off our beloved bread and sweets entirely. I needed the intensity to get my blood sugar down. But once down – or as down as a diabetic can be – how to I keep it down even when I am bad? And I know I will be bad. After a week or so of “boot camp” – I wanna pizza and a Snickers bar.
This book’s mantra is balance. Balance is the key. The call it the Link and Balance See Saw. I see it more as an apothecary scale. Neutral foods – veggies, etc. – in the middle, with carbs and proteins on either end. If the meal or things you are eating are balanced – it’s good for you.
It provides an extensive list of foods by category – carbs, proteins and neutral. It even includes commercial products – name brand cereals and fast food entrées!
Balancing carbs to protein is about 2 to 1, slightly more to the carbs (2.14 to 1 from some of their examples – I keep it at 2 to 1). If a product has, say, 18g of carbs, but also has 9g of protein – this is balanced and good for you. On weekends I enjoy instant (plain) oatmeal with some cinnamon and Splenda in it. With this balance system – I also cook two slices of bacon or sausage patties for the protein and eat that with the oatmeal. Any excuse to eat bacon.
This has really gotten me looking at the nutritional labels on foods. Especially fast foods. Look at a Subway sandwich – I get the flatbread with tuna with plenty of veggies, mayo, hot sauce and pepper jack cheese. 40g carbs (yow!) minus 2g fiber (see Diabetes Breakthrough) balanced with 20g protein. Balanced.
It also includes lots of recipes as well as how to Link and Balance with commercial products like Hamburger Helper. The section on what to look for in menu items in specific types of restaurants is interesting too (Chinese, Mexican, Italian, etc.).
And no eating just before bed. Cholesterol collects when you sleep. If you go to bed with a full tummy, it can raise your cholesterol. This was always a problem for me.
The book has testimonials or life-stories, which I ignore. “Remember Susan, the receptionist from the beginning of this Chapter?” No, and I could care less.
A better book than Sugar Busters for later use; less militant and more techy and number-crunchy, which is fun! That’s not to say Busters is not a good book, it is! It’s what I needed for the first month or so, Insulin Resistance is what I can use afterward to keep my blood sugar under control after the Busters boot camp lowered it to normal levels.
And speaking of boot camp, this brings us to The Diabetes Break-Through by Osama Hamdy & Sheri R Colberg, ISBN13:978-0-373-89284-6, Harvard Health Publications/Harlequin Health, 2013.
This is a very regimented and controlled eating plan. It tells you what to eat and when (and how) to exercise. Like Sugar Busters, someone who needs the discipline and has the willpower and self-control to follow it to the letter will benefit by this book.
During Week 1 you will eat this and here’s how you will exercise. During Week 2 you will eat this and exercise thusly…
The menus are not draconian and suggest the same foods as the other two books. You may eat a tablespoon of peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread, for example.
The book explains measurements in general terms – a cup is about the size of your fist, my thumb a tablespoon and my thumb’s tip a teaspoon. That was my favorite bit taken from the book.
I like that it lists specific diabetic-friendly meal-replacement shakes and frozen dinners. The next day I was putting them in my grocery cart and have been dining on them ever since.
Here I learned that my glypizide can sometimes cause weight gain. Hmm.
Not as many recipes as the other two books, but plenty of exercise instructions and illustrations – much more so than the previous two books.
The layout is very strict and militant – which are not words I would use to describe the diet itself. Fortunately I am past the first month of getting my blood sugar down to manageable levels, so I do not need the strict instructions of the first few weeks. As with Insulin Resistance, anyone who loves techy number-crunching will like the structure of the book – if not the diet itself!
It mentions a way to look at the nutrition chart that the others do not. You subtract dietary fiber from the total carbs – they don’t really count as carbs. You can also subtract one-half of the sugar alcohol from the total carbs, too. Look at the Atkins’ Peanut Butter Granola Bar (which I eat for breakfast on hectic week-days) – 18g carbs, but 5g is fiber and 11g is sugar alcohol. This makes the bar, according to this book, effectively only 8g of carbs. Considering its 15g of protein, this is REALLY good for me according to the Insulin Resistance Link and Balance See Saw. Why does no one else mention this? A web search seems to confirm this idea of net carbs – WebMD has a nice page about it. They warn to be careful of such labels as “net carbs” though.
So I use all three books – their recommendations for food, eating out, checking the labels, buying groceries, etc. The books share common ground but are unique enough to get something out of each of them. Somewhere among the three lie the truth, I think. I just have to ignore the individual hype.
Next time I will tell you how it is going…
Wish me luck!
To Be Concluded
Copyright 2014 Michael Curry