On January 27, I wrote a post called “State of my art” (based on a post I wrote to the list LowGlycemicEating@yahoogroups.com) which detailed where I was at on matters dietary at that time. A few weeks later, I’ve added to my store of knowledge & advanced, at least somewhat, the state of my art. Here was my answer earlier today to a list member recently diagnosed with diabetes who asked what kind of foods she should eat. It especially reflects my changed attitudes about amounts of carbs & fats (the healthy kinds, of course) I should eat after having read the Schwarzbein Principle books (see “Eating to heal insulin resistance” on 5 February).
Hi my name is ____. I am new to the group and just found out I am a diabetic I know about eating protein and vegetables and nuts and seeds. Is there anything else that I can eat that won’t bring my sugar up?Hi, ____, welcome to the group. I’m prediabetic myself, & working through diet & exercise to increase my insulin sensitivity & hopefully to prevent myself from getting diabetes. Since starting my permanent lifestyle changes (dietary & physical activity), I’ve become convinced that most Type II diabetics & those like myself at high risk for diabetes can greatly increase their insulin sensitivity & hence improve their blood glucose regulation with little or no resort to diabetic medications — IF they are willing to make the necessary permanent changes in their dietary habits & levels of physical activity.
For foods you can eat — begin with low glycemic index carbs, of course! It is really important to learn what you can about what carbohydrates are low or moderate GI & which you should avoid because they’re high GI. In particular, avoid refined products, such as anything made of white or enriched flours. (“Enriched” just means they’ve stripped out a lot of the nutrition & then done an inadequate job of adding them back in again.) Instead, use whole grains. White potatoes are also high GI; instead use sweet potatoes or yams. Also watch your portions of any carbs, even those that are low GI.
I have come around to believing that at least to begin with, anyone who is insulin resistant who is trying to heal their metabolism shouldn’t eat any more than around 100 grams per day of carbohydrates (other than dietary fiber), spaced out in at least five meals/snacks at least two to three hours apart. This might be different depending on your metabolic status & your physical size (tall, short, etc.) — but check your blood glucose to see what works & what doesn’t.
Spacing out your carbohydrates in smaller, more frequent meals will help keep your blood glucose (& also your insulin levels) at a more consistent level, instead of it roller-coastering up to huge spikes & low hypoglycemic nadirs.
Always eat carbohydrates with other foods: protein, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables. Every meal. Every snack too: at least always have a protein with any carbohydrate. Never ever ever eat a carbohydrate all by itself, unless you are going to exercise immediately afterward. (Exercise helps to move glucose into body cells, even when you are insulin resistant.)
I’d add —
Healthy fats, such as those containing the Omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources include flax seed or flax seed oil, cold water fish such as salmon, cod, tuna, herring (including kippered herring), sardines. Omega 3s are often added to other foods too like eggs.
Cinnamon — research has found that even as little as 1/2 tsp. to a tsp. a day can increase insulin sensitivity.
Greens — like spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, etc. In fact, you should eat a full spectrum of colors (green, orange, red, yellow, purple, etc.) in your foods — there are lots of good vitamins, minerals, etc. in these that are beneficial to the insulin resistant person.
Fiber — both (water) soluble & insoluble dietary fiber, found in fruits, vegetables, grains, etc.
Those are what pop into my head. I’m sure other list members can add more, because I’ve probably missed a lot.
There is some variance of opinion on this list about the advisability of eating grains, pastas, etc.; about how many carbohydrates to eat at all (low carb vs. moderate carb vs. high carb); and different people are following different programs designed by different people, or putting together their own programs based on advice from several books or programs that they have found helpful. But I think most people are agreed that each of us is different, & that there is no “one size fits all” program that works for all of us. Learn as much as you can, & find out what works best for you.
I personally recommend:
How to Prevent & Treat Diabetes with Natural Medicine by Michael T. Murray, N.D. and Michael R. Lyon, M.D. (This is where I first learned about the glycemic index; there’s also a lot of other good information about healthy nutrition & exercise to improve blood glucose control.)
The First Year Type 2 Diabetes: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Gretchen Becker (I don’t own this book, but I have the other book she wrote on prediabetes).
The New Glucose Revolution: The Authoritative Guide to the Glycemic Index — the Dietary Solution for Lifelong Health by Jennie Brand-Miller, Thomas M.S. Wolever, Kaye Foster-Powell, Stephen Colagiuri. (This is an indispensable guide to low GI eating.)
The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy, and Feeling Younger by Diana Schwarzbein & Nancy Deville. (This has the best explanation of the whys & wherefores of how insulin & blood glucose regulation works in the body that I’ve yet read. It also explains why high carb/low fat diets are very very bad news, & the basics of how to eat a healthily balanced diet of protein, moderate carbohydrates, healthy fats, & non-starchy vegetables.)
The Schwarzbein Principle II: The “Transition” — A Regeneration Program to Prevent and Reverse Accelerated Aging by Diana Schwarzbein with Marilyn Brown. (This adds in a lot of info about how insulin, adrenaline, & cortisol imbalances can create health problems, & gives programs for how to heal ones metabolism according to whether you are insulin resistant or not, & whether you have healthy adrenal glands or not.)