Diabetic meal plans must include carbohydrates, because that is where you find superfoods. But carbohydrates also raise your blood sugar.
So we need carbohydrates, but we must avoid them too. How do good diabetic meal plans work around this?
Being type 2 diabetic forced me to begin to understand this balancing act.
Along the way I had to clear up some myths about carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates cause the release of insulin because they become simple sugar quickly. Proteins and fats are designed to break down slowly.
So it is carbohydrates that make blood sugar rise. The higher glycemic carbs break down super fast. This means they cause a rush of insulin as they enter your bloodstream.
The problem lies here. A diet loaded with white bread, starches and sweet food will give your beta cells more work to do. With insulin resistance, your pancreas cannot handle the load.
But fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates that are loaded with antioxidants. Many of them are called superfoods because of the long list of health benefits.
Some of them lower insulin resistance and aid weight loss. Others help to fight the neuropathies that plague diabetics. You need these carbohydrates.
When your doctor first diagnosed you with type 2 diabetes, he probably put you on oral medication right away.
Most doctors tell you about low calorie diabetic meal plans and encourage weight loss.
They know that every pill given for diabetes makes losing weight tougher.
But they do not spell out the connection between carbohydrates and diabetes, even though you might avoid medication if you changed your diet.
Doctors are not trained to teach nutrition. You go to a dietitian for that.
But look into an insulin pump and all you will hear about are carbohydrates. The pump is calibrated based on what you eat, but only in carbohydrates.
They ask how many grams you eat at each meal. How much insulin do you take after eating carbohydrates? How much carb snacking do you do?
This shows that carbohydrates are the key to lowering blood sugar. If you target them, your blood sugar responds quickly.
If you take insulin you need to understand carbohydrates and insulin. Otherwise your diabetic meal plans may fall into a trap.
We all agree that insulin is a life saver. Since it was released to the world it has rescued countless diabetics.
But it cannot cure diabetes, and some have made it a license to live as if diabetes does not exist.
How I became aware this was a problem:
One day the checkout girl at the pharmacy offered me some candy. I was buying insulin and told her I was diabetic.
She laughed. "I'm type 1 and I eat anything I want."
I had seen ads for insulin pumps that implied the same thing. The pump gives you freedom, they said.
Do you want candy or pizza or ice cream? All you have to do is take enough insulin, and your blood sugar is controlled.
The message? Insulin gives you a license to eat. This young type 1 diabetic believed it.
Losing weight will become extremely difficult. More calories, more insulin, more fat deposits. Period.
One of insulin's jobs as a hormone is to store calories for later use, and it stores them in your fat layers.
So using insulin to cover a high carbohydrate diet is a horrible idea for a type 2 diabetic.
The second problem is that high glycemic carbohydrates include
all the sweet, starchy, gooey, fattening things that are staples in the Western diet.
Processed foods like white bread and breakfast cereal are also high glycemic, and high glycemic carbohydrates have been linked to heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity.
Those three things make up most of the metabolic syndrome. Next comes insulin resistance, the root of type 2 diabetes.
New studies link high insulin levels and breast cancer which is a danger for type 2 diabetics.
Hyperinsulinemia is a disease of too much insulin, and it needs to be taken seriously.
So eating high glycemic carbohydrates and "covering" them with more insulin is a very bad idea.
As a type 2 diabetic you want diabetic meal plans that lower your insulin resistance.
Then you can take less insulin, lose weight more easily and avoid inflammatory diseases.
We need to see how carbohydrates affect blood sugar and insulin. Only then can we make good choices.
That is why the glycemic index is such a great tool. It will help you decide which carbohydrates will make your diabetic meal plans better and which ones will not.
You might decide to use red potatoes instead of white, slow-cooked oatmeal instead of corn flakes, and low carbohydrate substitutes for white and wheat bread.
As you slowly change your diabetic meal plans to fit your new understanding, you will begin to see results in your blood sugar, insulin resistance and weight.
Using carbohydrates, you can improve diabetes. Add diabetic superfoods to your snacks and meals to see what I mean.
A new diet study has shown great benefit in a low glycemic diet. The test subjects lowered insulin levels better and lost more weight than subjects who were on a low-calorie diet.
The surprise was that the subjects on the low carbohydrate diet were only on it two days a week, while the low-calorie diet subjects stayed on theirs seven days a week.
The low carb diet subjects lost the same amount of weight without having to count calories for the protein and fat they ate.
This seems to prove that if you remove the high glycemic carbohydrates even a few days a week, the diabetes cure will be easier for you.
Weight loss and exercise have helped more than half of type 2 diabetics get off medications. They have reduced the complications too.
Insulin cannot do it. Doctors cannot do it.
But you have the power to change what you eat, and you can decide to exercise.
If you want the diabetes cure, a low glycemic carbohydrate diet will help you get there.
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