Monday, September 30, 2013

At Least We Start Over

What's so fascinating and frustrating and great about life is that you're constantly starting over, all the time, and I love that.
Billy Crystal

I have to admit that I have been slow in writing here. I confess, I thought that you all might be tired of hearing that we are starting over again. We have not been doing that well. 

I think that we join most Americans in falling off their eating plan and having to start again. 

It is discouraging. We have learned a lot in the past (gasp!) two years. We are at least not starting from scratch but it is hard to get back up on the horse time and time again. There is a fair amount of “What is wrong with me” that accompanies having to start again. 

As you may have noticed, I have been doing a little research on the concepts of the glycemic index and the glycemic load. The glycemic load diet really stresses the ill effects of breads, rice, and potatoes.  I don’t know if you have tried, but it is hard to give those things up. Add in cookies, cakes, and brownies and life looks a bit bleak. 

We started last week. I have had to, once again, give up my friend Coke. It is certainly my downfall. I have now made it 8 days without a Coke.  A friend suggested a product called Zevia, which is a diet soft drink that is made with stevia rather than aspartame. (I can’t use products with aspartame. Aspartame seems to be a trigger for my migraines.) I tried it on Sunday. It really has that diet drink taste. I tried to add some lime to see if it would help but I added too much.  I might work on getting used to the taste but I think I will just use it occasionally. I have been back to decaf green tea and water. They are fine but sometimes you just want something more. 

The only cereal that is allowed is All Bran. In truth, I wasn't eating cereal before but I find that I want something that has some crunch to it at breakfast. I have been adding it to my cup of yogurt.The yogurt should be plain no sugar added and instead I have Greek yogurt with fruit. I have found that the combination works well. I am still modifying my choices. I am working toward it. Really, giving up the coke first thing in the morning is hard enough right now. I have also cut back considerably on the bread, potatoes, and rice. 

One of the things that is (AMAZINGLY) allowed on the diet is a handful of candy. It seems (although I would agree that it doesn't sound right) that peanut M&Ms have a very low glycemic load. So, in the afternoon after lunch, I will treasure my handful. You can get that feeling like you are cheating but you aren't!   

The other important part of the program is to exercise using your slow twitch muscles. The exercise talked about the most is walking. The recommendation is for 40 minutes of exercise 4 times a week. And it does not call for huffing and puffing exercise. It is much more just get out and move for 40 minutes.  Somehow, I had kept up the exercising and then last week when it mattered, I had a hard time getting to the gym. Well a new week has started and I will begin again. 

I hope you are doing well. I will let you know how this goes.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

(In the last post, I shared what I had learned about diabetes, glucose, and started talking about the glycemic index.)  

Finding a food’s glycemic index is an involved scientific process. It was decided that since it is known that sugar will increase blood sugar quickly and then it will drop quickly that sugar would be assigned a ranking of 100 on the glycemic index and that all other foods would be measured against sugar. To test a food’s glycemic index, 10 or more test subjects are given 50 grams of a carbohydrate. Scientists then test the blood sugar of the test subjects at intervals over a two hour period. After that information is recorded, the scientists then test the same test subjects after giving them 50 grams of sugar. The difference between the tests indicates the carbohydrate’s glycemic index ranking. 

This is a long and involved process. There are still many foods that have not been tested. Also it has been determined that when you combine ingredients, the glycemic index can be affected. So, while the glycemic index is very scientific, there is still much that needs to be learned.
High glycemic index foods are not bad nor are low glycemic index foods good. The glycemic index information has to be balanced with other information. For example, peanut M&Ms have a low glycemic index. You would need to consider the amount of fat that you were consuming when you ate the candy. Let’s compare the peanut M&Ms with a baked potato without the skin. The potato has a high glycemic index but it has other nutrients that are good for you. You cannot just depend on the glycemic index of a food to decide whether or not you should eat it. 

Also, it was determined that the glycemic index portions were not the same as the portions that people would normally eat.  There are times that the amount of a food tested would give it a high glycemic index but you could eat a smaller quantity and the effect would be much different.  It was because of this that the glycemic load was introduced. 

For example, if you were to look at the glycemic index for carrots, they have a ranking of 68 which would put them in the medium category on the glycemic index. In the testing process, scientists feed the subjects enough of each food to provide 50 grams of carbohydrate available for absorption into the bloodstream. Because carrots contain unavailable carbohydrates and a lot of water, the portion size tested for carrots is seven (7) full size carrots.   

The glycemic load takes into account the glycemic index and the amount of the food that you are actually going to consume. To determine the glycemic load, you have to do a little math. The calculation is as follows:

(Glycemic index X Grams of carbohydrates) / 100*

Going back to the carrot example, when you look at one 8 inch carrot, the glycemic load is 11. Compare that to 2/3 of a cup of instant white rice which has a glycemic load of 26. When you change from using just the glycemic index to using the glycemic load, the values for food items come more into line with what you might expect. The highest glycemic load items are potatoes, rice, and bread.  Vegetables and fruit are at the lower end of the scale. 

In summary, the glycemic index and the glycemic load are tools that can be used to help control a person’s blood sugar level. The goal is to avoid highs and lows in one’s blood sugar levels. By utilizing the glycemic load information, a person can eat various foods that will spread out the effects from those foods. 

Thanks for reading!

*For those of you who have been away from algebra for a while, you do the calculation inside the brackets  first and then you divide by 100.