Prediabetic? Cutting Out Sugar Won’t Help But This Will.
This is Part 1 of a 5 Part Series where I go over the 5 Areas to Focus on to reverse prediabetes.
“You’re prediabetic. Don’t eat sugar”
“My doctor told me to cut my carbs”
“I used to eat fruit but it has way too much sugar”
“My son in law cut out all his carbs and came off his insulin completely”
And on and on and on…
You’ve heard of these – or other – little gems before.
Seemingly innocent enough nuggets of half-truths, thrown around like confetti at a wedding.
With an intention to help and to guide and to advise on what to eat when you have prediabetes.
But really what they do is they confuse you.
These fibs actually make the problem worse – by setting you up for failure.
(No offense to your doctor, friend or son-in-law.)
Because when you’re confused about what to eat, you feel trapped.
Want a little more insight?
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You feel like, I don’t want to make this problem worse but I have no idea WHAT to eat because EVERYTHING has carbs.
But know this:
Reversing prediabetes has more to do with what you AREN’T eating, than what you are.
By that I mean from my 12 years of experience as a dietitian and diabetes educator helping people prevent, control and reverse blood sugar problems, I’ve learned one thing for sure:
It ain’t just about the sugar, honey (see what I did there?)
Now yes, you shouldn’t put mounds of sugar on your Cheerios in the morning (who should?)
And sure, drinking 2 liters of Orange Crush each day ain’t doing ya any favours.
But aside from drowning you cereal in the white stuff or chuggin’ down in pop or juice daily, you CAN have sugar and reverse prediabetes.
Again, I’m more concerned about what you AREN’T eating.
And I know.
This goes against what you’ve heard, what you’ve been told and what kinda makes sense to you.
So if you want to know what TO eat to reverse your prediabetes, read on, because over the next 5 blog posts, I’m breaking down the 5 Areas to Focus on to Reverse Prediabetes.
And if you haven’t already, be sure to grab my freebie for this week:
Click the picture below to grab it now.
Psst…there’s also a juicy freebie at the end of this post…keep reading…
This week, I’m talking Carbs.
Ok let’s just get right to it by getting a few items out of the way:
- Sugar does not CAUSE prediabetes
- You CAN eat sugar and reverse your prediabetes
- The earth is round (well, it is major truth too)
Look, I like to keep it light but all laughs aside, there truly is a lot of BS out there about carbs and how they relate to blood sugar so let’s clear the air, shall we?
In this week’s post, I’ll show you which carbs to focus on and which to keep for receptionist retirement party (aka your indulgences.)
First a little Carbohydrate 101 – the Triangle of Carbs: Starch vs. Sugar vs. Fibre
Your brain, muscles and other organs use glucose (the breakdown product of carbohydrates) to fuel everything that goes on in your body.
There 3 main types of carbohydrates:
- Starch (a bunch of glucose molecules strung together)
You’ll find starch in:
-Veggies like peas, corn, lima beans and potatoes
– Dried beans, lentils and peas like pinto beans, kidney beans, black eyed peas and split peas
– Grains – like wheat, oats, barley and rice
Starches provide us with sustained energy.
Because the carbohydrate is “wrapped up” in a grain, skin or “covering” of some sort, our body needs to work at getting the energy stored in to the grain out.
And this is a good thing!
Starches with skins or wraps lower the glycemic load of a whole meal which has been shown to lower after meal blood sugars.
This will help lessen amount of insulin that needs to be squirted out and reduce strain on the pancreas, which is one of the most important factors of the conversion from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
Also, carbs make you happy – really!
Serotonin is a “happy hormone” produced by the brain. An amino acid called tryptophan helps seretonin levels rise.
Go too low on the carbs and you risk feeling blah, down in the dumps or generally not so fabulous as your body may have a harder time keeping seretonin levels where they should be.
Another type of carbohydrate.
You may have also heard sugar being referred to as simple or fast-acting carbohydrates.
Or as I like to call them “Kinda Crappy Carbs”
There are two main types of sugars:
- Naturally occurring sugars like those in milk or fruit. The sugar in milk is “lactose”. The sugar in fruit is “fructose”.
- Added sugars such as those added during processing such as fruit canned in heavy syrup or sugar added to make cookies, cake or other sweet treats such as glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, dextrose, etc. There are many names for “simple sugars!”
Why do we need these carbs? Well, the naturally occurring sugars like fructose and lactose are packaged up into some seriously nutritionally-powerhouse foodstuffs.
Fruit provides fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other bioactive compounds that we don’t even know about yet!
And lactose is found in dairy products mainly (none in cheese though) and dairy provides protein, calcium and vitamin D. (Although you don’t need dairy products to have a healthy, prediabetes reversal-type diet, you can certainly include them if you like. More than ½ of the world’s population is lactose intolerant. In North America, we consume a lot of dairy.)
And the need for the simple sugars is more to do with habit, our culture (celebrating with food), the environment in which we live and for some people newly told they are prediabetic, the cravings for these come from a restriction in starches and fibres.
One of the most common “side-effects” I hear from people that go through my program is that they don’t crave high sugar things anymore.
Because when you give your body the glucose it requires from starches, you can then choose to have a high-sugar treat if you want, but not because you feel like you’ve broken your willpower.
Fiber is only found in plants. So if it doesn’t grow in the ground, it ain’t got no fibre.
There’s no fiber in animal products such as milk, eggs, meat, poultry, and fish.
Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes.
When you eat fiber, most of it passes through your intestines and is not digested.
Here’s the HUGE thing with fibre: it contributes to a healthy gut community.
That is, fibre makes the bacteria in your gut as happy as the well-lubricated employees of Mad Men.
And we know that the health of your gut is related to your weight and your risk of certain disease (yes, like diabetes.)
Just imagine all your little gut bacteria basically living in your town.
And it’s like the movie Pleasantville (at the start.)
It’s perfect and everyone is living, working and playing in harmony.
But then, if you start to cut carbs, you lose so much healthy carbs, including fibre, it starts to fall apart.
Because our bodies prefer to run on glucose, when carbs are cut, cravings for glucose go up.
And I mean up! Your brain demands glucose for energy.
You never crave a spinach salad with salmon. And there’s a reason for that: There’s no carb in there and your brain knows it!
We crave high sugar/highly refined starches – whether it’s a doughnut or cookie or whatever it is.
The brain craves glucose. And demands that you get it.
Remember the ice cream calling your name?
You know how you can’t go to the bakery and bring those fresh buns home because you can’t control yourself?
It’s your brain demanding fuel.
But we now live in a society where highly refined starches are cheap and readily available.
So back to your poor gut and Pleasantville.
Without fibre and healthy carbs it’s chaotic.
And it all.
Apart. (Like Pleasantville.)
So yes, you NEED carbs.
I’ve had more than one person tell me, they just have to LOOK at carbs and they gain weight
So there is a point between cutting them out completely and going over-board that we need to hit.
Calories from carbohydrates should make up the majority of your diet!
And don’t let anyone – doctor, friend or son-in-law – tell you any different.
PS. Want more? Click the pic below to grab my NEW freebie: The Top 107 Foods for Prediabetes Reversal