I’d like to provide more details on my last column regarding nutrition for diabetics. This column is NOT intended to discourage you from following your physician’s advice. Rather, it’s an alternative option regarding nutritional care for diabetics.
Last week, I touched on the fact that the Canadian Diabetes Association, directed in part by medical doctors, recommends high allowances of carbohydrates for type II diabetics. Carbohydrates convert to glucose in the body, high blood levels of glucose being problematic for type II diabetics. I used Dr. Diana Schwarzbein’s concepts from her book The Schwarzbein Principle to substantiate much of the basis of my column. I was asked by one person if Dr. Schwarzbein’s methods are considered safe since diabetes is a serious disease that ought not be taken lightly. I agree and it‘s my strong belief that it’s actually unsafe for type II diabetics to adhere to recommendations as listed by the Canadian Diabetes Association.
Here’s the sample breakfast for type II diabetics as included on the Canadian Diabetes Association’s website: ½-cup cold cereal with one-cup low-fat milk, one slice whole grain toast with two tablespoons peanut butter, one orange and tea or coffee.
Again, this is a phenomenal number of items that raise blood sugar levels – cereal AND toast, fruit, lactose (a form of sugar) from milk and the high likelihood for sugar in typical supermarket peanut butters. In addition, caffeine disrupts blood sugar balance and stresses the body.
Mine and Dr. Schwarzbein’s suggestion is to alter meals presented by the Canadian Diabetes Association to include healthier and less refined items.
So, what IS a good alternate sample breakfast for type II diabetics? Dr. Schwarzbein suggests the following:
Spinach and feta omelette. 1 cup of cubed honeydew melon. OR
2 scrambled eggs, ½-cup cottage cheese, ½ grapefruit. OR
2 hard-boiled eggs, 1/3 cup oatmeal with 1 tbsp. plain yogurt, ½ medium orange. OR
¾ cup plain, whole milk yogurt with ½-cup strawberries or 1/3 cup blueberries.
Each of these suggestions provides approximately 15 grams of carbohydrate, including carbohydrates found in dairy and fruit – a minimal amount for type II diabetics who should be in the habit of limiting carbohydrate consumption.
You may be thinking that that’s a lot of fat and that diabetics, being more susceptible to heart disease, should limit fat intake. Dr. Schwarzbein, like myself, is in support of including fats in the diet. Fats nourish the brain and connective tissues, cushion and protect organs and glands, are the building blocks of hormones and are integral to the formation and rebuilding of bones, cells, enzymes, hair, muscles, nails and neurotransmitters. Fat is a good source of energy for the long term, beneficial for endurance exercises that all diabetics ought to be participating in.
Like many things, saturated fat is nourishing to the body so long as it’s moderated. Glucose is needed for insulin to be released and insulin is needed to store fat, so eating fat in isolation will NOT make you fat. Rather, it’s excessive glucose from processed, refined foods and too many carbohydrates that makes you fat. Once the body’s sugar reserves are full, sugar stores itself as fat.
What about the potential for clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) by eating too much fat, leading to heart disease? Insulin resistance, caused by consistent high blood sugar, caused by eating excessive dietary sugars and refined carbohydrates is much more causative of atherosclerosis than eating dietary fat in moderation. Eating dietary sugar causes your body to burn up ingested sugar instead of fat. High insulin levels have been shown to decrease fat burning and encourage plaque formation in the arteries. The body is designed to assimilate dietary fat that is necessary to good health. When our systems get thrown out of balance due to excessive consumption of refined and processed foods, especially carbohydrates and sugars, the body is unable to perform its tasks effectively and as nature intended.
As Dr. Schwarzbein says: “Because systems of the body are interconnected, good health is related to more than one thing. An “abnormal” cholesterol profile would be only one marker indicating the health of your metabolism. Likewise, a “normal” cholesterol profile does not indicate that you are not at risk for heart disease. Instead of looking at a number, ask yourself questions about your lifestyle. Are you living a healthy life, or are you stressed, eating poorly, using stimulants and other drugs, and not exercising?”
For more information, please check out The Schwarzbein Principle: The Truth About Losing Weight, Being Healthy And Feeling Younger.
Roberta Shepherd for Wellness on Whyte