In my rebellious youth, I used to have a pin that said "Question Authority." Today I'm thinking about that pin and how I'm using that slogan to question those in positions of authority when it comes to diet and nutritional advice, like the USDA, the American Diabetes Association, and many nutritionists. It's almost sad that at my age, I find it hard to know what in the world I'm supposed to eat! I've tried so many diets, gained and lost pounds many times, counted so many calories, felt hungry and deprived so many days...it gets frustrating.
But, I'm not one to give up. I'm a curious person who always reads and researches topics on science and nutrition. And in the past six months some things came together that opened up my ability to learn even more. Due to a change in my TV cable package, I now can watch YouTube videos on my television. I could always watch them on my computer, but I didn't want to sit in front of a computer even longer than a work day. But now I can see them on TV, and I have them playing in the background while I make dinner, cleaning, or when I don't like what's on regular TV. Anyway, that's how I came across so many videos about diet, nutrition, etc. Now I know, YouTube is filled with a lot of strange stuff, but there are also great things...seminars by real doctors (MDs) that have real practices and see patients. There are videos of conferences where experts speak. And also regular people who have YouTube channels that show how they 100 pounds on various diets, share recipes, etc.
So that's how I learned the history of how we got the food pyramid, and the low fat/high carb diets that I had followed for so many years, and how it was based on studies that "cherry picked" the data, so they were not reliable. Now I regret all those years I ate rice cakes, skim milk, and margarine, thinking I was doing the right thing! I've learned that we shouldn't be afraid of fat...that butter isn't the culprit..it's the carbs. (If you don't agree, that's fine...to each his own...these are just my opinions after my research, and I firmly believe everyone should come to their own conclusions about what is best for them.)
Here are two interesting videos to watch, if you are interested. The first one is a really funny. It's by a comedian turned investigative reporter on this subject. His name is Tom Naughton.
This one is by a medical doctor, Dr. Ken Berry, who is being interviewed and explains his philosophy. He wrote a book called "Lies My Doctor Told Me."
This is how I learned about the relationship between eating carbs, blood sugar, the release of the hormone insulin, and how this is responsible for storing fat on our bodies. So I started testing my blood sugars with a home glucose monitor, and now I can see how carbs raise my blood sugar. So my own experiments have shown definitively that a low carb diet is best for me. I'm not sure what else to call it...it's not quite keto, because I don't worry about ketosis or staying under 20 grams of carbs a day, but I go by my blood sugar readings. Most days I'm under 50 grams of carbs. I don't track fats or protein at this point. I've learned that I need to keep my carbs at 15 grams or less per meal, or my blood sugar will go over 140 (which is too high). I'm not afraid to use butter, cream, cheese, etc. I eat protein at all meals and snacks. I also experimented with intermittent fasting, and would delay eating until noon or so. I like the idea of this, and with low carb your appetite really does diminish. But I've recently found my fasting glucose numbers are often high from the dawn phenomenon, and if I fast they stay high for hours. So I've started eating some protein in the morning for breakfast, like one hard boiled egg, and that actually brings my glucose numbers down into the normal range. Most days I don't eat any carbs until mid afternoon, when I have nuts for a snack, and then I'll have around 15 grams of carbs with dinner. Again, my goal is just keeping my blood sugar under 140 for the entire day, so I test in the morning and before and meals. Once I know a meal is "good" and doesn't raise my blood sugar, I may not test for that meal if I eat the same thing another day.
Just doing low carb, I was able to bring my A1C down from 6.6 to 6.1 in three months, in November. Since then I've been working even harder on the diet and testing my glucose daily and bringing my carbs down even further. So I'm curious to see what my next A1C will be in February. Home glucose meters are very cheap on Amazon. You can get a starter kit for about $15, and buy strips there too (much cheaper than through my insurance). I can give brand names and links if anyone requests it. It was through testing that I learned what I thought was healthy, like my homemade lentil soup, raised my blood sugar 87 points! So lentils aren't good for me and neither is rice, whole wheat bread, etc. But spaghetti squash is just fine, even though it does have some carbs. Test various foods to see how it impacts your body.
So, that's my plan for now. I wrote this blog mainly for friends who asked what plan I was doing. I kept putting off writing it, because I didn't know what to call my plan, and I keep tweaking it as I learn more and see how my body reacts to various foods. But basically I know I need to be low carb for blood sugar control. I feel good on this plan, because eating fat and protein keeps me feeling full, so I don't feel deprived or hungry like I did on high carb/low fat/or limited calorie plans. I don't count calories, only carb grams. I would tell anyone who thinks it's too hard to give up carbs and sugar, that you would be surprised how your cravings change within a week or two. I used to drink three cups of tea or coffee a day, with two teaspoons of sugar in each, and had done that all my life. Now, instead of sugar, I put a pat of butter and some cream. I know that sounds strange, but it tastes good! I think of all the carbs I save in a week just from that change alone! (For anyone afraid of the fat and cholesterol...watch the videos.)
Okay...this is long enough. And again, I'm NOT telling ANYONE they should do what I'm doing. Each person should do what feels right to them. But I encourage you to question the things you were taught over the years, to see if the science really backs it up (and follow the money...is someone profiting on the advice they give you?). I wish I had learned this sooner. I like to share things I've learned with friends. I'm just sharing, adding to the Wisdom of the Crowd. Thanks for reading.