No Sugar Is Best?
For nearly all of the 20th century most people believed that to control their diabetes they had to avoid sugar completely. Sugar free candy, cookies, cakes, and other foods became the staple treat for diabetics all over the world. If you wanted to buy your sweetheart something for Valentine’s Day (or any holiday) you just looked for sugar-free chocolate.
The only problem with this is that diabetics were still having problems controlling their blood glucose levels. Even without their dreaded arch-nemesis, sugar, diabetics were (and still are) having high and low swings. Many were and are not able to figure it out. What were/are they doing wrong?
Food Raises Glucose Levels Higher
Back in 1994 a discovery that the foods you eat can raise blood glucose levels higher than sugar surprised many. This is one reason your doctor may warn you to avoid starches. The amount of carbohydrates in certain starchy foods can dramatically raise blood glucose levels. For example, normal white sugar has a GI (glycemic index) of 92 whereas white bread has a GI of 100, meaning the bread will cause a rise in blood glucose faster than sugar!
The Fat Factor
Another problem with sugar free diabetics foods is that they provide a false sense of security. You may believe that it is safe to consume more of a snack if it is sugar free. This is far from reality, though. Sugar free foods can contain more calories and fat than traditional ’sugared’ foods. Due to insulin and other medications causing a resistance to weight loss in some diabetics, adding extra fat in a diet can be extremely detrimental to keeping a healthy base weight.
So, What Do I Eat?
The good news? Pretty much anything you’d like, in moderation. Popular fad diets advocate high protein/low carbohydrates. The honest truth is that these diets will work. But, in a diabetic, the results can be weight loss plus a serious loss of health. Too much protein can put the body into ketosis which can be deadly for a diabetic.
Avoiding foods entirely can make you crave them more. Instead of avoiding a particular food or food group, allow yourself to enjoy it in smaller amounts. Be aware of what causes your blood glucose to rise and adjust your daily diet accordingly. Had a baked potato with your steak? Then skip the pie (or other dessert). Love steamed cauliflower? Just halve that brownie you want with a friend or your kid.
Remember to speak with your doctor before making any diet changes!