If “Quo Vadis” is the most portentous question asked, then “what’s the best” is simply the most inquisitive question we ask all the time. What’s the best new television series? What’s the best fast food chain? What’s the best small town? What’s the best online casino?
There are many new tv series; there are dozens of fast food chains; there are thousands of small towns and thousands of online casinos. What one person considers the best, another person might not think belongs in the Top Ten. So, when we ask what the best diet for diabetics is, we should expect to find that there are many different answers and so there are.
One theory is that excessive carbohydrates cause elevated blood sugar levels and the poor functioning of a diabetic’s insulin production and can cause the blood sugar levels to stay elevated. The solution, then, is to reduce the consumption of all carbohydrates on the high end of the calorie scale.
Another theory is that excessive consumption of fats leads to cells being surrounded by fat and leading to insulin resistance. The solution here is to reduce fat consumption to nearly zero.
Need for Fats and Carbs
Unfortunately, our bodies need both carbohydrates and fats. There are vitamins that are fat soluble; we need fats to be able to use these vitamins. Our bodies need carbs for energy; simply calories. Carbohydrates have essential minerals and enzymes. Carbs are also an excellent source of fiber.
Any radical diet will lead to feelings of being deprived. Most weight-loss diets fail because people simply can’t stay with them long term. A sound diabetic diet has to enable your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels without giving you the feeling that you are being deprived.
The first step in getting control of your blood sugar is to eat less. But eating less can be depressing. So, the alternative is to eat less but more often. A meal does not have to be “balanced” with some food from every food group. In fact, there is evidence that mixing food groups, especially for diabetics, is not good.
Already, many dieticians and endocrinologists recommend eating fruit separate from all other foods. Some say to have at least an hour between fruit and other foods and some say as much as two hours. In either case, a single fruit can constitute a meal. It’s much better to eat an apple at 10:00 am as a meal rather than a snack.
Snack Meal; Snack Meal
If we think of the apple as a snack, we think that we have to eat more at lunch. This is less good than eating something that will give us energy for the afternoon rather than a “normal “ meal.
If your dietician tells you that a quarter cup of raw oatmeal is a meal, then you can eat the oatmeal at any time and call it a meal. The same goes for an apple.
Eating small meals means that you cannot gorge yourself. This is true—truer than whether the high-fat or low-fat diet is better. Diabetics have to learn not to overeat even if they’re eating a lettuce salad. Most people need some kind of dressing to be able to eat a plate of lettuce. A small plate of lettuce calls for a small amount of oil and a large plate of salad calls for a larger amount of oil.
There’s nothing inherently bad about oil; but, it should be consumed in small quantities.
A diet of frequent, small meals will very likely result in some weight loss. Most diabetics need to lose weight anyway so this is a good thing. Losing weight reduces the amount of oil surrounding your cells which is one cause of insulin resistance.
When you lose weight, you feel less hungry. That leads to needing less food.
The best way to start is probably to go either on a high-fat regimen or on a low-fat regimen but strictly as an experiment. In only one week, you should know if the diet you’ve chosen has been good for you or bad for you.
If the diet was good and your blood sugar has come down, that’s the time to add one item that you avoided during the experiment. So, if you chose a high-fat diet and it helped, add that quarter cup of raw oatmeal and see if there is a change. If you chose a low-fat diet and it helped, add a teaspoon of olive oil to your salad.
Experimentation can be a long term project as you discover which foods cause your blood sugar to go up and stay up and which foods don’t. The purpose of experimenting in this way allows you to identify foods within a food group that negatively affect your blood sugar so you can avoid them without eliminating the entire food group.
I Never Wanted an Apple More
Fruit is often one food group that we are told to cut out altogether. A high fat, high protein diet will eliminate fruit entirely because even a small fruit has too many carbs. Most people cannot stay on such diets for a very long time, because they develop overwhelming cravings for even one piece of fruit.
Eating frequent small meals is also difficult. Staying healthy for anyone is difficult. We all know people who can nurse a single scoop of ice cream for the length of time that average people take to eat three scoops. Diabetics need to learn that almost any food is okay in the proper proportion.
A scoop of ice cream is not dessert for a diabetic; it’s a meal. And it’s a smaller than usual meal at that but if you can’t live without ice cream, experiment to find the proper portion for you and eat it as a meal.
Our Bodies Know
Some men as they reach early middle age bemoan the fact that their clothes have “shrunk”. Women have a middle age spread of their own. Many people don’t develop diabetes but eating smaller amounts is good for everyone.