Friday, November 11, 2005

From New York Times...

While reading this lengthy article today (part of it is below) I recognized myself in the description of the blood sugar crash. It happened to me the other day. I wish I had spent more time thinking about what I had eaten prior to the crashing. I guess it's time to start. Although for the most part, I do think I eat very much like the diet described here (towards the bottom). I do count calories, but I also eat lots of protein, lots of veggies, don't worry much about fat, and I choose carbs last. And when I do I try to choose whole grains.

In my opinion this is the only way to eat, but I only achieved it through trial and error. Essentially it ended up being the only way I could eat my allotted calories AND get full.

Don't get me wrong, I do eat junk too. But my point is that I no longer believe a bagel is better for me than peanut butter. In fact, I do remember that I ate a tablespoon of peanut butter afterwards and felt better right away.

Note to self: Listen up! This is you!

David Ludwig, the Harvard endocrinologist, says that it's the direct effect of insulin on blood sugar that does the trick. He notes that when diabetics get too much insulin, their blood sugar drops and they get ravenously hungry. They gain weight because they eat more, and the insulin promotes fat deposition. The same happens with lab animals. This, he says, is effectively what happens when we eat carbohydrates -- in particular sugar and starches like potatoes and rice, or anything made from flour, like a slice of white bread. These are known in the jargon as high-glycemic-index carbohydrates, which means they are absorbed quickly into the blood. As a result, they cause a spike of blood sugar and a surge of insulin within minutes. The resulting rush of insulin stores the blood sugar away and a few hours later, your blood sugar is lower than it was before you ate. As Ludwig explains, your body effectively thinks it has run out of fuel, but the insulin is still high enough to prevent you from burning your own fat. The result is hunger and a craving for more carbohydrates. It's another vicious circle, and another situation ripe for obesity.
The gist of the glycemic-index idea is that the longer it takes the carbohydrates to be digested, the lesser the impact on blood sugar and insulin and the healthier the food. Those foods with the highest rating on the glycemic index are some simple sugars, starches and anything made from flour. Green vegetables, beans and whole grains cause a much slower rise in blood sugar because they have fiber, a nondigestible carbohydrate, which slows down digestion and lowers the glycemic index. Protein and fat serve the same purpose, which implies that eating fat can be beneficial, a notion that is still unacceptable.

At Ludwig's pediatric obesity clinic, he has been prescribing low-glycemic-index diets to children and adolescents for five years now. He does not recommend the Atkins diet because he says he believes such a very low carbohydrate approach is unnecessarily restrictive; instead, he tells his patients to effectively replace refined carbohydrates and starches with vegetables, legumes and fruit. This makes a low-glycemic-index diet consistent with dietary common sense, albeit in a higher-fat kind of way. His clinic now has a nine-month waiting list.

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