Diets, Diabetes, and Food Science.

I’ve been overweight most of my life…. I think I was probably 8 yrs old the first time someone mentioned it. My mother blamed it on my father.

My eldest son was 8 when he first started getting a bit ‘thick’, the same with my second son, and my daughter. I was all blamed on me. Despite the fact that my feeding habits with the children never changed between 7 and 9 yrs of age…. or that the eldest’s weight issues never changed after he went into care at age 9. Still. ALL. MY. FAULT.

I can tell you categorically there is probably no other single element of human science, or medicine more filled with woo and quakery and charlatans and scams than the weight loss industry. I can tell you that because I have struggled with, lost and gained weight, read the science, read the nutrition, read the papers, seen the books, followed whatever the fad diet today is. Heck at one time in my life my mother would kindly send me whatever new weight loss book was the day’s favourite for my birthday or Christmas, figuring it would be interesting to me. 40+ years on …. I can pretty much assure you that no one is really entirely sure what they’re talking about.

20 years ago, I pretty much decided I am who I am, my self worth is not a number on a scale, and obsessing about it, and / or living with other people who obsess about it, was simply no more healthy for me than the weight was. I would eat well, I would eat what I liked, I would cook and I would live. Chasing numbers is for suckers.

Now a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis throws me right back into the hairy world of “miracle diet cures”, and the “SCIENCE shows!!” crowds. The really occasionally frustrating part of this is that there IS news in the world of dietary science, there is valid argument that the popular science thinking of the day has for decades been wrong and skewed and pushed by vested interests.

More and more good science seems to be indicative that ‘dietary fats’ aren’t the great enemy they’ve been projected as for the past 50-60 years. Largely sugars have been getting something of a pass (although not entirely), and the real culprits have been carbohydrates.

In other words…. Atkins might have been on to something.

And of course carbohydrates is exactly the place where the diet industry and the diabetes communities cross over. Especially for Type 2 diabetics, minding, watching, limiting and controlling the consumption of carbohydrates, is in a nutshell the only way to bring down blood glucose numbers – with or without the aid of medications. That much is true. However, within the diabetes community (and outside it as well) you’ll find (as one so often does) zealots. ALL carbs are bad, they obsess about the numbers, they keep scorecards…. “how low can you go?!” I’ve seen people bragging that they haven’t had a carb in years, or giddy they’re seeing BGL numbers in the 3.5mmol/l range (for those not familiar with the science or range, anything below 4 is a pretty serious hypoglycemic). On certain diabetic forums, a lot of them actually, you’ll find some people pushing LCHF (low carb high fat), and of Keto diets pretty heavily, and a lot of gluten-free woo thrown in for fun and flavour.

Now I’m not about to say these people are wrong. I’ve always kinda had a live and let live attitude towards other people’s dietary habits except as it comes into promoting bad, debunked, mythological science (a la the anti-GMO crowds, or the aspartame is poison nonsense). Really they aren’t entirely wrong, limiting carbs will reduce once’s blood sugar, the more you reduce the carbs the more you reduce your blood sugars – easy. A pretty strict very low carb regiment was how I initially got my BGL under control. And in conversational chats with dietitian friends – they agree – it’s a good kick start to getting your numbers down. However, I also firmly believe that *any* extremism isn’t likely a good thing and keto, paleo, atkins, advocates promising that a diet of just protein will cure everything from cancer to the common cold …. well it irks me.

It also irks me that it’s become almost impossible to separate the wheat from the chaff on this. I’ve seen so many people trying to flog another diet book that even good science gets read with an extremely skeptical eye.

For instance… this video was really interesting, and the science is solid and born out from another of other researchers.

As is this commentary added:

But then both of these gentlemen Dr Ludwig and Dr Eades are flogging their current diet / weight loss / miracle cure book. Skeptical.

More established sources of information? Like for instance The Canadian Diabetes Association and a lot of the ‘accepted’ medical literature and nutritionist information… is still pushing the whole food triangle argument of ‘balanced nutrition’ and the old notions of fat=evil. It doesn’t take into account more recent science findings, or even that dietary recommendations for Type 2′s who are using diet and medication to control their blood glucose, and for Type 1′s who are using diet to medicate – are really subtly but substantially different or at least they should be.

Simple Carbohydrates
Complex Carbohydrates
Glycemic Indexes
Slow Absorption
Fast Absorption

I really don’t think that anyone has ‘THE’ answer yet.

So yes, looking for data, information, science, a simple answer, a simple eating plan, I can trust, it didn’t really exist. Because there are no simple answers, and the science is continually evolving and especially for Type 2s my insulin resilience isn’t going to be like your insulin resilience which isn’t like their insulin resilience.

After all is said and done. I’ve taken a very middle of the road, no extremes, tack. I used self testing, medication and a low carb regiment to get my BGL under control, continued to use testing to slowly see what carbs I could and could not tolerate. Slowly added a bit more carbs back in (because – yes I *do* like a muffin or a piece of pie on occasion). I do eat some carbs, chose the complex, low glycemic index, high vitamin ones as often as possible, try to limit the processed simple carbs, and keep my ‘treats’ to within reason (as determined by self testing). This works for me, I’m happy with my numbers, so far my doctor seems happy with my numbers – I do have an appointment in June to get my April (1 yr anniversary) blood test results. Will this work for you? Maybe. Maybe not. Your body and endocrine system is yours, not mine. Do what works for you.

I’ll leave you with these two links – to a two part Ideas episode from CBC radio on fats and sugars that is worth a listen to.




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