Thriving in Toxic Diabetes Food Environment
Thriving in Toxic Diabetes Food Environment – We live in a food environment that is toxic for diabetes and obesity. Relentlessly and constantly it encourages bad choices in just about every imaginable lifestyle area. It ingrains bad habits from an early age and reinforces those habits through the approximately 6,000 food ads children 2-17 years old see each year. (1) Even at diabetes and obesity conferences, where medical professionals are learning cutting edge science, junk food is served abundantly. Each person choosing to make lifestyle a priority in managing diabetes is fighting an uphill battle to make healthier food choices every day.
Here are some tips and strategies that may help you to make lifestyle choices part of your natural course of action in the management of diabetes in the healthiest way possible:
- Eliminate processed foods and sugar whenever possible – that includes soda, fruit juice, desserts, candy bars, chips, crackers, etc. (what Michael Pollan terms, “Food-like substances”). Having a rule like this is much easier than, buying these foods and determining only to eat them at certain times in moderation. No! Your brain is hardwired to love and crave sugary processed foods. Some research suggests sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. (2) Most people find it is much easier to maintain optimal blood sugar control by eliminating these addictive foods altogether.
- Choose natural, whole foods as much as possible. Even things as simple as bread may have over 40 ingredients! Many of these additives have not been rigorously tested for their health impact. Michael Pollan urges to stick to food items that look, sound, and feel like “real food.” Single ingredient, very low-glycemic items should be your goal for great blood sugar control, including some fruits and most vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds.
- When shopping, don’t bring temptation home. A great way to eat better is simply not to buy junk food in the first place. If it is not in the pantry, you automatically prevent yourself from eating something damaging. When you are hungry at 11 pm and all you have are whole foods in the kitchen, you’re much more likely to make a good choice. (Incidentally, eating after dinner time is not necessarily a good choice for optimal blood sugar control with improving fasting glucose. In our opinion, it is better to get full at dinner and then fast until breakfast.)
- Cook at home whenever possible. Restaurants often use cheap, non-organic ingredients and add plenty of unhealthy ingredients and calories to what seem like “healthy” foods. Rather than try to navigate these dark and murky waters, it is much easier to cook in your own kitchen where you can control exactly what’s in your food and count the carbs accurately if you need to do so. As you practice cooking your own meals, you may find it to be a lot of fun as well.
- When you do eat out, prepare for war! You must be strategic to avoid a menu of landmines. Here are a few tactics to keep in mind:
- Substitute very low-glycemic vegetables for higher-carb restaurant side dishes. Even nutritionists cannot correctly guess the carbs in that pile of rice or potatoes.
- Don’t even let them bring it to the table!
- If you order a salad, ask for olive oils and lemon wedges as dressing on the side.
- Avoid white foods, especially potatoes, French fries, rice, and white bread.
- When desiring something sweet opt for very low-glycemic whole foods whenever possible. They raise blood glucose more slowly and less severely.
- When traveling, nuts or a salad are safe and healthy snack options. You can generally always find these in airports, convenience stores, and gas stations. As noted above with salads, get the dressing on the side and avoid anything like croutons.
- Always ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Often, your brain is craving food, but you are not truly “hungry” in the stomach-grumbling sense. Being more mindful of how you feel is an ongoing learning process and a huge asset when you get it right. It will prevent you from overeating right after a meal and in between meals.
- Know your weaknesses. What food can you not stop eating once it is in front of you? The best way to combat this is to never buy or eat that food. Period. In a toxic food environment that encourages bad choices, it is better to give up addictive foods, or those with which you have poor self-control than to deal with the nightmare blood sugar consequences of eating them.
- When in doubt, follow Michael Pollan’s seven-word maxim: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” These seven words are what he calls “the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.” We all can remember seven words!
What strategies do you use to stay healthy in our modern food environment?
Our environment, internal and external, indoors and outdoors, has reached a point of inescapable concern. Taking healthy measures to minimize your exposure and keep your body’s detoxification systems functioning optimally can be of great benefit to long term health and #BloodSugarControl.
In our downloadable, printable special report on the Environment, Diabetes and Health, we present evidence that demands action, and we give you the tools to take action to #MasterDiabetesNaturally. This is one of the five pillars in the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle that supports thriving health and better BloodSugarControl.