Like most of my fellow type-2 diabetics, I am well aware that the carbohydrates in foods raise blood sugar levels, and for the diabetic, blood sugar levels are a constant source of concern.
Since most diabetics are overweight, an additional concern for them is weight loss, how to lose weight and how to keep it off. That concern is not limited to diabetics, public health authorities frequently report that most Americans are overweight.
For the above reasons, and like many others wanting to lose weight, many diabetics have turned to low-carb diets that have been popularized in the media during recent years, especially the Atkins and South Beach type of diets that drastically reduce the dietary intake of carbohydrates.
Attractive as they sound, whether those diets can fulfill their promise for any length of time is still a matter of debate and many medical authorities, most in fact, are highly critical and condemn their approach as being dangerously unhealthy.
But as I approach the situation, knowing from experience that I cannot stick to any diet for very long, my plan is to continue eating the way I am accustomed to, with carbohydrates, but try to eliminate the worst culprits, while continuing to enjoy the good, or less bad, carbohydrates, and to eat less of them.
I have already cut out the chocolate bars and candies and those rich desserts that satisfied my sweet tooth, but I’m still too frequently inclined to succumb to the temptation of a 300 calorie junk food muffin.
So what is the solution? It’s low carb foods!
First, a brief comment on carbohydrates, let’s call them “carbs” for short.
Carbs are a category of essential nutrients, together with proteins and fats, that provide energy for the cells of the body. They are composed of chains of sugar molecules, simple sugars, complex sugars, starches and fiber, which are broken down in the body’s digestion process to mainly glucose molecules which are then passed into the bloodstream where they circulate until taken in by the body’s cells that use them for fuel. An elegant process in the miracle of life. And that is a good side of carbs in which they provide us with energy.
The key is the amount of glucose the carb content of the food can supply and the speed at which that carb content is converted to glucose and enters the bloodstream. When the carbs are converted speedily, it raises blood sugars too high too quickly, much preferred is a slower entry of glucose into the bloodstream.
Some foods have only a minor amount of carbs, some foods have practically none and they are good for other reasons as a source of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients the body needs. Included in such foods are fish, lean meats and poultry, eggs, cheese, beans, nuts, and fresh fruits. Most vegetables are low carb foods but potatoes should probably be avoided, or limited.
Useful aids in determining which foods are appropriate for my low carb foods diet approach are the Glycemic Index (GI) and the Glycemic Load (GL) lists of carb containing foods. These indexes are becoming well-known as a valuable reference source for food selection.
The glycemic index provides a list of foods numerically ranked by the speed at which their carb content is converted to glucose and enters the bloodstream after eating. Foods that are dense in simple carbs are quickly reduced to glucose and are assigned a higher glycemic index number while complex cars that take longer to be broken down are given lower numbered rankings, those are the foods that help maintain blood sugars in a relatively balanced state.
The accepted ranges for glycemic index values are:
Low, with rankings up to 55
Medium, with rankings from 56 to 70
High, with rankings over 70
Glucose has a value of 100.
Since different food items have different concentrations and types of carbs, the glycemic load index factors that aspect into the basic glycemic index and becomes perhaps, an even better guide as a reference to foods and potential food choices.
By using the GI and the GL and by checking the Nutrition Facts information and the lists of ingredients that are shown on packaged foods, my plan of eating mostly low carb foods is made easier.
As a diabetic I do listen to the advice of my health care team and my diabetes is under the care and monitoring of my doctor, as should be the case for everyone with diabetes, but all diabetics realize that much of the day-to-day management and control of their diabetic conditions is left in their own hands.
For more information on this topic, including more detailed explanation of the glycemic index, please check out the following links: Diabetic Food List Plus and Low Carb Foods.