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Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Type 2! What Should I Eat?

I often see these questions, in one form or another, on the various diabetes forums I read:

"How many carbs can I eat in a day?" or "What ratio of fat to carbs to protein should I eat?".

I think that is the wrong way to approach the subject for us as individual type 2 diabetics. Very few of us will actually sit down and work out the calories and fat:carbohydrates:protein ratios we are eating on a daily basis, nor does a daily limit for carbs work very well when our response to those carbs may be quite different at different times of day.

I do not deliberately plan to consume any particular proportion of daily fats, protein and carbs, nor any set daily carbohydrates level or limit. Instead, when I slowly developed my present way of eating I followed a simple process to work out what suited me.

My logic is fairly basic. I need to get all the appropriate nutrients for good health, but I need to get them in a way that does not jeopardise any of my various afflictions, including diabetes. I learned very soon after diagnosis that eating excessive carbohydrates caused blood glucose spikes, so I used this technique to adjust my carbohydrate levels until that did not happen: Test, Review, Adjust.

But other people, including my doctor, were then concerned that I may be missing out on vital nutrients. So I used a diet analyser to check what I actually ate to see if that was true. This is the most recent analyser I have found for that purpose: CRON-o-meter; there are others on the web if you do some searching. I also have regular blood tests; those can also show if I am deficient in various vitamins and minerals. If analysis or blood tests showed that I was missing something I then used the USDA nutrients guide to see what foods I could use to include those missing nutrients without increasing blood glucose levels.

In general terms, I found that eating a variety of proteins such as meat, fish and eggs in normal serve sizes, and replacing most of my starchy carbs, such as breads, potatoes, corn, pasta and similar with a wide range of colourful vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach, celery, onions, peppers, cauliflower, egg-plant and similar meant that there were very few nutrients I missed out on. In fact the increased variety of foods, especially vegetables, in my diet improved my nutrient intake in several areas.

If, and only if, I could not obtain a nutrient by adding a food to the menu I then added a supplement. At the moment my only supplements are vit D3, fish oil and magnesium.

When I do take the trouble to work out my fat:carbohydrates:protein ratios I find they are usually surprisingly close to those suggested in these interesting papers by researchers Mary C Gannon and Frank Q Nuttal:

Effect of a High-Protein, Low-Carbohydrate Diet on Blood Glucose Control in People With Type 2 Diabetes

Control of blood glucose in type 2 diabetes without weight loss by modification of diet composition

I did not use those as a guide, but it is reassuring to see that there is some science supporting my present way of eating.

Cheers, Alan

Everything in Moderation - Except laughter


rmarie said...

Welcome back Alan - I missed you here, but enjoyed your travelog!

May I ask what kind of magnesium YOU are taking? I've been taking "CALM" a powdered magnesium citrate dissolved in hot water and like it except sometimes I would prefer the convenience of popping a pill. CALM, surprisingly it does not promote sleep or loose stools in my case.

Alan said...

Alan said...
Until recently I took one Herron Natural Magnesium Plus pill daily: http://www.herron.com.au/Products/Cramps-and-Muscular-Pain/Magnesium-Plus

Recently my wife bought Nature's Own Amino Acid Chelated Magnesium as a replacement so I am giving them a try: http://www.naturesown.com.au/en/products/Mag-Chelate-500mg

I can't comment on either as better or worse than the other.

Whil I travelled in Peru I used sachets of "Perusana Magnesana Polvo" powder. Foul-tasting and difficult to swallow, but they seemed to work when used to counter a severe night cramp. Not my preferred solution.

rmarie said...

Alan, I checked the herron website and saw that the magnesium they use is the oxide kind. From what I've read, this kind is least absorped by the body - hence not very effective. (As it is also cheap, it is widely used in most supplements).

It's not a yes or no situation and opinions about the best kind differ. as usual. But check out this link which lists some advice given by Dr. Eades (whom most of us know and trust) http://www.advicegoddess.com/archives/2010/01/09/are_you_taking.html

and this one http://www.krispin.com/magnes.html to get you started.

Bob Fenton said...

Alan, many people do not have problems taking magnesium supplements; however, I would like to add a caution. I must take it under a doctors supervision as it will react adversely with one of my heart medications.

Although written for the US, the following article is very informative about magnesium. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602371

You are on target with your post, too many people approach diabetes from the limit and ratio perspective, instead of from what their meter tells them about their body and how the food affects them. I am also happy to see you talk about nutrition as we often forget about this.

diabetic neuropathy said...

Thanks for sharing a link to the CRON-o-meter. Really helpful.

daniel said...

just downloaded the cron o meter - looks col, but a bit confused about the "ash" slot!!

Anonymous said...

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog