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Blogging Blood Sugar V - fond farewells? - John [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Blogging Blood Sugar V - fond farewells? [Apr. 8th, 2012|05:56 pm]

So, yesterday, I decided to make a loaf of sourdough whole wheat bread. I've seen suggestions that people can better tolerate whole wheat bread over white, and sourdough over bread raised with baker's yeast. It might have been a tactical error.

First, once the bread was out of the oven, and three hours cooled, I had the whole "OOOH FRESH BREAD!" reaction. That's getting easier to tamp down, but it's not, you know, *easy*.

Then, today, I cut myself enough bread to be really stingy, really, you know, *mean*. Enough so that, when I weighed it, I'd chuckle and say "see? that's not a lot of bread." Well... it was 76 grams. It wasn't a *lot* of bread, but it was a substantial amount. I could count on that being at least 36 grams of carbohydrate.

I've had at least twice as much bread with breakfast before - imagine two pieces of bread, buttered and grilled so the cheese melts on top (did I mention the cheese?), then topped with bacon or ham or a very-thin sausage patty, and then a fried egg placed on top of each. That was what I considered a good, satisfying amount of bread. That would be 72 grams of carbohydrate... well, now that I'm working out harder, I eat a lot more than that much in a day, but if I wasn't intentionally "sugaring up" for a workout, I might not eat even that much in a day. And, if I did, I'd do so in the form of lentils and onions and nuts, not simple starches.

The same rules always apply: anything I want to eat before exercise is fine - it can't hurt me, my muscles will burn it up, and without even putting much strain on my beta cells, because exercise burns sugar without insulin. But do I really want a nice, tasty loaf of bread, sitting around, calling my name, reminding me of the joys of buttered toast? Do I want to constantly think about making a hamburger sandwich, instead of just having a hamburger patty? When I'm eating sardines, do I want to be thinking "Eh, bland - maybe if I toasted up some bread, I could kinda mush 'em up - maybe add something as a flavoring to make a fish sandwich?"

(NB: Just discovered that sardines are a *very* good food - very high in Omega 3 oils, good source of protein, Vitamin D, calcium, B12, they're sustainably fished, and, they're low enough on the food chain that they don't tend to concentrate toxins.)

Here's the basics of food... your body needs protein, and fat. And, it needs glucose - but it can make it from protein if it has to. Your body doesn't actually need any carbohydrate.

Now, don't get me wrong: you'd be seriously malnourished if you avoided foods that had carbohydrate in them! But protein and fat build the body, and the carbohydrate is just the fuel. And wheat is a damn good source of fuel. If I was going on a ten mile hike, a nice big hunk of bread would be just the thing to have along with me. But let's face facts. I'm a database administrator, and if I'm not sitting on my ass for 7 hours a day, it must be a really slow work day. Before bread is a "good" food for me, I need a lot more activity, and, that activity is going to have to be self-directed.

I'd like that. I'd like to be more active. As time goes on, I realize my body is much less able than I'd like it to be. I'd like to be able to jump and run and dance; I'd like to take a martial arts class and be told that I obviously already can *move* just fine, we just need to learn to *direct* that movement. But, even if I exercised a heck of a lot more each day, I wouldn't actually need *bread*.

If, to quote Cookie Monster, bread has to be a "sometime" food, maybe it shouldn't be around the house. That's in keeping with an old rule I like to follow, where any food that's important enough to run to the grocery store is "legal".

(Have you ever heard of that? It goes like this: Any food important enough to motivate you to run to the grocery store is legal, but, you can't keep leftovers - which, for some people, would be really bad. They'd eat the entire 2, er, 1.75, er, 1.5, quarts of ice cream in one sitting. I've been there, though more often with a bag of chips, than with ice cream. But, it can work as good discipline. You want a few cookies? Fine, go to the store, buy the cookies, eat what you want, throw the rest away. But if it's not so important that you'll go to the store for them, it's *not* that important. I'll note it also requires a high degree of food security, where you *know* you have money to "waste" on an entire box of cookies when you'll only eat a few.)

I have a lot of dried berries around the house. They're *great* for sugaring up, but they're "treats", not "food". Bread is "food". When I visited kightp, I bought some candy, and again, treats, not food - that worked out well for me. But bread....

What's worse is, sure, whole wheat flour has good vitamins and minerals and fiber (insoluble fiber, which can be very important), but that's just the germ and the bran, both of which you can (and I have) bought separately. The rest, all the stuff that makes up the larger portion of the kernel, is just the starch, just the fuel, and not that good for you. I mean, as I said, *great* fuel, but I don't need much fuel.

I'm afraid that I'd be wisest to keep fresh bread out of my house, unless I can find a very germ-heavy recipe.

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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2012-04-09 02:40 am (UTC)
I am eating a lot of greens, both cooked (mostly kale - the others get a bit mushy for my tastes), and in salads. I also think a big, broad selection of vegetables is good, and salads let me mix up the greens with a variety of tasty raw veggies. I like having a broad variety in the (probably forlorn) hopes that I might end up having cravings if I'm ever shy on some nutrient.

They don't actually have all that much fiber, though... and I know from sad experience that if I need plenty. There's lots of fiber in beans, and in wheat bran, and in nuts and cacao nibs. And, there are fiber supplements, which I use.

Really, that's the crazy thing about wheat. It's not exactly *bad* for you; it's one of the best storage mediums I can imagine for human-fuel. But if you're not going to use the fuel up, well, the fuel-to-good-stuff ratio is just too high... especially for anyone who tends to run too rich on fuel mixtures (that is: anyone whose blood sugar can go high).
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[User Picture]From: wyang
2012-04-10 02:55 pm (UTC)
I get where you're at, John. I've lost more than 60 pounds since August, and there have been some real "adjustments" required to make that happen.
French fries in particular, but almost all deep fried foods are gone from my diet. I've cut down on pasta, pizza, and bread. And beef, pork, and cheese, too. Bacon, once something I ate all the time, now is a monthly occurrence at best.

Put that way, it sounds really heinous and difficult, like some kind of deprivation. And, when I see myself as being deprived, it has bad psychological effects that typically result in finding ways around barriers and blockages (ie: gorging one's self on unhealthy things).

But there's another way to see it. I like to say that my success to date has come from learning and building new habits. I suspect that this is the real "secret" to successful lifestyle change. Unlearning may be the hardest thing I've ever done... but also, ultimately, one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

One of the mental exercises I do is something I call "spin" -- try to change the description of what I'm looking at to change the emotional perception. In a two way race, "winning" is just another way of saying "second to last" or "scraping by just above last place." But it also works the other way, to build a more positive message for yourself. I've not given up all sorts of yummy things. I'm training my body and my mind to work on healthier things for me and it's having real results. It's an interesting mental exercise which can be used to build a self-reinforcing outlook.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2012-04-10 10:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's tricky. There *are* good things. Okay, so, for me, sugar can turn into poison. On the other side of that is a nice truth: since I'm not taking in carbohydrates, I can take in fat. I can have bacon whenever I want it. I can have almonds and peanuts and macadamias, and I can have lots of cashews, but they're higher in carbohydrate than a lot of other nuts, so I have to be careful. Cholesterol? That's just fat - and I should be burning more fat than I'm taking in. Saturated fat? Ditto. Sure, these things *can* become risks for me, but right now, they're so far overshadowed by the risk of blood sugar issues that I can disregard them. If my blood sugar is perfectly controlled, and my doctor tells me my LDL is too high and HDL is too low, *then* I can start thinking "maybe time to have less bacon and fewer burgers and more kippers". But that will probably only happen if I stop exercising and start overeating.

But bread... well... it's time to say goodbye to eating it, until things change. And I'm okay with that. I know it might become legal again, and if it does, I know *why*... I'm kind of at peace, because the world is working the way it should in this case. I'm not burning enough fuel to make it worth my while to throw that much fuel inside me. Even if I wasn't having blood sugar issues, each piece of bread I ate would turn into fat (and, on me, probably visceral fat). So, coming in second isn't "losing", it's having learned how the race was won, and knowing when and if I'll win it next time... and being able to appreciate the race, and the running of it, for its own sake.
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