Monthly Archives: January 2017

Are You A “Carb”ivore?

The saying “everything in moderation” has given our culture an excuse to become “carbivores”, meaning, “over-consumers of junk carbs”.  We don’t think twice about up-sizing or “frapping” that coffee.  I certainly was part of that crowd up until my blood sugars were in the prediabetes range.  The candy stash at work, the donut for breakfast, the chips in the afternoon, and even the ice cream in the evening – no wonder we’ve become numb on carbs – it’s become the norm.

Rise in ObesityThe NHANES or National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey looks at health and nutritional data collected from both physical evidence and surveys from adults and children.  Developed in the 1960’s, this program was organized through the Centers For Disease Control to help provide data that can help identify trends.  From 1970-2000 the percentage of total calories consumed coming from carbohydrates has increased from 42 to 49% in men and from 45 to 51% in women.  While at the same time there has been a significant rise in obesity among both sexes – nearly 30% since 1960.  Could there be a connection between eating more carbs, weight gain and diabetes?

Carbs and Insulin

Eating carbohydrates raise blood glucose or “sugar” levels.  The size of the portion directly correlates with the rise in the blood glucose.  The higher the blood sugar the more insulin the pancreas has to produce to keep blood sugars in their normal 70-140 range.  Carbs include fruits, starchy veggies, milk, and anything containing grains and/or sugar.  The real culprits are the processed carbs made with white flour and foods with added sugars.  Over time, consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates keeps insulin levels high, overworks the pancreas, causes changes in fat metabolism and weight gain.  If you’re lucky, your healthcare provider will discover your rising fasting blood sugars before diabetes develops.  There are several blood tests used to diagnose prediabetes:  a fasting blood sugar on two occasions greater than 100, an A1c 5.7 to 6.4 or an oral glucose tolerance test(OGTT) with a result greater than 139.  Diabetes is confirmed with fasting blood sugar results on two occasions of 126 or greater, an A1c of 6.5 or greater, or an OGTT of 200 or greater.  There are 8.1 million people out there who have diabetes and do not know it.

How Many Is Too Many Carbs?

In the early 1970’s, when obesity and diabetes rates were lower, the NHANES data indicated that 42% of the calories for men and 49% of the calories for women were coming from carbohydrates.  Based on a 2000 calorie diet, that works out to 210 grams of carbs for men and 225 grams of carbs for women a day.

The new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines do not specify daily amounts of dietary carbohydrates.  They only state that less than 10% of calories should come from added sugars, half the grains from whole grains and a healthy eating pattern should include a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Not very specific, but combining the NHANES data with the new Dietary Guidelines can provide a framework.

Junk Carbs Add Up

A 16 oz Starbucks Frappuccino has 50 g of carbs.  McDonald’s Quarter Pounder has 45g of carbs and a medium french fries has 48g of carbs.  Add a coke and the total comes to 151g of carbs.  Even McDonald’s Southwest Salad with crispy chicken has 42g of carbs – and with the Southwest dressing, totals 53g.   A donut can have as much as 75g of carbs.  You can see how these junk carbohydrates quickly add up and can total 225 by noon.  Sugar is hidden in so many foods: ketchup, tomato sauce, crackers, yogurt, salad dressing, soups and many flavored waters.  Our taste buds have become so desensitized to sugar, that we don’t even notice how prevalent it is in many of our foods.

Be Carb Aware

University of California food labelLook at your food labels.  This food label from the Diabetes Education program at the University of California – San francisco explains how to read a label for carbohydrates.

I know how hard it is to slowly divest oneself from those favorite convenience foods.  I used to be a carbivore, or “chipaholic” to be exact.  Utz potato chips were my favorite.  It took me several years to realize the only serving size that can come in my house is the 3 oz individual serving that I split with my husband on rare occasions.  That 3 oz serving may cost me the same as the buy one, get one promotion, but I don’t have to deal with all the guilt after eating my size and my pancreas thanks me for it!

Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives.  Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word!  She also posts regularly on the Bangor Daily News blog page.

 

head

5 Steps to a healthy you – starts in your head

Making lasting lifestyle changes really does start in the head.  A house isn’t built with random placement of studs.  It takes a good foundation, a well thought-out design and careful construction.  Similarly, building a healthier you takes planning and good groundwork so that you will succeed.  If you follow these 5 steps, you will have a good foundation for building an awesome path to great health!

1. First you have to know what you really want.

What’s bothering you now about your current self and what do you need to change?  Most of my clients tell me initially they just want to lose weight.  I try to get beyond that.  With a little more probing I hear things like:  wanting to be able to look in the mirror with pride, being able to move more easily, gaining more confidence or having more energy.  Our emotions drive our behavior.  The more you connect with the emotions around making lifestyle changes, the more you will be able to resist the pull from old unhealthy habits.

2. Have a plan for obstacles

If your mornings are rushed, plan to make your breakfast and even lunch the night before.  If driving by a certain fast food place is a trigger, then take another route.  If seeing candy, chips, donuts or other junk food is a temptation, then find a way to get your work and home environment to support you.  If you know watching TV leads to snacking, then watch less TV and maybe go to bed earlier.  Do you come home famished in the afternoon?  Keep a snack size almonds in your car.  If you know a vacation or business travel is coming up, search on-line for restaurants that serve healthier preparations or buy healthy snacks like fruit and nuts once you arrive so you don’t go overboard when you eat out.  Know your patterns and triggers and make a plan.

3. Start small

Most people are overambitious by doing too many changes at once.  It can be overwhelming, lead to feelings of deprivation, negative self talk and failure.  The key is to make small enough changes so that you can feel confident you can follow through.  New to exercise?  Start by doing a little bit every day.  For new routines to become habit, it is better to find something small to do daily in order for them to become better embedded in your routine.  The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends doing 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise weekly.  Doing as little as 10-11 minutes of vigorous exercise daily will not only boost your cardiovascular health and ramp up your metabolism, but won’t stress your schedule.  Examples of vigorous activity include: walking up a steep hill, biking at 10 mph, race walking or jogging, or even jumping rope.  I can remember my dad for years used to do 500 jump ropes most days of the week and would even bring his rope with him when he traveled.  The 7 minute workout app is also a great way to get vigorous exercise.  You can find many others on Pinterest.  Why not find a nice hill in your neighborhood and go up and down that a few times?

4. Link your lifestyle changes to your regular routine

Link you bedtime to your morning routine.  Get to bed earlier to allow for the earlier alarm.  Switching to a healthier breakfast?  Save time by letting your oatmeal cook while you’re in the shower.   While you are cutting up veggies for dinner, make extra for lunch the next day.  Trying to break the habit of hitting the vending machine in the afternoon?  Ask your coworker to go for a walk with you instead.  Trying to drink more water?  Put reminders in your cell phone and keep extra water in your car and at your desk.  While you are getting ready for bed, take your exercise clothes out for the morning.

5. Pay attention to what you notice

This is what is meant by mindfulness.  The scale is not going to change overnight.   But you will notice other positive changes beginning immediately.  The first day you eat a healthy breakfast and lunch and cut out the junk, you will have more energy.  That lull in the afternoon will disappear and you won’t need a pick-me-up.  After a few days, you will notice you have less bloating, you’ll think more clearly and you will feel better.  After a week you will notice your clothes will start to become looser.  You will sleep better and wake up rested. Your conversations will be more positive.  Your relationships will take a different direction.  You will see yourself with kinder eyes and you will start to feel more confident.  You will notice that your new ways of living will become more comfortable and require less convincing and more just doing.  You won’t even have to get on the scale to notice all the payback for your decision to get healthy – you will know you are heading in the right direction!

Success in forming new healthy habits is mostly in the attitude, the planning, the setting of realistic expectations and the awareness.  It takes about 3 weeks for lifestyle changes to seem more natural and about 3 months for them to become routine.  If you know what you want and you make a good plan, you will get what you want in the end – a better feeling and better looking you!

Barbara writes a biweekly blog to help inform and empower people to live healthy lives.  Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word