If you’re a newly diagnosed Type2 or Pre-diabetic, and you’ve investigated your choice of “treatment plans,” and you are willing to consider treating your condition as a “dietary disease,” you next need to know how to choose what to eat and when! Like most folks faced with this challenge, you will ask, “With so much carb restriction, what can I eat?”
Most of us have lived our lives eating a surprisingly limited variety of foods. Culture, convenience and habit play a big role, so the answer will be different for everyone. Generally, in recent times that limited variety has consisted largely of CARBOHYDRATES. That’s how we got into this mess in the first place!! So, the foods we have eaten for most of our lives are necessarily going to have to change. And that change will include eliminating a lot of favorite foods.
So, naturally, most people have come to think of carb restriction as deprivation. And, in the sense that you will need to forego many of the things that got you into trouble, that’s fair. But another way to think of it is to ask yourself if what you ate gave you intestinal distress (cramping and diarrhea), as it does to gluten or lactose intolerant people, wouldn’t you readily and speedily give it up? C’mon. You be fair! Wouldn’t it?
By this way of thinking, foregoing excessive CARBOHYDRATES in the diet is a similarly life-long change; you will restrict eating excess carbs to avoid future blindness, amputations, and end-stage kidney disease! Plus, you are avoiding a much higher risk of heart disease, stroke, sexual dysfunction and certain cancers! This motivates a lot of people.
Under these circumstances, I think you’ll agree that learning what you can safely eat takes on a much more positive aspect. And you have a lot of good choices. Let’s start with the basics: There are three “macronutrients”: protein, fat and carbohydrates. Most animal protein is “complete protein” (contains all the essential amino acids), and also contains some fat (largely saturated). That’s okay. Even dietary cholesterol is okay. In 2014 the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee finally said “dietary cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
So, every meal should contain some animal protein and fat. After that, a small amount of carbohydrates is okay, but entirely optional. Our body requires both protein and fat, but the body has no minimum dietary requirement for carbs. But, if we’re going to consume carbs, let them be 1) unprocessed, whole foods, 2) non-starchy vegetables such as greens, and 3) low in “sugar.” I avoid peas, beets, carrots and corn (except for locally grown ears in summer: LOL).
Some good advice I gleaned from Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s book, “The Diabetes Diet” (Little, Brown, 2005), was to eat the same food every day for one or even two meals each day. Bernstein is now an 85yo Type 1 Diabetic, so his advice eliminates the carb and protein variable from his insulin regimen, but I find that I am perfectly content to just eat eggs and bacon, and coffee with cream, for breakfast. No juice. No bread. This meal is very filling and easily carries me to lunch. Still, five hours after breakfast I usually eat a can of sardines in EVOO. Just one small can. And a bottle of water.
Five hours later I eat another small meal for supper: a serving of animal protein with fat, and a medium-sized serving of a low-carb vegetable prepared with fat. Examples are: asparagus spears or cauliflower tossed in olive oil and roasted; broccoli steamed with garlic and finished with butter; young green beans tossed in butter; or a salad of romaine, endive, mushrooms, chopped hazelnuts and grated cheese, well tossed in a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
The meat course is always small and always enough: one roasted chicken thigh (skin on); two small lamb chops (a rack of 8 is enough for two people for two meals!); one 8 ounce filet mignon, cut in half to serve two; ¾ pound of cod (for 2), poached stovetop with celery and fennel; Good foods all, and the choices are endless, if you think about it.If these seem like small meals, well…they are. But because they have lots of satiating protein and fat, they are filling. Animal protein is expensive, you say. True, but you eat so much less of it when you limit carbohydrates. All these healthy foods are unprocessed and nutrient dense. They will satisfy the body’s nutritional needs, so you will eat less. You will not feel the need to snack because you will not be hungry between meals, and you will lose weight easily.