New research shows carbohydrates aren’t the enemy in a Type 2 diabetes diet: It’s processed sugar
Conventional wisdom around nutrition and diabetes says that carbohydrates are bad. We now know that carbohydrates are not our enemy. The problem in a Type 2 diabetic’s diet is the processed sugar and sweeteners.
Population studies have shown that eating or drinking more sugar increases the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. In fact, the correlation is so strong between sugar-sweetened beverages and Type 2 diabetes that the American Diabetes Association states drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. However, we also know that artificial sweeteners are not the answer. Recent research at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University found a connection between calorie-free beverages sweetened with non-caloric artificial sweeteners and negative health effects linked to obesity and diabetes.This leads us to the biggest trend in all healthy eating: “clean eating.” No, this doesn’t mean wash your vegetables better. It means avoiding or limiting processed and refined foods in favor of more whole foods, especially plant-based foods.
Think more about what you eat than how much
Focus on what you’re eating rather than how much you’re eating to create a more natural approach to fueling yourself, compared with the old-school numbers game.
The best way to do this is to get the right types of foods in front of you at meal times. Some example goals may include:
- Plan your meals ahead of time and do your shopping every Sunday.
- Include a fruit with lunch daily.
- Eat out only twice a week.
- Eliminate food products containing high fructose corn syrup from your home.
- Be sure breakfast includes whole foods only.
The idea is to create a diet with more whole and plant-based foods, by doing simple things like weekly grocery shopping on Sundays. This is a real-world way of ensuring that you eat more whole-food meals at home and grab fewer last-minute vending machine meals.
One thing you might notice in a whole-food, plant-based diet are carbohydrates. Fruits, beans, whole grains — all these healthy foods contain carbohydrates and specifically contain high amounts of fiber. Remember, carbohydrates are not unhealthy; added sugar, artificial sweeteners and refined flour are.
Push your eating habits in the right direction
- Control your home environment. Eliminate as many processed foods containing added sugar, artificial sweeteners and/or refined flour from your home. This is where we tend to eat for “non-hunger” reasons — boredom, emotional distress and mindless eating.
- Eat more vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. Keep them in your home, pack them for work and have them in your car. That way, you’ll be more apt to eat them.
- Limit high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, etc.) in your diet. Read the ingredients list — on condiments specifically — to make sure you are choosing items that do not contain these ingredients.
- Create balance. Health is not about deprivation. A goal could be to live an 80/20 lifestyle, which means that at 20 percent of your meals, or about four meals a week, you are having a small food item for pleasure.
When you make smart, real-world goals; focus on eating a clean, whole-food, plant-based diet; and let go of the old idea that carbs are the enemy, you can make big changes in your health. Always remember to surround yourself with the right types of food and work to limit your access to added sugar, artificial sweetener and refined flour. But, remember, it’s about balance. Work to create an 80/20 lifestyle.