Tip #30: Eat Like a Diabetic, So You Don’t Become One
By Toni Julian, health advocate & author
Did you skip breakfast today? Do you have to try to remember to eat lunch? Are you so busy thinking of others that you sometimes go too long between meals? Do you wait until you are so famished you could win a hot-dog eating contest? Or let your guard down and sneak a bite or two of a pastry left in the breakroom when no one’s watching?
There’s a term for that; it’s called human nature. It has everything to do with our blood sugar being out of balance and our physiological need for survival.
If you’ve encountered me during a sampling event at the store, one of my corporate talks or a friendly chat at the gym, you’ll know that blood sugar is pretty much all I talk about. Why?
It’s because the quality of the food you eat, when you eat it, and it what combination can help you or hurt you. Here’s my storybook version of what happens:
Imagine you’re in a boat floating rapidly down a river. On either side of you are two banks about ten feet away. The river represents a healthy blood sugar range and your goal is to stay around the middle so you don’t hit the rocks on the river bank and crash your boat. If you miss a meal, and let’s say your blood sugar drops, you’re going to crash into the left bank. If you eat a bunch of donuts, your blood sugar will spike, and you’ll surely hit the right bank.
Now, you have a bunch of friends standing along the banks making sure you don’t get too close. The friends on the left side of the bank are named Glucagon (I know, you would never name your child that) and on the right side are your buddies Insulin.
Any time your blood sugar ebbs and flows, so do these hormones glucagon and insulin. When your blood sugar is low, glucagon kicks in to elevate it and when it’s too high, insulin is secreted to drive that harmful sugar into storage.
So, what does this mean for you?
When your blood sugar is too low, you’ve gone too long between meals, your body works hard to make sure your brain can function, and without the proper fat and carbohydrate calories, you may notice a bit of a brain fog spilling over the embankment. Some of the symptoms include hunger, shakiness, nervousness, sweating, dizziness or light-headedness, sleepiness, confusion, difficulty speaking, anxiety and weakness. You may also lose muscle over time.
When your blood sugar levels are too high, these extra calories are driven into fat cells for storage to prevent harmful damage.
According to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, the optimal range for non-diabetic people are 70-99 mg/dl upon waking, and 70-140 mg/dl after meals.
Now your glucagon and insulin friends love you and remember to care for your body, even when you don’t, but they can get fatigued. At some point your pancreas will raise the white flag if it’s feeling overly abused. Oh no, it’s the boulder in the middle of the river. I did not see that coming!
What can you do to avoid diabetes?
- Think of every meal being a balanced meal, and not a snack
- Spread your calories out evenly over the day into 4 or 5 meals
- Combine lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats in every meal
- Be sure not to go long periods of time without eating
- Walk, hike, swim or workout at least 30 minutes every day
Everyone is unique, visit your doctor for a blood workup. Be a good friend to your body by being a good listener. And don’t rock the boat!
From my heart to yours,
Toni Julian is the 2017 recipient of the Top Women of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, is a nationally renowned health advocate, nutrition adviser, fitness expert, and author of BITE ME! Change Your Life One Bite at a Time. She a 50-something mom of four, on the board of directors for NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) and Creator of TONI’S Protein Meals, with 18 grams of protein for a conveniently healthy and complete meal that’s ready in minutes. Get yours at Sigona’s! Visit www.ToniJulian.com
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