Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's up with the Food Guide!

Hello all you wonderful people!

As a nurse educator I am required to teach others with diabetes how to eat properly(well that's not all I do)  Yes, we have dietitian's for that during group programs.  However,  I do a lot of follow up with my diabetic patients.

I am required to cover the basics like, food choices, portions sizes, food types, fiber, etc.

So before every meeting, I must  reluctantly grab the Food Guide.  I say reluctantly for a few reasons.

The original Food Rules was designed and published in the 1940's, yes, the 40's when people were actually needing to gain weight, and suffered from malnourished diseases like scurvy, vitamin deficiencies.

Fast forward to now.  Go to the mall and look around and it is unfortunately obvious that we are no longer malnourished.

So I enter the room to advise my patient on proper eating, using a tool invented in the 40's, although it has been modified over the years.  At least now in Canada the fruits and vegetables are prioritized to the top, not starches like before. Unfortunately protein is on the bottom.

It is let's just say a professional dilemma for me to advise a person with diabetes to consume huge amounts of carbohydrate. Let's just kill the little Islet cells they have left shall we(Sense the sarcasm) Anyhow, I need a job so I have to follow the rules.

So there I am sitting across from an individual who tells me "I have been following the guide as recommended, and I am gaining weight, my blood fats(lipids) keep getting worse, and my diabetes is getting harder to control"
What do I say?  I can tell you what I want to say, which is,  stop eating so much carb, and grill yourself some lean steak and omega three eggs for breakfast instead of the 2 cups of cold cereal loaded with 80 grams of CHO(carbohydrate)

Back to reality. Don't worry, I rely on other tools.

I discuss the fact that obviously the plan is not working, so perhaps try reducing your carb intake by 10-20 grams per meal, add some lower carb vegetables, and increase the leaner proteins. I also explain the concept of glycemic index, fiber, and the role of fat and protein in satiety.

I encourage them to simply explore the literature, trial and error, and to ask themselves if their current method is actually working.

Basically I give them some food for thought, no pun intended.

I am glad that more and more people are considering lower carbohydrate diets as a healthy and legitimate weight loss strategy.  I am also glad that more and more research is being done on the effects of a lower CHO diet.

One final note: I tell them to shop on the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the inner isles where all the super-carb loaded food is stored.


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