Monday, March 5, 2012


Since being diagnosed with pre-diabetes or high insulin I have carefully tracked my morning and post prandial blood sugar so that I can change my diet to control my blood sugar.  I use the techniques described at: Blood Sugar 101.  Basically, eat, test, adjust, repeat.  I have brought my HbA1C down to 5.1, which is almost normal, using this technique.  My blood sugar regulation is not normal, but so far it's not horrible.  One of the most stressful things for a pancreas seems to be high blood sugar, and the lower I can keep my average and peak blood sugars the better I can protect my organs and delay or even prevent the progression to full scale diabetes.

The hardest time for me is first thing in the morning, my fasting blood sugar is often 120, or even higher.  This is called a dawn effect, and nothing I have tried changes it much, not even taking Metformin.  If I eat much carbohydrate in the morning it shoots up even higher.  So I have a almost zero carbohydrate breakfast, with moderate protein most days.  Eggs, sauteed vegetables, salad, fatty meat, and at most a little fruit or very very small serving of GF oatmeal.  If I stick to a low carbohydrate breakfast I generally have my blood sugar down to 85-90 an hour after eating.  Later in the day, especially if I go for a nice long walk in the afternoon I can have more carbohydrates.  I tried eating super low carb for quite a while, but I had a lot of fatigue and other symptoms.  Ironically my HbA1C came down several points after I added a bit of afternoon carbohydrates, probably because very low carb diets cause physiological insulin resistance.  As I understand it, if your diet is chronically low carb your muscle and liver cells become insulin resistant to preserve the available glucose for the brain, which has first dibs.  Eating a bit more carbs made me more insulin sensitive.  But timing is everything with me.

I try to vary my breakfasts, but pretty much it's fried eggs, vegetables either raw or sauteed, and fatty meat.  My husband and older son join me.  A great side benefit is I no longer get frantically hungry at 10 and have to eat a snack.  In fact it's 2:00 now, I haven't had lunch yet, and I feel fine.  I would have been a hysterical mess if I had had my old low fat breakfast.

My two vegetarian children for some reason have very light appetites at breakfast and don't like eggs in the morning. Luckily they both like yogurt. They love granola, but I worry about oxidized fats, too much sugar, and lot's of unhealthful seed oils in commercial granola. There are several brands of soaked, dehydrated, pufa free granolas, but they cost an arm and a leg. So we make our own.

Homemade Granola

Mix certified gluten free rolled oats with slivered or chopped nuts and coconut.  For me I make it 1/3 oats, 1/3 flaked coconut, and 1/3 nuts and seeds.  My kids prefer more oats and fewer nuts.  Add a pinch of salt. I mix a very small amount of maple syrup, rice syrup, or honey in with melted coconut oil and toss it with the oats and nuts. Play with amounts, but 1/2 cup oil/honey to 6 cups oat/nuts is a fine starting point.  The more oil you use the crispier it will be. More syrup than oil will give you clumpier granola. Less honey and oil will give you a texture more like Muesli. Pour the mixture onto jelly roll pans, in a 1/2 inch layer and bake at 250 until it's evenly golden and toasty smelling. Watch it carefully.

You can use a lower temperature for longer if you worry about enzymes, I haven't used a dehydrator, but many people who follow a raw food diet make granola in a dehydrator.  You could also soak and dehydrate the oats and/or the nuts to increase their digestibility. If you are likely to eat a lot of the granola, or eat it daily, that's probably a good plan.

It will get crispier as it cools, so really go by color and smell.  When it is cooled and crisp (scrape underneath the mass as it cools a few times to prevent sticking) add freeze dried berries or dried fruit.  My kids love freeze dried strawberries in theirs, and it turns the milk pink!  You can get fancy with flavors and fruits, dried apple, cranberry, and cinnamon?  Pineapple, banana chips, macadamia nuts and a little pinch of dried ginger?  Sesame seeds and roasted cashews with very little honey for a savory granola?  Lavender, black pepper, and dried cherries for the haute cuisine set? The best part of homemade granola is as long as you don't burn it you really can't mess it up.

I don't eat this often, mostly if I am camping or hiking or doing something where I know I will use the extra carbohydrates. If you are camping or hiking try mixing your powdered milk half and half with whey protein powder to up your breakfast protein and decrease some of the milk sugar while still having a nice beverage for your cereal.  I don't use whey powder in my normal life, but it's great for camping.

My kids eat homemade granola most days.  I feel good about my kids having a breakfast they like that is homemade and healthful.  And they have nice healthy insulin sensitive bodies that can handle the carbohydrates just fine.

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