Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Healthy Blood Sugar

Bacon covered meatloaf, fat and protein to get through the day
All of my life if I missed a meal, or it was 7:00 and I hadn't had dinner yet I would pretty much lose my mind.  My poor husband has spent many an evening driving around looking for a restaurant that had a table for us while I got increasingly confused and hysterical.  These episodes always end in tears.  Most of my time as a teacher I have eaten breakfast, a snack around 10:00, lunch, and another snack around 2:00, and possibly 4:00, before going home to make dinner.  On nights when I have to stay at work until a performance I regularly would bring a giant bag of food just to get through my day.

An interesting thing has happened since I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes and started controlling my blood sugar with diet, I can go hours without food.  I no longer get frantic, hysterical, or teary if I miss a meal.  Simply keeping my blood sugar under 140 at all times, in addition to bringing my HBA1c down to 5.1 (my goal is 4.8,) has smoothed out my hunger.  I only snack for entertainment purposes now, not because I will lose my mind if I don't eat this second.

You have probably read the saying "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a peasant, and dinner like a pauper."  I have found something like that works for me.  I eat big, hearty breakfasts full of fat, protein, and vegetables, with a bit of fresh fruit.  Lunches are salads, stir-fries, or soup, with some protein and nuts or cheese.  Well, okay, all of my meals are actually about the same, high quality protein, healthy fats, lots of vegetables, a bit of fruit.  I get almost no carbs at breakfast, half a grapefruit or a few slices of pear maybe.  Any carbs in the morning really impact my blood sugar.  For lunch I can have a bit more carbohydrate, and for dinner I can tolerate up to 30 grams, a bit of sweet potato, some wild rice, a little milk.

I have been thinking of this lately because I have been crazy crazy busy.  So busy I have been missing meals left and right.  Several days this week I haven't gotten home till 3 or 4, but since I planned on getting home at 1:00 I didn't bring a lunch with me.  And I have been fine.  A bit hungry maybe, but mostly just busy.  On Tuesday I missed lunch, made dinner at 4:30, and then went to my class till 10:00.  I had a little bed time snack when I got home, but I was fine with basically two meals.

Doctors hate the term hypoglycemia, it's a short step away folk superstition for them, and indeed, when I feel frantic with hunger my blood sugar is always a bit high, at least 120.  My personal theory is that my body is pretty good at predicting my meal time, and releases about as much insulin as it thinks I will need at the appropriate time.  When I don't then eat, I release stress hormones, then glycogen from my liver, and eventually end up with high blood sugar.  It's probably the stress hormones that make me feel so rotten.

If my body doesn't expect much carbohydrate, it won't release as much insulin for the next meal, and the crash if it comes, is smaller.  Also, I was probably pretty protein deficient all those years as a vegetarian.  I think of protein as slow-carbs, available to be turned into glycogen whenever my body needs it via gluco-neo-genesis.  And getting enough fat to slow digestion evens things out a lot too.

I am pretty thankful I don't have to go through the crashes anymore.  And I am pretty happy I can make it through a day without planning so many snacks.  And I am really happy I ate a good breakfast this morning, because lunch was 4 hours late, yet again.

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