The Blood Sugar Solution

I recently got The Blood Sugar Solution out of the library. It wasn’t the book I wanted. I really wanted A Year Without Sugar, but the library didn’t have that.

I’ve been interested in these topics for a long time. My mom got diagnosed with pre-diabetes and then diabetes at least a decade ago. Four generations of women in my family have had diabetes. I don’t want to be the fifth. As a child and a younger woman, I always had a sweet tooth, but I never cared for my sweets overly sweet. As a teenager, I suffered from depression, and in an effort to avoid medications decided to try a diet based solution, so I gave up sugar and gluten for 3 months. There was no change in my depression, so I have to conclude that the cause was not nutrient-related, but a benefit I got from this is that I really noticed how sweet our diet is. Foods I had happily eaten before, such as flavored yogurts, were too sweet for me. My sister studied nutrition in college, and both of us have had an abiding interest.

A couple of years back, I learned that contrary to the prevailing wisdom, saturated fat ( yes saturated fat!) is necessary for the regulation of our blood sugar. Does it seem coincidental that with the low-fat diet craze and the increase in sugars in our foods, there has been such a dramatic increase in the rates of diabetes? I learned that the only type of fat that is really harmful for you (in a normal diet) is the type found in our modern cooking oils and hydrogenated oils mainly found in processed foods. I became increasingly interested in a whole foods diet.

I also started noticing after my first stay in Bangladesh (more than a year) that I was sensitive to sugars, as in sugar gives me a headache, but I thought it was a quantity thing. During my 2nd stay in Bangladesh, it was easy for me to hardly ever eat any sugar because we had home cooked meals without added sugar, and the sweets in that culture don’t particularly tempt me (I find them too sweet), but I learned a little bit more about how sugar affected me. One day I was extremely hungry before lunch, so I ate one very small sweet biscuit to tide me over, and I got a headache almost instantly. I had eaten significantly more sweets than this before without trouble so I found it odd. I started looking it up, wondering if it might be because it was mostly sugar without much fat or other nutrients. This turned out to be a good guess. Fat slows down the absorption of sugar into our blood streams, so if you are going to eat sugar, don’t eat it without fat. Go for something richer.

I read a very informative article called The Sweetest Poison, which I found very inspiring. I also started following a blog called Butter Believer, where I learned a great deal more about the benefits of whole foods and healthy fats in the diet. I fantasized about how if we came home I would cook delicious, healthy whole food meals for my family. Unfortunately, I learned that my husband doesn’t like my cooking (although many other people do) and would rather eat hot dogs and Twinkies. I guess you can’t convince everyone.

During my pregnancy, I read a book called Sugar Nationwhich I found really interesting and full of information. The author is a journalist, so it is well-researched. The Blood Sugar Solution doesn’t seem to me to have much information that isn’t in Sugar Nation, and I didn’t care for the writing style as much. I found The Blood Sugar Solution repetitive and not that informative. I must confess that I mainly just skimmed it. I did take the quizzes in the book, but these basically just seemed to confirm that I am as healthy as I feel and that I don’t have gluten sensitivities or food addictions.

I would like to eat less sugar, but I don’t feel like I’m addicted to it. The main reason I seem to eat less healthy foods is the foods that are readily available when hunger strikes. I think we do need more focus on what to eat than on what not to eat because we all need to eat.

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