Scottish Daily Mail
Takeaway treats that could save your life
Eat to Beat Diabetes pullout
Twenty years ago I started to worry about my health, and so, based on standard dietary advice I decided to cut down on the fat in my diet. However, my wife, Clare (who is a GP and who has produced this new 8-week Blood Sugar Diet Recipe Book in conjunction with dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker), continued to eat what she liked — a diet which included its fair share of fats.
Over the next decade I grew larger, expanding around the middle and, to my complete horror, developed type 2 diabetes — whereas Clare maintained the slim figure she had when we met at medical school.
It is quite clear to me now that the dietary advice I had been following was wrong.
As part of my work, I keep up to date with all the latest research and nutritional thinking, and I am now convinced that a blanket ban on fat not only deprives us of a key source of nutrients but can also lead to an increase in the consumption of other, more pernicious foods, such as refined carbohydrates.
Many experts believe that the recent surge in ‘dia-besity’ (diabetes plus obesity) has been fuelled by our unhealthy obsession with low-fat eating over recent years, which in turn has led to over-consumption of cheap and easily digestible carbohydrates.
the problem with foods that are rich in refined carbs, such as white bread, pastry, biscuits and cakes, is that they are rapidly broken down and digested by the body, creating an instant spike in blood sugar levels.
this is soon followed by the release of the hormone insulin, whose job it is to bring the blood sugar back down to normal. this, in turn, can trigger a crash, making us hungry again.
But it’s not just sugar and white flour. even ‘natural sugars’ such as honey, maple syrup and agave nectar all cause blood sugar spikes. In fact, these days most processed foods (take-away curries, breakfast cereals, muffins and flavoured yoghurts) are stuffed full of sugar.
even basic carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and potatoes, which diabetics are encouraged to eat in abundance, have the same destructive quick-hit impact on blood sugar levels.
If you base your diet on lots of cheap and readily available carbohydrates — as so many of us do — your blood sugar levels can be stuck on high and your body may become destructively resistant to insulin. you are likely to be storing up problems for the future.
that’s why I have based the 8week Blood Sugar Diet on a relatively low-carb Mediterranean style of eating.
My first rule is to minimise or avoid the ‘white stuff’, and even avoid ‘going brown’.
Brown rice is fine if you have it in small quantities, but most wholemeal breads contain added sugar, and its extra fibre can only have a small impact on reducing the carbohydrate load.
It might feel like a big step to make (and I certainly took some persuading!), but I recommend that you switch from pasta and white rice to quinoa, beans and lentils instead.
the impact on your blood sugars and your health will be significant, and the bonus is that once you move away from basing your diet on starchy carbohydrates and sugars, you will you no longer feel quite so hungry.
your body’s natural feedback mechanisms will kick back into action to switch off those hunger signals and tell you when you are full.
Instead of piling your plate with potatoes and pasta, try filling it with vegetables, salads and wholegrains. Aim to eat a rainbow — from purple beetroot through red and yellow peppers to dark, leafy greens.
you can enjoy fruit, too, but it’s best to keep it to no more than one or two portions per day to keep sugar intake under control.
Choose berries, apples and pears — unpeeled, as this is where most of the nutrients are found — and minimise your intake of high-sugar ‘tropical’ fruits such as mango, pineapple, melon and bananas. the
real key to a long-term eating plan that will keep you feeling full and not craving sweet things, is keeping your intake of fats and protein high. The body doesn’t store protein, so you need to maintain an adequate level in your diet to avoid muscle loss. It also helps to reduce your appetite.
Our recipes and meal plans have been designed to be rich in goodquality proteins such as eggs, fish, chicken, pork, prawns and tofu.
Nuts, seeds and pulses are packed full of protein, too. Aim for 45g of protein a day for women and 55g for men, but try to cut back on processed meats such as bacon, salami and sausages which can be high in salt and preservatives.
Dairy products are a good source of protein too, and one of the most delicious features of the 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet is that you can enjoy the rich, satisfying taste of full-fat milk, yoghurt, crème fraiche and cheese.
THE LATEST studies have failed to find convincing evidence that eating saturated fats leads to a greater risk of heart disease. In fact, some studies have found that people with higher levels in their blood of a particular saturated fat called margaric acid (the sort you get in milk and dairy products) had a lower risk of heart disease.
The 8-Week Blood Sugar Diet and the recipes featured in the Mail this week actively encourage you to consume more fats such as olive oil, yoghurt, nuts, avocados and coconut milk.
Not only does fat make food taste better, but it is an excellent source of slow-burn energy. And, although healthy fats may be higher in calories than carbohydrates, they keep you feeling full for longer.
WHICH FATS SHOULD I USE FOR COOKING?
OLIvE oil and rapeseed oil are rich in ‘monounsaturated fats’, which are also found in avocados, olives, almonds and hazelnuts.
Not only is this good for you, but these oils are also better at resisting damage caused by heating than the polyunsaturated fats found vegetable oils (such as sunflower oil).
When fats and oils are heated to ‘smoke point’ (when frying or baking) they undergo an oxidation process which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and heart disease, but olive, rapeseed and coconut oils release less of these nasty chemicals.
Use extra virgin olive oil for drizzling on salads and vegetables. Studies show that coconut oil can be helpful in reducing the harmful visceral fat that can target the abdomen.
BRING ON THE VINEGAR
vINEgAr has been found to help reduce weight and visceral (abdominal) fat, improve lipids and insulin sensitivity, so not surprisingly it features in a number of recipes in this book. vinegar has also been shown to suppress the appetite, and it also delays the breakdown of food into sugars in your gut.
A recent study showed that adding just two teaspoons of vinegar to a meal cut the post-meal blood sugar spike by 20 per cent, while another study showed that dieters who consumed a tablespoon of vinegar a day for 12 weeks, lost 1.2kg more than those taking a placebo drink.