Food and Nutrition…Some Thoughts

Note: This post is a combination of various ideas floating through my head since being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes. Because of this…I may end up on some kind of rambling tangent/vent. I apologize if that is indeed what happens. All I ask is that you bear with me. 🙂

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Since we were the only people left on the planet it seems that hasn’t seen Super Size Me , BIL sent us their copy. We watched it the other day and I have to say I was impressed and surprised at it. In case some of you have no clue what I am talking about (is that possible?), Super Size Me is a documentary where a pretty healthy and fit guy decides to challenge Micky D’s claims that their food is healthy and can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. He decides to eat MD’s for 30 days straight for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to see how it will effect his health.

He went to 3 doctors ( General practitioner, a cardiologist, and gastroenterologist) and a nutritionist to begin with to make sure he was healthy and get some baseline numbers on things like body weight, blood work, etc. Then he began his bizarre odyssey with rules such as he HAS to have everything on the menu at least once and super size the meal only when they asked (they don’t have super sizes any more btw). Within the first 3 days he gets so sick he ends up puking most of the food up…then on the 4th day you see him happily eating french fries and he talks about how there is a 3 day hump you have to get over (for like quitting smoking) for your body to get used to it…now that he was over the hump he was ok.

Now, I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the nutrition of the food…but lets say their “healthier options” aren’t exactly healthier….

At first he seems ok, but about halfway through you can see him change a bit. He gained a lot of weight and started to become depressed and lethargic. Around day 21 I think he goes to the drs again and they take their blood work and measurements and all that fun stuff…this is where it gets a bit freaky. You see the doctors begging him to stop the experiment and stop the high fat diet that is MD’s. His liver is FAILING. He basically turned his liver into foie gras and his liver began to malfunction…not to mention all his other blood work numbers being off the charts almost and way to high. They kept telling him that he would need a liver transplant if he didn’t stop the diet. He didn’t. He continued the experiment for the next few weeks…even though it was making his body ill.

Now, here comes my thoughts & opinions….

I realize some people (and he admitted it as well) will say that this was an extreme case…that of course if you eat that much crap it will wreak havoc on your body. However…I, personally, KNOW people that eat fast food at least half as much as he did in the movie. DH works with people who go to fast food places EVERY DAY. Knowing this, how can this movie be too far off? We live in a fast food world. We are bombarded with it everyday. “Go to (insert restaurant here) and get our breakfast sandwich! Sure it is loaded in carbs and fat and contributes to your entire daily caloric intake…but it tastes good and is quicker than making a healthier breakfast at home!”

I have to say…that movie did scare me. I did experience the intended reaction to watching it. You know what else scared me? Knowing that what he was saying was true.

When they told me about my GD, I had to see a nutritionist and be counseled on how to eat. When I came out of there, I realized that many people have no clue how to eat! It seems simple, find some food, put it in your mouth …. and most people do know about the food pyramid and the food groups. But almost no one (at least that I know of personally) pay attention to what they actually need to be eating and how much.

I have found that not all calories are created equal. So, people that actually count calories are doing themselves a bit of a dis-service. You have to see what is contributing to those calories. Not all carbs are created equal…so those people on those extreme low carb diets are doing themselves a dis-service as well. Our bodies DO need a certain amount of fat, carbohydrates and sugar. Our bodies DO need x amount of calories to work properly (that all depends on your activity level, adult, child, etc.). However, when looking at the media you are bombarded with messages that tell you to eat all this crap (high fat, high sugar, high carb) from fast food places…but then you are told that you are fat and sick and need medication.

Well, if you stick with your serving sizes for protein, carbs, and fats…you will be ok. However, many people don’t even know what a serving of something is much less how many servings they should have. A serving of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards. That doesn’t seem like much…but a little goes a long way. Protein isn’t processed as fast as simple carbs are so you don’t need huge amounts. Does that mean you can’t have more than a deck of card sized piece of meat? No. It just means that you don’t need that 10lb hamburger.

A serving of carbohydrate is about a cup. For a meal you can actually have around 3. Does that mean you need to stick to only that much? No, but since you can have 3 cups at a meal it would be better for your body to have 2 different veggies and a pasta instead of half a box of mac and cheese. Whole grains are better too…they are like protein in that they take longer to process. What does that mean for you? It means that after an hour or two you won’t crash and burn off that simple carb/sugar high you have been flying on.

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Now, another thought…

When I had to cut out my sugar for my GD, it took me about 3 days of being sick and tired (literally) before my body adjusted. Now, many people will admit it is because of the amount of carbs/sugar I was taking in before (remember carbs turn into sugar in your blood!). Here is my thought…most of the people that complain of being tired and depressed are probably on that same sugar high I was. It is a vicious cycle. You eat high fat/high carbs in the morning (sweetened cereal, MD’s, BK, you name it) without enough protein to take over after the sugar high wears off. Have you ever looked to see how many carbs and sugar is in the food you eat??

You get halfway to lunch, the high wears off…your body tells you “I NEED ENERGY” so you go for the snack machine for another high sugar/high carb snack be it cake, candy, whatever. Then lunch rolls around and you are starving because, again, you have come down off that sugar high and your body is craving energy…any energy. You go to the fast food place and get more high fat/high carb/high sugar food (yes, a lot of fast food has too many carbs or sugar in them and can raise your blood sugars…I have all but sworn off all fast food because it makes my sugars skyrocket…I don’t need nutrition info to figure that out).

Well, a few hours after THAT, even though you just consumed a high calorie meal for lunch, you are starving again, coming down off that high…and reach for something else energy dense like you did after breakfast. By the time you get home you are, again, starving and again, reach for something energy dense (but probably not protein or even complex carbs). Then, you may or may not eat a decent dinner with plenty of protein to carry you through most of the night. Then you wake up the next day and it starts all over.

Now, do this for years on end. Of course you are going to have health problems. Of course you are going to feel like shit. You aren’t getting adequate protein/complex carbs to carry you over to your next meal. That doesn’t mean you can’t snack…but snack wisely. For example…have a half a small bagel with peanut butter. You get the quick pick me up of the carbs plus the sustaining power of protein. Then it starts to effect your health balance in your body such as insulin and cholesterol which will lead to health problems…

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I have to say…I feel 100% better after watching my carb and sugar intake. I try to eat more protein and it helps me get through the day without feeling exhausted halfway through. I have to wonder how many people would also benefit from watching their (simple) carb and sugar intake? How many people are actually just walking around on a high carb/sugar high? How many people can resolve some of their medical issues just by changing their diet…just a little bit?

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1 Comment

Filed under Depression, Diet & Fitness, Environment, Health

One response to “Food and Nutrition…Some Thoughts

  1. It’s all good, sensible stuff you’re saying there. I’m very lucky in that I can’t stand things like burgers and rarely have any kind of “fast food” – an occasional slice of pizza or portion of fish and chips (maybe once a month or so) is about it. It’s good to hear you’re feeling better since changing your diet too. 🙂