To most, the word “diet” equals weight loss. But diet soda may not be holding up its end of the bargain. Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center Center at San Antonio recently found that people who drank two or more diet sodas daily had a six-times-greater increase in waist circumference at the end of the 10-year study than those who didn’t drink diet soda at all.
Those bigger waists sizes may be due to the “I saved here, I can splurge there” theory of dieting, says researcher Sharon Fowler, M.P.H. Or perhaps the artificial sweeteners in diet soda stoked diet-soda drinkers’ appetite, as other research suggests.
Eat sweets for dessert only
Reason: All of the above (see Days 1 – 6)
If you eat sweets on an empty stomach, there’s nothing to impede the sugar from racing directly into your blood stream – no fat, no soluble fiber, no protein, no vinegar. But if you confine sweets to the end of the meal, you have all of the built-in protection the preceding rules provide.
If you want to keep blood sugar on an even keel, avoid between-meal sweets at all costs – and when you do indulge, don’t eat more than you can hold in the cup of you hand. But a few bites of candy after a meal will have little effect on your blood sugar and insulin – and can be quite satisfying.
(Thanks to Dr. Rob Thompson, MD and March 2012 Prevention for providing information)
Have a glass of wine with dinner.
Reason: Your liver won’t produce as much glucose.
Alcohol has unique sugar-blocking properties. Your liver normally converts some of the fat and protein in your blood to glucose, which adds to the glucose from the carbs you eat. But alcohol consumed with a meal temporarily halts your liver’s glucose production. A serving of any alcohol – beer, red or white wine, or a shot of hard liquor – will reduce the blood sugar load of a typical service of starch by approximately 25%.
That doesn’t mean you should have several drinks (especially if you have diabetes, as multiple drinks can cause hypoglycemia). Not only does alcohol contain calories, but it also delays the sensation of fullness, so you tend to overeat and pile on calories. Be especially mindful about avoiding cocktails that are made with sweetened mixers – yet another source of sugar.
Eat lightly cooked vegetables.
Reason: You digest them more slowly.
Both fruits and vegetables contain soluble fiber. As a rule, though, vegetables make better sugar blockers, because they have more fiber and less sugar.
But don’t cook your vegetables to mush. Boiling vegetables until they’re limp and soggy saturates the soluble fiber, filling it with water so it can’t absorb the sugar and starch you want it to. Also, crisp vegetables are chunkier when they reach your stomach, and larger food particles take longer to digest, so you’ll feel full longer. Another tip: Roasted vegetables like cauliflower can often serves as a delicious starch substitute.
Include protein with your meal.
Reason: You won’t secrete as much insulin.
Here’s a paradox: You want to blunt insulin spikes – but to do that, you need to start secreting insulin sooner rather than later. It’s like a fire department responding to a fire. The quicker the alarm goes off, the fewer firefighters will be needed to put out the blaze.
Even though protein contains no glucose, it triggers a ‘first-phase insulin response” that occurs so fast, it keeps your blood sugar from rising as high later – and reduces the total amount of insulin you need to handle a meal. So have meatballs with your spaghetti.
Have some vinegar.
Reason: It slows the breakdown of starch into sugar.
The high acetic acid content in vinegar deactivates amylase, the enzyme that turns starch into sugar. (It doesn’t matter what kind of vinegar you use). Because it acts on starch only, it has no effect on the absorption of refined sugar.
In other words, it will help if you eat bread, but not candy. But there’s one more benefit: vinegar also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
You should consume vinegar at the start of your meal. Put it in salad dressing or sprinkle a couple of tablespoons on meat or vegetables. Vinegar brings out the flavor of food, as salt does.
Start your meal with a salad.
Reason: It soaks up starch and sugar.
Soluble fiber from the pulp of plants – such as beans, carrots, apples, and oranges — swells like a sponge in your intestines and traps starch and sugar in the niches between its molecules.
Soluble means “dissolvable” – and indeed, soluble fiber eventually dissolves, releasing glucose. However, that takes time. The glucose it absorbs seeps into your bloodstream slowly, so your body needs less insulin to handle it. A good way to ensure that you get enough soluble fiber is to have a salad – preferably before, rather than after, you eat a starch.
I ran across these 7 rules about how the power of food can naturally slow down the sugar absorption in our bodies (by Rob Thompson, MD in the March 2012 issue of Prevention) and I loved it.
I’m a counselor, not a dietician or nutritionist so I understand the ‘psychology’ of weight loss but sometimes even I need refresher-sessions on how and why the body does what it does, and how specific foods effect the system within. I thought the information was so interesting and explained so well that I wanted to pass along the information. I will be posting one a day. Here’s Day One.
Rule Number One: Have a fatty snack 10 to 30 minutes before your meal.
Reason: You remain fuller longer.
At the outlet of your stomach is a muscular ring, the pyloric valve. It regulates the speed at which food leaves your stomach and enters your small intestine. This valve is all that stands between the ziti in your stomach and a surge of glucose in your blood stream. But you can send your pyloric valve a message to slow down.
Fat triggers a reflex that constricts the valve and slows digestion. As little as a teaspoon of fat – easily provided by a handful of nuts or a piece of cheese — will do the trick, provided you eat it before your meal.
Pushing yourself really hard is NOT the only way to make a workout count. A new study from Pennsylvania State University shows that middle-aged women get more of the positive benefits (such as an energy and mood boost) from less intense activity.
“Moderate exercise like brisk walking is more pleasant, especially if you’re a newbie,” says study author Steriani Elavsky, assistant professor of kinesiology. “You’ll be more likely to stick with it.” Make sure you can carry on a conversation while moving.
(Jan 2012 Woman’s Day)
Banana, peppermint or green apple stimulates weight loss. In a study of 3,193 people, a whiff of these scents helped subjects shed about 5 pounds a month – even though they made no changes to their diet or exercise routines.
(Source: Alan Hirsch, MD, director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago)