Sunday, 31 August 2008

Yosemite National Park - More Blood Sugar Capers

The Great Cake Porn Tour
New York - Limited Cake Porn but Plenty of Sugar Pushers
New York Part 2 – Another Sugar Pusher and Cake Security Threat
Las Vegas - Supreme Cake Porn and Absurd Food Labelling
Yosemite National Park - More Blood Sugar Capers
San Francisco Part 1: Stretching the Definitions of Natural and Healthy
San Francisco Part 2 - My Proxy Cheesecake Shame

If what you're looking for is cheesecakes big enough to stop a charging bull elephant Yosemite National Park is not for you. Likewise, if you seek shops who pupport to sell healthy food but instead secrete sugar-laden products about their shelves to coax the weak into buying them, go elsewhere.

Yosemite is the penultimate stop on the The Great Cake Porn Tour and in the absence of cake porn or Sugar Pushers I have instead been reflecting on the reasons why Mrs Methuselah - whose sugar guzzling activities I have been documenting during the course of this series - has been doing the things she has.

Mrs M had always intended to 'treat' herself on this holiday by consuming sugary food, something she normally avoids. In New York she devoured a slab of cheesecake and was the worse for wear not long afterwards and a couple of days later in Las Vegas she succumbed to the siren call of the buffet counter for breakfast then lunch and was practically unable to stand in the queue for the evening buffet, requiring periodic, smug support from me.

So here's what I think, or rather what someone else suggested and I agree with. I can't find the reference but I believe it originated from Dr Eades' blog...

We are not programmed to regulate our appetite when it comes to sweet things. We did not have to do it for the majority of the time we were evolving, so we are not very good at it. We did not have to do it because there was a perennial scarcity of sweet foods. Fruit and berries were the only things around and we would rarely have been able to get our hands on enough for gorging to be a problem.

So in fact it was in our interest to eat as much sweet food as we could get our hands on because it was a vitamin-rich food source, naturally scarce, and not in the intense and unhealthy form that sweet food takes today. The only thing that would have come close to the intensity of the confectionery we have unlimited access to today would have been honey - and our access to that would surely have been regulated by its owners.

So as I watched Mrs M tuck into a king-sized Milky Way bar on the drive from Vegas to Yosemite, it dawned on me that her apparently forgetting the unpleasantness of the day before could be a result of baser instincts conflicting with commons sense - her innate craving for vitamin-rich sweetness overriding what her modern brain knew to be a bad idea; and as if to drive the point home, yesterday, 4 hours after she troughed her way though a medley of muffin-like, pancake based, maple smothered carbage (carbohydrate + garbage - geddit?), I found myself in the car, once again battling her hypoglycemic sarcasm with the simple sword of well-managed blood sugar...

Final stop: San Francisco on Tuesday.

The Series:
The Great Cake Porn Tour
New York - Limited Cake Porn but Plenty of Sugar Pushers
New York Part 2 – Another Sugar Pusher and Cake Security Threat
Las Vegas - Supreme Cake Porn and Absurd Food Labelling
Yosemite National Park - More Blood Sugar Capers
San Francisco Part 1: Stretching the Definitions of Natural and Healthy
San Francisco Part 2 - My Proxy Cheesecake Shame

See Also:
The Worst Sugar Pushers of all: Health Food Stores

2 comments:

Anna said...

I think you are on to something - at least in terms of consuming blood sugar raising foods marring our judgement and disposition, as well as eating patterns. I think it is much more of a "trick" than a "treat", which I'm sure you can see clearly, but in the throes of her glucose "deranged" condition, your wife can't.

I've been using a glucose meter to test my glucose response to various foods for a couple of years now (I had experience with a meter ten years ago when diagnosed with gestational diabetes). Initially, I used the meter to test my response to the foods I had avoided while on my low carb diet (the results were alarming, to say the least). The post meal high BG I discovered led me to insist that my doctor order a 3 hr Glucose Tolerance Test, which showed, despite my 22 BMI (normal weight), I am borderline diabetic (but already am treating it with a LC diet). Granted, my results are mostly pertinent to my situation, but I've done enough "library" research and communicating with others who work hard to maintain their BG in a steady range to know that there are some very common responses going on with sugar and starch binges.

Now I mostly use the meter to monitor that my glucose levels are staying normal with my usual low carb, "real food" diet (and that my glucose control is not deteriorating), and especially if I am eating away from my own kitchen and having to choose foods that may have "hidden" sugars and starches, despite my attempts to choose LC.

Learning about how even moderately high BG damages the body's cells has been a powerful motivator to stick to the "real" foods that keep my BG in a steady, normal range. I am only 46 yo, and I intend to do whatever I can to put off further deterioration of my BG control.

But I've done enough "experimenting" with my meter and common high carb foods to document the powerful and negative effects things that go along with unrestricted sugar and starch consumption, not just on my blood sugar, but on my hunger level, my mood, and my immune system.

First, by analyzing BG levels every 15 or 30 minutes while testing a high carb food, it was obvious to me that rapidly rising and dropping BG and insulin levels coincides with POWERFUL carb cravings, even if the BG isn't truly "low" (I think it is just the rapid change that triggers the cravings). Think of a roller coaster, because that is what happens to BG when fast-acting carbs are consumed. And those cravings are for more sugary and starchy carbs, not proteins or fats (though many high carb foods also contain fat, usually junky fats).

Second, the supercharged insulin response to a rapidly rising BG can quickly lower the BG by ushering the glucose into muscles cells, or if not needed or already full, then to the fat cells for energy storage (that's assuming insulin response is still healthy - my first phase insulin response is probably insufficient or gone already). Sometimes insulin drives the BG lower than normal (reactive hypoglycemia). That can bring about, shall we say, intense grumpiness, irritability, snappiness, and poor judgement, not to mention those cravings, which starts the whole process over again. Sound familiar?

Then, overall, that havoc to the BG control goes along with all sorts of other negative effects, such as fluid retention and bloating, GI problems such as indigestion (GERD) & flatulence, irregularity, susceptibility to colds, etc. It's amazing to me that so many people complain of these symptoms, yet never connect them to their high carb diets. When my husband stopped eating refined sugars and starches, his frequent use of antacids dropped to not even a couple times per year!

So everything you describe about your wife's carb-fest was very familiar to me. I hope she reins it in soon, for her sake, if not for yours. Perhaps a trial with a glucose meter (no prescription needed) might shock her out of her carb-orgy.

Gee, when you get to SF, there are some awesome places to eat meat (the Fatted Calf & Incanto). Try to avoid the local sourdough bread :-), though it is nearly irresistible once tasted.

Happy travels!

Methuselah said...

Anna - I love the idea of being able to test blood sugar levels and it sounds like for you it was a valuable exercise. I just noticed you have a blog (although I think you forgot to add the http:// at the beginning because clicking on your name in the comments did not work so I needed to play around in the address bar) - did you post any of the documented effects on there? Would be interesting to see which foods had the most profound effect.

I think my other half with be drawing a line under her orgy once we hit tarmac in the UK but I may see whether I can get hold of a meter anyway. Will definately look up those restaurants this week - thanks for the recommendation.

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