1 May 2006

Your Success Stories

Cliff Shares His Secrets for Maintaining Tight Glycemic Control and Weight Loss
‘My low and good quality fat, medium protein, high carbohydrate and low GI diet have proved invaluable in helping me maintain tight glycemic control and long term weight loss for some years. I now weigh 93 kg—down from 118 kg back in 1980 when I was 40.

I took early retirement about 12 years ago for health reasons and because I knew that I needed to make some real lifestyle changes if I was going to have a life. Before that I had worked as an actuary, which is a very high pressure, demanding job. At 46 I was diagnosed with diabetes, some three years later I had a mild heart attack, and in 1995 I needed to take insulin to manage my diabetes. 1997 was my landmark year. I had successful six-artery bypass surgery and learned how to manage my diet using GI.

When I started using the low GI approach, the first thing I had to learn was not to focus on the GI alone but to use it as a carbohydrate selection tool in meal preparation and when shopping (where label reading is of paramount importance). Memorising which of my regular basic foods are low GI is very useful for me, as I do not have to look up the GI & GL tables very often. Also I find it essential to count my daily fat and carbohydrate intake using a simplified ‘portion’ unit method, as I must not only monitor my GL but also my total energy intake.

What works best for me is to have six small meals daily, each with two or three carbohydrate portions, depending on my BGL two hours after the previous meal and current level of physical activity. (I know that this is very compulsive. But it works for me as a disciplined daily routine, which does not unduly inhibit my quality of life). Equally important is for me to average at least one hour’s walking, or equivalent exercise, daily.

To ensure good mid morning BGL readings, I find it necessary to confine breakfast to two pieces of low GI fruit, rather than higher energy density cereal and milk with the same carbohydrate content – I eat bread and cereal later in the day when my insulin resistance is lower and I am consequently more at risk of having a ‘hypo’.

I average five or six pieces of fruit per day (at the risk of having too little bread and cereal!). And have a large plate of microwaved vegetables (mainly home grown) and side salad as part of the normal evening (fifth) meal, which is usually the only one including meat or seafood. My weekly main meal goal is: 30% seafood; 30% vegetarian; 30% poultry, pork, veal and game meat; and 10% other red meat.

Portion control is an ongoing challenge, as is insidious non hungry eating (I suffer from binge eating syndrome), especially in the evening.

From my experience, I must concede that my program would be rather difficult to maintain fully if still working full time in a demanding stressful job. Being retired makes life much easier for a diabetic. But I am well and managing well. I have no serious diabetic complications – no eye or renal problems, my heart health is stable and the main problem I have is moderate peripheral neuropathy. Just for the record: my HbA1c is now 6.1, triglycerides 1.3, cholesterol – total 3.4, HDL 1.1, LDL 1.7, and VLDL 0.6.

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi cliff

thanks for telling your story and congratulations on your successes. It is interesting to know how other people sort out their diet. I am not a diabetic and don't understand much about that but i think what i have to say is not affected by that.

So diabetes aside i have adapted the CSIRO diet (for weight loss only) to a seafood and vegetarian diet. I am loving it to death. I have a renewed interest in food preparation as well as eating it. I don't just stick with their recipes. I adapt others, especially asian foods, and seek out other low fat recipes. I do stick with the general recommended quantities of dairy, fats, and protein but of course eat more carbs because i eat less animal protein (plant protein seems to be found alongside carbohyrdrates). I find their menus really helpful to set the quantities and variety of food to eat and of course you can eat vegetables until they grow out of your orifices.

To help me make it work i have been reading up on GI, how we lose weight (best learned from an old book by Rosemary Stanton called Healthy Cooking, other nutritional stuff and finding it all very very interesting. I especially like the energy consumption and output formulas in the csiro book and the presentation is excellent.

I am now in the healthy weight range and although i might overdose on icecream occasionally (without guilt -because i then do a lot of exercise to redeem myself) i am confident that i can eat like this for the rest of my life.

The things that concerns me about your diet is the six meals and that you are hungry still. You might be helped by giving consideration to the principle of protein for satiety on which the CSIRO diet is based. I also wonder if part of the reason you are often hungry is because your meals are too small. It is not necessary to eat great quantities of meat. Tofu is very easy to eat and some legumes and pulses like lentils and chickpeas with Low GI are high in Protein (but also sometimes calories). The recipes are very good in their book and i think its an all round wonderful rich source of weight loss ideas, nutritional information and healthy living/eating methodology. In an interview i came across, Manny Noakes I think said there is about 115g of carb per day (for women) representing a similar percentage quantity to protein intake. Fats of course were low. There is very little sugar in the diet and i find as a consequence, I don't crave it much at all. I have replaced sugar in drinks with Splenda and sometimes can go without.

Mary said...

Hi Anon,

A diabetic has to watch out for the amount of carbs per meal - so low GI doesn't necessarily mean infinite amounts of the stuff. I personally have been advised to have no more than 45g of carbs per meal which is not that much. Even if you are not looking at weight loss you are still not allowed to eat big portions even of the good stuff eg. fruit.

I have to watch for GI, Carb content and on top of that fat and salt as we are three times or so more at risk for heart desease etc (overweight or not!).

If you consider all that you are not left with much food to eat (apart from greens!).

I have also been told to watch the amount of protein I have as too much can do kidney damge (again something we are more at risk of having).

It's quite complex being a diabetic but you get used to it. :)