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It’s the blood sugar, stupid.

Why are we doing this whole Bad Carb Be Gone experiment? Well, to lose weight, of course. We’ve reached critical mass – and I don’t mean participation in bicycle activism. No, a desk job, a love of the good life, and a tendency toward boredom at the gym – it all adds up to extra poundage. Too much extra poundage. I love the song “Baby Got Back” – as long as it’s not about me…

So – trying to be better about what we eat – there are lots of good, tasty choices out there. It just takes a little more self-awareness and planning. Hopefully the end result will be weight loss and more conscious choices about food, the way it’s produced, and the results it has on our bodies and our world. Micro goal: fit into those size 10 jeans again. Macro goal: world peace (whirled peas, too).

I also have another goal, however. A low HbA1C*. Some of you know, and probably most of you don’t – I have diabetes.

*sound gong – followed by uncomfortable silence*

Dramatic, n’est-ce pas? Well, yes and no. Dramatic, because when I got the diagnosis, it changed everything. Not so dramatic, because most people around me probably had no idea. I’m not Type 1 – which means I have no problem producing insulin – so I have no need to inject it. I’m Type 2 – which means that on a cellular level, my body has problems using the insulin that I do produce. Treatment approach? Lower the bad food levels (bad carbs, etc.) that I ingest, so that I don’t need to produce so much insulin to deal with the glucose levels in my blood. Also, oral meds that work to prevent my liver from making excess glucose, and by making my muscle and fat cells more sensitive to available insulin. Also, exercise to lower insulin resistance.

It’s an annoying condition/disease. Annoying because it changes your relationship to food and drink, and annoying because it increases your risk factors for all sorts of other nasty things. Truthfully, you don’t have to be diabetic to be at risk for health complications because of a sedentary or unhealthy lifestyle. However, diabetes ups your risk level unless (and sometimes even if) you make positive changes – and even if you don’t make negative changes. Fun, eh? It’s also annoying because there’s a societal stigma to diabetes. People associate it with obesity, poor diet, and a general lack of activity. If you do have all those factors in your life, you may increase your risk of developing diabetes – that’s true. What is also true, however, is that even if you have all those factors in your life – you may never develop diabetes. There’s absolutely a genetic component to the disease. It’s also more prevalent in people with specific ethnic links – Asians, African-Americans, Hispanic populations. I may also have a family history of the disease, which would up my risk factor significantly – but since I’m adopted, I just don’t know. So, is lifestyle part of the equation? Yes. Is it the whole equation? Absolutely not.

So that’s part of the reason that we’re doing the Bad Carb Be Gone experiment. Because bad carbs can have bad effects on blood glucose levels – and I have to do so much work anyway to maintain good BG levels, that, in the long run, the yummy baked potato just isn’t worth it.

Want to know more about diabetes? Try these links:

American Diabetes Association
Joslin Diabetes Center
Does obesity cause diabetes?

P.S. One more thing: If you have questions or want to talk nutrition, etc., let’s talk! On the other hand, please remember – I have access to way more information about my body, my actions, and my treatment than anyone else. You have to trust that I’m making the right decisions for myself based on that information. So, if you see me drinking a beer or a glass of wine, don’t call the diabetes police. You may also have noticed that, for a number of years now, I simply don’t have more than a glass to a glass and a half of beer or wine – and I don’t drink more than 1-2 times a week. Also – if you see me eating bread/pasta/potatoes/rice – you’ll just have to trust that either I’ve made the adjustments in my diet and activities that day to allow me to minimize the effects of those delicious fries – or I simply want the fries and damn the consequences. My life, my decisions – please respect that. Thanks!

* HbA1C = glycated haemoglobin. The level of HbA1c reflects the average blood glucose level over the past 3 months.

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