Monday, May 1, 2006

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.