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We’ve talked a number of times before about the rocketing rates of Type II Diabetes, particularly in teenagers and young adults. The part poor lifestyle choices play in this AND how insulin is about so much more than simply controlling blood sugar. If you’d like a quick reminder, our most recent posts can be found here and here
 
The good – and potentially bad (!) – news is that Type II Diabetes is a Lifestyle Condition. In other words, it’s the result of poor lifestyle choices being made over a long period of time. And we would emphasise the last few words. Over a long period of time. The effects of poor lifestyle choices cast a very long shadow, with the seeds usually being sown many years – or decades – before… 
 
However, despite how it appears, this is good news; although we appreciate it may initially sound like very bad news too. The good news is that lifestyle choices are entirely within our control, even though many people will try to convince themselves – and us too (!) – this isn’t the case. However, it is. Full stop. End of story. They’re the choices we make every day – usually without thinking – so we’re the only ones who can address them. It can’t be done by anyone else for us. 
 
 
So, what are these poor lifestyle choices? 
 
While we know that people don’t want to hear it, they can be summarised very simply. A diet high in processed foods, carbohydrates and sugar coupled with a lack of exercise. Sadly, it really is that simple… 
 
Now, if you think this couldn’t possibly apply to you, just stop for a moment and think about what you – or those around you (!) – eat during the day. It probably goes something like this: 
 
For breakfast, a wheat based cereal, cereal bar or toast with jam or marmalade. Not forgetting sugar laden fruit juice, smoothies and energy drinks. 
 
Mid morning, perhaps a biscuit or muesli bar. 
 
Lunch, some kind of sandwich or baguette, pasta or rice salad plus a “sweet treat”, bag of crisps and the like. Not forgetting a sugar laden fruit juice or fizzy drink. 
 
Mid afternoon, more biscuits – or cake if it’s someone’s birthday at work. 
 
Supper based around a carbohydrate staple such as pasta, pizza, rice or potatoes. 
 
What quickly becomes very obvious is that every meal – or snack – is centred around sugars and carbohydrates, while breakfast and snacks are almost completely based on carbohydrates. And this is without factoring in any “treats” you may have during the day such as sweets, ice cream, fizzy drinks and sugar in tea / coffee. Given all of this, it’s not surprising that the Pancreas becomes “exhausted” with continually having to produce and release Insulin to process all this sugar. 
 
Now here’s something you may not have realised. While Insulin is released as soon as sugar / carbohydrate laden food / drink reaches the Stomach – hence blood glucose levels starting to rise only a few minutes later, as Insulin gets to work – this continues for a much longer period of time than you’d expect. As a rule of thumb, it takes around three hours AFTER the food is eaten for Insulin levels to return to normal and, by this time, it’s likely that more sugary / carbohydrate foods will have been eaten. So, the whole process starts again and a vicious circle quickly ensues. 
 
And this perfectly illustrates the big problem with diets high in carbohydrates, they don’t fill you up longer term. Hence the modern day approach of eating and snacking throughout the day, also known as “grazing.” 
 
This is why the solution is so simple, even if it isn’t very popular (!). Simply cut out all refined / processed and wheat based foods from your diet, replacing them with wholefoods centred around fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s also important to make sure that healthy protein is eaten at every meal. Not only does it fill you up for longer – so reducing the temptation to snack (!) – but also helps prevent sugar cravings which often undermine people’s good intentions. 
 
And there’s one other tip that really helps take the pressure off an over worked Pancreas. It’s become very popular over the last few years, both to help with weight loss and to reverse Type II Diabetes. This is to only eat “proper” meals and to do so within a specified time frame each day. 
 
What this means in practice is a return to three square meals a day – or two, if you prefer – all eaten within a much shorter timeframe than is usual these days. For those new to this way of eating, it’s suggested that meals are eaten within a 10 hour period – say, 8am to 6pm – with nothing for the rest of the time. Drinks are fine, provided they don’t contain sugar, which means no alcohol, fizzy drinks, squash, fruit juice or sugar in hot drinks. 
 
By doing this, Insulin is – potentially (!) – produced for a much shorter period each day. This, in turn, means the body is given a much longer time to carry out all the detox and housekeeping work that usually happens overnight or, more usually, part of the night if the last meal of the day is eaten very late. This way of eating is known as “Intermittent Fasting” as the longer period overnight of not eating is, in effect, a mini fast. 
 
There are a huge number of different variations on Intermittent Fasting. The timeframe when meals are eaten can be gradually reduced, with some people only eating within a 4 to 6 hour period during the day. Alternatively, a longer window can be kept but then, on one or two days a week, no food is eaten for a full 24 hours. As with all things, it’s a question of what suits you best and fits in with for your lifestyle. 
 
This way of eating works well for everyone, whether they’ve been given the Type II Diabetes – Pre Diabetic or Insulin Resistant – “label” or not, as it gives the body time to do all the necessary detoxing and housekeeping needed to keep us fit and well. It also allows Type II Diabetes to be reversed in a relatively short period of time. Added to this, it’s an easy way to stop day long snacking and the amount of food eaten, usually without us realising what we’re doing. 
 
To find out more about Intermittent Fasting, lots of books and websites have appeared over the last few years, so there’s plenty of information out there. Just start small and slowly build up over a period of time. 
 
Finally, if it helps, we’ve found that the 10 hour timeframe works well for us. Breakfast and lunch are our main meals with only a very light snack – with no wheat based carbs in sight (!) – later on in the day. 
 
And here’s the question we’re always asked. Have we cut out wheat entirely? No, but we only eat it occasionally and in very small amounts, not as part of our day to day diet. Having made this change, it’s highlighted several things for us. First, that wheat based foods aren’t satisfying, they don’t fill us up for long. It’s very easy to reach for another biscuit, piece of cake or the like, illustrating just how easy it is for people to get into problems without realising it. Second, how quickly they provide a sugar “rush” and a slightly spacey feeling, followed just as quickly by a sugar “crash.” And, last, how they can lead to bloating and water retention. So, all in all, good reminders that our bodies really don’t like – or need – a wheat based diet. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
 
Picture by unknown author 
 
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