You may have already read my article titled “General guidelines for a healthy diet“. Often I’ll listen to patients tell me what foods they eat, and they are all great choices. They don’t eat sugar or starches (or perhaps very few starches), they avoid the most common food allergens and sensitivities, etc.. Early on in practice, I’d scratch my head and think: “Why does he/she still suffer from symptoms of dysglycemia?” (an inability to regulate blood sugar properly). Well there are several possible answers to that question. However, the most common reason is that it relates to “how” they eat as opposed to “what” they eat.
The bottom line is that you can eat all the healthiest foods and still wind up feeling terrible and creating problems if you don’t know “how” to eat. In fact, it’s quite simple to eat properly, and there are only two rules.
1) DO NOT SKIP BREAKFAST!!! I know this is quite ambiguous because many patients tell me they wake up at 6, 7, or 8am and then eat “breakfast” at 9, 10, or 11am. As you may know, the word breakfast refers to breaking a fast. That fast occurred overnight while you were presumably asleep. Technically eating at 9, 10, or 11am may be breaking the fast…so to be more specific I’ll say: eat within 1 hour of waking up!
The main reason for this is because you’ll most likely have low blood sugar when you wake up, which is natural and normal. Therefore, you need to eat fairly soon, again, within an hour of waking. This will help to maintain healthy blood sugar and energy levels, amongst many other things. If you don’t do this, there is a very good chance that your body will have difficulty regulating blood sugar throughout the entire rest of the day…only to start over again the next day. Please, eat something! Even if you’re not terribly hungry, have two bites of something. And of course, you shouldn’t ever be eating sugar first thing in the morning, unless of course there is a good reason like a special occasion.
An interesting study cited in Scientific American Mind reports the following: “Sugar may act like a drug in a different way: by inducing dependency under some circumstances. Princeton University psychologist Bartley Hoebel and his colleagues made rats sugar-dependent by depriving them of food for 12 hours a day and offering them a sucrose solution and chow for the next 12 hours. They repeated this schedule every day for one to four weeks. The cycle of fasting and intermittent sugar availability triggered strong demand: the rats gradually tripled their sucrose intake and learned to binge on the sugar as soon as they received access to it each day.”
Doesn’t this sound similar to many Americans; especially children eating sugary breakfast cereals and the like. Please note the similarity between “depriving them of food for 12 hours a day” and breaking an overnight fast! If you’d like to read the whole article – click on the 3rd result from this search; then type in “depriving” in the application your computer uses.
2) Eat about every 2-3 hours during the day!!! Again, it does not have to be an entire meal. Some protein and perhaps complex carbohydrates would be a good idea. The reason for this is to avoid “ups and downs” in blood sugar. By eating frequently, you won’t rely on your adrenal glands to bail you out of a blood sugar crisis. If your blood sugar gets too low (by not eating frequently) you can be sure you will eventually develop a rather unpleasant case of adrenal stress syndrome. How long that takes will vary individually. If you are not “running” on fuel from food, you’re probably running on stress hormones, which are literally breaking your body down.
From a blood sugar perspective, that’s about it. Otherwise, don’t drink liquids with meals as this will dilute your digestive enzymes and make the process less efficient. If you consume plenty of water between meals, you will not be thirsty when you eat. Give it a try. And of course, do not overeat.
Hope this helps and see you soon.
Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology