Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Closed Minds

I follow a low-carb (LC) diet to help control my type 2 diabetes. I can understand that this approach is very difficult for some people, and some with relatively mild type 2 can control despite eating more carbs.

But I'm always amazed at the closed-minded comments I often see in blogs of anti-low-carbers. Here's one, commenting on a photograph of a LC breakfast posted with a blog:

"There's nothing on the plate that I consider breakfast food."

The photograph seems to show bacon, ham, eggs, sausage, tomato, and mushroom.

I wonder why the poster feels that he needs special foods for breakfast. And apparently that special "breakfast food" should have a lot of carbohydrate, and little protein. That makes no sense. Most people are more insulin resistant at breakfast, and many studies have shown that blood glucose levels rise more after breakfast than after other meals. So if you feel a need for a daily allotment of orange juice, skim milk, toast, jam, and cereal, it would make more sense to eat it for supper, not breakfast.

Of course, this poster is not alone. Many people have irrational prejudices about "breakfast food." For instance, most Americans think bacon and ham are OK for breakfast. But if you say you had chicken or lamb chops, they'll think you're odd. Most Americans would consider Danish pastry or toast and jam to be suitable breakfast food. But if you say you had cheesecake or blueberry pie, they'll think you're odd.

What's the difference? Bacon, ham, chicken, and lamb are all meats. Danish, toast and jam, cheesecake, and blueberry pie are all sweetened starches.

It was the Kellogg brothers at the turn of the 20th century who pushed dry "breakfast cereals," at first primarily corn flakes, on the American public. At that time, rich people tended to eat meat and eggs for breakfast. Poor people ate starches, often boiled into porridge. Farm breakfasts tended to include a little of everything: meat, eggs, milk, pancakes, potatoes, breads, and pies. The farmers needed a lot of energy when facing long hours of backbreaking work and tended to eat the lighter meals like cereal in the evening.

By now, several generations of Americans have grown up thinking that breakfast has to include a dry cereal, often sweetened, and milk. But why do we have to mindlessly accept that there should be special "breakfast food"? We're smarter than that, aren't we?

In the rural area where I live, most people still conform to older patterns of eating. But in urban areas, it seems people are getting more creative with their meals, as described here. (The trend toward daylong snacking does not sound healthy, however, as commercial snacks are usually highly processed.) Nevertheless, the reporter reveals his underlying bias when he refers to eating nontraditional meals as "weird."

When we have diabetes, we need to eat the foods that keep our blood glucose levels down, whether they're considered "breakfast food" or "lunch food" or "dinner food." We can't let old patterns get in the way.

Lamb chops and broccoli for breakfast anyone?


  1. I'd be iffy about the tomato on the plate - after much experimentation, I've decided they're better for me after about 11am when I have a bit more carb tolerance.

    I always have a giggle at myself when thinking about Alan S's recommendations for breakfast, particularly his leftover stew. It looks delicious - but my head just cannot get round that as breakfast food!

  2. Nicky, I also got the giggles the first time I *did* have lamb chops and broccoli for breakfast. This was back in the 1980s, long before I was Dx'd with type 2. Can't even remember why except I didn't particularly like "breakfast food."

  3. "When we have diabetes, we need to eat the foods that keep our blood glucose levels down" - hello? Isn't that summing it up nicely, and stating the obvious? Sadly, it's still not mainstream thinking. Some 33 years ago when I was diagnosed, my endo was way ahead of his time - he gave me what amounted to a low carb diet. I had LADA (didn't know it then), but I'm more than convinced I had a very long honeymoon because of how I was taught to eat back then.

    I'll have just about anything low-carb for breakfast including dinner. When overseas in 1973, I quickly got over the breakfast food thing when I was first served a Middle Eastern salad and cottage cheese.

  4. Sooz, I know another LADA who controlled without insulin for 6 years by following a LC diet, against advice from nutritionist, of course.

    I think the rest of the world is less worried about eating "breakfast food" than Americans are, although some Asians have congee for breakfast. I don't know if they have it often at other times.

  5. I often eat dinner for breakfast. Leftover meatloaf, reheated, and a green vegetable are terrific in the morning. I usually have eggs and bacon, though. Low to virtually no carbs for breakfast is absolutely the best thing for me. My BG stays low and I don't get hungry at all, for hours. Carbohydrate first thing in the morning guarantees that I'll be hungry for more at lunchtime, if not before. Carbs make me hungry; protein doesn't and fat is filling.

    I never understand why anyone should feel irritated by how someone else eats. I wouldn't tell a friend that it might not be good for him or her to eat cake or pizza or a cinnamon bun: that would be rude. I reckon my friends, being adults, can take care of themselves. Even so, having had a few breakfast meetings recently where I heard that my scrambled eggs and bacon were a "heart attack on a plate" compared to another person's oatmeal with a lot of syrup, fruit salad and toast, I observed that we all have to die of something, sometime, and then let the matter drop. Except for the one time when I said that it was a shame that they didn't have kippers (smoked herring) on the menu.

  6. Ann, Your breakfasts sound delicious. When I was growing up, we didn't eat breakfast, and I was never particularly hungry for lunch. As an adult, I sometimes had breakfast, and when I did, I was hungry for lunch. I found it very odd, but I was probably going high after breakfast and then going low, triggering hunger.

    I agree that what someone else eats is not our concern and it's rude to criticize it. But if someone else criticizes what you're eating, it would be a good chance to help educate them. You might suggest that they buy or borrow a meter and test an hour after their "healthy" breakfasts.

  7. My honeymoon was around 20 years, although I probably should have been on insulin 5-7 years before that, according to my current endo. I was being "treated" as a non-compliant T2 for too many years. But that's another story. Thankfully, after 2 years of fighting for it, I was finally given an antibody test which, according to my then endo, was 'strongly positive". Mine isn't an isolated story, sadly, but all the clues were there from when I was 25 years old. Now that I'm on a pump, technically I can eat anything, but I don't because of the horrid weight gain from insulin. It loves me far too much.

    For no other reason than the weight gain, I try to limit carbs. It's so clear to me why many people become ravenously hungry and overweight many years before they are diagnosed with T2 (even though many overweight people will never get diabetes). It's such simple science, yet the blame-game continues.

    The breakfast thing is the one most low-carbers struggle with. If only a bit of lateral thinking ensued. Who says you can't have lunch or dinner for breakfast?

  8. Yes, the blame game is sad. That's why communication with other people who understand the situation is important.

  9. I just commented on Your first year diabetes Facebook page how your book saved my life. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing it. I call it my diabetes Bible and recently bought a second copy to give to a friend who was just diagnosed. Your book have me hope and showed me the way to get my A1c down....from 8.1 to 5.8 in 5 months....and I lost 40 pounds cutting my carbs down to 15 grams a meal. Thanks so very much!!! You're an angel!!!!