Kicking a Carb Addiction to the Curb

Pancakes, bagels and fruit, oh my! Anne Weston, who has type 2 diabetes, knew she had to reform her starchy ways for the sake of her health.

Health Monitor Staff
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A bountiful breakfast of pancakes smothered in syrup, a cup of orange juice and bacon—it was the first day of Anne Weston’s honeymoon 38 years ago. Perfect, she thought. Yet, just one hour later, as her husband was driving them on a sightseeing tour, she was fast asleep in the front seat, the victim of carb overload. “I couldn’t get out of the car,” remembers Anne, 59, a retired editor from Durham, NC.

That starch addiction eventually caught up with her. “I would start my day with a bagel and fruit, and that kept me hungry every two hours,” says Anne. The more sugar and simple carbs she ate, the hungrier and heavier she became. “I was chasing my hunger all day long,” says Anne, who was 50 pounds overweight by the time she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She also had to go on medications to control her blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol.

Ditch white foods.
After reading everything she could about good nutrition, Anne began limiting carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, sugar and rice. That’s a wise move for two reasons: Refined starches cause blood sugar spikes, and they trigger cravings that can pile on the pounds.

Amp up the protein.
Getting protein at the beginning of the day helps stave off cravings and fatigue, suggests Anne, who now occasionally enjoys pork chops and coffee or even black bean soup for breakfast!

Scoop up faux starches.
Anne’s discovered foods that deliver the same texture as the carbs she’s given up. For example, she keeps a bag of shredded cabbage in her fridge for soups, coleslaw and even “spaghetti” with homemade marinara sauce. “I don’t feel like I’m all that deprived.”

Track and reward.
Doing daily blood sugar checks kept Anne motivated. “With a glucose meter, I could see the results of the changes I was making.” The success encouraged her to make a serious commitment to exercise. These days, she hits the gym five days a week for 3-mile walks on the treadmill, and she’s 30 pounds slimmer. “I was very surprised I could lose weight so painlessly,” says Anne, who now has the stamina to hike and travel.

Thanks to these efforts, Anne’s blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure numbers are near normal. And weaning herself off carbs has allowed her to go hours without feeling hungry.


April 2013