When you consider the average lifestyle of women, it is not hard to understand why insulin, and estrogen become imbalanced, setting the stage for increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and breast cancer. Here are my suggestions for keeping your blood sugar and hormones in balance.
Eat at least three meals per day. Many women skip breakfast or lunch, or even both, “saving” their calories for dinner. The problem with this approach is that the metabolic rate naturally peaks at noon and slows after that. So the food you eat at night is far more likely to be stored as fat. When you eat breakfast, your metabolism gets jump-started for the day. If you skip it, your metabolism will slow down into conservation mode and this can lead to weight gain.
Eat protein at each meal. Eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, or vegetarian alternatives to animal protein, such as soy protein powder, whole soybeans, tofu or tempeh, are all good choices. Beans contain protein, but also contain a considerable amount of carbohydrates. If you are a true carbohydrate addict, beans may be too high in carbohydrates for you.
Cut down on refined and high-glycemic index carbohydrates. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Whether certain foods with a high-glycemic index, such as baked potatoes or bananas, can be part of a healthy diet for you depends upon your unique metabolism. If you are a true carbohydrate addict, you need to find what foods are healthy for you. I find that eliminating refined carbohydrates, such as sugar, white rice, bread, alcohol, and foods made with white flour, such as muffins, bagels, pasta, pretzels and other snack foods, helps the body burn stored fat and keeps insulin and blood sugar levels normal.
Consume whole grains in moderation. Even if you have eliminated refined grains, if you are a carbohydrate-sensitive person you may still have problems with whole wheat, whole rye, whole oat, or millet flour. Research shows that the degenerative diseases that currently plague people didn’t arrive on the scene until agriculture became widespread. In fact, the ancient Egyptians were fat and had dental disease associated with a grain-based diet.
Eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. You want to shoot for five servings per day. And remember, a serving is small, approximately four ounces, or a half-cup. Think color and you’ll be on the right path, because the deep pigments in these foods contain powerful antioxidants. Go for broccoli, green leafy vegetables, and berries, red, yellow and green peppers, and tomatoes, and vary your choices through the seasons.
Eat healthy fats each day. The low-fat diet fads of the past, which reached their peak in the 1980s and early 1990s; had women brainwashed into believing that fat was the enemy. In their attempt to eliminate saturated fat from their diets, many women eliminated all fat and sallow skin, brittle hair and nails, susceptibility to infection, inability to concentrate, and weight gain are common side effects. None of these women were getting enough healthy fat. Essential fatty acids, namely omega–3 and omega–6 fats, are needed to assist the body in many important functions, including those of the brain and nervous system. Good sources of EFAs include eggs, high-quality flax seeds, soybeans, walnuts, and cold water fish harvested from the wild. Again, the best way to obtain nutrients is in your food, but if your diet is lacking, high-quality EFA supplements are widely available.
Protect your body with antioxidants. Antioxidants combat cellular damage from free radicals, which are known to be a cause of chronic conditions such as heart disease, cataracts, macular degeneration, and cancer. Antioxidants are found in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially brightly colored ones. Food is the best source for antioxidants, but if you don’t always get enough in your diet, high-quality supplements can provide significant protection.
Here are the relative glycemic indexes of some common foods. This is simply a guide; these numbers do vary from study to study, with plant varieties, and food preparation methods. Use this chart to help balance high glycemic foods with low glycemic ones. Try eating smaller portions of high glycemic foods and add some protein and fat to your plate.
Glycemic Index Chart
Here are a few common foods and their Glycemic Index (GI) number.
|Low Glycemic Index foods (55 or less)||GI|
|Include some of these foods in each meal or snack, but go for low-fat choices where possible, such as skimmed milk. If you want to lose weight, you’ll also need to watch your portion sizes. That means sticking to small servings of pasta and noodles, limiting yourself to two slices of bread with a meal, and having only a couple of squares of chocolate or a small handful of peanuts!|
|Roasted and salted peanuts||14|
|Low-fat yoghurt with sweetener||14|
|Low-fat fruit yoghurt||33|
|Whole Grain spaghetti||37|
|Tomato soup, canned||38|
|Apple juice, unsweetened||40|
|Chick peas, canned||42|
|Porridge made with water||42|
|Baked beans in tomato sauce||48|
|Stoneground whole meal bread||53|
|Raw oat bran||55|
|Medium Glycemic Index foods (56 to 69)|
|You may include a few of these foods each day, but again limit portion sizes if you want to lose weight.|
|Cheese and tomato pizza||60|
|Apricots, canned in syrup||64|
|Whole Grain bread||69|
|High Glycemic Index foods (70 or more)|
|Swap these foods for those with a low GI value or eat them together with a low GI food. Having a jacket potato with baked beans, for example, will lower the GI value of that whole meal.|
|White rice, steamed||98|