Dr. Dennis Van Hoof, PhD, CLC
“No, I’m not skinny”
25 Bananas in my pockets
After reading previous blogs about the importance of carbs (sugar) as part of your diet (see The bitter-sweet truth and Having Diabetes and 10 Snickers per day), you may still wonder what’s up with those 10 Snickers bars.
Well, down at the molecular level, glucose is glucose. From a biochemical perspective, it doesn’t really matter where those carbs are coming from. So when considering only the sugar, and not any of the other macronutrients (protein and fat), Snickers and cookies are just as good as any other sugary food —even for diabetics— as long as they don’t completely replace healthier options, and are consumed in moderation to support an active lifestyle. And that is exactly the problem of modern Western society.
“Overweight is the new normal”
People with a healthy body weight have become a minority group, because over-consumption and too little physical activity have become the norm. By now, more than two-thirds of all Americans are overweight or obese. Sadly, many of them do not even realize that they have an unhealthy weight, as most others around them look the same or worse. We are so used to being surrounded by obesity that we have almost forgotten what “healthy” normal really looks like.
The dangers of being too heavy are very well-known and should not be underestimated. It is a lottery ticket for high blood pressure, sleep apnea, liver and kidney disease, and of course type 2 diabetes, with the grand prize and jackpot being a heart attack and stroke.
“That big is beautiful may be a personal preference, but that it is unhealthy is an undiscriminating fact.”
So how do I —as a diabetic— do it? How do I harmonize Snickers and cookies with a healthy lifestyle for excellent diabetes control?
The simple answer is: I live an active life.
Just 30 minutes of moderate activity per day (200-300 calories) already qualifies as an active lifestyle.
I’m more on the high end of the activity scale; by biking at least 60 miles every day, I burn 2,500 calories or more during those rides. Could I support those activities with healthier options? Possibly; but just imagine what I’d look like carrying 2,500 calories worth of bananas in my jersey pockets. That’s a bunch of 25 bananas weighing 10 lbs!
Obviously, calorie-dense foods are much easier to carry, to eat, and to digest while being physically active. Besides, Snickers bars have all the ingredients you need for endurance sports: caramel (sugar) for instant energy, chocolate (saturated fat) for long-lasting energy, and peanuts (protein) for muscle repair.
Do I eat those “calorie bombs” when I’m off the bike? No — well… maybe only on those very rare occasions when my blood glucose is dropping towards hypoglycemia. But even then, I prefer to grab some fruit. I eat healthy throughout the day, and save treats that have little nutritional value to support my physical activities. That way, I can maintain a lifestyle that is both fun and enjoyable, and therefore very easy to keep up. A precisely balanced and organized lifestyle where the right choices at the right moments support what I love to do.
This way of living keeps me energetic and in excellent condition — plus, I smile every day! 😀 The structure that diabetes has brought into my life has made me fitter, stronger and healthier than before I was diagnosed.
As a matter of fact, thanks to this diabetic lifestyle, I can now do things that even people without diabetes consider admirable. For example, I once rode more than 200 miles in a single day, and I climbed the 10,000 ft in elevation gain of the Haleakala volcano in Hawaii by bicycle, to name just a few.
But no matter how impressive checking off such bucket list items may be, they are not what other people truly admire. It is the consistent way I live my daily life, which enables me to keep checking them off, that has become an inspiration™ to others.
Keep an eye out for my next blog, and I hope to see you soon to get you started on the journey to your new life!
Dr. Dennis Van Hoof is a Certified Life Coach (CLC) with an academic PhD degree in Biochemical Physiology. By combining 20 years of first-hand personal diabetes experience with his in-depth scientific background, he developed a method to efficiently manage his own diabetes in a sustainable way. To learn how you can do this too, reach out for personal Diabetic Lifestyle Coaching or follow a group workshop that is specifically tailored to people with Type 1 or 2 Diabetes as well as pre-Diabetics and those at risk due to being overweight or obese. His clients thrive with their challenges and become an inspiration™ to others — with or without diabetes.