Carb Footprints


The results are in.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. My oldest daughter has always struggled with weight despite being physically active, her mother’s health-nutty kitchen, and our family’s self-righteous stance on video games. Half of my husband’s family are endocrinologists! With their own practice! Why didn’t I get down to the lab and have her blood work done ages ago?

Few things are more crushing to a parent than having to watch their lovely, compassionate child deal with less tactful children teasing them about their weight. (I can only hope these rough instances will play a part in sculpting her into a very caring, thoughtful adult.) Bear in mind, Kate is only about 12 pounds overweight, not morbidly obese, but on a small frame that’s a big difference, especially when all her little girl friends have the metabolisms of whippets. No one wants to be the biggest one in a tutu. It was starting to bother her.

So off to the family’s practice we went. After a quick stab with a needle and an afternoon of waiting, her blood work revealed her blood sugars to be dangerously high, her cholesterol high, and she was insulin resistant, well on her way to type 2 diabetes if she did not course correct.

What?? How can that possibly be true? All my cooking with whole grains and the copious amounts of spinach I jam into our fruit smoothies in the morning and we’re walking dangerous close to type 2 diabetes?? But I don’t buy juice! I hate fast food! How can that be?

First off, said her uncle doctor, life ain’t fair. Genetics. Her body does not slowly release the sugar it gets over the course of several hours like most people’s. Instead, it releases it all at once, causing the blood sugar to spike, her pancreas to overreact, and whatever sugar is not used up that exact minute is stored up as fat. And what’s worse is, her pancreas is wearing out.

Okay, so she’s getting too much sugar? But I abhor white sugar. I only use it to make my own jam! Wh…how…wh…?

Carbs. All carbs are essentially sugar as far as your pancreas is concerned.

Well, now that I think about it, all that homemade whole wheat bread I was baking weekly (slathered in the homemade jam, no less) was wreaking havoc on her cute little pancreas. All those cookies I was making (using my special blend of ground-up organic brown rice and whole wheat flour–all from my own grinder) were doing her no favors. The baked potatoes we had last night, the extra grande honey crisp apples we bought…all very high in carbohydrates.

I’m a terrible mother.

The good news, he told us as I picked my jaw up off the floor, was there is something we can do about it. This is all very, very reversible. Her pancreas will self-heal, no meds or anything. All it takes is knowing how to eat properly for her particular body type.

So here’s the low down: 30-45 carbs per meal, three meals a day, 15 carbs per snack, three snacks a day. (Adults can go lower, but since she is a growing child, she gets a bit more.)

The whole family is eating this way now. (Well, except for Jane.) According to the doc, this exact same pancreatic scenario will likely play out with all of our children when they reach adulthood, (the classic tale of the skinny kid who balloons after age 25) so we might as well all get used to low carbs. This is a lifetime diet plan.

It’s been 6 days now and as of this morning, Kate has already lost 4 pounds. For the first time in my adult life I bought full fat Ranch dressing (1 carb.) We measure out portions, use our digital kitchen scale and count out every single carb we put in our mouths, scared straight at the thought of dealing with type 2 diabetes. (All you need to know, Kate, is it means a shot at every meal. Shot? Noooooooo!!!!!)

We like those circular whole wheat sandwich thins (22 carbs,) thin crust pizza (26 carbs,) pistachio nuts (8 carbs, and you have to crack them open so they last a long time) and my children have been absolutely thrilled to be reunited with their long lost true love: cheese. (1 carb.)

Lots of veggies, lots of water, a little Ranch, and we physically measure out the fruit and whole grains. I’m sending Kate to school with a bag-o-tricks for her teacher to stash away for when “Billy” has a birthday and his mom brings in a box of donuts.

The best part is, Kate is totally on board and if anything, she feels empowered. Before she felt like she was swimming against a current. Now she is finally catching a wave.

4 responses »

  1. I’m completely interested–as this may be our family’s issue too. What type of blood work did you ask for? Having no “Uncle Doctor” here I’ll have to do my own begging at our GP’s clinic lab, it appears. Any further info as far as weekly meals, recipes, etc would be extremely helpful, and much appreciated! Thanks for sharing your daughter’s plight–and hopeful options toward success. Good luck!

    • I know they tested her blood sugars, cholesterol and thyroid. I’m not sure what else. Explain your plight to any good endocrinologist and I’m sure they’ll know what tests to order. It’s not an extreme diet and the doctor encouraged us all to go on it, so you could save yourself time and money and just try it out for two weeks and see what happens. My next post will be menu ideas, our sack lunches, etc…There’s been a lot of interest. Good luck to you!

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