Working With Our Individual Needs
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
This is the story of two very different people. One person doesn't gain weight easily, and can eat grains and starchy carbs without issue. The other person gains weight very easily when eating grains and starchy carbs, and has uncontrollable hunger issues with it.
The first person is my friend Shana, and the second person is her mother.
Shana is rail thin and always has been. She has never been fat, and doesn't put on fat easily. She doesn't exercise much. She can seemingly eat anything she wants and doesn't gain weight.
Shana is one of my friends from Washington state that I still keep in touch with on Facebook. She is a primary caretaker for her aging mother. Her mom, interestingly enough, is not the same as Shana. She is very overweight with a touch of dementia.
Shana hasn't been working for quite a while in order to take care of her mom, and they've been living off her mother's social security and retirement, so they are on a very tight budget. She's been writing to me how hard it was to manage the food budget because her mom was hungry all the time. She would eat an entire loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, bag of nuts, and even a whole head of cauliflower!
I asked Shana if her mom has ever been diabetic. She said no. However, the uncontrollable hunger sounded a lot like some sort of insulin malfunction to me. When insulin is dominant, no fat burn can occur, even though there is too much stored fat available.
I suggested to her, why not try cutting back the carbs? Low-carb diets have a very powerful satiety effect. Her mom's hunger is uncontrolled. No matter how much she eats, she will eat more. I suspect that leptin resistance is highly at play; her mom is just not receiving the 'off' switch for eating.
At first she resisted because she said that it was too expensive to eat low-carb. They can't really afford a lot of protein. Grains are very cheap. I pointed out to her that a carton of eggs is the cheapest protein source available. Even an expensive carton of pasture raised eggs at $8 contains a total of 72g of protein. 1lb of grass fed beef costs $14 per pound in my area. An egg is a complete food that contains nearly every single amino acid we need for good health. I also said a low carb diet isn't really a high protein diet - eat moderate protein, more fat, and only vegetables for carbs. Buy nuts and oils, and avocados when she can afford them. I told Shana that her mom sounds like me: not diabetic, but does not tolerate glucose well. If I eat too many grain/starchy carbs, I get out of control hunger and weight gain.
I didn't hear from her for a while, but a few weeks later, she posted to me that she took my advice and her mom is doing much better. Her mom's appetite came under control, and she's eating a lot less. She's only eating 2 meals a day now, and she isn't eating everything in sight. Sometimes she skips a meal because she just isn't hungry. Shana says she's actually saving money because they aren't eating as much, so she can afford to buy avocados and grass fed beef more often.
Shana, on the other hand, is still eating grains and rice because they don't cause her issues like her mom. She eats quinoa, buckwheat and millet because they aren't really grains. While she doesn't necessarily have issues with wheat, she has concerns with the GMOs, so she avoids them. She says she has to hide it and make it when her mom naps, or else she would eat it all starting the cycle all over again.
There is no one size fits all diet. Despite Shana and her mother being immediate relatives, they do not have the same diet. Genetics may predispose us towards certain attributes, but it is in no way a guarantee. My metabolism and her mother's are more similar - we both seem to process glucose less efficiently than Shana. We just have to know what works best with our individual bodies. We cannot fight it or change it.