Taming Sugar Cravings and Balancing Blood Sugar: What I Learned at Monica Pope's New Food-as-Medicine Dinner
Photo by Mai Pham A salad of steamed rainbow chard and pickled red cabbage is beautiful, nutrient rich, and won't cause your blood sugar to spike.
"If there's one thing you remember from tonight, remember 15 grams," said Ali Miller, a registered dietitian who practices functional medicine. It was the inaugural dinner for the new Food-as-medicine dinner series she'd designed with chef Monica Pope at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop, and we were about half-way through her lecture on how to tame sugar cravings and balance blood sugar.
My ears perked as I committed her message to memory: "I want you to think of 15 grams of carbs as a virtual slice of bread. So if you look at the label on that yogurt you're planning to buy, and it says 45 grams, it means you're eating three slices of bread; and if you have a milkshake that contains 90 grams of carbs, it's like eating seven slices of bread."
Photo by Mai Pham Nutritionist Ali Miller (standing left) gives a lecture on how to balance blood sugar and tame sugar cravings.
I found myself repeating this information to one of my friends the very next day. Over the last year, she'd started gaining significant weight, and though I'd tried to discourage her from indulging in large cups of her favorite sugared drinks (she loves to drink those Taiwanese bubble teas), when I pulled out Miller's virtual slice of bread analogy, it was like a light popped off in her head. "Ohhhh...." she groaned in dawning comprehension, as she realized how her pounds had easily added up. "That's crazy."
Did you know that in 2010, the average person consumed 175 pounds of sugar per person, per year? This equates to 42 teaspoons of sugar per day, up from the 17th century average of four pounds per person per year. It's the reason why our nation has seen an increase in what's being coined as "diabesity," in which obesity and diabetes are linked together, because when we eat excess carbs, our sugar levels spike, and this stimulates our body to store fat.
My family has a history of diabetes, so I already knew a lot of this information. Still, it was good to hear it reinforced as she discussed the root cause of sugar cravings, the evolution of processed foods to stimulate sugar cravings, and the concept of "dysglycemia," which signifies an imbalance of sugar in the body.
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