“Most whole fruits, with the exception of tropical varieties, are slow-digesting because the sugars are sequestered in the cellular structure of the fruit and it takes time to leach out. It’s very different from juice or soda, where sugars slam into your body, overwhelming the liver and raising insulin too much,” he said. Fast-digesting carbs, like potatoes, white bread and other refined carbohydrates, as well as grapes, papaya and mango, he explained, all have a higher impact on blood sugar, but they still do not pack the same punch as soda and juice.
While challenging in some ways, Whole30 made my life easier in others. Trips to the market kept me in the produce aisle, and when cooking at home I mostly reached for perishables. And not only did it balance my blood sugar, but I had fewer cravings, no digestive complaints and improved energy.
Dr. Carrie Diulus, an orthopedic spine surgeon in Akron, Ohio, who learned she had Type 1 diabetes in her 30s, carefully monitors nutrition in her patients before and after surgery. “If you take anyone on a standard American diet and you increase the number of whole foods that they are eating, they are going to do better,” she said. She herself eats a very low-carb, whole foods diet because she doesn’t want to worry when she’s in the operating room. “For me to be a surgeon, I cannot have variation in my blood sugar,” she said.
Another doctor with Type 1 diabetes agreed with my new mind-set. “Not all carbs are created equal,” said Dr. Daniel DeSalvo, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s Hospital. In his practice, Dr. DeSalvo refers to the good carbs, those with a lower glycemic index, as “smart carbs.”
“I want to avoid the guilt that can sometimes be associated with living with diabetes,” he said. “I talk about glucose as being data that we learn from, not right or wrong. The goal is to celebrate the in-range numbers and learn from the out-of-range numbers.” It’s a goal that is useful not just for those with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes but for everyone, since fast spikes in blood sugar levels aren’t good for anyone’s health.