Tasty low-grain meal ideas to keep insulin in check

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Insulin is absolutely essential to staying alive, but the fact is that most people have too much in their systems, and it is pushing them towards chronic degenerative illness and increasing the rate at which they age.

Most adults have 5-6 litres of blood in their bodies and are quite surprised to learn that in all that blood, there is only one teaspoon of sugar! If your blood sugar level were to rise to one tablespoon of sugar you would quickly go into a hyperglycemic coma and die.

You body works very hard to prevent this by producing insulin to keep your blood sugar at the appropriate level. Any meal or snack high in grain and sugar carbohydrates typically generates a rapid rise in blood glucose. To compensate for this your pancreas secretes insulin into your bloodstream, which lowers your blood sugar to keep you from dying.

However, if you consume a diet consistently high in sugar and grains, over time your body becomes sensitised to insulin and requires more and more of it to get the job done. Eventually, you become insulin resistant, and then diabetic.

If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes or are overweight, it is highly likely that you are eating too many grains (yes, even unrefined whole grains) as this is the most common culprit causing your insulin level to become abnormal.

Compounding the problem, when your insulin levels rise due to an excess of carbohydrates, they send your body a hormonal message telling it to store fat while holding on to the fat that is already there. So not only will excess carbohydrates make you overweight, they will effectively hamper your weight loss efforts too.

To find out your insulin levels, ask your doctor for a fasting blood insulin test. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you'll want to be around 3.

Tasty Low-Grain Meal Ideas

We all need a certain amount of carbohydrates in our diet. The body requires a continual intake of carbohydrates to feed the brain, which uses glucose (a form of sugar) as its primary energy source. But when we eat too much carbohydrate, we're essentially sending a hormonal message, via insulin, to the body to store fat. Not only do increased insulin levels tell the body to store carbohydrates as fat, they also tell it not to release any stored fat. This makes it impossible for you to use your own stored body fat for energy. With this in mind, if you are trying to lose weight or control your insulin levels, try these ideas for a tasty and low-carb lunch.

Salads

Use lots of dark green leafy vegetables, which are much richer in nutrients than the traditional iceberg lettuce. Now that bagged greens are in every grocery store, salad making has never been more convenient. If you are using bottled dressings, check the label for carbs. Many "light" dressings have sugar added to make up for the loss of flavor when oil is reduced. Choose dressings with oils high in monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil. For extra bulk, add chickpeas or a bean mix to your salad. Tasty salads include:

  • Greek salad (add extra protein such as hard boiled eggs, chicken or seafood).
  • Chicken with salad greens, snow peas, red capsicum, and walnuts.
  • Coleslaw with chicken, pecans, and bits of apple.
  • Tuna with greens, tomato, egg and avocado.
  • Salmon on top of greens, blanched green beans, and sprouts.
  • Steak with greens, thinly sliced red onions, green capsicum, and mushrooms

Roll-Ups

Get some slices of your favorite meat: roast beef, good quality ham or chicken. Now get some fresh sliced cheese. Bring each to work in a zip lock bag and at lunch, roll up, with the cheese on the outside. You can add in some lettuce for crunch and some mustard for extra zing. Bring a few olives to nibble too!

Tuna

There are ALL sorts of way to make tuna really tasty. You can do a simple oil-and-vinegar mix. Add in spring onion, tomato and spices.

Veggies and Dip

Enjoy an assortment of zucchini, celery, cucumber, broccoli and a few carrots with some low-fat cottage cheese dip.

Eggs

Have hard boiled eggs over your salad. Devil up a bunch and snack on them in the afternoon.

Soup

Be sure to read the label, but there are MANY soups out there that are low carb. That's pretty easy - open the container, pour into a bowl and microwave. You should be sure to have other snacks on hand too, but for a quick, warm meal, that's always an alternative. Keep one or two in your drawer for emergencies.

Leftovers

Simply make more than you need! Put last night's sliced meat and veggies or stirfry into Tupperware and keep in the fridge for the next day.

Remember, eating fat does not make you fat. It's your body's response to excess carbohydrates in your diet that makes you, and keeps you fat.

 Learn how to avoid sugar

Sugar sneaks into the food we eat under the guise of many different forms and names. This handy list reveals many of them. Make yourself aware of these names, so that when you're doing the shopping you know what you're really buying.

Barley malt, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Buttered syrup, Cane juice crystals, Cane sugar, Caramel, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Confectioner’s sugar, Carob syrup, Castor sugar, Date sugar, Demerara sugar, Dextran, Dextrose, Diastatic malt, Diatase, Ethyl maltol, Fructose, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Galactose, Glucose, Glucose solids, Golden sugar, Golden syrup, Grape sugar, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Icing sugar, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltodextrin, Maltose, Malt syrup, Maple syrup, Molasses, Muscovado sugar, Panocha, Raw sugar, Refiner’s syrup, Rice syrup, Sorbitol, Sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Sugar, Treacle, Turbinado sugar, Yellow sugar.

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Mareike Bout is a qualified and registered personal trainer who specialises in holistic fitness and lifestyle coaching. She is a recognised leader in the industry, receiving the peer-voted South Australia Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2008. She is also a regular guest on <?xml:namespace prefix = st1> Adelaide’s top-rating radio station FIVEaa. Mareike runs her personal training business, One Life Live Well, both online and from a private studio in Adelaide. Services include one-on-one training, outdoor group fitness, lifestyle coaching and weight-loss programs. Individually tailored programs encompass aspects of exercise, nutrition, relaxation, positive thinking, life balance, and goal setting. Her approach is to guide, support and educate her clients so that they posses the tools required to live a life of health, strength and vitality!