What to Eat in a Diner!

What to Eat in a Diner!Healthy Diner Food

The other day I was passing through a small town that I know has one of the best diners & I couldn’t resist stopping by for lunch. Sure they serve salads. But they probably use really unhealthy ingredients in the dressing. It’ll mostly be that cheap Omega 6 laden inflammatory oil, won’t it? And maybe it’s loaded with croutons. Who knows what kind of scary stuff could be in it! They do an awesome burger here too but it’s such a work of art that it just doesn’t look right without the bun. And I was on a low-carb day so no burger buns allowed. The all-day breakfast seemed like the only option.

Eggs are natures vitamin pill. And they come with protein to boot. Bacon, probably not pasture raised, but still a pretty good choice for a low carb day. And plenty of fat so no fear of overdoing the lean protein & triggering a big insulin release. I skipped the toast but stuck with the home fries. They’re precooked & cooled before they toss ’em on the grill so all that bad starch is the wonderful probiotic resistant type, right? The slice of tomato is pretty harmless so I decided to go with that. 🙂

And that’s how you do the diet at the diner!

THINK Yourself Thin … Maybe?

THINK Yourself Thin … Maybe?


Couple of guys thinking themselves thin at Mission Hill Winery, in BC. Looks like it’s working! 🙂

Yesterday’s post on the Glycemic Index, the Glycemic Load Index, and the Insulin & Satiety Indices triggered a few questions. I wasn’t suggesting that any particular index was the right way to build a weight-loss diet. Nor was I saying that the indices were worthless for doing that. I was trying to explain the confusion went through, leading up to my decision to eat potatoes as part of my diet. The potato was a good example of that decision making process when measured against the four indices we talked about.

Despite the amount of science behind many of the diets out there, there still isn’t enough information to create one, clear, simple, diverse & satisfying diet that will work for everyone. No matter the diet we choose to follow, we will all tinker with it. We’ll add a little of this & a touch more of that, to suit our own taste. I think that’s okay. The greater the variety, the better the chances that we’ll stick with it.

To simplify yesterday’s thought process. The Glycemic Index, the Glycemic Load Index and the Insulin Index ALL suggest that I shouldn’t eat potatoes. The Satiety Index suggested otherwise so I tried it periodically, sometimes for 2 or 3 days at a time, over several weeks. It worked on most attempts, I ate potatoes, felt very satisfied, & I lost weight. That’s a good result but it’s not the end of the confusion.

Imagine being on a very low-carb keto diet. With this, I’m trying to stay in ketosis by reducing the carbs. Some keto regimens recommend carb days periodically but still require longer periods of very low-carb eating. While I totally believe in the weight loss potential of the keto regimens, I just don’t want to eat that way all the time. I think it works. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. And it’s okay to experiment with alternatives. It probably won’t be a ketogenic diet any more but if we lose the weight, do we really care?

Sometimes, I think Grandma maybe had it right … everything in moderation.

EXCEPT those things that we know do us damage. And we should probably eat more of the stuff that doesn’t. Even if it isn’t keto-friendly!

PS … Wine is an essential component of a healthy diet too, isn’t it!?!

An Index of Indices

An Index of Indices

Poison Garden

The Poison Garden at Blarney Castle

From the development of the Glycemic Index, at the University of Toronto, in the early eighties, dieters have been trying to harness the power of indices for weight loss. The researchers at the University of Sydney went on to develop the Glycemic Load Index. The glycemic index tells us the glucose response of foods that contains a fixed amount of carbohydrate. The glycemic load index looks at more realistic serving sizes for each food so that we’re taking the sugar, fiber and water content into account. In other words, the carrot might appear high on the glycemic index, but it’s much lower on the glycemic load index. A pound of carrots is not the same as a pound of sugar.

All good so far, the glycemic load index looks like the winner. But now lets switch to one of my favorite veggies, the potato. The potato numbers vary widely, based on the type of potato and where it’s grown, but, on average, it fares a little worse than the carrot on the glycemic index. It fares much worse on the glycemic load index. That sounds like a problem, doesn’t it? It sounds like it’s not a vegetable, it more like a make-me-fat pill!

The team at the University of Sydney, again, came up with the Insulin Index. Now if we agree with the carbohydrate-insulin theory of weight gain, anything that raises our insulin levels, too high and for too long, makes us fat. There is generally some good correlation between the glucose response (our blood sugar levels) of carbohydrates and their potential for insulin triggering. But on the insulin index, the potato is the worst. It tops the charts for real food (only jelly beans and candy bars were higher), causing a disproportionately high insulin response. Eating potatoes opens the insulin flood gates.

You low-carbers knew you were right all along, didn’t you!

Not so fast though. I am a fan of keto and low carb but, as you may know, I love my potatoes too. There’s one more index to consider, the Satiety Index. Also from the University of Sydney. And guess what? The potato is the king of satiety. The potato makes us feel fuller, for longer, than all the other stuff. It’s even better when compared to the high protein content of meat.

Despite the potato winning at least one of the indices wars, I was generally wary about eating very much. Especially while trying to lose weight. Until one day, I decided to test drive its effect on the scale. I am not diabetic, nor am I on any medications, so please don’t try this if you are not in good health. No question, potatoes blip the blood sugar. I can’t measure it but it’s probably driving up my insulin levels too. What’s going on in there? Are there other little peptides, enzymes and biological goodies that are working in concert with those potatoes that might be doing me some good? In theory, with all that sugar and insulin floating around in my blood, I can’t possibly be burning my own fat, can I? I’m not sure what’s going on in there but I can tell you that it feels great to eat potatoes every now and again. And the scale usually rewards me the following morning.

Now that’s satiety!

PS .. I try to mitigate the effects of eating potatoes in isolation. I cook and cool them first. Then fry them in oil (olive or coconut) or fat (butter or lard). I also mix them with other veggies. Garlic and onion are almost mandatory, just for the flavour. And I’ll usually dress everything with some shredded full fat cheese. I’ll mix them in with shredded cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms or Brussels sprouts. It’s just more volume for that pig out feast. Which I now enjoy without the recriminations. If you can tolerate it, and your doctor okays it, this might be a great way to add some variety and flexibility to an otherwise restrictive regimen.

Bucket of Spuds!

Bucket of Spuds!Bucket of Potatoes

I had intended to leave potatoes alone for a while but I’ve been shamed into doing one more post for now. I was chatting with someone who follows these posts during the week, & I was accused of not being real! I kept talking about my “bucket” but I’d never shown it. So here it is. I hope I’m now absolved!

I do like to eat a lot. And while they are probably not the best food for my glucose response, nor for my insulin response, potatoes are a great way to get stuffed! The pic shows a predominantly potato “dish” that is flavoured by one medium red onion, one medium yellow onion, some sliced jalapeño, & about 4 or 5 cloves of garlic. All fried in olive oil. I later added a big dollop of my favourite jalapeño lime aoili. Which is store bought & probably not the best thing I could do. I’ll have to check up on some recipes for doing my own.

Every now & again, I want to feel like I gorged. And I want that feeling to last ’til bedtime. Though there’s always room for dessert, of course. You know you’ve done it right when you come awake in the middle of the night & you still feel stuffed! I could have used cabbage, cauliflower & a host of other veggies, all with a lower glycemic load, & lower on the insulin index, but sometimes … only a bucket of spuds will do it. And doing that, without doing too much damage to the weight loss goal, sometimes makes potatoes a pretty good choice. Though you can get a decent result mixing other veggies with the potatoes too.

Generally, I mostly like my food to look good. Presentation is important. You need to satisfy the eye as much as the stomach. So a little sprig of herbs to finish off the look, even when I’m eating alone, is worth the effort. Spuds seem to just look right all on their own though. And in a bucket!

I should have put something in the pic for perspective but the bucket measures 6¾” across by 3¾” tall.

Now, whenever I refer to the “bucket”. This is it!

The Last Word on Potatoes

The Last Word on Potatoes

Red Wine

It’s probably not the last word on potatoes. After all, we still have to address the health benefits of French fries! I’ll use the name of the day to more easily explain the sequence of what happened. On Wednesday evening, I carried on exploring the effects of potatoes on my blood sugar. This time, I managed to avoid my sugar-laden dessert. I knew that wasn’t going to be easy so I decided to have two full-sized spud dinners to combat the urge. We’re not talking seconds here, we’re talking two full dinner-sized portions. The first was leftovers from Tuesday, the potato & Brussels sprouts combo. The second was again made from boiled & cooled potatoes, pan fried in olive oil. Then drizzled with more olive oil because they just don’t bring any fat to the party. I added the usual chopped onion, herbs & seasonings. This one also got a shot of store-bought Jalapeño-Lime Aioli. Which I probably shouldn’t have done, but it’s just so good! And I also melted three slices of Jarlsberg cheese into each serving. While potatoes have some protein, the cheese adds more of that, along with some excellent texture & flavour. I was probably a little below my protein requirement on both days but not enough that I worried about it. And it’s only for a couple of days.

From Tuesday’s eating, it took ’til early afternoon Wednesday to get back down to 5.6 mmol/l (101 mg/dl). Remember that I had that sweet dessert on the Tuesday though. The numbers aren’t really all that bad but I’m used to being lower, and faster getting there, on low carb days. Was that difference in glucose decay caused by the sugar in the dessert? Or the fact that I had been low carb for the week prior & my body needed to readjust to handling the carb load again? Am I over producing insulin in reaction to that? And is that insulin just helping transport it out of my blood & into muscle for use? Or is it driving all the excess to my belly for storage as fat!

I don’t know. None of the readings were serious enough that I’m worried so I’ll just ignore it for now. Just before dinner on Wednesday, I was back in my happy zone, at 5.1 mmol/l (92 mg/dl). Pretty much immediately after the hour long feast, it hit 7.1 mmol/l (128 mg/dl). One hour later it was 7.2 (130 mg/dl) & it was back down to 6.3 mmol/l (113 mg/dl) at the two hour mark. By the three hour mark, it was down to 5.8 mmol/l (104 mg/dl). On Wednesday, with the potato binge only & no dessert, the glucose decay was much better, & faster. From a blood glucose perspective, I’m okay including the occasional potato binge.

From a weight loss perspective, the story doesn’t necessarily end there. Potatoes may trigger a greater insulin response than the blood glucose number would suggest. So does that mean that I’m getting fatter while I overindulge on them?

Not according to the scale on Thursday morning. Phew!

Think I’ll have to check the impact of wine & beer with that little glucose meter too! 🙂