High carb breakfasts are the norm, while a breakfast of eggs and bacon is “dangerous” and “artery clogging.” How do we change this dangerous mindset?
High carb breakfasts are the norm. They are considered completely normal. No one raises an eyebrow when they see the display shown above (photo taken by my husband at a recent work conference). But order eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of a high carb breakfast, and suddenly everyone is worried about your cholesterol.
My husband and I like to play a game. Whenever he’s at a convention, a conference or a business meeting, he sends me a snap, via Snapchat, of the refreshments available. In 9 cases out of 10, he can safely accompany the photo with the caption “Carb Fest!”
Sadly, high carb breakfasts are the norm
In fact, not just breakfast – this is true for basically every meal.
A typical breakfast at a conference is pastries. Cakes, muffins, doughnuts and coffee. Sometimes there are bagels with cream cheese. If there’s a “healthy breakfast” corner, it features cereals, granola, sweetened yogurt and fruit. No low carb option is typically offered.
My husband deals with this by eating breakfast at home, and just having coffee at the conference.
Lunches are almost always sandwiches or wraps, with a side of potato chips (sigh). My husband takes a few sandwiches, eats just the filling, and discards the bread. When people ask him what he’s doing, he calmly explains that he has to avoid bread to stay healthy.
Dinners are easier – while there’s always starch and a sweet dessert, there’s also almost always meat, poultry or fish, and veggies. One can easily ignore the bread, starch and dessert, unless a miracle happens and the dessert is (or includes) fresh berries.
Breakfast is the worst timing for this sugar infusion
When my husband was diagnosed with high blood sugar, we tried different things for three years. Based on the doctors’ recommendations, he lost weight (he was already at a healthy weight, but they said to lose 10% more); we switched to whole wheat bread and pasta and brown rice; and after years of having just coffee in the morning, he started having breakfast every day – a bowl of “heart healthy” Honey Nut Cheerios (!)
No wonder his blood sugar kept climbing. When a wise friend recommended that we buy The South Beach Diet book, we finally understood that breakfast is the worst time of day for eating rapidly absorbed carbs – the insulin spike and blood sugar spike are the highest in the morning, after a long overnight fast.
High carb breakfasts are making us sick
More than 1 in 3 American adults is obese. More than 1 in 13 is extremely obese.
A whopping 34% of American adults has prediabetes, and nearly 10% have full blown diabetes – and those are just the ones that were diagnosed!
The obesity epidemic started about the same time the government started promoting a low fat, high-carb diet.
Obviously, eating our “normal” fare of a high carb, low fat diet has NOT been working for us.
So why are people resisting a change?
I do believe that the low carb diet is very slowly gaining acceptance in the mainstream. But it’s an extremely slow process, and it often feels like everyone is fighting this trend, holding onto their precious “healthy complex carbs” and “heart healthy whole grains.”
Part of that is the human difficulty in admitting you were wrong. If authorities come out now and tell us that they were wrong for the last 40 years, that their food pyramid had made us sick – that’s not just humiliating and humbling, I can imagine there are also legal concerns involved.
Will people be able to sue certain organizations for recommending a high carb diet to diabetics for many years? How many people did these organizations harm with their recommendations?
Another reason is that many people are still afraid of fats, and especially saturated fats. Despite new research showing that saturated fats are harmless, it will take some time to get over the brainwashing that we were all subjected to on how fats are dangerous and clog your arteries.
A third reason is that – in my opinion – people simply love their carbs and have an extremely hard time letting them go. Carbs are addictive, and giving up the endorphin rush that one gets when eating carbs is not easy. Carbs are also delicious – especially highly processed carbs. So it’s not easy for people to give them up.
What can we do?
The only thing we can do is keep advocating for a low carb diet. I do my part here on this blog :), but you don’t have to be a writer to promote a low carb lifestyle. The very fact that you make the choice to eat low carb, and your friends and family can see the positive effects this diet has on you, is a type of low carb advocacy.
Of course, it won’t always make a difference. When we visited our out of state family after my husband had lost a lot of weight on a low carb diet, everyone wanted to know how exactly he did it, and they all started what they called “a meat diet.”
A month later, when we asked them how they were doing, they sheepishly admitted that “the meat diet” was too difficult, and they are back to their old ways. Specifically, one of them told us that after two weeks on the low carb diet, she just couldn’t stand the thought of having eggs for breakfast again, and just had to have her beloved oatmeal.
So she’s fine with having oatmeal every single day for breakfast, but she gets tired of eggs. You know why? Because oatmeal is sweet and addictive, and eggs are not.
My advice? If you’re not hungry for eggs, maybe you’re not hungry at all. Try skipping breakfast for a few days and see how you feel. It’s better to skip breakfast than to eat a high-carb, sugary one.