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Carb-o-Phobia – Bariatric Edition

Hands up if you have what I like to call “Carb-o-Phobia”.  My two hands are up right now lol
I spend my days discussing carbs and explaining them to my pre-op clients.  
I spend my days discussing carbs and explaining them to my post-op clients.
I spend my days discussing carbs and explaining them to my clients who have a stall.
I spend my days talking about carbs.  I am intimately entwined with this macro-nutrient.  We are in a love/hate relationship.  Oh, how I love to eat them.  Oh, how I hate what they do to me.  Do you follow?
Remember, we are all biochemical individuals and what works for one person may not necessarily work for the next person.  You are UNIQUE.  This is MY personal battle with “Mr. Carbohydrate”.  You may relate and you may not feel the same way.  
You do you Boo.  
This is my story and how I have come to terms with carbs.
I have been in the health industry for most of my life. My first job was working in a gym.  I’ve taught exercise classes in 10 different countries.  Some of those countries include Canada, the United States, Dominican Republic, Switzerland, Spain, Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, Italy (and I am probably missing a few). 
Of course, fitness goes hand in hand with nutrition and it was the natural evolution for me to return to school and become an RHN.
I’ve always had a “so-so” diet.  I tried hard to eat healthily but there was some “fast food” mixed in always.  “Healthy” for me meant quinoa, beets, sweet potato, barley, and a lot of plant-based foods.  I was a vegetarian for a few years also.  
*Plant-based people … don’t get up in arms about MY personal journey. For some of you, a plant-based diet is perfect.
I almost always was able to eat whatever I wanted.  It wasn’t because I had some tremendous metabolism that enabled me to eat tons of food.  I taught a lot of classes.  I taught up to 5 hours a day.  Talk about having an active job!  This allowed me to eat a lot of food and not gain weight.  
Fast forward to 33 years old, a few kids, fewer classes, less energy, being pulled in 20 directions… things started to change for me.
The most frustrating thing for me was my CONSTANT hunger.  I would literally have “food panics”.  I need to stop NOW and EAT.  There was no reasoning for my food panic.  I researched it a lot and I just settled with the fact that I had hypo-glycemic (low blood sugar).  That’s okay.  I just dealt with it and fed myself when I was hungry.  Gimme all the beans and rice.  Those are healthy foods, right? 
I discussed my low blood sugar episodes with my doctor.  My blood work was pretty “normal” so he wasn’t overly interested in my “episodes”.  Even though I was not medically diagnosed with hypoglycemia, I damn well knew that something was happening.
My search continued.  Returning to school and doing the deep-dive into food science was a world of discovery.  That’s where I had my AH-HA moment!  It’s that moment when everything made sense.  
An overproduction of insulin causes reactive hypoglycemia.  Having reactive hypoglycemia may mean that you are at risk for developing diabetes.
Let me write that one more time …. 
An overproduction of insulin causes reactive hypoglycemia.  Having reactive hypoglycemia may mean that you are at risk for developing diabetes.
Finally, I understood what was happening in my body.  I was eating a diet that was full of “healthy” carbohydrates and that same diet was leading me to have hypoglycemia which can be a precursor to diabetes.  Ooh, La La…. things had to change.
What I mean by “healthy carbohydrates” are the carbs that have added fiber that is occurring in nature.  These are foods like potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, corn, etc.  So if these foods along with the “overly processed carbohydrates” like rice, pasta, bread, tortilla, bagels caused me to have reactive hypoglycemia, then these foods needed to be eliminated from my diet.
And so my low-carb journey began.  I started slowly.  At first, I felt more hungry after eating my chicken minus the rice but slowly I started replacing the rice with food that had more fiber.  Instead of rice, I had a large salad or baked vegetables or a bowl of veggie soup before my chicken.  I didn’t just drop the high carb foods, I replaced them with lower carb foods and a touch of healthy fat.  If a serving of mashed potatoes has 25 grams of carbs, I switched those potatoes for a large cucumber with half an avocado.  That more than halved the carb content in my meal.
Now, what happened when I did this?  Well, I started to feel LESS HUNGRY.  I could go between meals without my regular food panics.  I felt more comfortable.  My tummy wasn’t rumbling.  It took a bit of time to get used to the new way of eating but it worked for me.  I was sold on this style of eating.  
Years and Years later – I still promote this way of eating. The science is out and if you are interested in learning more about a low-carb-lifestyle there is a ton of information online.  Heck, you don’t need me to show you the way (but I will).
Even though I wasn’t diagnosed with reactive hypoglycemia, that is exactly what I had and I was on my way to diabetes.  I wasn’t eating french fries and drinking cokes all day long but the choices I was making were causing havoc on my blood sugars which were raising my insulin levels and creating the perfect storm.  
I think it’s important to understand WHY we are all carb-o-phobic today.  WHY do you want to follow a low-carb lifestyle?  I have my reasons why and it keeps me making good food decisions daily.  If I didn’t have my WHY, I would have a much harder time living my lifestyle.
Healthy Low Carb Hugs,
Your RHN Bariatric Nutritionist

About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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