Low Carbs & Heart Health

Taking care of my health with special attention to my heart is #1 to me. Heart disease and obesity run in my family on my Dad’s side. I recently lost an uncle to heart disease–so I’ve got to be serious about it. I was skinny until my late 20’s and by my early 30’s was 30# overweight. A lifetime of eating junk food, drinking soda, high carb diet, and alcohol had nearly ruined my health. By 42 I was 50# overweight and out of breath and unable to even ride a bike anymore. I put my foot down and started my journey to healthier living.

Almost all of us would love to live a life of eating everything we want to, all the things we love to the extreme, without ever having a single worry about the consequences. My lifelong addiction has been sugar. I love candy. When thinking about the holidays, my first thought is holiday candy. Christmas–lifesaver books, candy canes, assorted chocolates, and chocolate covered cherries. Easter–jelly beans, marshmallow eggs, creme-filled eggs, and chocolate bunnies. Valentines Day–conversation hearts. Halloween–snack sized candy and snicker pumpkins. It’s probably been about 15 years ago now that I started to believe I was going to end up a diabetic. I went out and bought a glucose tester and started measuring my blood sugar 3 times a day. I was two years into a plan to improve my health from no more smoking and drinking to eating more fruits and veggies and exercise. Around 10:00 am every morning I’d get the shakes–hence I began to think I was diabetic or leaning towards that diagnosis.

It was late Feb, early March, coming up on Easter. Every day I would grab a handful of jelly beans, because giving up candy (my beloved) never crossed my mind. Every day for a couple of weeks I’d been eating roughly 15-25 beans–most of them past 8:00 at night (reading in bed). I would buy the big bags sold at Easter and of course a few smaller bags of the black jelly beans. My blood sugars were a tad bit high at 10:00 a.m. but right back to normal the rest of the day. By the following year when those Easter Jelly beans were being sold again, a light bulb went on one day, when after not having 10:00 a.m. shakes for several months, I was back to having them again. What was I eating or drinking that was causing this to happen? I eliminated everything before I even considered the jelly beans, but alas I had to consider them so I lowered my amount to 10- 20 a day and none at night after dinnertime. Everything went fine until years later when I went back to reading before bed and munching on jelly beans. This time my shakiness was at different times and I was starting to get concerned.

After seeing a physician and going through the fasting/blood tests where everything, thank goodness, checked out–I wrote it off as hormonal. But it wasn’t folks, it was the unbelievable amount of sugar in jelly beans. In eating just 15-25 jelly beans a day I was ingesting 25 grams of sugar = to 6 tsp. of raw sugar. Jelly beans were just one of the things I was eating packed with sugar. The worst thing, I’ll give you that. Fast forward to three years ago and me ugly crying because I bought some jelly beans and had decided to portion them out vs. eating every day. I would eat 5-10 every other day. This worked better but it was very hard to limit myself–very very hard. When I realized that I would have to give up jelly beans–the one candy I’d loved my whole life, I was devastated. So yes, I ugly cried about how unfair life was and that I didn’t feel like going on anymore if I couldn’t even eat a jelly bean or two every year. This may sound over dramatic, but at this point I had given up smoking, drinking, restaurant food, and a lot of the different snacks I loved. I got through it friends and today? I buy the occasional bag of jelly beans and I limit myself to 3. A bag lasts me a few months and I’m not tempted anymore to overeat them and face the consequences from them. The last thing I want or need at almost 57 is diabetes, high cholesterol, or heart disease.

Don’t get me started on my love for buying things for my husband–goodies, or learning how to make cheesecake (his favorite) or all the ways I’ve helped to make him overweight… Putting the brakes on his eating goodies, sugar laden treats, and such has been horrifically hard. His mother had late in life diabetes, heart disease, and his father high blood pressure and one of those big hard stomachs men get. Ya. Hubby has that too and the direct cause for that big hard stomach>> carbohydrates–nothing else. Look up visceral fat if you want to know what I’m talking about. Huge health problems can come from having a belly like that. Apart from his tummy, hubby is a fairly fit guy. That I’ve loved almost to death with sweetness, literally. Do your hubby, friends, family members and neighbor (wink wink) a favor and stop killing them with kindness. Eating a diet high in carbohydrates is bad when you’re young, but in your 50’s and older it’s a killer. It’s a proven fact that smoking, drinking, added sugar (diet high in goodies), bad fats, and processed foods increase your chance of getting breast cancer (women) prostate cancer (men).

Edit- Hubby wanted me to edit the part about him because he thinks I was too hard on myself…o.k. I was. Truthfully, I’ve lectured my husband for years and years about his carb intake, to no avail. After awhile it was up to him. He’s a grown man and had to figure it out himself. I did buy him sweets occasionally and for that I feel responsible. Thankfully, I am not a baker (never have been) otherwise we would really have issues to deal with. His wake up call is/was the visceral fat and on his own he has placed limits on his carb intake these past few years and is doing better. Lookout everyone this spring because he and I are starting a walking program to work his belly right off and to get me back in shape and back on my bicycle. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight so now it’s time to get limber and fit!

Life isn’t fair and no one ever said it was. You have but one body and the last thing in the world you want is to be too late in the game to correct an issue. Had I continued on with my love of jelly beans–lived in a state of denial, today I would be telling my story from a diabetics perspective.

Slowly but surely I have reduced my sugar intake by about 80% and by doing that I’ve reduced my anxiety (also lifelong) by about 80%. Physically and mentally I’m a new person and it’s all because I stopped supporting bad habits, stopped ingesting cups of sugar every day for comfort or out of habit, and started caring about myself (for the first time) and started feeding my body what it needed not what I wanted.

See the links below regarding comfort eating and anxiety. Don’t be fooled thinking your comfort food or comfort activity isn’t killing you if it involves bad food choices or sugar. Sugar increases anxiety>>>carbs are bad for anxiety. Until next time, be safe friends and be well!

Caloric content women over 50

Livestrong link for carbs & NIH Hearth Disease

Comfort Eating??

This Is Exactly How Sugar Can Mess With Your Anxiety—and What to Do About It