Motorway services: the joy of every decent staycation. Made even less fun by the long queues for the loos and other people waiting for coffee. Without respecting my invisible 2m social distancing force-field. And without reusable cups. They got my best holiday frown over the rim of an unnecessarily-embellished mask, whilst I also eyed a variety of horrifying snacks lining the shelves - crisps, flapjacks, sweeties, iced buns. Delicious yes, but have a point if you’ve already worked out how they’ll fare from hereon in.
You’ll no doubt remember learning about carbohydrates in school science, unless you were busy trying to see who could turn on their gas tap without the teacher turning round. Obviously I would neither partake in nor condone such irresponsible behaviour. Ahem. Well anyway, take it from me that carbs are those starchy, sugary or fibery foods that form the bulk of most people’s meals. Yum, food. Bread, potatoes, pasta etc, you get the picture. From your very first mouthful, clever proteins chop up the carbs into simpler useful components which float merrily through the blood. Then with a magician-like flourish, your amazing body produces insulin to act as a kind of transporter, moving the tiny carb remnants out of the blood and into cells to be stored and used later as energy for all sorts of exciting reactions.
But since I'm fast running out of characters, not all of us have insulin. Or the insulin we have doesn’t work very well. These unfortunate folks have diabetes. So for diabetics, it makes sense that loading up your dinner plate with carbohydrates may not be the wisest move. Admittedly I’ve simplified things here; if you’re reading this and you have a PhD in nutrition or endocrinology, I absolutely don’t accept answers on a postcard. Sorry. Glossing over that, it’s fact time (*rubs hands with glee*): 1 in 15 people in the UK has diabetes, and someone is diagnosed every 2 minutes. That’s 2 people by the time you’ve got to the end of this blog. Look away now if you’re squeamish, because 169 amputations occur every week due to the effects of diabetes. And no need to sit there smugly feeling totally well - actually 60% of new type 2 diabetics have no symptoms at diagnosis. Now you’re shifting around uncomfortably, putting down that Mint Aero multi-pack (other chocolate bars are available, but honestly why would you bother?).
Whilst message really is, well, “Yikes”, I always love to give a glimmer of hope, and this week it comes in the form of...low carb diets. These have been shown to aid weight loss, reduce sugars, and reduce cardiovascular risk (having a heart attack or stroke etc.) including in diabetics. And it doesn’t mean you have to pile on meat to fill those hunger cravings. Fair enough, dairy can be an eggcellent (sorry) source of energy, but whole-foods really step up to the plate here, ha! You already know they’re great for the planet, right? Even Dr Guion has taken to dairy-free milk. I’m talking about beans, peas, lentils, nuts, tofu (but please check it comes from sustainable soya sources) - which you can get in chunks or as a silky mayo-like sauce. So you can have that low-carby barbie meat-free Monday thanks to yummy recipes like this one from Bosh! and these from OneGreenPlanet (*gazes wistfully out of the window at the dwindling summer*).
Remember if you’re considering any diet, please speak to your friendly GP or practice nurse to check it’s appropriate, and that you’re going to be able to continue to get essential nutrients. Especially if you’re involving the whole family, as kids need many different building blocks to help them grow! Ok this has made me very hungry. Thank goodness it’s dinner-thyme...