photo courtesy of She Let Them Eat Cake
It’s Day 7 of our and we’re rolling along with recipes that mean “home” and “holidays” to our participating bloggers. So far we’ve shared the following:
And today, Maggie (She Let Them Eat Cake) has made Candy Cane Ice Cream for us. It’s gluten free, dairy free, and mostly refined sugar free with an optional ingredient that I, for one (and I’m betting there are many in this group with me!), would not consider leaving out. I keep a couple cans of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator at all times so I’m ready to make dairy-free ice cream at the drop of a hat. No kidding. When the urge for dairy-free ice cream hits, one doesn’t want to have to wait 24 hours to satisfy that urge. Now I just need to pick up some candy canes, which is quite easy to do this time of year. I think this Candy Cane Ice Cream would be a sweet and refreshing dessert to take to our family’s Christmas Eve celebration at Mom and Dad’s, but I’m thinking I might have to do a test run before then. Perhaps for our holiday support group meeting on Tuesday? I’ve still got lots of delicious Goldbaum ice cream cones from Free From Gluten that would be perfect serving vessels for Maggie’s Candy Cane Ice Cream.
In addition to sharing her sensational holiday recipe, Maggie also has a giveaway for you, of course. If you’ve been following along each day, you already know that every daily entry also gets submitted into the final giveaway: Caveman Cookies gift package ($89 value), Free From Gluten shopping spree ($150 value), and—the grand prize—Vitamix 5200 Super Healthy Lifestyle package ($550 value). Today’s daily giveaway consists of the following two cookbooks and a new resource book. You must enter here on Maggie’s blog, but let me tell you about what is being featured today.
The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook ~ I’ve talked about this cookbook written by my good friend Elana Amsterdam pretty often here on gfe. If you can eat nuts and specifically almonds, I believe this cookbook deserves to be on your kitchen shelf … or wherever you house your prized cookbooks. Enough said.
The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen ~ This cookbook from Denise Jardine was new to me. How new is it? Well, it hasn’t even been released yet, but when the generous folks at Ten Speed Press offered two complimentary copies of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen for our Home for the Holidays event, they also offered up the single copy that they had of The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen. Now this offer was really an exclusive one because there was only that one copy in their possession. This cookbook will not be officially released until after the holidays, on January 3. So that just shows you how that some think that our Home for the Holidays … Gluten-Free Style event and all the participants—bloggers, sponsors, and readers—are very special!
Denise Jardine is a nutrition educator who was diagnosed with a dairy allergy over 18 years ago. Her first cookbook, Recipes for Dairy-Free Living, came out in 2001. Later she found out that she was not only dairy intolerant, but also gluten intolerant—a “pairing” that is true for many. The Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Kitchen is an expanded edition of her earlier cookbook, featuring a total of 150 recipes, which includes basics like a master gluten-free flour mix and nut cheese, and recipes made from them such as Mac ‘Nut Cheese, Mushroom Kale Lasagna, Rustic Heirloom Pesto Pizza, Salmon and White Corn Chowder, and Bread Pudding with Pears and Chocolate.
When I was contacted by Jeff O’Connell’s publicist with an offer of a complimentary copy of Sugar Nation, I jumped on the chance. This book is a quick read and overall did not disappoint. Actually I think Sugar Nation is a “must read” for everyone. The bottom line is that standard guidance on sugar and carbs when it comes to glucose levels and diabetes will not improve one’s health. In fact, it will do exactly the opposite. O’Connell’s book lays out the reasons why the standard advice is failing folks, the data that supports the reasons, and what you can do differently to avoid the diabetic (pre-diabetic) path of most of America. You might be wondering what motivated Jeff O’Connell to write this book. When Jeff’s father was suffering end-stage diabetes, Jeff himself was diagnosed with prediabetes. He was floored. He was a thin guy who had devoted his professional life to being a role model for others wanting to get healthy and fit. (You’ll read more on Jeff’s background and current role in a moment.) In his path to get himself well and avoid developing full-blown diabetes, Jeff found himself questioning the conventional wisdom that was dispensed to him again and again. Sometimes the only advice he received from his doctors was “control your glucose levels with your diet” or in some cases, just a simple “good luck.” He did research, interviewed diabetic specialists, sought second opinions, and more, to come up with the best way for him to move forward in health.
I was given the privilege to interview Jeff via email. I’m happy to share that with you today. You’ll get a glimmer that personally I don’t agree with all the guidance in this book but overall, I think that Sugar Nation is an outstanding book and Jeff is an inspiration.
Question: What was your primary goal in writing this book?
Answer: Raising awareness is a cliché, but one of my main goals was alerting people to the growing prevalence of type-2 diabetes. One in three U.S. adults now suffers from either type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, and one-fourth of those, or 20 to 25 million Americans, are unaware of the killer lurking within. The disease is both stealthy and progressive, making it essential to alert people to the metabolic disaster brewing inside their body – when they can still address it with lifestyle change rather than becoming dependent on a drug regimen because the disease has advanced so far, unbeknownst to them.
A particular passion of mine is raising awareness among normal-weight and thin people about the threat posed by type-2 diabetes. Ten to 15 percent of those with insulin resistance, the underlying cause of type-2 diabetes, are not overweight. (At 6’6”, 190, I’m one of them.) Even their doctor might not be on the lookout for the disease a result. In some ways, thin diabetics stand the greatest risk of being blindsided.
An equally important goal was to give people commonsense, actionable advice for dealing with this disease once it has been diagnosed. I believe that a lifestyle-induced disease should be treated by lifestyle change, not “papered over” by a prescription pad. I also believe that those who are glucose intolerant should avoid those foods that turn into glucose – just as those who are lactose intolerant shouldn’t guzzle milk all day. Unfortunately, the USDA, the ADA, and others tell diabetics to eat the same carbohydrate-centric diet recommended for everyone else. The consequences of decades of this bad advice have been catastrophic. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s been the most harmful and expensive public-health blunder in human history, one that the entire world is now repeating after us.
Question: Do you think you’ve made any headway in achieving your goal?
Answer: I’ve made some progress, but when you understand the vast scale of the problem, you realize what a small dent you’re really making. The book has received a bunch of positive press, much of it aggregated at jeffoconnell.net. It has found enthusiastic support in niches like Paleo, low-carb, alternative medicine, and fitness; mainstream health and dietetic organizations have either ignored it or simply not heard of it. Having said that, I receive amazing letters from readers every day, telling me how the book has empowered them to retake control of their health and body. Many of them stress that they’re passing along the book and/or its message to their friends and family. Sometimes the pace feels glacial rather than viral, but Sugar Nation has changed lives for the better.
Question: If you don’t mind sharing with us, where does your own health stand now? Have you made more progress in avoiding widely varying glucose levels? If so, how?
Answer: My fasting glucose measures are now consistently below 100, which is “normal.” But I know that if I return to the Standard American Diet – which isn’t much different from the ADA’s – I’ll become sick again. And if I take a glucose tolerance test, where my metabolic system is challenged by 70 grams of pure glucose, my blood glucose will still shoot into the range of prediabetes. So some underlying damage that can’t be fixed, but it can be worked around – logically, by avoiding the offending substance: sugar.
What’s more, my other measures that were characteristic of the metabolic syndrome have normalized. I used to have high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and low HDL. Those have all reversed course to healthy levels. Perhaps most important of all, I just feel better.
Question: One disappointment I had about your book was your acceptance of artificial sweeteners and your statement that they are safe for those who are trying to balance their glucose levels. While it may be true that artificial sweeteners do not impact glucose levels negatively, there is significant data to show that they may do other bodily harm, significant harm. Have you done any other research on artificial sweeteners or do you intend to do so?
Answer: I don’t encourage artificial sweetener use so much as take the pragmatic stance that it’s better than sugar in the context of glucose control for those with type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. The dietary changes one should make in response to a diabetes diagnosis are vast. Such drastic behavior modification is not easily accomplished. In Sugar Nation, I talk about wandering through supermarket aisles as a newly minted pre-diabetic, realizing as I strolled that 80-plus percent of what I had eaten my entire life was now off limits. In the midst of that sea change, if it helps someone to switch initially from regular Coke to Diet Coke, that’s better than not changing at all, in my estimation. The glucose-provoked spike in blood sugar leads to very specific health problems – many of them cardiovascular in nature – that must be avoided if metabolic and heart health are to be maintained. Sugary sodas are poisonous for those with impaired glucose tolerance. The damage wrought by them isn’t debated by reasonable people, whereas the potential health problems of artificial sweeteners is. I prioritize the actual threat over the possible one.
Having said all that, would it be better if a person eventually ditches soda altogether in favor of green tea, water, and other alternatives? Without question. I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that artificially sweetened soda is a health tonic.
Question: Is this a one-book topic, or do you plan to do further books relates to glucose levels, pre-diabetes, and diabetes?
Answer: Whether I write another book about diabetes isn’t entirely up to me. An author’s pursuit of new projects is somewhat at the mercy of publishers, public demand, and other factors. But I continue to write about diabetes every day, in venues ranging from my Twitter account (@J_O_Connell) to a new twice-weekly blog I’m doing for Healthline.com, a widely trafficked health site.
I’m also editor-in-chief of Bodybuilding.com, the Internet’s largest fitness site, and the information we provide daily and for free echoes the lifestyle prescription of Sugar Nation. My entire professional life, from the book to the site and beyond, revolves around helping others get fit and healthy.
I am grateful to Jeff O’Connell for this interview and Sugar Nation. You may wish to read some other reviews to learn more here, here, and here. I do want to add that there was no mention of celiac in Sugar Nation, but there is a substantial connection between Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. The American Diabetic Association (ADA) advocates screening all Type 1 Diabetes patients for celiac. Now that’s ADA advice I can stand behind. Other than in the general sense of addressing the effect of carbs on glucose levels, gluten was not discussed in O’Connell’s book. However, I want to remind you about the jaw-dropping fact that I shared in my review of Wheat Belly from cardiologist, Dr. William Davis … “Two slices of whole wheat bread will have a greater impact on your blood sugar than a candy bar.” So even without a double diagnosis of celiac and diabetes, gluten must be considered as a key factor when normalizing glucose levels. Finally, if there’s anything that will push you towards a gluten-free lifestyle that focuses on whole foods (and recipes/meals made from them) versus gluten-free specialty products heavily laden with processed, refined ingredients, acknowledging the impact of the latter on glucose levels certainly will.
Follow the links at the top of the post to get the recipes shared to date and enter the giveaways that remain open. I feel compelled after writing about Sugar Nation to say that we all know these treats are occasional indulgences, not part of our daily diets, right? Another “enough said.”
Please enter the giveaway for The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook, The Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Kitchen, and Sugar Nation here on Maggie’s blog. (Note that comments left here on gfe will NOT be entered into the giveaway.)