Being Insulin Resistant in the Land of Treats: Belgium Dark Chocolate and Waffles
I’ve been here just over 24 hours and have passed at least 100 chocolate shops and 25 places to get the most amazing varieties of waffles.
At first it is beyond imaginable but now the excitement of what living in this environment does to the body sets in. I preach the effects of the good diet in Europe and how thin people are – something not completely true in Belgium or at least Brussels.
Many are normal weight but the insulin resistant belly is all too prominent. And with good cause? I wonder how long the most insulin sensitive person could survive without turning insulin resistant.
Not familiar with the terms?
Insulin Sensitive – those whose metabolisms work like a charm and can eat most anything they want – when eating several waffles their body secretes insulin which happily metabolizes the waffles quickly without much effect in the body.
Insulin Resistant – those who metabolisms are sleepy, sluggish or just plain stubborn. Upon eating a waffle their insulin laughs, with the sugar sitting outside the body’s cells waiting to get in like a child not allowed into the playroom. The longer it sits there the carbohydrate cravings escalate and the fatigue sets in.
In this particular setting what’s an insulin resistant person to do?
Here’s my strategy to ensure you don’t have a backlash or all out carbohydrate party that continues on for more than that occurrence:
- Dark Chocolate: I walked into a chocolate store and bought a few dark chocolate truffles. I ate one immediately and saved the rest for later. I recommend 1-2 squares of dark chocolate daily as a treat to prevent bingeing on other carbohydrates. Dark chocolate (and especially Belgium as I have learned) is very satisfying and has no flour and minimal sugar.
- Waffles: Jeffrey got a waffle within a few minutes of my truffles. I did not get one but had a few bites of his, which were more than satisfying. Belgian waffles seem to be infused with delightful flavors of maple syrup, a bit of confectionary sugar and butter. I can see how eating these could be pretty addictive so I limited the bites. Careful is the key word here.
If you want to try a new food in a different country buy a small amount or share with a friend. And it’s always better to have after you’ve had some protein and/or you are not too hungry.
After these treats I did what I always do in another country. I went to the nearest grocery store and bought some local food: berries, organic plain yogurt, 2 kinds of Belgian cheese, and some sliced almonds. Having clean food gives me options and alternatives for meals and snacks.
European grocery shopping has got to be one of my favorite things to do – looking at the different interesting food choices. When I’m in Europe I feel like a kid in a candy store – pardon the pun.
Take home message? If you are insulin sensitive go ahead and have the chocolate and waffles – at least in moderation since large amounts of sugar spikes your insulin which can increase cravings for more than a few days and keep glucose and insulin levels high. Remember even if you are on vacation insulin resistance is not so mindful and be prepared for the backlash of pumping your body with treats.
Besides indulging within moderation, make sure you’re pretty active and getting your protein around the clock to help cravings, weight gain and fatigue.
I must have walked a few miles today and got myself to the small gym – so I can come home and fit in my clothes, look like my job and continue to write these blogs with integrity. Thanks for reading!
August 20, 2011 @ 8:20 pm
Thanks for the post – fun to read about your food and travels and how you make it all work. I can't wait to hear about France! Is it true that "French Women Don't Get Fat"? How about the men? Safe travels! Greg
August 21, 2011 @ 3:52 pm
It probably took ALL of your self control to resist all that. I know I would have caved in…
August 22, 2011 @ 8:39 am
Thanks Greg and Ron – it DID take lots of self-control so thanks for saying that. Yes Greg- I feel like the food is so "clean" here you can eat more carbs and more food without gaining weight – somehow the metabolism works better and I will be blogging about my food in France so stay tuned!
August 22, 2011 @ 2:28 pm
I think that is so interesting… clean food/carbs/fat – grass-fed vs corn – all very interesting and perhaps key to a healthy weight/mind/body/ I really appreciate you taking the time to reflect on your vacation. THANK-YOU! I am also wondering how exercise fits into their culture, I understnad they walk more but are not that into gyms… true?
You are the best! 🙂