My Experience on the 7 Day Carb Test
Amy's Experience on the 7 Day Carb Test
*spoiler alert, carbs aren't evil*
As you may have noticed, my perspective on mental health healing involves not only the brain but the whole body. I believe that food has a huge impact on the way that we feel physically and mentally. Therefore, I am willing to put myself through random tests and experiences to see how they impact me.
Last week I completed the “Seven Day Carb Test”, the test is outlined here on Robb Wolf’s website but the most information about it can be found in his latest book, Wired to Eat. Basically the test allows you to see how your body responds to various carbs by tracking your blood glucose levels. After consuming 50 grams of carbs, you wait two hours (don't eat anything else), and then you test your blood sugar with a glucometer. Doing a test like this can be so powerful! Through tracking your body’s response to different foods you can gain information and data that can inform your eating choices.
While I realize that I may be an anomaly here with how much I love data, experiments, and learning about my body. But dang, y’all, if you can KNOW how your body responds to some food by simply utilizing a glucometer why wouldn’t you?? If you say that you are interested in being healthy and changing the way that you eat, why not try everything you can to know your body? Here is the thing, if you want to see changes and you AREN’T using the latest technology you will see a very puzzled/concerned counselor looking at you. I get it, some of y’all are just here for the quips and recipes but if you are truly looking to change your health, I believe you must utilize every resource you have.
Because here's the thing, more data and information not only take out the guesswork, they prevent you from operating blindly. Before I had my blood test to see what foods I was allergic to, I found myself making choices that were not in line with my goals. “Ohhh I guess this pastry will be fine” “I worked out today, this ______ is my reward”. But all that ever did for me was encourage me to continue to make choices that caused me to avoid responsibility for the way that food interacted with my system. #ranting
Anyway, when I finally found out that I am in fact allergic to certain foods, I had to take personal responsibility for my choices to eat those foods. When you get data and information about how your body performs, I believe it is more difficult to make poor eating choices. You can still make them but at least you know how your body is responding.
SO, How did it go?
Through the seven day carb test I found out that my body does in fact deal really well with most carbs. My blood sugar level hovered around 75-82 mg/dl at the 2-hour mark for most of the foods I ate. The only one that had a (slightly) significant impact was the sweet potato (it was at 112 mg/dl). My body had a lot of difficultly regulating my blood sugar after I ate the taters. Per Robb's suggestion, I will probably do a re-test of this food, just so I can rule out any other factors that may have impacted my blood sugar response that day.
So what does all of this information mean? Will I increase my consumption of carbs? Will I turn into Regina George from Mean Girls, eating every carb in sight??
No. Probably not. But learning that my blood sugar has a healthy response to carbs made me feel confident in continuing with consuming moderate to low levels of carbs. Also, fun fact, in the past I have tried going SUPER low carb and my body generally hated me for it. This probably has to do with more than my simple explanation of (carbs + amy = not so terrible) but it is great to feel more awareness around how my body responds to food.
Side note, I honestly did not feel great during this test. Eating only 50 grams of carbs in the morning left me feeling grouchy and hungry most days. My emotions and energy levels were particularly out of whack on the day that I ate the sweet potato. So even though I did moderately well with carbs does not mean that I felt awesome after eating them.
What I learned...
The seven day carb test opened my eyes to the importance of personalized nutrition. From an emotional, mental health perspective, my results from the carb test allowed me to feel way less shame surrounding my consumption of carbs. I have a tendency to go hard in the paint when someone tells me something, i.e., "all carbs are bad for you and shouldn't be consumed" #nottrue. So when I inevitably ate some form of a carb, even if it was fruit, I felt guilt because I thought the best thing to do was to not eat any carbs. This may sound like a strange response, but it is just one aspect of my struggle with reining in my fears around my food intake.
While I do believe that eating an excess amount of sugar will certainly have a damaging effect on you, regardless of who you are, I do not agree with the sentiment that all humans should eat one diet. One person may process carbs really well (me) and one person may not (Robb Wolf). I don't think our bodies are designed to function out of ONE specific diet. I don't think every person should be keto or paleo or atkins or weight watchers, etc... BUT, with that being said I do think everyone should be eating whole, delicious foods with lots of dark leafy greens, veggies, and high quality protein sources. In my opinion, dairy, carbs, nuts, fruits, etc.. should be consumed when you have information about how your body responds to those foods. That may sound a lot like the paleo diet but, truthfully, there are so very many ways to skin the paleo cat.
The world of nutrition is an ever-changing beast, and science is teaching us that we need fuel our bodies in the ways that we were individually built to be fueled. Some people require more carbs, some need more fat, some bodies are even allergic to different foods, but you will never learn this if you blindly consume whatever seems like the most "healthy" fad diet.
Dearest Friends, get yourself tested and find out what works for you!
(Also it should be noted that our bodies will most likely change over time and our ability to process certain foods will probably also change, so I will be conscious of how my body responds to food and I will continue to test what works for me!)