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Does Eating Food in A Certain Order Matter?
One of the key success factors for sustainable weight loss is to make sure we eat a good balance of foods from various food groups, such as proteins, fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. Don’t restrict your food intake to only a certain food type or group. Studies have shown that food restriction increases the risk of binge eating. When you feel deprived, you’re more likely to overeat once you stop your diet. This restrict-binge cycle results in a term called “yo-yo dieting” or “weight cycling”, describing a pattern of losing weight and then regaining it again.
Carbs: Essential or evil?
Reorder food sequence for reduced blood glucose level
What if there is no need to cut carbohydrates and sugar from your meals, but just reorder the sequence in which you eat your macronutrients to avoid a spike in high blood glucose level?
An early pilot study was conducted with a total of 11 subjects with type 2 diabetes who were taking metformin. These 11 subjects ate the exact food composition on 2 separate days, 1 week apart. During the initial visit, they were given carbohydrates first, which consisted of bread and orange juice. 15 minutes later, they were asked to eat proteins and vegetables such as skinless chicken breast, tomato salad, lettuce and steamed broccoli. The food order was reversed a week later during their 2nd visit.
Blood samples were taken before meal for baseline and 30, 60, and 120 minutes after the meal. What they found was that there are significant differences in the spike of blood glucose and the blood insulin level. In fact, the peak level of the blood glucose was about 37 percent lower when the subjects consumed carbohydrates last.
Overall, the pilot study shows that the sequence of food intake has a significant impact on the post-meal blood glucose and insulin levels. In fact, the magnitude of reduced glucose level post-meal if they eat carbohydrates last is comparable to people who are on insulin medication.
It was also found in this study that the eating carbohydrates last in a meal improved insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes. It was, however, noted that a larger group with a longer observation period is required to assess the full impact of such food order.
The current nutrition counselling for people with type 2 diabetes usually involves restricting or cutting down on certain food groups such as carbohydrates, fats, salt and sugary foods. This pilot study seems promising that improvement in glycemia may be achieved with just switching the order of ingesting carbohydrates during a meal.
Doctors have been relying on medicine to control diabetes, but diet plays an equally important role in the overall management of patients with diabetes.
In Asia where rice is a staple food for most people, it can be particularly challenging for people not to eat them, or to drastically reduce the intake. Over time, such avoidance will lead to the restrict-binge cycle that we discussed earlier.
With the pilot study, it seems promising that there is an easier way for people to lower their blood sugar and insulin levels – just by switching the order of the food. With more concrete evidence by conducting a long-time, doctors and nutritionists can perhaps shift their mindset from restricting or cutting down certain food groups, to switch the order of food without compromising on the portion of your food. In the long-term, patients with type 2 diabetes may also decrease their dependence on insulin, potentially improving their overall lifestyle and health.