Stripped Carbs First Thing in the Morning? No!

Having a hard time understanding why breakfast is the one meal of day that you should not eat toast, bagels, muffins, waffles, pancakes, cereal, biscuits, bread or grits? Here’s why:

When you eat foods that are rich in fiber, fat and protein, it takes quite a while for your body to break them down. So they get absorbed into your bloodstream very slowly. But whenever you eat items made primarily from sugar and other kinds of stripped carbs, your digestive system absorbs the ingredients very quickly. That makes sense when you think about it; the stripping process means that they’ve already been partially broken down before you even eat them. And the faster you absorb food, the more insulin your body has to release to catch the food and escort it to the cells throughout your body. That sets you up for a vicious cycle all day long: first you spike your blood sugars, and then you release a massive amount of insulin, which makes your sugars plummet and sends you hunting for something to spike your sugars, which results in a massive insulin release, and so on.

Think about this: Let’s pretend that you have two cars in your garage. One is a Ford F-150 truck, and the other is a Volkswagen. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that due to atmospheric conditions, gasoline doesn’t work as efficiently in the morning. That’s not really true, of course. I’m just saying it to set up a teaching point. Okay…back to the garage. Now, all things being equal, and assuming that gasoline works inefficiently at daybreak, which vehicle are you going to choose to drive your kids to school tomorrow morning? The Volkswagen, of course! If you want to start your day by conserving your energy, you’re gonna take the Volkswagen.

Does this mean you’re never going to drive the Ford truck? No. But you’re not going to drive it first thing in the morning —  you’d just be wasting your gasoline. Most of the time you’ll drive the Volkswagen. Unless you have some really good reason why not. Like you want to impress your kid. Or the Volkswagen is in for a tune-up.

Now, just as it doesn’t make sense to waste the gasoline in this story by driving a gas-guzzler first thing in the day, it doesn’t make sense to waste your insulin by eating rapidly-absorbed food for breakfast. I’m not saying that you can never eat white flour. I am just saying I think it’s a lousy choice for breakfast. In my humble opinion, it’s okay to eat a slice of toast, or a bagel, or pancakes for lunch or dinner (as long as your blood sugars can handle it — diabetics, take note). Or to have a bowl of cereal for dessert after lunch or dinner. But not for breakfast.

Here’s another way to think about it.  Eating stripped carbs (white flour, white rice, corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar) first thing in the morning is like hitting a man when he’s already down. Stripped carbs stress out your insulin-production system. Why would you want to stress your insulin-production system first thing in the morning and set yourself up to spike and plummet for the rest of the day? Besides the fact that you’re guaranteed to feel lousy all day, it just does not make sense to start your day by wasting a boatload of insulin. And that’s why it doesn’t make sense to eat stripped carbs for breakfast.

Well then, you might ask, how did stripped carbs come to be known as typical breakfast foods?  And that, my friends, is a topic for another day.


Trying to Eat in a Hospital

My mom doesn’t take diabetes medicine; she keeps her blood sugars normal through a combination of common sense and careful carbohydrate consumption. A few years ago, she had to be hospitalized at her local hospital for what she called a “minor procedure.” The procedure went fine, but the food did not. Continue reading


A New Cookbook called Love Thy Legumes!

Dear readers,

I just finished reading a new cookbook called LOVE THY LEGUMES, and it was great! It’s an educational cookbook by public health nutritionist, Sonali Suratkar. Lucky for us, Sonali is passionate about cooking and nutrition education. Continue reading


Nourish Your Heart and Soul with Real Food

Nowadays there’s a lot of talk about “real” food. What is “real” food? It’s food that has not been processed, refined, stripped, polished, fortified, enriched or otherwise modified. It’s basically fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, fish, eggs, dairy products, and meats, like poultry, beef, and game, and including all the wonderful variations of these things that our brains are capable of inventing. If it’s not food, then it’s manufactured calories. This post is designed to help you figure out how to tell the difference.  Continue reading


Should I Be Drinking Whole Milk?

After medical school, my friend Brian moved to Baltimore and became a pain management specialist. He wrote to ask my opinion about the newly re-constituted controversy about whole milk vs. skim milk. In Brian’s pain management practice, he has noticed that diabetic and pre-diabetic patients seem to struggle with more pain and arthritis than patients without these diagnoses.  

Continue reading


Food for Kids

Today we’re talking about food for kids. Some years ago a friend from medical school, Julie Kardos, joined forces with another pediatrician, Naline Lai, to launch an award-winning blog for parents called “Two Peds in a Pod.” All three of us have serious concerns about the food-like products that are marketed to young ones. I had mentioned to them that when my adult patients used to show up with children in tow, I would often see the little ones’ rounded bellies shrink to normal size as their families began to purchase, prepare, and eat more nourishing food. When Dr. Julie heard that, she said “The adults you treat are the ones packing the lunches of the kids that I treat.” Right. Continue reading


Reply to Kirsten

Comment: I am reading that you eat potato salad in the morning. I was surprised…not much protein in that ? But my question is…in the Calgary Herald there was an article about breakfast, which mentioned you and oats. How do you prepare steel cut oats ? Soak overnight w how much apple cider vinegar ? And do you rinse it off in the morning or eat the vinegar? Thanks! Kirsten

Hi Kirsten

I’m not sure which potato salad you’re referring to because there are a few. Can you give me the posting date? Perhaps you’re referring to the Simplest Salad that I posted just a few weeks ago on April 30th? If so, the ingredients include a potato, cucumbers, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs. Although it’s certainly not what I would characterize as a high-protein meal, it is a highly nourishing one, with tons of phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and nourishing fats of more than one kind, along with enough protein to get me through til lunch. So give that a try, and don’t measure its value by protein content alone.

With regard to the oatmeal, I was not aware that Calgary Herald had quoted me, but they left out an important bit of information. The recipe is 1/2 cup steel-cut oats, 1 cup water, and 1/4 tsp. vinegar (cider or white). Mix and leave on the counter at room temperature all night. No rinsing required. In the morning the oats will be cooked (by the acid), and a short heat-up in the microwave will be all that stands between you and breakfast. You will not taste the vinegar at all. Feel free to add raisins, milk, butter, honey, or anything else you would add to your oatmeal if you had cooked it on the stove for 30 minutes.

Thanks for reading YHIOYP.


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lemon-Sesame Kale Salad

A kale celebration for kale lovers everywhere (!). If you don’t happen to have any kale right now, you can still make this salad with any other greens growing in your garden or sitting in your fridge. Radicchio is a good addition, too. Do I post a lot of recipes for kale? Maybe. But I know hardly anyone who eats enough green, leafy vegetables. What’s the deal with green leaves? They’re basically a nutrition powerhouse, with loads of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, you name it. Exactly like taking a multivitamin. But without the constipation.

Continue reading


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Thanksgiving Brownies Times Two!

It’s holiday season! And you’re probably trying to figure out how you’re going to get through them with more success than in years past… Here’s one way. Make these recipes, bring these recipes, serve these recipes. I’m not a fan of self-deprivation. Enjoy everything on the table, and know that these brownies are not only entertaining (like all good desserts), but also nourishing. I LOVE beautiful orange sweet potatoes, rich creamy tahini, thick delicious almond butter, and CHOCOLATE! I’m sure you will find something that you love, too, in the recipes below. Enjoy, and have a happy Thanksgiving! Continue reading


Fun is Fine, But it’s Not Food

There’s a big difference between nutrition and entertainment. Food is nourishing. It’s what we’re eating when we choose stuff that’s loaded with color and fiber, such as vegetables and beans, nuts, fruits, seeds, and whole grains. Fun, on the other hand, is nothing like food. Fun items (which we tend to call by interesting names like “junk food” or “fast food”) are made with products like white flour, white rice, corn syrup, corn starch, commodity oils (soy, corn, cottonseed) and, of course, sugar, which you find in practically everything that’s ultraprocessed. Continue reading