Lucky Numbers

Remember that scene in Super Size Me – the one where Morgan Spurlock eats a McDonald’s meal in his parked car? It made me so twitchy I contemplated leaving the theater. It’s been years since I saw it, but thinking about how that scene made me feel inspired me to look up the carbohydrate load of a typical McDonalds meal:

Cheeseburger – 33g carbs
Small Fries – 29g carbs
12oz Strawberry McCafe Shake – 90g carbs

152g of carbohydrate. That’s more carbohydrates than I consume in a typical day (and I’m not walking around hungry).

We live around the corner from Park Burger. Our kids love it (who wouldn’t?) so we eat there a few times a year. I usually order the turkey burger, no bun, on a bed of greens. (No, I am not vegetarian.)

Not long ago, I emailed the restaurant and inquired about the number of carbohydrates in the veggie burger. I had eaten it once and it was delicious, but tricky to dose for – what exactly was in it, and in what amounts? What was used as a binder? Really, the carbohydrate and fiber information would be sufficient. The chef-owner replied in a very nice email that he was unable (unwilling?) to provide the information I was requesting. Alas, by that time, I’d thought so much about the veggie burger, that I really wanted one.
I  rallied my family for dinner, having decided to take my chances.

As soon as we sat down, I tested my BS: 83 mg/dL. A pre-meal ideal.

Service being quick, I wanted to dose immediately, and so began my quiet calculations. I recalled the burger as a grilled grain-and-bean-based patty, not enormous. But which grains and which legumes? Surely brown rice. Lentils? Black beans? I settled on 40g/carbs for the burger, plus 30g total for the beer, salad and my share of the fries, subtracted my best guess for total fiber, and in the end dosed to offset 62g/carbs. Conscious of the role fat plays in metabolizing carbohydrates, I didn’t want to risk creating a stubborn, lingering high. So my estimate was generous. In a matter of clicks, I was set. And when dinner arrived, I savored every bite of that very fine burger.

Two hours post-meal, with some trepidation, I tested my blood. 83 mg/dL! Amazingly, the post-meal blood sugar exactly matched the pre-meal one. That lucky occurrence happens only a handful of times a year. And it makes me giddy, like I’ve won a prize.

There are dozens of reasons why I won’t hit the lucky numbers the next time I eat at Park Burger. Even if I eat the same meal at the same time of day and dose exactly the same, my pre- and post-meal numbers won’t match. But for that one moment it was a thrill to experience a seamless surrogate pancreas.

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