For those of you that follow the blog to hear about our German Living adventures, this one is not for you. This one is more about health, and some major changes we have made to our diet. Of course you are encouraged to read anyway, but there isn’t much about Germany in this one, sorry. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I am a Type II diabetic, and a registered nurse. Many, if not most of my family members are also diabetic.
I have followed the recommended American Diabetic Association (ADA) guidelines for my diet since I was first diagnosed in my early 30’s.( I am now 49). I have meet with several registered dieticians over the years to make sure that I was on track with a proper diet to prevent my diabetes from worsening. (I have always been assured that my diet is a very good one, and should help manage my illness) Over the past 3 years, I have been increasing my amount of exercise, and at the suggestion of my Endocrinologist, I have dropped my caloric intake significantly. I was down to eating only 1000 calories a day, while getting in about 2 to 3 HOURS of dog walking in my daily routine! However, continued to gain weight.
Yet, I was still being told that I was eating too much, and not moving enough. (I feel fairly certain that my doctor did not believe me when I told him how much exercise I was doing, and that I followed the ADA diet very closely. So frustrating!). I was taking both an oral and injectable medication daily to control my blood sugars, which continued to rise despite my medications, diet and exercise. 4 months ago, my HbA1C rose to 7.5. (HbA1C is a test that measures an average glucose over a 3 month time span. Less than 5.6 is considered normal, 5.7 to 6.4 is considered Pre-diabetes, and over 6.5 you are diagnosed with diabetes.) 7.5 despite doing everything as instructed by my physician as well as several dieticians. At that point, my doctor let me know that if at my next check my HbA1C continued to rise, I would be placed on insulin. I was terrified.
My Endocrine doctor, as well as my family doctor, told me this was normal for people with a strong history of diabetes in their family. My family doctor told me that my weight gain was a normal part of “getting to be that age”. It was normal to them that this disease progressed, numbers get worse, weight goes up, and then you die. No matter what you do.
I disagreed. It bothered me immensely that the treatment for Type II diabetes involves adding insulin as a medication. It made no sense to me(Still doesn’t). I realize that I am not a doctor, but I am a trained nurse, and we did learn pathophysiology in nursing school. Type II diabetics have high insulin levels, their bodies just do not use the insulin properly and are deemed insulin resistant. How does adding more insulin help in this case?
The answer to that is that it doesn’t!
So, my journey to eating Low Carb, High/Healthy Fat began. It started with my confusion about adding insulin. I thought maybe I forgot how diabetes works (nursing school was quite some time ago, after all). Nope, after a quick study, I found that I still remembered everything. Then, I began to do some research (It is the one thing that I did enjoy about nursing school, I love to delve in to research and find science backed answers.) I also did some good ole google searches, and found Dr. Robert Lustig, and Dr Jason Fung. There are several other doctors out there with lots to say about LCHF as well, but they are by far my favourite. That’s when things changed for me.
The first thing we did at the McKay Horst and Rackley household was to stop using sugar. No more sugar in my coffee, and I stopped baking sweet treats. We also stopped using marmalade/jam, ketchup and other items that are full of sugar. No ready made sauces out of jars. Taking the sugar away has been the hardest part of changing my eating. I love to bake, and I am a sugar addict. I thought that my intake was a “safe” amount based on my previous conversations with dieticians, but I was WRONG.
The next change was to stop eating bread products. No more delicious brötchen in the morning, I started cooking eggs instead. This change was also difficult, as I do like to bake, and we live in Germany! Germany has amazing bread available, and there seems to be a delicious bakery on every corner. But, as the numbers started to change, I knew we had made the right choice.
Then, we dropped other grains and legumes. No more rice. Oh, and we also stopped pasta.
The result? Dirk, Cheyenne and myself all dropped 20 lbs each in 3 months, and it is still falling off.
Even more importantly, I dropped my HbA1C from 7.5 to 5.8 in 4 months! The weight keeps coming off, and my blood sugars are much more controlled. I have been told by my doctors that at my next visit, if my HbA1C is still dropping, then I will be taken off my medications. Yes, I have manged to reverse my Type II Diabetes with simply lowering my Carb intake to less that 50grams a day.
It’s not for everyone, it is hard at times to avoid Carb filled foods. But, for my health, this is my very best option. I do feel so much better! I also rarely feel hungry, and am able to go significant amounts of time fasting. (So, also managing to lowing my food intake to increase my weight loss…..I am nearly at my goal already!)
If you have been struggling with similar issues, I highly recommend The Obesity Code, and The Diabetes Code, both written by Dr Jason Fung. Dr Robert Lustig has several of his talks about the dangerous effects of sugar available on YouTube(some parts may be a bit difficult to follow for non-medical people, but worth the time to watch). He has also written several books on the subject of sugar, and the damaging health effects of highly processed foods. If you are on Twitter, there are a whole host of people spreading their love for LCHF, just do a quick search and you will be inundated with people to follow (as well as lots of links to science based evidence).
Here’s a look at what we do eat now, and it’s delicious! Pan cooked salmon and spargel with Hollandaise sauce. Yum!
How about you? Have you found a healthy way of eating that works for you and your family? Tell me about some of your struggles with dealing with health providers, and not getting the information you really need or not feeling like they are hearing you.