Treat the Symptom? The Disease? Or BOTH

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This post comes on the heels of my most recent post…”Let Me Clarify.”  Apparently I didn’t clarify well enough because I still get questions. I guess I will say it in the only other way I can think of…

Many of the readers of this page have heard a catchy saying, “treat the disease not the symptom.“ It makes sense, right? I’ve used the expression myself… a lot. If you have an infection, taking Tylenol for the fever (symptom) will not resolve the underlying infection (disease). Good analogy. It makes sense because frequently in traditional medical care, we typically only treat the symptoms, often ignoring or even worsening the underlying disease.

But as catchy as the saying is, there are times where it is JUST NOT COMPLETELY SAFE. If your symptoms are life-threatening or could cause further damage, then something needs to be done about that, WHILE ALSO treating the underlying disease. You cannot just ignore the symptoms, when they could cause you serious bodily injury.

A few years ago my family was on vacation. Prior to leaving for vacation, my son had the “sniffles.“ Nothing major, he just didn’t feel all that great. Midway through the vacation, I could tell that something was drastically wrong with him. I dragged out my “mom” bag and checked his temperature only to be shocked that he was running a fever of over 107°. While my husband was on the telephone finding the nearest emergency room, I placed my son into a bathtub to gently cool him down as well as giving him the max dose of Tylenol that was acceptable for his age and weight. Why? Tylenol would not fix the underlying problem. True. But right now his symptoms were life-threatening. So I was not going to ignore the symptoms, for the sake of the disease (pneumonia). I NEEDED TO TREAT BOTH, for now.  We continued treating with Tylenol, and the antibiotics he received from his hospital visit, until the fevers were brought to an acceptable level. Then, I tapered down on the Tylenol and gave it really only for comfort measures while we continued to treat with antibiotics until the infection was gone.

As I have written about many times, I have serious concern that many people with diabetes, for the sake of “treating the underlying disease,” are ignoring life-threatening “symptoms.” People are allowing blood glucose to be elevated to astronomical levels under the assumption that they are treating the underlying disease by stopping their insulin. Instead, a safer alternative would be to normalize blood glucose and embark on the most aggressive lifestyle changes that you are able to make and live with. Your “symptoms” will most likely drastically improve rapidly, which will also allow you to taper down or off from whatever treatments you are using.

There was no way I was going to ignore my sons “symptom” of 107° because it didn’t “fix“ the underlying problem. Leaving the fever untreated would have only lead to possible further complications. But because we treated BOTH the life threatening SYMPTOM while ALSO treating the underlying disease, he got well quickly, and suffered no ill affects to his long-term health. We were quickly able to stop the treatment for the symptom while continuing to treat the “disease.”

This is what I wish for you. That you use your current treatment (not necessarily at the same DOSE, obviously) to control any “symptoms” that could potentially cause further complications while you aggressively treat the underlying “disease” with lifestyle changes. Very quickly you will notice that your need for treating the symptom will lessen and lessen, maybe be eliminated.  It’s not like it’s going to be forever!  I’ve seen people get blood sugar under control in a matter of days to weeks when they begin to make drastic changes to their lifestyle.  There is just no reason to further jeopardize your health by completely ignoring “symptoms.”

Wishing you good health…safely 😉

Let Me Clarify…

As I have previously posted on this site, there is no ONE person in the low carb world that I am 100% in agreement with.  Some people I agree with on SOME things, but not other things.  I don’t mind speaking out about my opinions because I don’t sell books, I don’t make an income from this website and I’m not concerned about the size of my “following.”  This is not about money or popularity for me, it’s about using the things I have learned and the experience I have gained caring for thousands of people with diabetes, to help yet others.  I’m just a healthcare professional with a personal passion for helping people with diabetes and obesity try to improve their health.  I work with diabetes patients every day, it’s ALL I do, and I understand their unique needs inside and out.  And above all, I also deal with my own challenges with diabetes.  I live it 24/7.  

I think a danger exists out there.  Sometimes, when a person is seen as an authority on something, they become “trusted,” and then EVERYTHING that they say is trusted just because SOME of the things they say are true.  This happens all the time in life.  Sometimes it is INTENTIONAL.  People establish a common ground with you, get you trust them, and THEN sell you their “snake oil.”  Lol.  Sometimes it’s UNINTENTIONAL.  Someone accomplishes some good, we establish a trust with them, they gain some notoriety, develop a following, and we eat up everything they say. If they are an expert in one area, they “must” be an expert in all things. 

I think we need to challenge everything before making decisions that will affect our health.  Then we need to see what works for us PERSONALLY and disregard what doesn’t, no matter what anyone else’s opinion is.  That is why I find it hard to agree 100% with one person.  

So, I need to clarify my position on something.  

There is advice out there that I believe is harmful, yet because of this doctor’s notoriety, people are jumping on the bandwagon, in my opinion, to their extreme detriment.  While I have felt that some of this doctor’s advice on obesity has been helpful, I believe some of his advice on managing uncontrolled diabetes is harmful.  This doctor’s philosophy is “get people off insulin (regardless of blood sugars) so we can claim that they are “cured” from diabetes.”  Dangerous, YES!  Sorry Dr. Fung, but I disagree.  

First of all, there is no “cure.”  Type 2 diabetes CAN be put in “reverse”.  I have written about this before (HERE).  Rather than being a chronic progressive disease, it can often be halted and improved, medications CAN be reduced and SOMETIMES eliminated.  I have written about this as well (HERE).  But that is NOT a cure.  The likelihood for the disease to, at some point, rear its ugly head is still there.  One will ALWAYS need to monitor and be watchful.  Cure would imply that it is gone…you don’t ever have to worry about it.  That is giving people a false sense of security.  (Not to mention that I would hardly call a person cured, who has wildly uncontrolled blood glucose.)  When my A1c was 5.1 on NO medication, I still did not consider myself cured.  It takes everything I can do…low carb, exercise, manage stress, sleep right, and regulate other hormones for me to maintain health markers like that, and it is not always possible.  So my health markers fluctuate.  Nothing has ever been “cured” despite normal markers and still no medicine (except thyroid).  

I think what happened is this…as I said before, Dr Fung emerged into the low carb community giving some good insights on obesity, and re-popularizing fasting.  It helped lots of people lose weight and by default, helped some people with diabetes.  That’s awesome!  He became seen as an expert in the low carb community.  Kudos!   Then he started giving his advice on management of uncontrolled diabetes and, for some of us, the hairs started to raise on the back of our necks.  Some who I deeply admire in the diabetes community had the courage to speak out early against this bad advice.  At first I supported Dr Fung, even somewhat defended him.  I thought his teachings could possibly be compatible with those of Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, whom I believe is the world’s foremost authority on diabetes. They both promote low carb, so they must be in the same camp, right?  No, not really.  Unfortunately, I learned that not all in the low carb community are on the same page.

Folks, there is never a problem taking insulin to replace what your body can no longer make (and there is a simple lab test that can reveal your body’s ability to produce insulin…if you are in question…ask for it).  What happens any other time you have a deficiency in any other hormone in your body? You REPLACE it.  Just like I need to take thyroid hormones because my thyroid can no longer make them efficiently, I will take insulin when my body can no longer make enough insulin to cover the minimal amount of carbohydrates I consume.  Taking insulin is only a problem when you intentionally use insulin to “cover” and support unhealthy lifestyle choices, especially if your body still makes plenty of insulin.  It is NOT a problem when you take what your body physiologically needs to survive and function.

As I said, I think Dr Fung has some useful information on obesity, but I wholeheartedly disagree with his advice on managing uncontrolled diabetes.  In fact, I have had such a conflict of conscience about whether to keep links to his content on my site because of how I feel about his dangerous diabetes advice.  People may think I agree with him 100% because he promotes low carb and so do I.  But I’m going to leave the links because remember, different things work for different people.  If weight loss is your primary problem, I think he has got some good insights and methods.  For that reason, I still have links to his content on obesity.  But if diabetes is your problem, please look elsewhere.  

Now I know many will object by saying “you’re wrong!  He helped me with my diabetes!”  I’m not saying he’s NEVER helped ANYONE with diabetes.  Low carb and weight loss HELP PEOPLE WITH DIABETES.  And for some, that is ALL they need to put diabetes in reverse.  That was all I needed.  Went low carb, lost 80 lbs, everything was normalized.  I’m not discounting that.  Lots and lots of people out there promote low carb and weight loss for diabetes.  Nothing is unique about that.  But for those people whose diabetes CANNOT be fully managed by lifestyle changes, and they are told to prematurely discontinue necessary diabetes treatment, believing that they are “cured,” I feel this is dangerous. 

People are so focused nowadays on weight that they will sell their health to the devil if they could just get a lower number on the scale.  And any person out there that can help people lose weight gains automatic popularity and book sales, REGARDLESS of what the pursuit of that weight loss has done to their health.  I’m not in that camp.  Health (and diabetes) first, weight next.

I DO agree with Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, author of the Diabetes Solution.  He has had Type 1 diabetes for about 70 years and maintains normal blood sugars, weight and health markers.    It doesn’t mean I agree with Dr Bernstein 100% either (probably more like 90%…there are very minor areas where I have a slight difference of opinion about certain medications and the use of technology in diabetes management, these however are not major fundamental differences…).  When it comes to promoting normal (not diabetic) blood sugars, I’m 100% on board with him.  His patients get normal blood sugar AND reverse insulin resistance AND experience weight loss, not just achieving ONE of those things at the expense of the others.  He gets it ALL done with emphasis on health, not sensational “cures”.  

The fact is, every day that you are experiencing high blood sugar, irreversible damage is being done to your organs and vessels.  What little beta cell function you may have left, is being intensely overworked trying to get your blood sugar down.  It doesn’t matter if a certain DOCTOR doesn’t think high blood sugars are a concern, your PANCREAS DOES!  Therefore, your pancreas will do everything in its power to normalize your blood sugar, even destroying itself in the process of trying to do so.  Why?  Because high blood sugar is toxic.  And YES!!  I DO AGREE that EXCESSIVE insulin can be toxic too!  Really, I get it!  I’ve watched the insulin toxicity videos, I’ve read all the studies and books.  I get it…

But here’s the thing,  NOT EVERYONE WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES HAS HIGH INSULIN LEVELS!   I work with patients EVERY DAY who have Type 2 diabetes whose beta cell function has declined to that of a person with a Type 1 diabetes.  EVERY DAY!  They essentially make NO insulin (confirmed by lab test).  In fact, they are often, mistakenly, told that they now have Type 1 diabetes, not that they have autoimmune diabetes, but that they no longer make insulin, just like a person with Type 1. 

If you don’t know what is going on in YOUR body, how can you make life altering health decisions based on a book, or social media, or advice from a healthcare professional who has never treated YOU personally?  I’m worried folks.  People are out there just willy-nilly throwing away their insulin and “curing” themselves (not).  They are living with blood sugars that are 300+, because insulin is the “enemy”…and blood sugars are “irrelevant”…what??  I’m not picking on people that have done this.  I’m genuinely concerned!

One of my trusted friends in the diabetes community spoke out a LONG time ago against this bad advice (HERE).  I agree with him.  I have written about this topic before, (HERE). But I felt the need to come out a little stronger, as I still get contacted by people allowing their blood sugars to stay in astronomical ranges (200-300+) because they followed this advice and came off their insulin when they began a low carb or Keto diet, NOT waiting for blood sugar to normalize FIRST.  Since I haven’t been around much,  I thought people would have seen the obvious dangers in this advice a LONG time ago.  But people are still following it.   I’m scared for them and I’m willing to say something even if people unfollow the site, even if I get lashed back at by someone who doesn’t like what I’m saying.  Don’t care.  I won’t know about it anyways folks, no social media any more for me…ahhh!  People can argue back and forth about this and I will remain happily oblivious 😊.  Please, though, don’t argue for my sake…not worth it…agree…disagree…personal choice.

Please don’t listen to ANYONE who tells you that normal blood sugar is irrelevant.  It’s paramount! Don’t make decisions about your health based on someone’s populararity or amount of book sales, even if he/she is a doctor.  Get the facts about YOU PERSONALLY.  No treatment works for all people.  Find out about you.  If your body makes lots of insulin, then yes, more insulin is NOT your ultimate answer.  Start with normalizing blood sugar and beginning the most intensive dietary and lifestyle changes that you are able to live with.  Then decrease medications as needed to avoid hypoglycemia.  If you wean completely off, awesome!  But don’t live with high blood sugar just to be medicine free and “cured.”  If your body no longer makes adequate insulin, then you need to help your body by giving it what it physiologically needs to achieve optimal health markers.

As always, this comes from my heart.  I have no ulterior motives other than you finding your path to health and wellness…safely.

Shout out to my dear friends in the low carb community whom I never get to speak with any more…Steve, RD, Franziska, Amy and all the rest.  My life does not allow me to be involved in social media or blog much…plus I’ve mostly said everything I need to say, lol!   But I’m still on the front lines of fighting diabetes everyday, helping people change their lives.  Miss all of you and send my warmest regards to all my friends and readers.  

Diabetes – A Disease of Glucose Intolerance

I am an inquisitive person. You may often find me asking “why?” I question the way things are being done and wonder if it is the right way, or if there is a better way. Even when I find the best way (for me), and prove it to myself, I sometimes periodically have to re-prove it to myself.

After a few years with an A1c at around 5.0, my doctor told me he was removing diabetes from my diagnosis list (that was a few years ago). He said “you’re just not diabetic.” I know that is not true (as you will soon see), but it’s just that I live within my carbohydrate tolerance, and that makes it APPEAR that I am not. However, I told him that I was fine with that but I still wanted an A1c twice a year.

So, things have been going along as usual.

Recently, I’ve gotten the opportunity to wear a continuous glucose monitor. As a diabetes educator, I sometimes have access to cool gadgets. For those of you who don’t know how a CGM works, here’s how.  The CGM tests your glucose every 5 minutes and plots it on a line graph.  You can then get a realistic picture of what is happening to your blood glucose, 24, hours per day.

So, I happened to have at my disposal an insulin pump with an integrated CGM, and I was given some sensors and a transmitter. So after about 7 years from diagnosis, and many years on a low carb way of living, I decided to do some experimentation on myself. I was thinking, “how diabetic am I, still, after many years of low carb?”

I began wearing the continuous glucose monitor (with the insulin pump turned off.) Here is what my CGM graph looks like pretty much most of the time. Nice and level, with normal blood sugar (my low alarm is set at 70, high alarm at 120). I stay in that range pretty much all of the time, typically staying between 75-85 at fasting and 90-105 post meal. I was super happy to see this especially after such a stressful year, that my blood sugar is doing well. You will notice a small increase (at around 4:30), that was a low carb meal (meat and salad, which was about 15g of carbs from non-starchy veggies).

Then I decided to experiment what it would be like if I ate how it was recommended for people with diabetes to eat.  I was going to start slow…

This photo was a meal that included meat, salad and ONLY 1 SERVING (15g) of carbs that came from whole grains. As you may know, I am grain free first and foremost. Grains are my biggest blood sugar dis-regulators, even more than sugar.

My blood glucose was nearly double normal for me. This tells me a few things. First, the “heart healthy whole grains” mantra is a lie (at least for me). And second, the mantra “everything in moderation” is a lie (at least for me). This was only 1/3 cup of whole grains. I would guess that most people would say 1/3 cup of ANYTHING would be considered moderation. So, everything in moderation is no good for me.

Ok, so here is where things get crazy.

I decided to do a meal that follows typical diabetes advice, yes, 60g of carbs in one meal. I decided to eat no other carbs that day so I would still end the day eating very low carb, but I ate the entire 60g in one sitting. In addition, I ate processed and refined grains and about 3 bites of something sweet (“moderation,” lol).

Hold on to your seats folks.

This meal included meat, salad, and refined grain products. Here we are.

If you don’t know this, any random blood sugar over 200 is a diagnosis of diabetes, regardless of what/when you ate. It took me three hours to get back into normal range and even 24 hours later, I was still elevated about 25 points above baseline. I can’t even tell you how I felt! Literally could not keep my eyes open at 5:30 at night. (Kinda wonder how many kidney, eye and brain cells I damaged with this experiment.)

And here’s the thing folks. The reason those 60g of carbs per meal recommendations were made, is because it is not unusual for the average American to eat 150g to nearly 200g of carbs in a meal.

This is a very graphic reminder for me that the way I have chosen to manage my diabetes with a sugar-free, grain-free, very low carbohydrate way of eating, is truly best for me. I am a person who is extremely sensitive to starchy / sugary carbs. It also reminds me that whether or not I have the label on my medical chart, I am fully aware that I have diabetes. However, as long as I maintain my low carb lifestyle, I have no evidence of it. I can live free from the worry of diabetes related issues. In contrast, if I live by the standard “diabetes diet” or by the “standard American diet,” I would need medication and would fully expose myself to diabetes related complications.

If you think about it, one of the tests we use to diagnose diabetes is called an oral GLUCOSE TOLERANCE test. That’s right, diabetes is a disease of GLUCOSE INTOLERANCE. So, what is the best solution to GLUCOSE INTOLERANCE? Eat all the glucose you want and rely on pills or shots to minimize the effects? Or, just take in less glucose to begin with…? The latter solution has helped me, a person with diabetes, to live the life of a person without it.

I am not in question of whether a low carb lifestyle is best for diabetes, or at least best for me. I have proven it to myself time and again. Of course, your body may react differently to these foods. The only way you are going to know, is to test frequently before and after meals. Sadly, we don’t all have access to tech-y gadgets. But access to a BG meter is easy for most folks. It will tell you everything you need to know.

On a side note, I have learned a few other things about my blood glucose with wearing a continual monitor. Protein is my friend. I know that many people out there feel the need to limit protein strictly. This is not true for me.  Protein lowers my blood glucose post meal.  Now, I know there are some folks out there who will say that is because protein raises insulin.  That is true.  But I’m not trying to live a life of NO insulin, I’m trying to live a life of LOW insulin.  I’m not going to fret over the amount of insulin needed to cover a blood glucose of 85-95.  With decent amounts of protein, I feel better, can workout physically hard, and see better results with my weight.  Once again, your response to protein my differ, but for me, it is my friend.

Next, my blood glucose will raise, not at any particular time in the morning, but particularly when my feet first hit the floor, no matter what time it is. Someone once said that this is your body’s way of making breakfast for you, lol. This confirms to me that my first meal of the day, while it is my biggest meal, it also needs to be my lowest in carbohydrates.

My final food related experiment was to eat a low carb meal, but have a large portion to see if just the portion size itself would make my blood sugar spike, even if the meal was low carb.  I did this because many people think they need to starve themselves or eat like a bird to manage their blood glucose.  So, I ate a meal to satisfaction, generous in protein and the fat that came with it, and a healthy sized handful of leafy greens.  It resulted in about a 10 point rise in blood glucose.  This confirms to me that I can listen to my body and eat to satisfaction.  Of course there is no need to overeat, but neither do I need to starve myself to be healthy.

On a final interesting note, I have discovered that my blood glucose elevates more for stress than for my low carb meal choices. I have seen my blood glucose raise 20-30 points on my ride to work, when no food was involved. My blood glucose will also average 20-30 points higher on mornings where I have not gotten at least 7 hours of sleep. This helps me know that I am on the right track with delving into my research about stress and diabetes management. Working so hard to keep blood glucose controlled with diet, only to have it go haywire with stress, is defeating my goals.

So I am working on that content for this page. And trying not to stress myself about getting it done, lol!!!

And I almost forgot one thing…I had to come back and add this to my article.  EXERCISE!  Exercise is CRUCIAL for my blood sugar management.  If I skip exercise for a few days, my blood sugar will creep up to 20-30 points higher in the morning.  I have noticed that DURING exercise, my blood sugar goes up slightly, within 10 points.  But afterwards, it lowers it and it stays down until the next day.  So folks, please don’t overlook exercise in your health regimen.

Hope these insights will be of help to you.

As always, wishing you continued health and happiness!

Happy low carbing to you!!

Addendum to article:  Some folks have asked if I “carbed up” before this experiment to get my body used to more carbs.  It is common advice given to low carbers before an oral glucose tolerance test to eat lots of carbs (150-200g) for three days prior to the test, so as not to falsely fail.  This experiment was not to see whether I could pass an oral glucose tolerance test.  It was an experiment to prove to myself that the only way personally for me to maintain normal NON DIABETIC blood sugars, is to maintain a low carbohydrate way of living.

An oral glucose tolerance test is 75g of liquid sugar carbs that has to be consumed in 5 minutes, with no other food.  My first experiment meal was a standard meal for me with only 15g more of added carbs from starchy food, and my blood glucose was nearly double my normal pre-meal numbers.  The second experiment meal was 60g of food carbs, 15g of which was non-starchy as usual, and 45g of which was starchy, eaten over about 45 minutes, along with protein and fat.  Neither one of these meals mimics an oral glucose tolerance test.  So it’s not the same.  Now, if I ate lots of carbs all the time, it is true that my response may have been slightly less.  On the other hand, if I ate lots of carbs all the time, I would have been high to begin with (and living with diabetic blood sugar all the time!) So, I probably would have ended up with similar post-meal numbers, but I would NOT have been starting from normal numbers.  I would have been starting with high numbers.  Either way, there is NO WAY, even if I “carbed up” beforehand, that I would have maintained normal, non diabetic numbers eating 60g of carbs in one sitting.

My response is a also good reminder for those that are low carb, that it really needs to be a way of life, not an on and off “diet.” And there are those out there who wonder whether they should plan “cheat” meals on low carb. Well, if you do, this is what you might see, so be careful.  Once again, “moderation” might be a bigger problem than you think 🙂

There is no way that I would have put my body through three days of eating 150-200g of carbs just to see if I’d end up at 183 instead of 203.  Just this one meal took me two full days to really get back to complete normal.  My experiment simply served to reiterate the point that the standard dietary advice for diabetes DOES NOT result in normal NON DIABETIC blood sugars, which is my goal.

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Today is a few days past my experiment and I’m about to go to sleep.  (I stay up late only one night per week, this is my long day.)  Here is my bedtime reading.  In the second photo, I have scrolled back 6 hours on my graph.  You are viewing 7 pm to 1 am.  I ate my low carb dinner during this time represented on the graph.  (Anyone see it?  😉

 

Diabetes Is NOT A Choice

I recently received from a coworker, an appeal sent to her from the American Diabetes Association*, to get involved in making the public aware that “Diabetes is NOT a Choice.” This appeal came as a result of the following statement made by the White House Office of Management and Budget:

Last Friday we read with dismay the statement of Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, when asked about insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions:

“The question is, who is responsible for your ordinary healthcare? You or somebody else? That doesn’t mean we should take care of the person who sits at home, eats poorly and gets diabetes. Is that the same thing as Jimmy Kimmel’s kid? I don’t think that it is.”

This statement shows such ignorance. First, it doesn’t differentiate between diabetes types, the development of Type 1 having nothing to do with lifestyle. It also ignores a blaring fact that the increase in Type 2 diabetes has not come about by a lack of exercise (“sitting at home”), but rather at the heart of it, is the governments OWN dietary guidelines (“eats poorly”). Guidelines that can take top athletes and lead them directly to Type 2.  Like this life-long athlete with Type 2.  What went wrong?  He followed the dietary guidelines….that’s what went wrong!  (And now he risks his livelihood trying to educate the world about the harm that those guidelines have caused.)

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It is interesting that this statement comes from a government that subsidizes the production corn to make High Fructose Corn Syrup rather than subsidizing organic farming and grass fed, free range animal products. Our government is one of the primary players in our nation’s diabetes epidemic. Why does our government NOT require our nation’s insurance industry to provide preventative health education? As a diabetes educator, I can attest to the fact that most education programs fail due to lack of funding. These companies are not required to pay for education but they are required to pay for medications and amputations.

So, does that mean that people bear no personal responsibility? Sure they do!! But this thinking that those with diabetes are just gluttons and sloths will do nothing to solve the problem. It is ignorant and insulting. In order to keep my blood sugar regulated, I have to eat right, cutting out nearly all the foods that Americans love, foods that I loved.  That’s right!  I don’t eat fast food, pizza, bread, pasta, desserts, and even healthy whole foods like potatoes.  I have to exercise intensely. I have to sleep right and keep my stress levels down. And with all of that, I’m still diabetic, although one that is very well controlled.

I didn’t make a choice about diabetes. In my younger years, I was an aerobics instructor and ate the low fat diet I was told to (following up my workouts with a bagel.) I typically worked out every morning and every evening. I was fit and ate the recommended 9-11 SERVINGS of bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, and VERY LITTLE meat or eggs and the most sparing use of fat I could get away with. However, during that time, I started to see the first signs of diabetes, although I didn’t recognize them as such. So please don’t tell me that my diabetes resulted from my sitting at home, I was extremely active. And if I was eating poorly, it was YOUR diabetic-inducing food pyramid that was responsible for that!

So yes, American government, you should have to pay for the results of the massive nutritional experiment that you have conducted on the unsuspecting American public for the past 40 years. And if you want to reverse the situation, INCREASING funds for nutrition research and education is the answer, NOT cutting funds.

Let me clarify that this post is not a political statement.  To be honest, I don’t care what political party the person who made ignorant statement belongs to.  This website is for education and takes no political sides.  The bottom line is, our government has played a huge role in our nation’s health crisis and needs to take responsibility now by working to reverse their decades long bad advice.  (Unfortunately, that is going to cost some money!)

To be honest, I’m scared for what is about to come for the American public if this type of ignorance abounds in those who are in charge of the future of our healthcare.  It doesn’t surprise me that our leaders who are so calloused to the needs of women, minorities and the elderly now have cast off those with one of the most stereotyped disorders of our time.

*I’m not going to address either here, my feelings on how the ADA has contributed to the worsening of diabetes with their dietary advice either.  I think I’ve made myself pretty vocal on that recently, lol!

Wishing you health and happiness!

When it is NOT Time to Lose Weight

Since I have been trying to lose weight from the age of 10, I have never ever stopped to consider that there may actually be a TIME to lose weight, and a time NOT to lose weight.

What?  If I am overweight, you mean it is possible that weight loss should NOT be my focus at this time?

Yes, that is what I am saying.  Let me explain.

I recently stumbled upon this podcast from Chris Masterjohn, Phd (HERE) where he chronicles his 30 lb weight loss.  Now, I’m not saying that the METHOD he used to lose weight is my focus here.  Chris has a significantly different body composition than I.  In fact, I think Chris looks just fine in his BEFORE pictures.  So, when he lost weight, he used a different method than I would have to use, eating more carbohydrates than would work for me.  So, I’m not sharing his podcast to promote his particular method (unless his method works for you).  In fact, Chris is very clear in his message that each person needs to find what works best for them, and part of the problem as to why there is so much failure in people staying committed to their weight loss plan, is that they have possibly chosen a plan that is not a good fit for them.  I really respect him for this, not being dogmatic that there is one way to lose weight for all people.  I completely agree.  Although this page focuses on low carb living, I do believe that there are people that just prefer, or can thrive, using other means of heatlhy living.

But something he talks about in this podcast makes more sense than anyone I’ve ever heard on the subject.  He states that when you are going through significant life stressors, weight loss should not be a priority at that time.  He likens stress levels to a “bucket” that, once full, can no longer accept any additional stressors.  Believe it or not, WEIGHT LOSS IS A STRESSOR.  Exercise too, is a stressor.  So, if your “stress bucket” is full, there will be no room to add additional stressors.  The key is to first, deplete your bucket to make room for the stressors of weight loss and exercise.  In other words, you must concentrate on managing your life stressors FIRST before trying to lose weight.

I am a perfect living proof of this.  Within the last year, our family has experienced a significant job loss, an open heart surgery and grueling recovery, the death of an infant, a diagnosis of terminal cancer, and the loss of a family pet.  These huge stressors took a toll on my overall health.  As a result, I started to see some weight creep back on, weight that I had kept of for several years.  What did I do?  Well, I thought to myself, “I’ve got this, I’ll just drop the carbs more and work out even more intensely.”  For the first time, it didn’t work.  So, I tried harder.  But the harder I tried, not only did I not LOSE, but I continued to GAIN.

So, I went to my healthcare provider and she investigated for me.  She discovered that my stress hormone was through the roof, and my thyroid was in the tank.  No wonder my efforts were not working.  Not only was I not losing weight, but I was exhausting myself and was now having problems with insomnia and very low mood.  I knew that I had to put improving my health to the forefront and not try so hard to lose weight.  The problem is, I was now not comfortable in my own skin.  How can I feel positive when I hate the way I look?

Well, in talking back and forth with Chris through a Facebook thread, I began to realize something.  I have NEVER felt positive about the way I look.  After losing 80 pounds when I first began healthy eating, I STILL did not feel good about myself.  In high school, I remember that I was 135 lbs and wearing a size 5, and I was still starving myself because I didn’t like the way I looked.

So, maybe the problem is not the weight itself, per se, although I do like being a weight that helps me feel healthy and energetic, but I think it is more how I FEEL about the weight that is the problem.  Chris mentioned to me that maybe I need to “focus on self acceptance.”  Then, he stated “I accept you.”  Why is it that other people can accept me but I cannot accept myself?

So, I thought for the first time in life, that maybe it was time to work on how I FEEL about me.  Here’s the deal.  When people fat shame others, they think that the fat shaming is doing them a favor, that the person will feel ashamed and change.  But fat shaming doesn’t work.  Why?  BECAUSE NO ONE HAS EVER CHANGED BY BEING MADE TO FEEL BAD ABOUT THEMSELVES.  PEOPLE CHANGE WHEN THEY ARE INSPIRED AND EMPOWERED.    So we all get that right?  Anyone who has ever had a weight problem would certainly not stoop to fat shaming another person, right?  So why then, do we than fat shame ourselves?  Why are we our own worst enemies?

So, what could turn the tables for me and my thinking that is so skewed?  How could I fix my thinking?  Chris mentioned in a comment to another follower to “stand in the mirror naked every day and tell yourself you are incredibly sexy and your body fat is a beautiful part of that.”  (In fact, Chris had several suggestions which I will share in a moment.)  Ok, so I’ve been doing that.  If nothing else, I totally crack up at myself doing it, so it has been great for a laugh, which I needed. (I am realizing how little I have laughed over the past year.)

But, I also decided to search for positive affirmations about body image that I could repeat to myself.  Here are some that I found (a few that I had to adapt a bit because these came from a website about eating disorders.  Find the original list HERE).

1. My body deserves love

2. I am perfect, whole, and complete just the way I am

3. I feed my body healthy nourishing food and give it healthy nourishing exercise because it deserves to be taken care of

4. I love and respect myself

5. It’s okay to love myself now as I continue to evolve

6. My body is a temple. I want to treat it with love and respect.

7. My body is a gift.

8. Food doesn’t have to be the enemy, it can be nurturing and healing.

9. Life is too short and too precious to waste time obsessing about my body. I am going to take care of it to the best of my ability and get out of my head and into the world.

10. I will not give in to the voices that tell me that my body is not okay. I will listen to the healthy voices that I do have, even if they are very quiet so that I can understand that I am fine. I am fine.

11. Food doesn’t make me feel better, it just temporarily stops me from feeling what I’m feeling.

12. I have everything inside of me that I need to take care of myself without using food.

13. A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.

14. I am worthy of love

15. As long as I am good, kind, and hold myself with integrity, it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.

16. Other people are too busy thinking about themselves to care what my weight is

17. When I compare myself to others, I destroy myself, I don’t want to destroy myself so I’ll just continue on my journey, not worrying about other people’s journeys.

18. I am blessed to be aging. The only alternative to aging is death.

19. It’s okay for me to like myself. It’s okay for me to love myself.

20. I have to be an advocate for me. I can’t rely on anyone else to do that for me.

21. A “perfect” body is one that works, no matter what that means for you personally.

22. It’s okay for me to trust the wisdom of my body.

23. Just because someone looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean they have a perfect life. No one has a perfect life, we all struggle. That’s just what being human is.

24. If I spend too much time trying to be and look like someone else, I cease to pay attention to myself, my virtues, my path, and my journey.

25. When I look to others to dictate who I should be or how I should look, I reject who I am.

26. The last thing I should be doing is rejecting myself. Accepting myself as I am right now is the first step in changing, growing and evolving. When I reject myself, I cannot grow.

27. Self respect is underrated.

28. I can only go forward, so although I can learn from it, I refuse to dwell on the past.

29. ALL images in magazines are airbrushed, photoshopped, and distorted.

30. If people actively judge or insult me, it’s because they feel badly about themselves. No one who feels good about themselves has the need to put someone down to elevate themselves- they have better things to do with their time.

31. I have no need to put someone down to elevate myself.

32. I can be a good person if I choose to be.

33. It’s my life, I can choose the way I want to live it.

34. When I smile, I actually make other people happy.

35. Balance is the most important.

36. If I eat something unhealthy today, I can still love and accept myself, I don’t have to beat, berate and starve myself right afterwards, and I still have the very next moment to jump right back into healthy eating.

37. Healthy living is an ongoing process that is not linear in fashion. If I slip up, I’ll take the opportunity as a learning experience and get right back to my recovery goals/program.

38. Progress is not linear. It’s normal for me to go forward and then backward, and then forward again.

39. I enjoy feeling good. It’s okay for me to feel good.

40. What my body looks like on the outside is not my identity.

41. Being skinny or fat is not my identity. I am identified by who I am on the inside, a loving, wonderful person.

42. I choose health and healing over diets and punishing myself.

43. My opinion of myself is the only one I truly know and it’s the only one that counts. I can choose my opinion of myself.

44. When I am in my head too much, I can return to my breath, just breath and be okay. There is only this moment.

45. It’s okay to let others love me, why wouldn’t they?

46. I am good stuff.

47. I am compassionate and warm. My presence is delightful to people.

48. My very existence makes the world a better place.

49. It’s okay to pay someone to rub my feet every once in a while.

50. If I am hungry, I am supposed to let myself eat. Food is what keeps me alive.

51. Getting older makes me smarter.

52. It’s okay not to be the best all the time.

53. My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me. We are each responsible for ourselves.

54. No one has the power to make me feel bad about myself without my permission.

55. My feet are cute. Even if they’re ugly.

56. I eat for energy and nourishment.

57. Chocolate is not the enemy. It’s not my friend either. It’s just chocolate, it has no power over me.

58. I can be conscious in my choices.

59. I am stronger than the urge to feel bad about myself.

60. I am healthier than the urge to feel bad about myself.

61. Restricting my food doesn’t make me a better person, being kind to myself and to others makes me a better person.

62. Being skinny doesn’t make me good. Being fat doesn’t make me bad.

63. I can be healthy at any size.

64. Life doesn’t start 10 pounds from now, it’s already started. I can make the choice to include myself in it.

65. Food, drugs, and alcohol are not the solution. But they might seem like it at times, but using these things can make more problems. I have what I need inside of me as the solution.

66. There is a guide inside of me who is wise and will always be there to help me on my journey.

67. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing is just what the doctor ordered. It’s okay to let myself relax.

68. I am a human being, not a human doing. It’s okay to just besometimes. I don’t always have to be doing.

69. My brain is my sexiest body part.

70. Looks last about five minutes– or until someone opens their mouth.

71. My life is what I make of it. I have all the power here.

72. My body is a vessel for my awesomeness.

73. My body can do awesome things.

74. If I am healthy, I am so very blessed.

75. I won’t let magazines or the media tell me what I should look like. I look exactly the way I’m supposed to. I know because this is the way God made me!

76. What is supposedly pleasing to the eye is not always what is pleasing to the touch. Cuddly is good!

77. I can trust my intuition. It’s here to guide me.

78. Just because I am taking care of myself and being an advocate for myself doesn’t mean I’m selfish.

79. Not everyone has to like me. I just have to like me.

80. It’s not about working on myself it’s about being okay with who I already am.

81. My needs are just as important as anyone else.

82. Body, if you can love me for who I am, I promise to love you for who you are– no one is responsible for changing anyone else.

83. I will make peace with my body, it doesn’t do anything but keep me alive and all I do is insult it and hurt it. I’m sorry body, you’ve tried to be good to me and care for me, it’s time for me to try to be good back.

84. Thighs, thank you for carrying me.

85. Belly, thank you for holding in all my organs and helping me digest.

86. Skin, thank you for shielding and protecting me.

87. Other people don’t dictate my choices for me, I know what’s best for myself.

88. I feed my body life affirming foods so that I can be healthy and vital.

89. Taking care of myself feels good.

90. I can eat a variety of foods for health and wellness without overeating.

91. There is more to life that losing weight. I’m ready to experience it.

92. If I let go of my obsession with food and my body weight, there is a whole world waiting for me to explore.

93. The numbers on the scale are irrelevant to who I am as a human.

94. Food is not good or bad. It has no moral significance. I can choose to be good or bad and it has nothing to do with the amount of calories or carbohydrates I eat.

95. I am still beautiful when I’m having a bad hair day.

96. Being grounded and whole is what makes me beautiful. If I don’t feel grounded and whole, I can get there just by being still, breathing, listening to my intuition, and doing what I can to be kind to myself and others.

97. I am not bad and I don’t deserve to be punished, not by myself and not by others1

98. I deserve to be treated with love and respect and so do you. I choose to do and say kind things for and about myself and for and about others.

99. Even if I don’t see how pretty I am, there is someone who does. I am loved and admired. REALLY!

100. Beauty?… To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ~Pablo Picasso

So I have been picking 10 of these to say to myself each day.  Then, I will just circle back and start the list over.  It is helping to retrain my brain to see that my self worth is about something other than my appearance.

So, how about the rest?  I have been spending months trying to heal my adrenals and thyroid.  It is working but the progress is slow.  I am eating and exercising for nourishment, health and wellness and when the weight begins to move, it will just be an added bonus.  I had been telling myself that I needed to be back to my goal weight by the summer, but I am no longer putting a time frame on this.  It is what it is.

Chris had some other extremely helpful advice in his comment thread to another reader.  When she asked about how to recover a crashed metabolism, he gave the following advice:

  1. “Don’t try to lose weight”
  2. “Look in the mirror naked every day and tell yourself you’re incredibly sexy and your body fat is a beautiful part of that”
  3. “Sleep as much as possible”
  4. “Work as little as possible”
  5. “Have as much safe sex as possible, but only  when you’re not too tired to have it”
  6. “Make your food as nutritious as possible, but then add ice cream on top of it” (low carb ice cream right? Lol)
  7. “Have a lot of fun”
  8. “Limit your obligations to other people”
  9. “Take a one month vacation”
  10. “Do a complete digital detox during your vacation”
  11. “Bonus: don’t read anything about health”

He then states “this is an oversimplification” but that “de-stressing is probably the most helpful thing you can do” when dealing with this health problem.

I like that advice.  I seem to be doing the opposite of almost everything on this list.  Time to get moving on living life and not being unhappy every day when I look in the mirror.  Even if I get to the point that I love my weight, I’ve still got this hair to contend with!  LOL!

So, my point is, if your stress bucket is full, before you try to lose weight, you’ve got to empty the bucket, at least 1/2 to 3/4 of the way.

Please listen to the beautiful podcast if you feel that you have become unbalanced in your thinking about your weight.

Thanks Chris for such a great post that has touched me so personally.  Isn’t it amazing that we just never know whose lives we will touch?

Wishing you health and happiness.

Diabetes Types – Blurring The Lines

I ran across this great article recently called “What Is In A Name?” from my awesome truth-telling friend, Steve Cooksey, the Diabetes Warrior (HERE).

The article talks about how, at one time, diabetes was classified differently and how/why that has changed.

When I went to nursing school, diabetes was classified as follows:
IDDM: Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
NIDDM: Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus

And that classification worked for a long time because those with Type 1 were the ones who had an absolute NEED for insulin, while those with Type 2, as we know, typically OVER produce insulin for many many years.

So why did the classification need to change? As the article pointed out, primarily as a result of decades of poor dietary advice, the majority of those with Type 2 were becoming insulin dependent!!

Why would someone who over-produces insulin, NEED insulin? For two reasons:

  1. The poor lifestyle advice that leads to the need for huge insulin production, leads to insulin resistance, leading to the need for even more insulin to do the same job. And,
  2. After years of this insulin over-production, the pancreas “wears out,” insulin producing cells are destroyed. Therefore, insulin may need to be injected.

BOTTOM LINE…DUE TO POOR DIETARY ADVICE, THOSE WITH TYPE 2 BECOME INSULIN DEPENDENT (LIKE A PERSON WITH TYPE 1).

That is not all that is happening. People with Type 1 are often told from childhood to “eat like every other child and just cover with enough insulin.” Here’s the thing…the diet for the average child in America is leading to obesity and Type 2 (previously never seen in children). So it’s not good for ANY child!! After years of following this poor dietary advice and using large doses of injectable insulin, those with Type 1 will begin to become overweight and insulin resistant.

BOTTOM LINE…DUE TO POOR DIETARY ADVICE, THOSE WITH TYPE 1 BECOME INSULIN RESISTANT (LIKE A PERSON WITH TYPE 2).

No wonder the lines are becoming so blurred!!

What is at the heart of it?? Poor dietary advice!! The right dietary advice (if applied early enough) can often keep those with Type 2 from becoming insulin dependent. In fact, when adopting a healthy lifestyle, many people with Type 2 are able to manage their diabetes WITHOUT medication. The right dietary advice will also keep those with Type 1 from becoming insulin resistant. It can help both Types to maintain a healthy weight.

I think there needs to be a reclassification of diabetes Types as well, but with emphasis on cause. If we identify diabetes Types by cause, the focus on treatment will be clear.

  • Type 1 diabetes should be classified as “autoimmune” diabetes (not reversible, yet), insulin needed.
  • Type 2 diabetes should be classified as PREDOMINANTLY a “lifestyle” diabetes (often preventable AND reversible).  In fact, the esteemed Dr. Robert Lustig, world renowned Pediatric Endocrinologist and obesity specialist, recently quipped that Type 2 should be called a “processed food disease.”  If we classify Type 2 in this way, it would put the focus on using lifestyle to treat and reverse Type 2 diabetes. The majority of lifestyle management would be directed toward diet, with the other factors being things such as exercise, proper sleep, stress control and balancing hormones.

Some might balk at calling Type 2 a “lifestyle” disorder, saying that it is strongly genetic. I feel your pain. Type 2 does have a strong genetic link.  Almost everyone in the last several generations in my family has Type 2. I DO find that I must work much harder than many of my healthy eating friends to keep my blood sugar and weight regulated. But as the saying goes, “genetics loads the gun but environment pulls the trigger.” In other words, we can’t change what we have inherited. But we CAN do our best with what we have been handed…it doesn’t have to rule us or be our destiny. Through great effort, and by adopting a healthy lifestyle immediately upon diagnosis, I have been able to achieve non-diabetic health markers for several years. As a result, my doctor has removed diabetes from my diagnosis list.

Even if you feel that Type 2 diabetes is very strongly genetic in your case (as it is in mine), that doesn’t take away from the fact that the ANSWER is STILL, healthy lifestyle, predominantly healthy eating.  For those with a strong genetic pre-disposition, dietary management might have to be more aggressive than it would be for others.  😦  Fortunately, however, many have found that this type of management leads to excellent diabetes control, prevention of complications and a high quality of life.

So why is the right dietary advice so elusive?? As I have said before…diabetes is big business. And there are a lot of organizations and people in the BUSINESS of diabetes. Unfortunately, there is much money to be made when people are sick.  One of my friend’s has begun writing diabetes like this: DIABETE$.

Please, don’t line the pockets of organizations who are increasing their bank accounts on the very advice that increases your drug dependence and your waistline.

Wishing you health and happiness.

Suggested Reading…

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For more reading suggestions, see my recommended reading list  HERE

What is the Problem? All Carbs? Or PROCESSED Carbs?

One of the arguments we hear against the low carb lifestyle is that there have been (and are) many cultures that have eaten a relatively high percentage of carbohydrates in their diets with relatively little disease. So that is used as an example of how the low carb lifestyle is supposedly an unnecessary fad.

Even proponents of the low carb lifestyle at times will say that it is not necessarily the carbs that are the problem, per se, but the processing that causes the problem. Dr. Jason Fung discusses both on his website and his book that “Mother Nature” packages the “antidote” with the “poison.” In other words, while, say, fruit is high in sugar (the “poison”), it also contains other nutrients, like fiber (the “antidote”) that have somewhat of a neutralizing effect.

I can agree with these arguments with some exceptions, which I will get to in a minute. I DO believe that there is nothing inherently wrong with whole foods that are higher in carbs. I DO believe there are people who can eat more whole food carbs in their diet and avoid disease (although avoidance of disease does not necessarily equal good health). I DO believe the bigger problem is all the processed carbs, not necessarily the whole food carbs.

If you go back 100 or 150 years, before heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes were household words, what did the diet primarily consist of? Whole foods. Meat, eggs and full fat dairy, vegetables (both starchy and non-starchy) and fruit. No Pop Tarts for breakfast, no soda, no dwarf wheat, no chain restaurant food or fast food, no super sized portions.

If we look closer at this time period, people also worked physically hard. They lived in a less toxic environment. One with fresh air and sunshine, not air conditioning and electronic devices. So in the context of a people who ate a diet without processed, refined carbs, very little if any sugar, a people that worked physically demanding jobs, people that didn’t overeat, got plenty of sunshine and rest, then yes, I agree that some whole foods that are higher in carbs probably didn’t pose much of a problem.

Unfortunately, most of us today, due to decades of poor dietary advice, are very metabolically damaged, are overweight or obese, or are of normal weight but are still very unhealthy (TOFI = thin on the outside, “fat” on the inside). We are a population that eats too much, too often, that grew up on Cap’N Crunch and skim milk for breakfast and pizza for lunch. A people who eat out too often, are sedentary, spend too much time indoors, never lift anything heavy, rarely get fresh air, get so little sunshine that we are vitamin D deficient, don’t get enough sleep because we spend too much time on our electronic devices, are exposed to endless toxins in our air, water and food, and are just so darn stressed out…

So for most of us, the majority of carbs can be a problem, not just the processed ones,

Let’s contrast that to maybe a child today that is raised on a whole food lifestyle that still allows starches and fruit, like paleo. A child that is of normal weight, exercises daily, gets outdoors often, and gets adequate sleep. In this context, I really don’t think an apple or some sweet potato is a huge problem.

The answer is, you have to look at a person’s entire history and lifestyle to determine how carbs will affect them personally. That’s why there is no “one size fits all” approach. Because of my family genetics and many years of unhealthy living, I have a HUGE intolerance for carbs. I personally cannot tolerate fruit or root vegetables without very problematic blood sugar or weight gain issues. So you can’t point to a culture that eats a lot of rice and conclude that if they are healthy doing it, then so should I be.

So yes, when it comes to ALL people, the problem really is in the processing. No one needs processed and refined carbs like EVERYTHING made with flour, sugar and other refined grains. But over and above that, for those people that are metabolically unhealthy (which just happens to be the majority of the American population), then even many of the whole food carbs could likely be a problem. Unfortunately, the “antidote” may not be enough to overcome the “poison” for the majority of us. And no amount of studies comparing us to people with CULTURES THAT ARE NOTHING LIKE OURS, will change that sad fact. The fact that some remote group of people can eat sweet potatoes and thrive has NOTHING to do with whether I can eat a sweet potato and control my blood sugar (unfortunately, I can’t).

That is why in addition to encouraging folks to eat real food, I encourage them to “eat by their meter.” In other words, find out for themselves what their carbohydrate tolerance is and then eat in a way that will allow them to achieve and maintain optimal health markers.

It doesn’t matter who you are, if the foods you are eating (even if they are whole foods) are causing unsafe elevations in your blood sugar, you have two choices: 1. stop eating those foods, a solution that will improve your health, or 2. take medicines that will force your body to be able to more easily tolerate those foods…a process that will worsen your health.

Seems like a no-brainer…

For me, I have discovered that in order for me to achieve my health goals, I have to eliminate ALL sugar (natural or processed) as well as ALL starches. However, as they say, YMMV.

So please stop telling me that the low carb lifestyle that I live, one that helps me maintain near perfect health markers, is a a fad or unnecessary because the ancient Chinese ate 60% of their diet as starchy carbs. I didn’t live in THAT era, in THAT country, with THAT culture and THOSE genetics. I’m a typical American who was raised on the USDA low fat food pyramid which led to obesity, diabetes and a host of other health conditions, ALL of which my low carb lifestyle eliminated.

Once again, for ALL people, processed carbs should be eliminated as much as possible. They are poison (with no antidote, lol). But for me, and probably the majority of the people who follow this page (which is the demographic this page is designed for), our bodies will react to that apple almost as badly as it would to the Pop Tart, and therefore, unfortunately, has to be eliminated too.  For us, all sugar (even natural) and food that turns quickly into sugar (starches) are all…well, still sugar 😦

American Diabetes Association – Giving Conflicting Advice

As a Certified Diabetes Educator, I keep up with reading the published standards from the “leading” diabetes organizations (doesn’t mean I agree with them, but I read them).  In reading the most recent published standards from the American Diabetes Association, I was surprised to find their official position statement on healthy eating is nearly IDENTICAL to mine (yep!)  It is as follows:

“To promote and support healthful eating patterns, emphasizing a variety of nutrient dense foods in appropriate portion sizes, in order to improve overall health and specifically to:

  • Attain individualized glycemic (blood glucose), blood pressure and lipid goals
  • Achieve and maintain body weight goals
  • Delay or prevent complications of diabetes.”

Why was I so surprised to read this?  Because almost nothing that they teach to the public aligns with their OWN position statement! 

I want to analyze this position statement very closely because, as I said, it so closely mimics with what I teach, namely 1. EAT REAL FOOD (without overeating) and 2. EAT TO YOUR METER.  It SEEMS like the ADA is completely on target with this position statement.

So why do I NOT support the ADA?

It’s not the position statement that is the problem.  It is how the ADA’s advice is completely contradictory to it.  Let’s take a closer look at this statement, and then we will see how closely (or should I say NOT closely) the ADA lives up to it’s own position on healthy eating…

“NUTRIENT DENSITY”

Ok, we all remember my #1 rule right?  EAT REAL FOOD.  That is what they seem to be saying here as well.  Choose the most nutrient-dense foods you can find.  Why?  Because if you eat nutrient-poor foods, you will have to eat a LOT more food overall to make sure that you are getting adequate nutrients.  By choosing nutrient-dense foods, you get “more bang for your buck.”  Nutrient density is SO IMPORTANT.  I once read that if a person were to eat by the old USDA food pyramid, (with its base of UP TO 11 SERVINGS of processed, refined, nutrient-devoid foods like: bread, pasta, cereal and crackers), they would have to consume approximately 27,000 calories per day to meet their nutrient needs.  Well, I honestly don’t know how to verify that, but let’s take an average daily intake of 2,000 calories with up to 11 servings of nutrient poor food.   Yes, you would either need to eat MUCH more food to get your nutrients, or pick better quality foods.  (Now I know we don’t use this food pyramid anymore, but the MyPlate is not much better, only in a different format.)  CLEARLY, nutrient density is KEY.

So, how do you translate that?  EAT REAL FOOD.  Eat food that doesn’t sit on the shelf in a box or bag (or even most cans).  Eat food that either has NO label or one that has less than a handful of ingredients, all of which you can identify.

However, contrary to their position statement, the ADA continues to encourage large amounts of sugary and starchy carbohydrates in each meal (3-5 servings of them), along with processed and refined high carb snacks (like baked chips and light popcorn)…and don’t even get me started on their dessert suggestions (see below).  Certainly not nutrient dense foods.

“APPROPRIATE PORTIONS”

So, what about “portion sizes?”   Does anyone HATE the words PORTION CONTROL as much as I do?  How many of you think of this image when you hear “portion control.”

A close cousin to “portion control” is “EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.” (My article HERE.)  In other words, it’s ok to have junk, just have “small portions” or eat it in “moderation” (whatever that is.)  “Moderation” means nothing, because everyone’s idea of what moderation is completely different.  This guy may feel like he is eating his pancakes in “moderation”…useless term.

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Enjoy this comical video on “serving sizes.”  LOL!

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We all know that people are going to occasionally eat things that are bad for them, but this should be left to their personal choice, NOT ENCOURAGED.

To me, a better way of saying portion control is saying: “eat only when you are hungry” and “don’t overeat.”  How can someone figure out a portion size for you if they don’t know what it takes to fill you up?  In other words, eat to YOUR satisfaction level, but don’t eat until you have to loosen your belt.

“GLYCEMIC CONTROL”

Next up, attaining glycemic control.  There is nowhere that the ADA is further away from its own position statement than when it comes to glycemic control.  First of all, the targets set for glycemic control are arbitrary at best, extremely harmful at worst.  With glycemic targets of up to 130 at fasting and up to 180 post meal, the ADA is NOWHERE NEAR helping people attain TRUE glycemic control, since normal fasting blood sugar is <90 and normal post meal blood glucose is below about 110-120.  You simply cannot state that you care about glycemic control and place targets  that are typically DOUBLE that of normal blood sugar.  Many, many studies show SIGNIFICANT increased risks of heart disease, strokes, kidney disease, cancer, alzheimer’s, brain shrinkage, blindness and amputations just increasing from an A1c of 5% to 6%.  By the time most people are diagnosed with diabetes (A1c of 6.5%), they already have significant metabolic disease and complications.  So, why promote an A1c of up to 7% as “glycemic control?”

In addition, the diet that is often promoted by the ADA will IN NO WAY help people achieve true glycemic control.  (See some examples below)

Here is a confusing statement on the ADA website “In the past, people with diabetes were told to completely avoid sugar. Experts thought that eating sugar would raise blood glucose levels very high.  Research around this issue has shown that while the type of carbohydrate can affect how quickly blood glucose levels rise, the total amount of carbohydrate you eat affects blood glucose levels more than the type. Now experts agree that you can substitute small amounts of sugar for other carbohydrate containing foods into your meal plan and still keep your blood glucose levels on track.”

(That is similar to the calories in calories out theory where people claim that the TYPE of calorie is not that important, as long as you don’t exceed the NUMBER of calories you should have.  Nothing could be further from the truth.)

So let me get this straight,  30g of carbs from vegetables…

Will raise my blood sugar more than 27g of carbohydrates from, predominantly, sugar…

Anyone beg to differ?

Why is a diabetes organization ASSISTING people in figuring out HOW to replace their healthy foods in their meal plan with sugar?  How about we encourage healthy eating and leave the indiscretions to people’s own personal choice…you know, instead of encouraging it by using words like “portions” and “moderation.”  Why do they never say “use portion control on your broccoli” or “eat your salad in moderation.”  Because “portion” and “moderation” are just code words for junk.

“BLOOD PRESSURE, LIPIDS, WEIGHT CONTROL AND AVOIDING COMPLICATIONS”

Next up, blood pressure, lipid, and weight control, as well as avoidance of complications.  Well, if you don’t promote NORMAL blood glucose targets, you will not achieve ANY of these goals, PERIOD.  No need to comment further.  You must achieve true glycemic control in order to achieve any of these.

Ok ADA, so I agree with your entire position statement…so what’s the problem?

Let’s see if ADA’s advice matches their official position.

Recently, the ADA published a “diabetes friendly” sugar-laden dessert recipe on Facebook.  I will not get into too much detail about this because there are already two excellent articles HERE and HERE.  After the post, hundreds of people protested the recipe being called “diabetes friendly.”  There were so many negative comments that the ADA removed the post, not because they felt anything was wrong with the recipe, but because, as they stated, it “lacked context.”   The real reason is that the post was an utter public embarrassment of their advice.  (In the end, they still could not admit that their advice was bad.)

Let’s see if that “diabetes friendly” recipe measured up to their own standards:

Nutrient dense: the ingredients were rice, sugar, milk and sweetened condensed milk (or, in other words…sugar, sugar, sugar and sugar).  Oh yeah, it had cinnamon!  That will balance out the blood sugar after the 38g (nearly 10 spoonfuls) of sugar (wink wink).  Fail.

Portion control:  well, I gotta give it to you here.  The portion WAS controlled.  In fact, for 38g of carbs/sugar, only 1/4 cup of rice was split into 10 portions.  Now, I know rice swells, but not that much.  Can you imagine how SMALL the portion was, yet it still had 38g of carbs?  Score 1 point for portion control, lol!

Glycemic targets: Can even a person WITHOUT diabetes eat this recipe and maintain normal blood sugar?  Doubt it.  Fail.

Normal blood pressure, lipids, and weight control, as well as prevention of complications: once again, without glycemic control, these goals are not attainable.  Fail.

Here is another example.  Here is a page out of the American Diabetes Association’s Guide to Healthy Restaurant Eating written by Hope Warshaw, a Registered Dietitian with a Masters in Medical Science who is also a Certified Diabetes Educator and is Board Certified in Advanced Diabetes Management (bet you were wondering what all those acronyms meant…).

Folks, there is almost no one’s advice I would stay FARTHER away from than this woman’s advice.  She is TRULY a wolf in sheep’s clothing…and the worst kind because she is usually at the head of a major diabetes organization and a person in whose position we should rely on for helpful, accurate information.

So, here is one of her “healthy and hearty” choices for eating out (don’t worry about going somewhere and getting real food, like salmon and salad, just go to Dunkin’ Doughnuts)…simply choose TWO glazed cake doughnuts for 70g of carbs (sugar)!  As if one glazed cake doughnut wasn’t bad enough, she recommends two.

One question…what school did she study nutrition in?  To call two glazed cake doughnuts “healthy” is a crime that should be punishable by law for a nutritionist.  Once again, people are going to eat unhealthy foods at times.  But they are going to do it EVEN MORE if someone tells them they can have their doughnut AND good health at the same time (“have your cake and eat it too”, lol!)  How do you get SUPER healthy, eat a whole dozen?

So what is it ADA?  Do you want people to eat nutrient-dense foods that will help them control their blood sugar, weight and health markers and avoid complications?  Or are you going to keep promoting PURE JUNK as diabetes and heart friendly foods…we are getting confused!

What the ADA may not be aware of, is that there IS a small band of dietitians, nutritionists, diabetes educators, physicians and nurses who are actually upholding that position statement, DESPITE the ADA’s continued poor advice to the public.

It’s time that the ADA follows suit.

Two Years of Low Carb RN

Hi folks!  Have been so busy over the past month that I almost forgot an important milestone for Low Carb RN, and that is, our two year anniversary (earlier this month)!

I wanted to say again thank you to so many people who have been so instrumental on my own personal health journey and those who are helping so many others to do the same.  This is my last year’s anniversary post (HERE) as well as my “special thanks” post (HERE) and without reiterating the exact same thing, I wanted to thank all of these folks again.  They remain my biggest supporters and dear friends.

Since that time, I have come to know and have grown close to hundreds of folks in the low carb world who are doing so much to help others, such as my friends Amy Berger, Lisa MarcAurele, Dr. Michael Tremba, Dr. Keith Runyan, Sandy Bahr, Bill Rust, Tim Rice, Ivor Cummins, Marty Kendall, Jeremy Fazackerley, Jamie Moskowitz, Jeff Cyr, Mike Julian, Gary Snow, Ron Gillespie and Ken Gordon and so, so, so many others…this is just off the top of my head.  If I missed you it was not intentional.  Just know that if you are in the low carb crusade, I appreciate you and I’m here with you…and proud of it.

And thanks to the readers out there.  Please share the site with others.  It has helped hundreds of thousands of people, although I wish I could say millions, because it is here as a free resource for anyone who needs it.  So feel free to share.

And, if you see anything that needs improving or you would like other topics added, let me know J

Here is to another great year of healthy living!