As type 2 diabetics, we’ve all had the conversation with our docs concerning weight loss. Usually it starts off with “Eat less, exercise more, get your numbers stable”. The doc makes it sound so easy, but it’s not.
In a perfect world, our weight loss conversation would be a little different, maybe the doc would say “Don’t eat any sugar, read not just the nutritional info, but the ingredients, if it has sugar, don’t eat it”.
In this age of instant everything and prescriptions ad nauseum, we tend to spend more time watching 200 cable channels or playing video games. We dine, in our cars, at our desk, on fast food in our fast lives, not once thinking about the consequences of our dietary choices. Time is more precious than our health because we’ve seen the commercials.
Popping a few pills for what ails us has become the norm. With all the medications and technology of the 21st century, one might think silly little things like type 2 diabetes would be a thing of the past, but it’s not.
In our effort for fast and easy we’ve gone from preparing our meals with whole ingredients to buying our meals to be microwaved.
Certain big business would have us believe that our chairs are to blame for the obesity epidemic, rather than the high fructose corn syrup or sugar contained in their beverages. Yes, I realize there are many soda fans who have no problem existing on sodas and french fries, but there are many who also follow the trail of sodas and other starchy foods to poor health. Just as our fingerprints differ from one to another, our bodies are different too. For some, moderation works just fine, for others, moderation is a myth.
What if we could go back in time and see diabetes through the ages? What if we learned that we are not fat and lazy because we have diabetes, but we have diabetes because our body simply does not thrive on modern fast and easy, and that the whole fat and lazy thing is just not true. What if we realized that maybe what we are doing just doesn’t work and rather than keep getting no results we try something different, something that’s really not that new?
I would like to introduce you to Frederick Madison Allen. He had the novel idea back in the early 1900’s that sufferers of diabetes mellitus could live longer by cutting back carbohydrates. Maybe if we hadn’t been so eager to make our lives fast and easy we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to eat our way to an obesity epidemic.
Going back to basics, spending more time in the kitchen than the drive-thru or our grocer’s freezer section is not a simple transformation. It takes time to peel vegetables, prepare meats, and actually use our oven for something other than a pizza reheating device. I’ve found that while I do spend much more time in the kitchen now than when diabetes was in the driver’s seat, I have more time.
How can it be that by spending more time equals more time? I see how that last sentence could cause confusion. It’s like this, when I was eating fast and easy, I took a lot of naps. I sat on the couch a lot because I was always tired. I spent a day each month waiting in the doctor’s office for my doc to tell me the same old “eat less, exercise more”. A life like that is no life at all. My short cuts (drive thru, pre-processed crap) actually worked against me. The more I tried to get more time, the less time I had.
In my journey, I gave up sugar (all forms, from hfcs to honey, what ever), I also gave up fat free products because they often included sugar in the ingredients. I gave up those heart healthy whole grains because they too spiked my blood sugar. Some people think I gave up a lot and feel sorry for me because I no longer eat like they do, but I don’t need their pity. When I think about it, I don’t think of everything I gave up, I think of all I’ve gained.
Beginning with Atkins and morphing to a more primal diet, I have gained my life. I see with unclouded vision that life before was merely existence. I don’t remember the last time I took a nap because I needed a nap. Since people like to deal with weight loss as a math equation I feel it only appropriate that I tell you that subtracting all the daily naps from my equation equals more time.
More time outdoors breathing in fresh air, watching the birds, playing with my grandchildren, smiling because not only am I alive, but I am thriving.
I’ve told you before that exercise and I have never really been compatible, but with my new found time, I often find myself exercising not because I need to, but because it just comes natural. Eating my way to improved glucose numbers was not without side effects, there were a couple I will share with you.
1. Sugar withdrawals. They say it lasts a couple to few weeks, I say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m not dead, but felt like it was inevitable when going through sugar detox.
2. Weight loss. You may be wondering how weight loss could be a side effect of controlling blood sugar, but with insulin being the fat storage hormone and all, cutting out the foods that made my body produce more insulin also made my body stop storing fat.
I must tell you that the scale is not and will not ever be my friend. Stopping my body from storing body fat, which consisted of not fearing dietary fat was a long process. The whole re-shaping of my body composition has been quicker than the scale. Did I mention I love my tape measure?
I’ve had to re-think what I had been programmed to think as a healthy diet. A lot of times people look at carbohydrate restriction as no carbohydrates, but that is not the case. I do eat carbohydrates in the form of non-starchy vegetables.
I’ve come to the conclusion in my journey that eating out of hunger is better for me than eating every couple of hours. I’ve learned that it wasn’t the calories I consumed making me fat, it was how my body uses them. I no longer even look at the calories I eat, only the ingredients and I only eat what I have learned through my handy dandy glucose monitor what works for me.
I leave you today with a picture of some time I gained in my journey. Without blood sugar highs and lows I found that I slept better and was refreshed each morning upon awakening. When diabetes was in the driver’s seat I never once watched the sun rise, much less kept mementos of it, yet another side effect of taking the reins.
I would like to add this bit of advice. Go to your doc. Tell him/her that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Tell them you are ready to change your life with their assistance. Tell them you don’t want to pop another pill, you just want to get healthy. Docs are not used to people asking for advice rather than prescriptions, they are used to people being “non-compliant”, but non-compliant can also mean what you are currently doing is just not working with your body. Learn all you can about your own body and how certain foods work with or against you. Take your life back and gain time.