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Thread: Treating Diabetes with a Low-Carb diet

  1. #11
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    my doctor sent me a long list of stuff she wants to me do. Lots of tests, appts with diabetes clinician, appts with her, etc...

    I guess the biggest thing I need right now is hope.
    There is hope! Diabetes may be a progressive illness, but it can be managed and managed well. And doing that can push off the traditional (and well-known) complications for years and years.

    You simply have to want to be the master of your diabetes. I know that might seem really hard right now, but I would recommend taking a deep breath and diving in. You'll need to change what you eat (but if what you're eating is making you sick, it's easier to change). You may need to manage time or money a little differently to make sure you have time to exercise or to prepare (or buy) what you eat. You may need to work on changing your view of food (for many people there is a significant social component to eating).

    It may not be easy or immediate (I will admit some aspects of changing my attitudes toward food and my health were not a snap for me). But there are many many people living just fine with diabetes. You can be one of them.

    One piece of advice: do not let yourself be railroaded into the medical system. Not to sound conspiratorial, but there seems to be a machine into which most healthcare providers feed new diabetics. The battery of tests your doctor mentioned may be warranted in light of other medical concerns of yours. But there seems to me to be a weird emphasis on protocols that treat every diabetic the same, a distinct lack of interest in investigating alternatives to the way things always have been done, and a heavily-marketed world of products made specially for diabetics, many of which are unnecessary ("diabetic candy") and some of which even are injurious in the long run.

    Another piece of advice: when you see the "diabetes educator", smile and nod a lot and disregard anything (s)he has to say. Don't waste your time telling that person you're going low-carb or keto; you'll hear all kinds of old information and horror stories about how difficult and dangerous that is. All I have to say, though, is that looking at my next-door neighbor and friends of mine and DW's, all of whom did just as they were told, have (in some cases, had) the traditional complications of diabetes. It's easy to get the impression that there's more money in managing the disease than there is in addressing it sensibly and inexpensively (think of all the insulin and Janumet they haven't sold me).

    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    How long have you been able to maintain your healthy numbers without using medication? Did you ever even try medication or did you just treat it with diet? Could you share a typical eating day?
    I'm going on 2-1/2 years of "normal" A1cs with just diet and exercise. I never tried medication; didn't even want to start with it. My doctor offered to put me on Metformin right away but I wanted to try without it first. Success; no Met needed. That may not last forever and there won't be any shame in starting on it if/when I need to, but I figure the fewer meds I'm on, the better off I am.

    Typical eating day:
    Breakfast: 2 eggs and 2-4 ounces of bacon/sausage/cheese (build up the fat without overdoing the protein)

    Lunch: mixed green salad with 4-5 ounces of protein (often fish because it's good for me and DW is not a huge fan but sometimes leftover chicken or pork roast or...). I may put some salad dressing on to bump up the fat level but not if the protein came with enough fat of its own. Sometimes some pork rinds or nuts for crunch. Sometimes I'll have, say, greens (collards, spinach, etc.) with some protein. Or a sandwich wrap with the bread replaced by lettuce leaves or a keto wrap.

    Dinner: typically another 3-4 ounces of a protein and a couple of cups of a side vegetable (greens, string beans, etc.). Sometimes a leftovers soup assembled to clean out the fridge. There are Web sites and books with low-carb and keto recipes, too.

    I'm not (never was) much on desserts or sweet stuff so I don't miss them much. I can snack on a little piece of cheese or a handful of nuts or some pork rinds. But, as Jane mentioned, you're better off eating well at meals and skipping snacks if you can. The exception may be eating some sort of snack before bedtime as it may help you manage your blood glucose better. But that will come later

    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    I suspect that with my astoundingly high number my doctor will put me on meds right away, and I understand. Safety is a big issue right now. But I also want to do everything I can diet-wise to help things along.
    If you choose that route (I won't say it's a bad choice), know that:

    1) those medications expect you to be eating a certain amount of carbs at every meal. Reducing your carb intake while on these meds (or insulin) may cause hypoglycemic incidents, which can be very serious. You'll have to reduce your doses or stop taking the meds; it will be complicated to do that at the same time your body is getting used to differing insulin production/resistance levels. Both low-carb and exercise levels will change the effect of insulin so don't try to manage too many variables at once.

    If it were me, I'd try to get two weeks meds-free while you start with diet and exercise. Even if the doctor insists on giving you the Rx or even the pills themselves, you don't have to take them. It'll be cleaner to try to manage your diabetes without the meds. One thing which could help is to keep a record of your blood glucose readings (after you wake but before you eat food, before each meal, and one and two hours after your first bite of a meal). This will tell you what your blood glucose is with the new steps you're taking and will be a negotiating tool for use with your doctor.

    2) once you start taking the meds, there may be a fair amount of resistance from your doctor to discontinuing them. Some doctors won't have the time or interest to help you manage titrating doses down as your body's use of insulin improves. Again, try not to become part of the machine.

    Hope that helps!
    Last edited by SteveinMN; 1-25-19 at 7:18pm. Reason: ETA "typical eating day"
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  2. #12
    Senior Member HappyHiker's Avatar
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    I don't have diabetes, but I did want to express my appreciation to Steve for his excellent posts about carbs/low-carbs way of eating.

    This seems to keep me healthy (except for my pesky high blood pressure which everyone in my family has) and within a reasonable weight.

    Though I enjoy bread and pasta, it's not too difficult to curtail them for me. Protein (whether animal or from beans) plus lots of salads and steamed and stir-fried keeps my hunger at bay. I was always hungry soon after a carb meal...

    When I do eat carbs, I try to make sure they are low GI so as not to spike my blood sugar and make me hungry soon after.

    Making an effort, too, to add more healthy fats to my diet--when my hair becomes dull and my skin real dry, it tells me to ramp up the fats...

    Thanks, Steve, for your great posts...
    Author of the green eco-thriller: Falling Through Time http://fallingthroughtime.com Editor of http://vibrantvillage.com

  3. #13
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    Very interesting Steve. A friend of mine must have lucked out because when she got referred to a diabetic nutritionist she was told that she could probably control her diabetes with diet and how to do it She never went on medication and now is no longer diabetic. She has always exercised a lot and was not overweight but ended up losing 15lbs. Unfortunately, my husband is not as disciplined as my friend.

  4. #14
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teacher Terry View Post
    Very interesting Steve. A friend of mine must have lucked out because when she got referred to a diabetic nutritionist she was told that she could probably control her diabetes with diet and how to do it She never went on medication and now is no longer diabetic. She has always exercised a lot and was not overweight but ended up losing 15lbs. Unfortunately, my husband is not as disciplined as my friend.
    I don't believe that diabetes can be "cured" by any food or exercise or chemical regimen (short of implanting pancreatic T-cells, etc.) because, in the absence of that regimen, the mechanism of the disease and the definitional symptoms return.

    Your friend's diabetes seemed to present in a manner similar to "gestational diabetes": a woman with ordinary (perhaps borderline) glucose management in regular life sees it change when "baby is on board". I would guess if your friend gained back those 15 pounds and/or quit exercising as much, she'd be in the same place she was. Non-invasive treatment certainly makes a difference but IMHO cannot eradicate the disease. I think of my diabetes as "in remission" in that some lifestyle or biological change could cause its progression to speed up. Seems to me a fair accurate way to think of it.

    This might also be a good place to mention that, at least as we understand (Type 2) diabetes today, being overweight by itself has nothing to do with whether or not you get diabetes. While the incidence of Type 2 diabetes has increased in part due to awareness, more widespread screening, and a little "moving of the goalposts" (reducing the blood glucose levels considered borderline for the illness), no one yet has been able to show a direct correlation between increased incidences of T2 diabetes and increased incidences of obesity in the general population. The diet and exercise habits of an obese person may be enough of a catalyst for T2 to appear, but not every overweight person contracts diabetes -- the rates don't match at all -- and plenty of thin people do contract diabetes. Just throwing that in there because there is a strong tendency among many newly-diagnosed diabetics to kick themselves emotionally for a fondness for dessert or for being sedentary.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  5. #15
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    I read some research a while back that discussed this idea: perhaps weight gain is caused by type two diabetes, rather than the other way around.

  6. #16
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    My fasting glucose has always been quite a bit lower than DH, even though he is lean and fairly active and I am not. And my brother in law is underweight and has T2 diabetes so I don't really believe that overweight = diabetes.

    I had the first of my low-carb meals that begins my trial phase. For lunch I made a scramble with eggs, sausage, mushrooms and bell peppers. Very tasty! Favorite part was sausage and veggies so next time I will try that or just do one egg or add some cabbage to replace the eggs.

    Got result from my latest tests and I will need to get on a couple of antibiotics to treat a stomach bacterial infection (not caused by meds but maybe exacerbated by it); and I might have some liver and kidney damage, I have an appt Monday morning to discuss with dr. My immune system tests came back with good numbers so that is a positive.

    Steve - thank you for sharing your knowledge and advice. Very much appreciated. If at any time you prefer to discuss things privately, please let me know. I figure that the info shared here would benefit lots of people that's why I've kept it public, but I don't want you to feel over-exposed.

    And thank you for suggesting I not get on medication right away and for alerting me of the dangers of being on the medication and then reducing my carbs on my own. I will do a trial phase before I take any medication. There are two, no three, components that I want to gauge before I introduce the diabetes meds: diet, exercise, and a reduction or temporary elimination of the meds I believe have contributed to the high glucose. Which leads me to...

    1. How soon did you notice a change in your glucose numbers once you went on the low-carb diet?

    2. What kind of exercise did you introduce?

    3. How much of a reduction in glucose did you have with the changes in diet and exercise?

    4. How often do you test your glucose? (I just picked up my testing kit.)

  7. #17
    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    I figure that the info shared here would benefit lots of people that's why I've kept it public, but I don't want you to feel over-exposed.
    Thank you, Geila. I've felt comfortable sharing this info or I would not have shared it. But I'll let you know if we get to an area that I consider too identifiable or personal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    1. How soon did you notice a change in your glucose numbers once you went on the low-carb diet?
    You should start seeing results in a week or so. Keep in mind that A1c is a rolling three-month average, so unless you wait that long plus a couple of weeks for your next A1c, you won't get the most information from that test.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    2. What kind of exercise did you introduce?
    I've discovered that just moving around is key for me; formal exercise or having to go someplace for exercise just does not work well for me. Walking is good. Housework (moving, bending, climbing stairs, etc.) is good. Mowing the lawn (or shoveling snow or gardening) is good. DW and I have gotten into folk dancing a few nights a week; that's good. I figure I can always just move; whether it's formal exercise or not is beside the point. I'm sure I'd see benefits from more exercise but light exercise I do is better than more vigorous exercise I plan to do.

    What I've found is that my blood glucose is lower (not tons, but some) if I eat and then move around. So, for example, I'll wait on morning chores (washing dishes, straightening up, whatever bigger chore awaits that day) until just after I've eaten breakfast. If need be and the timing works right, I leave some tasks for just after lunch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    3. How much of a reduction in glucose did you have with the changes in diet and exercise?
    I went from an A1c in the high 6s to the mid-5s. Not a huge reduction but I know of people who've gone from A1cs in the 10s down to the low- to mid-5s.

    One other thought to throw in here is that tight control of the blood glucose levels appears to be more beneficial than maintaining the lowest blood glucose levels. I tend to keep my blood glucose in a range of around 30-40 points. I rarely run over 130 but I also rarely run under 100. I know people who vary between, say, 80 and 150. The average of those two sets of numbers is the same but the body can handle the narrow band a little better than the extremes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Geila View Post
    4. How often do you test your glucose? (I just picked up my testing kit.)
    When I first started low-carb, I tested in the morning (before food and coffee), before the first bite of breakfast, two hours after breakfast, before the first bite of lunch, two hours after lunch, with the first bite of dinner, and two hours after dinner. I kept track of those numbers because those are what told me which foods I could eat "safely" and which I could not (for example, some fruits, beans). When it was time for my next A1c, I did a little number crunching and was dead on with the number that the A1c provided (which also told me my meter was accurate enough).

    I also tested before heavy exercise (moving boxes or work in very hot weather) and even during it if it lasted long enough. Since I'm not on medication or insulin, I'm at no risk of "crashing". But sometimes it's helpful to control to, say, eat a piece of cheese during that heavy workout so my body has something for fuel rather than demanding my liver just dump glucose into my bloodstream (which apparently it is too good at doing).

    Over time, I've dispensed with some of the testing. On ordinary days, if I'm eating the same meal I did the previous week, I should not expect the numbers to change much. You don't want to obsess over the numbers anyway; what you want is to observe trends (like a steady creep up in your fasting blood glucose).

    Now I test in the morning (before food and coffee) and just at other specialized times. If I'm not feeling well, my blood glucose likely will be higher, so I'll watch it and test a little more often. If I eat a carb-containing food that is new to me, I'll test before and an hour or two after I eat it just to see if it's okay for me (or not). In a continuing attempt to tamp down "dawn phenomenon" I've tested just before I go to sleep to see how much of a swing my blood glucose takes overnight, and how it is affected by not eating after dinner, or eating a fatty snack after dinner, or eating some protein in a snack after dinner, or eating just before bed versus, say, no later than two hours before I go to sleep. You will find that diabetes is an individual disease and that what works for one diabetic (say, eating a protein snack before bed) has a different effect on another. If you test, you will know. If you don't, you're guessing.

    Since I'm thinking of them, a few more tips:
    - If they didn't tell you, use the lancet on the side of your fingers, not your fingertips -- much more comfortable. And you can use all your fingers.
    - Get a reading that looks off? Take another one. Blood is not homeogeneous. Meters use such a small blood sample that it doesn't take much dirt/grease/alcohol or deviation in the sample size to throw off the reading. Sometimes you get a bum strip or it got contaminated in handling. A difference of 10-20 points in readings just moments apart is not unusual or concerning. In fact, legally, meters in the U.S. can be off from the actual glucose amount as much as 10-15%. Most meters do much better than that, but it's possible. Again, don't stress every reading -- unless it's really high or low and then you can re-test to verify.
    - Stress and illness/infection and dehydration will raise your blood glucose numbers. Vigorous exercise can as well. I can tell when a cold is coming on if my fasting blood glucose reading is significantly higher than normal. And your fasting blood glucose number will go down slower than all the rest of them.
    Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome. - Booker T. Washington

  8. #18
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    My husband has been eating low carb the last 4 days and his numbers are better every day. I hope he sticks with it.

  9. #19
    Senior Member Geila's Avatar
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    Last night I started to get scared as more tests came in indicating kidney damage or disease. This morning I've been focusing on reducing my stress and fear and came across this delightful post that had me laughing out loud and I wanted to share it with you guys:

    https://ptsdawayout.com/2019/01/27/2...by-matt-caron/

  10. #20
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    FIL was diagnosed with Type 2 in his 40s and was on Metformin for the rest of his life. The only diet change he made was moving to sugar-free products on the advice of his doctor. In the last ten years of his life, he developed a horrible metallic taste in his mouth due to either the Metformin or the sugar-free products altering his taste buds. He basically stopped eating since everything tasted so bad. Did not know about that side effect but apparently it happens.

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