Reflections on Low Carb Living Since 2007

The day I was diagnosed with T2 at age 57, I leapt to my feet in my doc's office with a resounding "NO" and scared the beejesus out of my poor PCP. She actually backed up a few steps as if she was being assaulted, which in terms of my tone, she was, poor thing.

Eight months before, during a pre-hysterectomy check-up, I was told I was "pre-diabetic" (I no longer believe there IS such a thing—one is diabetic or not) and instructed to do the damn DASH diet. Which I did with a religious fervor. As I trust we all know by now, the DASH diet is waay too high in carbs for any diabetic. I was "pleasantly plump" in middle age because fibromyalgia had ended my dance career a decade before, but by no means obese ( I hate the stereotypes as they are way too simplified.) However, my Dad was diabetic, diagnosed late and inadequately treated in the 60s. It was just not talked about in those days.

On that day of diagnosis, I was sent away from my Kaiser doc with trite little brochures full of happy, happy diabetic people and recommendations for dietary guidelines in the range of 50-60 carbs per meal. All I felt was a suicidal rage.

For weeks, as I tried to get control according to those guidelines, one of many searches I made was "most effective methods of suicide." But because I had been a dancer and choreographer for most of my life, I also searched "Diabetic Artists" because I felt like my creative heart had shriveled, and up popped an artists group at TuDiabetes.com. This changed my life.

TuD was immediately supportive and interested across all misconceived boundaries---T1s helped me to be calm for my very first experience of testing in public (jury duty), for instance. And after participating here for a little awhile, I came across mention of Dr. Richard Bernstein's work. It made sense to me.

Now. I am very fortunate to have a husband who is willing to walk the walk with me. He was nearing retirement and finding joy in chef-like activities. He delighted in learning to cook tasty lo-carb meals. As we explored lowering our carb intake he was totally "there". I'm also fortunate that my beloved sister and other family members, while bemused, were game when I visited them from afar. This is not necessarily the usual case and the DOC has a lot of folks who need support in bringing their families along on the Journey to Control, whatever form it takes.

We called him "Crazy Bernie" for awhile. And then, the results of strict adherence began to manifest. I began having normal BS readings. My non-diabetic husband lost 30 pounds and got off his BP meds. I stopped feeling suicidal as my A1c gradually dropped from 6.5 to 4.9. It's at 5.3 most recently, largely due to the stress of a couple painful falls and knee replacement.

Seven years later, I still eat 25-35 carbs/day and never feel deprived. But when I tell folks that I eat very low carb, the initial response is often oh ick, I could never do that, as if I lived on nuts and berries and chia seeds. We have found so many great substitutes as well as re-vamping old recipes.

For instance, that first Thanksgiving was difficult indeed. But by the next year, I had created a fantabulous stuffing using Wasa flatbreads, butter, chicken broth and my normal stuffing ingredients like garlic, mushrooms, celery, seasonings, etc. Add mashed cauliflower with butter, garlic and cheese, and homemade cranberry sauce made with stevia or Splenda or another sugar substitute and Voila! Thanksgiving dinner is restored. Since then, we have also finally figured out a lo-carb white sauce, so that the old Minnesota (home until 1976) favorite, a bottomless bowl of creamed onions and peas is possible. Garrison Keillor would be proud.

On the sweet tooth front, using nut flours, coconut products, stevia or other non-sugar sweetener, dark chocolate, lo-carb things like sour cream and cream cheese, one can satisfy the most insidious of sweet tooths. From cookies to cakes to truffles, there is no reason to feel deprived when one eats very low carb.

And there are other "tricks": While I never formally followed any Atkins approach ( I just count net carbs—Period—every other approach seems unnecessarily complex to me—who needs it!), I always have a few of their frozen entrees on hand for when I am too tired to cook. They are easy and doable and if they are not ALL you are doing, they don't get tiresome.

Another, seldom mentioned, benefit of eating lo-carb: During the last eighteen months or so, due to a sort of accelerated aging in my poor old dancer's joints (first knee surgery in 1966, I was 16 but came back to a full-on career through that and 2 more for 40 years) the nature of my several exercise periods is evolving---it is always 75 to 90 minutes/day, but the walks are slower and need a cane, the gardening requires assistance and parts of the workouts need to be done in a chair. In spite of this, thanks to eating very few carbs, I have maintained that 5.3 A1c, even after gaining weight.

One more thing: You CAN bring your loved ones with you. My husband and I enjoy individual pizzas made with 4 carb pitas from Joseph's Bakery for the crust, made with flax. Even those popular Mission folks make a 6-carb tortilla now which is great for everything from a lo-carb Mexican inspired meal or a pizza or just wrapping up an indulgent organic sausage of some kind…..The almond flour pancakes I make are loved by all my relatives (none of them diabetic, including siblings---I got the shallow end of the gene pool, for sure!). And one of my best contributions to a pot-luck is a rich cheese cake involving both cream cheese and sour cream but with a 0 carb crust of finely ground pecans and butter, instead of graham crackers (blessings on our dear members Gerri and Libby for helping me figure a lot of this out!). For my 60th birthday, my sister made me a rich and deeply satisfying lasagna with chard leaves between layers instead of pasta. Truly didn't miss the pasta. And when my sweetie does a stir-fry now, he sautés lightly some cabbage for me instead of rice. Delish!

Enough for now. A lot of the so-called lo-carb cookbooks I have looked at consider a 30-carb meal low, for instance, which I do not. But they are definitely on the right track: with a few adjustments, one can reduce the carbs without sacrificing satisfying flavors. The main thing is that once you make the transition and feel the results, you really don't even consider going back.

Oops. One more thing. I have no idea who might read this. BUT---when I was first diagnosed at age 57 in 2007, I was still able to get up to 200 strips/month. I tested 6-7 times/day to figure out what I could and could not eat. All of a sudden in early 2010, I was cut to 50 strips/month. I felt like I was being punished for having good control. I bought extra at Walgreen's as long as I could afford it. Eventually my new PCP upped me to 100/month. But my heart ACHES for newbies who at diagnosis are told to test so infrequently---some once/month--- that complications and a life of misery are inevitable and EXPENSIVE. It just seems so illogical and self-defeating for patients and healthcare providers.

BTW---I did challenge that ruling all the way to the top of the KaiserNW food chain---pharmacy and administrative---and in the end was told I was just a stupid diabetic who needed to be educated about how often testing was needed. I also composed a mini-flyer on the subject and placed stacks of it all around my nearest Kaiser facility. Just call me the Diabetic Don Quixote. It was a horrific ordeal and I trust no one at Kaiser to give me advice on managing my personal diabetes ever again—including nurses in the hospital during my knee replacement whose training knew nothing about a T2 NOT on meds yet. They pumped insulin into me when all I needed was a piece of string cheese (fibromyalgia mimics a hypo---MIMICS)…..

Sorry. This is turning into a rant, which I did not intend. The misconceptions about The D are huge and I am very passionate about it. Forgive me for rambling and ranting!.

Blessings on us all.....Judith in Portland

PS: I have many friends here who do really well on more carbs. I apologize if this sounds too much like proselytizing. It is a story of personal experience that I hope might help others of us who struggle to find a method to control the Diabolical Whimsy of our common Scourge.....xx000


PPS: I should also say that 7 years in, I have the confidence to "play around" with Dr. B's guidelines. For instance breakfast is high calorie, but almost 0 carb. Lunch is usually my biggest meal. Dinner, partly due to the fibromyalgia is very high protein and very few carbs. Etc.....

Views: 204

Comment by shoshana27 on April 7, 2014 at 1:46am

GREAT BLOG, JUDITH.
HUGS.
I DO NOT FOLLOW LOW CARB, BUT, AFTER 77+ YEARS WITH T1, I THINK I'M OK.
KEEP SMILING.

Comment by David (dns) on April 7, 2014 at 12:01pm

Terrific account of your personal journey, and full of great ideas. I'm gonna seek out some of those low carb tortillas, though they may be difficult to find down here in the mid valley. (Also, like you, I consider the term "pre diabetic to be nonsensical. And that's being very, very kind.)

Comment by Pastelpainter on April 7, 2014 at 4:55pm

Your story is so similar to mine, Judith. I was told I was pre-diabetic and to eat Low GI, which I also did religiously. Naturally a dx of T2 followed. I too searched the internet for information. Could not understand why my CDE was so annoyed with my bgs as I was following the high carb diet the dietitian put me on. I gave him up, changed doctors and discovered TuD and low carb.
Most T2's I know are told to test once or twice a week and to eat Low GI, they are also mostly on insulin and having problems with their eyes, etc.
Take care Judith.

Comment by rick the "Blogabetic" on April 7, 2014 at 5:30pm

Judith,

I know a few dancers, including one ballerina and I saw her jump once. She is now an architect. Anyway this one point I saw her jump and it scared me just to watch. If someone told her bad news and she jumped, I would guess she could easily kick the ceiling and this after having 2 wonderful children. Now I realize my friend was a little younger when I saw her jump but I suspect if you jumped in your doctors office, you likely scared the heck out of him or her.

I know when I saw her jump I immediately contemplated if she still had eligibility with the NCAA with the idea she might make the track and field team. Thus I contemplated, could she help my beloved Indiana Hoosiers beat Purdue. Or as they are known at my house Pur-Who. :)

Comment by BadMoonT2 on April 7, 2014 at 7:21pm

Love hearing your story Judith.

I agree it's not a bad way of eating. The only thing I really missed my first low carb Thanksgiving was the dressing. Gerri also showed the way for me with a recipe substituting almond bread for cornbread. From there, as you say, you just make your regular recipe.

Comment by Basil on April 8, 2014 at 8:08am

Comment by Basil on April 8, 2014 at 9:10am

I cried as I read your summary. I too screamed no when they told me I was Type 1 diabetic. I had been ill with a tick bite, then the flu, then a severe sinus infection and was just not getting better. Stopped at my doc to say, "You know, something just isn't right". Within an hour I was in the emergency room telling people they were crazy. They couldn't get a vein to work, told me I was going to intensive care, I told them I knew my rights and they should give me my pants so I could go home. Bless his heart, the medic said, "Honey, if you can find your pants, you can go home". I didn't know I was wearing my pants. They called my husband, I saw him come into the room, then I was out. I came back to in intensive care 24 hours later. DKA and a blood sugar of 853.
I was a lost puppy. Still a lost pupply afraid to eat, afraid to go out, not really knowing where to turn. Someone said it is T2, then no, it is T1. 6 days later, my blood work was semi normal and they send the shocked diabetic home. They all said eat carbs so you can take your insulin. But everything I read (especially Bernstien) said the opposite was true. You take your insulin so can eat. And how much insulin you take, is determined by how much you eat. And let's not forget, insulin turns extra carbs to fat. So why were they telling me to eat 60 carbs a meal and increase insulin to 18 units?
I understand your search for the most effective suicidal methods. Truely I do.
I have managed to lower my carbs and keep my sugar between 85 and 110. Except for those "What the heck happened" moments. I test constantly, even though insurance only pays for 2 strips a day. That is so ...stupid.
Believe it or not, I am encouraged by cheesecake and stuffing and almond pancakes. Where do I find these recipes. Because all the diabetic cookbooks I bought are...also stupid. I apologize for being so blunt.
At any rate, sometimes we are guided to where we are supposed to be. Trust me when I say I was guided to this site (it was an accident) and your posting (also an accident).
Thank you for the post. Seriously, thank you.
Now where do I find those recipes? Thanskgiving is not that far off.
Basil

Comment by BadMoonT2 on April 8, 2014 at 11:17am

Basil, here's the one I use. I use the almond bread and then make my usual sausage stuffing.

Comment by Basil on April 8, 2014 at 5:51pm

Thanks! Do you have to make your own almond bread?

Comment by Judith in Portland on April 8, 2014 at 8:28pm

Basil. If I can make the link work, here's the cheesecake recipe. I have found helpful tips right here at TuD at the groups REcipe Exchange and Low-carb Recipes. Am looking for stuffing and walnut cake recipes, etc and will post here or on your page as I find them!....Have fun and blessings...

http://www.tudiabetes.org/group/recipeexchange/forum/topics/ya-sure...

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