a reformed diabetic talks about food, fitness training and life after diabetes
The Meat and Potatoes (or not)
The question I get asked the most lately is “What are you doing that’s making such a difference?” (Last night I had someone I know quite well walk by me without saying hello, which was a little odd. She did a doubletake and then told me that she hadn’t even recognized me.)
The short answer: I don’t eat anything that comes in a box or is found in the middle of the grocery store.
Think about it for a second—all the stuff that’s good for you is on the outside walls of the store—dairy, vegetables, fruit, meat, fish. The middle of the store is all the stuff that’s been processed, is full of additives and high fructose corn syrup, or has had any nutritional value it might have contained processed out of it. It’s just twisted that during processing, natural food can lose most of its nutritional value, so at the end of the processing they have to add back in nutrients. Eating through chemistry.
When I decided it was time to do something about my atrocious eating habits, I turned to my trainer. She’d already been where I was at the time. She lost nearly 100 pounds six or seven years ago and has successfully maintained the loss. She taught me how to eat a more whole food, carb-controlled diet. I stopped eating anything processed. I moved to eating grass-fed beef, pasture-fed chicken eggs (what I call happy cows and happy chickens—eating what they’re supposed to eat, outside in the sun). I stopped eating most grains. Cut out bread, pasta, potatoes, etc. I still eat a little bit of brown rice and whole-grain oatmeal. I eat an average of 85 grams of carbs a day. I get the majority of it from vegetables and some fruit.
I eat meat. I eat eggs. I eat butter and cream. All that stuff that’s “bad” for you. I almost never feel hungry. For the most part, I don’t crave sugar or chocolate or junk food. (Although, last night I made dinner for a friend which included this signature chocolate thing I make for dessert. I almost fainted from the smell when I cut open the package of chocolate chips.) Last month I ate a piece of wedding cake at a friend’s wedding. It was the first sugar I’d eaten in six months—I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would. I just don’t seem to have that raging sweet tooth I’ve had most of my adult life.
And, yes, quitting all the carbs cold turkey was hard.* Especially the first 3 or 4 days. I basically sat in my living room at night having a battle with myself and trying to ignore the cravings and the late-night grazing habits. But once I started getting some good food in my body, the cravings went away and I started seeing results pretty fast. I dropped 40 pounds in the first four months. I’ve dropped 74 pounds to date from my heaviest weight. Just by cutting out anything that came in a box or had sugar or grains in it and working out 5 or 6 days a week.
My A1c dropped from 7.2% to 6.2% and three months later to 5.6%. My cholesterol dropped from 318 to 236. I have so much energy I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes. And the depression I’ve suffered from since I was a kid—gone. Completely.
*This does come with a word of warning, though. This is something you have to do cold turkey. It’s really not something you can ease into. And it can really mess up a relationship if you don’t warn your partner about what you’re planning on doing before you do it, as well as leaving your friends scratching their heads when you retreat for a few weeks to battle your food demons. (Ask me how I know.)