Real Question, Real Answer – The Search For A Better Life
In the previous article I referred to the epidemiology of type 1 diabetes, especially on the question with an unfortunate answer: “How successful we are in the regulation of diabetes?”. In this article, I’ll shift the focus to my own knowledge and expose what ultimately led me to satisfactory disease regulation (HbA1c 4,9 -5,3%, without hypoglycemia).
To start with,I will try to point out how my life looked like two years ago. I will try to remember all the details and my thoughts and I hope that I’ll be able to offer a real picture of what was going on.
On my bad days, I’d wake up heavy and sticky, with an unpleasant feeling in my head.
Maybe it was a bad hypo in the middle of the night, which in a panic I’d over correct and welcomed morning in heights. Maybe I was high all night, for an unknown reason.
On my good days, I’d wake up full of hope and strength and I’d say firmly and loudly:
Today’s gonna be a great day, I’ll do everything as planned.
The day would start, like most people, with breakfast and work. Already at this step my hopes for a fantastic day would be crushed, because after eating breakfast (seasonal fruit) I’d end up in hypo (< 3 mmol/L) or hypoglycemia (>10 mmol/L).
I tried to standardize how much insulin I needed for a certain amount of fruit but I’d fail constantly. One day would be fine, but the next would be bad.
I could see the pattern of these trends was so unfathomable. Even before lunch, I’d be out of balance and with unstable blood sugar.
I almost always had lunch from a combination of whole grains, legumes and vegetables, either in the form of stews or maybe salads. This combination, I’d inadequately cover with insulin. Some days I’d be low all day, other days I’d be high all the time.
For most days, I’d range between 2 to 12 mmol/L.
Dinner would be similar to lunch, more abundant, and with a combination of cereals, legumes and vegetables I’d add protein.
On special occasions, I’d eat pizza or ice cream, something I considered an unhealthy option. Since my sugars weren’t satisfactory anyway, I wouldn’t see much difference when I’d eat completely “healthy” or when I’d eat junk. I don’t like junk food for a number of reasons so I didn’t eat it often.
On my good days, I’d fall asleep without thinking about sugar, I’d be able to ignore it and forget about my fears. On my bad days, I’d fall asleep with stomach cramps.
All the thoughts I’d silence during the day and push under the carpet to suffocate in darkness, would creep back up and I’d begin to feel so helpless and scared again.
I have had diabetes for twenty years and it’s only a matter of time before it complicates and things get even worse.
Back To The Present:
In my search for a method and diet that would lead me to satisfactory sugar regulation, I used a variety of tools.
My findings are a happy mixture of experimenting on myself, anecdotal experiences of other diabetics and research of scientific literature.
In doing so, I learned something of exceptional importance: half of the job is to ask the real question.
Otherwise, It can happen that you get a “million” correct answers that don’t really have a purpose because you didn’t ask the right question that guides you on the right path.
In the beginning, because of my profession, I acted like a well educated scientist.
I did literary research, convinced I will find everything I need and the information will be objective, verified and applicable.
I’ve been attached to this scientific ideal for a long time, and it took me years of failure to get away from it.
When I took a step back and opened my eyes to the world beyond scientific articles and research, I found the real question:
Is there a person who has achieved goals I want to achieve and how did they succeed?
Is there a diabetic who has lived with diabetes for a long time, has non diabetic blood sugar levels and has no acute or chronic complications of diabetes, and if so, how did they achieve it?
The stories I was able to find are about doctors with type 1 diabetes (Richard Bernstein, Troy Stapleton, Ian Lake, Keith Runyan, Carrie Burns Diulius…). I assume it is easier for them to experiment on themselves because they possess more knowledge about metabolism and they are less afraid of possible consequences since they believe they will be able to fix them easily. The anecdotes were different, but in the end each had the same point: reduce carbohydrate intake, reduce insulin intake, and you will reduce blood glucose variability.
Following their path, and adjusting it to my own desires, today my life looks like this:
I don’t remember a bad day. Sometimes, of course, I do stupid things like; I eat late at night, don’t check my blood sugar levels, and then I wake up with my blood sugar above 5.6. Not often, but it happens. On good days, I don’t say anything to myself: I don’t convince myself that the day is going to be fantastic, I don’t try to motivate myself every morning because I already know the day will be amazing. I don’t need extra strength for that. My days aren’t wars and there are no tears or blood. Just a normal life.
The day goes as it goes for most, breakfast and work. On Weekday mornings, I eat mostly the same breakfast: yogurt with seeds and nuts. Weekends I have more time so I prepare an omelette, coconut flour pancakes with chocolate spread, almond flour bread, chia seeds chocolate pudding…
Sometimes my blood glucose is 3,8 mmol/L after a meal so I eat dry apricots. Sometimes it’s 6,5 mmol/L so I add half a unit of insulin. Often I don’t need to correct it at all.
In each case, I’m always stable by lunch.I bring my own lunch and combine leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. It’s often eclectic and incompatible, but still fine.
Today I’m eating kale and beetroot leaves, (I have a garden so nothing is thrown away), two eggs and goat cheese with olive oil. I eat a plate full of various vegetables (everything except potato and sweet potato) and I add egg, cheese, tofu or tempeh until full. Scenario with my blood glucose is repeating, if it’s a slight hypo, I eat one candy or apricot. If it’s mild hyper, I add 0.5 – 1 unit. Neither is a problem for me and after the correction I’m absolutely sure that I’ll stay stable. Dinner is more plentiful, but the same principle is followed.
Plenty of vegetables with soup as the main dish, a side dish and salad. In addition, protein, (fish, meat, eggs), in the amount I need to be satisfied. I don’t limit the amount of food I eat. I love to cook, combine and invent recipes. Yesterday I ate artichokes stuffed with “bread crumbs” (almond flour), parmesan and garlic, salad and grilled fish.
I continue to maneuver smoothly in the non diabetic sugar range and calmly slip into sleep.
The real answer that turned my illness from a chronic nightmare to omnipresent, but benevolent neighbour:
Decide to eliminate foods that make you feel bad from your diet.They just complicate your life and don’t help in regulating diabetes.
Don’t compromise with foods that give you peaceful nights, wonderful days, and help regulate diabetes.
Translated into real life language, it looks like this.
This Is The Foods I Never Eat:
- All cereals and pseudocereals, their products and anything that contains cereals
- Specified vegetables with high starch content (potato and sweet potato)
- Sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, rice sugar, coconut sugar or any other sweetener that raises my blood glucose.
This Is The Foods I Eat Under Very Strict Conditions:
- Small amount of fruit for rare and mild hypoglycemia (eg. ¼ apple or 1 dry apricot),
- A small piece of legumes (up to 25 gr) included in a full meal, not every day,
- Little amount of milk in coffee (if I need a larger amount of milk in a recipe, then I use unsweetened plant milk like almond milk)
These Are The Foods That Mean Life And That I Combine In Countless Delicious And Tempting Ways:
- Nuts and their products (butter, milk and flour)
- Fermented milk products
- Fish, eggs, meat, cheese, tofu, tempeh
- Olive oil, pumpkin oil, coconut oil, butter
- Berry fruit
- Sweeteners (erythritol and stevia)
In everyday life, I don’t weigh food, I don’t count macronutrients and I don’t count carbohydrates. But, my diet is very low in carbohydrates.
I don’t name my diet nor do I consider it a “diet”, I think it’s the key for a fantastic life.
Just as a person allergic to peanuts doesn’t eat peanuts, so I don’t eat foods that cause me harm.
This is my recipe. Try it at your own risk and enjoy.