Diabetes Health Type 2: Creative Landscape Designer Goes Low-Carb

Claire Lynch

Kathleen Carson-Asher and her husband, Jeffrey, moved to Manhattan in 2018 and while preparing for knee surgery early in 2019 her doctor ran some blood tests and discovered an A1C of 11.

Kathleen, who is 60, thought that she didn’t have a family history of diabetes but after speaking with a few relatives she found out that her grandmother, who died decades earlier, had been a person living with diabetes of an unknown type.

Looking back, Kathleen realizes that she had some of the typical symptoms of Type 2 – she was thirsty and fatigued after eating heavy carbohydrates meals. “Jeffrey and I ate a low-fat Mediterranean diet,” Kathleen explains, “and we always thought it was fine to have 3 cups of rice or other starches with vegetables and meat. I also had a love of desserts. Now I realize that it’s important for me to keep each day’s total carbs to less than 50 grams. I didn’t know that high blood sugar makes you hungry.”

Her endocrinologist started her on 1,000 mg. of Metformin in the morning and 1,000 mg. in the evening. She also did weekly injections of Ozempic for several months but when her A1C dropped to 6 her physician said that she could stop taking the Ozempic and continue with the Metformin.

Kathleen lost 40 lbs. and attributes the appetite suppression of Metformin as a big aid in making good food and portion size choices. A higher fat intake helps, too.

“Today breakfast is some bacon, eggs and cheese,” Kathleen says. “For lunch I’ll have a salad with a protein like salmon, chicken or tuna fish. Dinner is broccoli or 2 cups of other low carb vegetable with a protein like steak. Snacks count, too, so I may have some peanut butter, but throughout each meal I’m aware of how many carbs I’m getting. Sticking to a low-carb high fat diet has worked for me.”

As a landscape designer and licensed contractor living in Manhattan without a car, Kathleen can’t avoid walking a half hour every day. “My pedometer shows that on most days I take 6,000 to 10,000 steps,” Kathleen notes.

She also does 15 minutes on the treadmill and spends 30 minutes doing exercises that her physical therapist showed her a few years ago. Her high-rise building has a pool and a gym so plenty of opportunities to exercise are available.

Kathleen has been wearing the FreeStyle Libre, a monitoring system that tracks her blood sugar levels continuously. “I can take a reading often with the app on my phone, so I can see what effect my meals are having at any time,” she notes.

“This diagnosis threw me for a loop and many doctors don’t take the time to explain things to patients. I’ve done a lot of research about Type 2 diabetes and talking with other persons living with diabetes about what helps and what to avoid is really useful. Having other people’s support is enormously helpful.”






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