As I get older, I get more calls from friends and family members telling me about their recent diabetes diagnosis. A little over a year ago, my first cousin Jeannie called to announce her inclusion in the growing type 2 club.
I tried to compress everything I could think of that Jeannie needed to know into a long phone call, but I wasn’t sure which direction she would take with her diabetes. When someone gets type 2, their course and destiny are determined by their willingness to make changes to their diet and exercise regimen.
We talked again recently, and here is what Jeannie has to say after one year of living with type 2
“I lost 60 pounds! I’m off the blood pressure meds, and I only take a minimal dose of Glucophage [metformin]. And because of my bad knee, I don’t exercise regularly, either.”
Jeannie told me that at first she was in denial; then she realized that she had to take control. She took control of her diabetes by losing the weight.
“You can shoot up insulin and eat big-carb meals, but I didn’t want to take insulin. I test several times a day. If my blood sugar level goes over 130, I get upset. I like my toes. I don’t want to lose them. I don’t want to go blind, and I don’t want to lose a limb.”
Jeannie adds that she went to the bookstore and bought every book she could find about diabetes
“The ADA book about diabetes was not right for me. It took me months to get through it. I read some other books by doctors. Then I found “Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution.” And that’s the book that turned it around for me. It made me realize that I have to understand my own body.”
Reading this book made the light go on for Jeannie
“You don’t need carbs to live,” says my cousin. “It was hard for me to accept that the medical profession had given me the wrong information. They told me I could eat potatoes. If I had stayed on the food pyramid diet with all those carbs, I would be dead in a few years! The carbs were killing me. I could see it with my meter. Because I don’t take insulin, I modify my diet to keep my blood glucose level close to 100. I have to wait for my BG to go down.”
Early on, she met with a dietitian who told her to eat oatmeal for breakfast because it was good for her.
“Oatmeal sent me up over 200. Now I have eggs for breakfast. Once a week I allow myself a piece of whole-grain bread (I bake it myself) with cheese on it. I struggled with my weight for years, but in this past year, I have lost 60 pounds. My grandkids have never seen me thin before.”
In addition to eating eggs for breakfast, Jeannie says she eats a handful of blister peanuts four times a day between meals. Before, she was told she couldn’t eat beef because of her weight. Now she just orders her hamburgers without the bun.
“At Wendy’s, I get a cup of chili beans poured over the bun-less burger—I love it. Beans raise my blood glucose levels a little bit, but they’re something I’m not willing to give up. I go up to 130 instead of 120 after the meal with beans, but it comes back down. I have bacon once a week with breakfast.”
Jeannie’s highest BG in the past year was 147
“I make a delicious Creamy Lemon Cup with sugar-free lemon Jell-O, ricotta and cream cheese. I make a crust with almond meal and melted butter, and I sprinkle some of the Jell-O powder in the crust mixture to sweeten it. I make it in individual cups, so I can take one to work with me. I love this low-carb treat.”
(See the recipe for Creamy Lemon Cups from our May 2006 issue]
“I also buy the pre-made cups of sugar-free Jell-O to keep in the fridge for when I need a quick snack. Lunch is made up of protein and vegetables, same for dinner.”
Jeannie’s numbers prove that this system works
Cholesterol: Was 240, now 180
Triglycerides: Was 320, now 120
A1C: Was 9%, now 5.2%
Blood pressure: Was 125/80, now 110/70 (without BP meds)
Jeannie adds, “This approach really clicked for me. Every person needs to find what works for them.”
Type 1, 32 years (and counting)
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