I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written a column and I do apologize. I think I needed that time away, but today I’m back and I’ve got a wonderful development to share.
But first, let me back up. I try to have a positive message and the words that I’ve shared in past columns are true at the surface level (and let’s be honest those are the words that get me through the day to day crap), but deep down I was in a bad place. I was so sick of diabetes! Sick of trying to manage it, sick of the blood sugar roller coaster, sick of beginning to develop complications, sick of never feeling my best, and very sick of having no control over my moods. Plus, there’s only so much attention one person can devote to something. Justin does an incredible job caring for Jackson, but still I had not only mine but Jackson’s diabetes pulling for my attention and in order to manage his without completely losing my mind, I had to make mine as simple as possible.
Thanks to the many Facebook groups I belong to, I kept seeing people getting tremendous results with low carb diets so I reluctantly looked into it. I quickly found Dr. Bernstein, a type 1 diabetic for 69 years. In 1969, suffering from diabetic complications, he began looking for a way to normalize his blood sugars. After lots of trial and error, he began a low carb high fat (LCHF) diet and saw drastic results including reversing complications. He has written six books on diabetes including “Diabetes Solution: A Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars.” I began reading this book and decided I would give it a go. Best thing I could’ve done.
Don’t get me wrong, reading this book is completely overwhelming, but I learned so much that makes me look at things differently. Dr. Bernstein recommends not going above 6 carbs for breakfast and 12 carbs for lunch and dinner. He also recommends keeping the protein the same for each meal (i.e each breakfast has the same, each lunch has the same, etc.)
Like everything, finding the way to make it work for you is a must. Dr. Bernstein doesn’t factor in insulin pumps, or continuous glucose monitors in his management plan. In fact he even uses the old insulin I used before getting on a pump. Because of these factors and because it has to be something I can live with, I’m not following his directions to a T. Tracking the protein was driving me crazy and making this seem like something I couldn’t accomplish so I stopped. I just make sure that each meal has protein and this has made a big difference. I’m also giving myself a little flexibility and allowing up to 15 carbs for dinner instead of 12. I guess you could say it’s a far cry from the Bernstein diet, but his book did start me on the path so I wanted to mention it.
I was afraid that I would be eating nothing but eggs and meat, but I have found so many great LCHF recipes (Thank you Pintrest). Not only are they delicious, but they’ve rejuvenated my interest in meal planning and cooking. Justin is doing the full blown LCHF diet with me and he’s feeling so much better as well. We took a break after our recent vacation and he couldn’t wait to start back cause he just felt crappy. Dinner is low carb every night so while they’re not doing the full low carb diet, the kids are eating low carb dinners (Well Bella usually doesn’t eat it, but she never eats dinner anyways). I’ve noticed an improvement in Jackson’s blood sugars from just changing his dinners. So, so thankful for that. Can’t wait to see if his A1C (a blood test that shows your 3 month average blood glucose) is better when he sees the endocrinologist later this month.
As for me, I just downloaded my Dexcom CGM for the first time since starting LCHF. My estimated A1C was the best it has ever been — 5.5. And, what I believe is more important, my standard deviation (the amount of variation between my blood sugars) was only 31. This not swinging from high to low and back again has made me feel like a new woman! I believe I’ve found the key to help me bridge the gap to the artificial pancreas (expected to be released in 2018).
Jennifer Runyon is a freelance writer who shares her life stories living with type 1 diabetes for 28 years and whose young son also has been diagnosed with the disease. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.