As a Type 1 diabetic who was diagnosed in my mid-to-late 30’s I’ve spent the better part of 2 years, since my diagnosis, now trying to learn, adapt and find ways to live with this disease. I’ve made huge strides with my health but I’ve realized that my body is my greatest experiment. Living with diabetes means that no two individuals are the same. Therefore when I collaborate with my endocrinologist we are working with his medical knowledge and then with what I know of how my body is reacting to our plan on a day to day basis. As someone who was pretty abusive in my 20’s to my body I find deep irony in the fact that now a decade later most decisions I make is about I can nurture my body. I’ve spent the whole beginning of this year focused on dropping some excess weight, gaining strength and cardio endurance. A large part of that plan is nutrition. I’ve cut sugar and reduced carbs with the exception of good homemade craft beer — a guilty pleasure I will take to the grave.
After trying to count carbs, reduce my refined sugar intake — I’ve learned some things along the way. For example if I’m eating a piece of fruit or something sweet then I should also ingest some good fat (i.e. nuts or an avocado) at the same time. The combination of good fat binding to the sugars makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize so your body will process those sugars over time vs all at once keeping your glucose levels as even as possible . I chose to take on the Whole 30 Challenge because the lack of high carbs are the primary focus in the Paleo diet which as a diabetic are what I also need to watch. I’m interested of course to not only see how my glucose levels are throughout this 30 day challenge and yes I will be monitoring closely how the Paleo food selections affect me, but I am keen on how this challenge will change my physique. I will continue to lift weights, train in Crossfit and run with my wife to keep up my physical activity.
Paleo can easily be defined as:
I eat real food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit. I choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition. And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat, seafood and eggs come from, and buy organic local produce as often as possible.
This is not a “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight. I aim for well-balanced nutrition, so I eat both animals and a significant amount of plants. I’m not lacking carbohydrates – I just get them from vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal or pasta. And my meals are probably higher in fat than you’d imagine, but fat is a healthy source of energy when it comes from high-quality foods like avocado, coconut and grass-fed beef.
Eating like this is ideal for maintaining a healthy metabolism and reducing inflammation within the body. It’s good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mental attitude and quality of life. It helps eliminate sugar cravings and reestablishes a healthy relationship with food. It also works to minimize your risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and autoimmune.”
Further distilled down to an easy mantra: “Meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.”
My Paleo Whole9 30 day challenge started on 6/18/13.
I find myself at excited to be starting this process, am hopeful that I’ll have the strength to make it through 30 days and that the results will encourage me to continue on living the Paleo life. Another way to even dumb down the food choices is that if you have to read a label to identify what you are eating, then you probably shouldn’t be eating it — it’s not food. Shop the permitter of the grocery store or even better at your farmer’s market.
Week 1 complete
I’ve completed my first week on this 30 day challenge and have found myself already with 2 cheats. It’s confession time. The interesting thing is that both cheats happened over the weekend, when I think I would have had more time to do prep food to eat right vs during the work week when I get home, chase and play with my toddler son and put him down. Finding time for dinner, etc. seems more difficult to me than on the weekends, but the cheats happened then which surprises me. This past Saturday we had a little backyard pool party with some neighborhood kids which ultimately resulted in a make your own pizza night. My wife and I had planned to make coconut thai shrimp for ourselves, which she did do. The fascinating aspect to this is that it was my own whole wheat dough recipe we used, which contains no yeast. So I had 3 slices of small super thin crust pizza while we were slinging them for the kids and fellow adults. For the next 24 hours or so, I felt bloated and gaseous. This could also be from the dairy/cheese that was on the toppings and not necessarily the dough, but either way it left me feeling pretty bad. The good news is that one cheat like this that yields these results definitely means I will think twice before another pizza cheat in my future. The other cheat was two glasses of a Cabinert Saviongion with a tri-tip dinner we had on Sunday night. No guilt on this one here, it was delicious and just went well for the meal. The things I find about these cheats is that I don’t beat myself up for them. They happened, acknowledge it and move on. No need to dwell in the past about them. Additionally, over this past week I have upped my physical activity and have ran more, walked farther and lifted more during the week. I’m still hovering around the same weight as when I started this with the typical daily swing of a pound or two here one day and gone the next, so we’ll see what happens at the end of this challenge.
Week 2 complete
After two weeks of following the 30 day challenge my glucose levels have been kicking ass and staying really level. Eating Paleo makes sense for diabetes — cutting out carbs aka little starch and no sugars is exactly how I should be eating. I will admit that the lack of diary is way more difficult that I could’ve imagined. I’m craving cheese and have snuck a few hunks of Tillamook cheddar here and there. I’ve been hovering around a weight and of course it’s got me stuck at that last 5 lbs I want to drop. I just have been struggling trying to break through this plateau. I’ve increased my exercise activity in an effort to push through. According to my recent doctor appointment we discussed what would be an ideal weight and he specifically told me one’s body will eventually even out and you’ll know your ideal weight. Which makes sense to me. If we think about calorie in and calories out, if you are eating healthy and regularly participating in physical activity then you will plateau out and that is what is your ideal weight range. As for the midway point through this 30 day whole food challenge, I’m liking the results and how I feel. Will I continue eating this way, yes because of the huge benefit it has on my diabetes and for managing my glucose levels.
Week 3 complete
Recently, my wife and I celebrated eight years of marriage at a great restaurant where we live. In the car on our way we both decided that this special evening was ok for a full on cheat night. We indulged, but honestly I would also say that we didn’t take it over the top either. We had calamari as an appetizer, both our meals where fairly ‘healthy’. I had an 8oz lean steak with veggies and some garlic mashed potatoes where the worst offender on my plate. While my wife had a great Alaskan Halibut steak with veggies and her worst offender was the bed of rice. We each had a glass of champagne and then a glass of wine with our meal. We split a Mud Pie desert with a cup of coffee. I only mention this play-by-play for our anniversary dinner because this morning we both are paying for it. I feel extremely bloated, my glucose levels are elevated but surprisingly not super high. I can managed where I’m at. My stomach is churning a lot this morning and again I only share this not because I’m looking to gross anyone out, but what I’m finding is that by choosing to eat a Paleo lifestyle, when you cheat, if even just a little, you really can tell the difference in your body and how the foods you choose to eat impact your body. You really are what you eat. For some reason when I say this I feel a bit like Capt. Obvious, but using my own self as an experiment here has really taught me about how we really are what we eat.
7/12/13 Weak Day
I’ve learned today that it’s very difficult to succeed eating this way when you have poor planning. My packed lunch today was thrown together at 5:45am this morning as my eye’s were barely open and I hadn’t had a lick of caffeine yet. What I mean is that by eating Paelo i’ve somewhat carefully planned my meals each day and when I skimmed or didn’t include some protein in my lunch I find myself walking the halls at the office looking to graze on something. Which we all know around any office that the ‘something’ is usually not Paelo friendly and usually sugary or carb loaded crap food. As was the case today. Luckily for me I made a some what wise/ stupid decision and went with half of a whole wheat bagel with a garlic cream cheese, as it could’ve been worse right? I could have at the whole damn thing. I also snuck in 4 red vines earlier today. See I’m mentally weak when I don’t plan for a proper daily meal and my need for calories outweighs my good decision making skills. With each keystroke of this confession comes some sort of self flagellation.
As I sit here drinking my black coffee (the 30-day challenged ended at midnight) which is something I would have never done 30 days ago. I now know I can kick most dairy products but as I suspected there are just way to many cheeses in the world that I want to explore. That said, since I started eating whole real foods I feel so much better. I thought I was going to loose that last 5 lbs that I’ve been struggling to finally ditch, but alas no success. That doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would as when I took this challenge on it wasn’t as much about loosing weight as it was more about feeling better and keeping a keen eye on my glucose levels. The effect that eating Paleo has had on my diabetes is really amazing and because of that I am going to continue to eat this way. I may not be as strict at the Whole9 Challenge, as I like Quinoa as it seems to be borderline for me as it’s a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. Since seeds are totally ok on Paleo then I’m going to put quinoa back into my diet. I definitely can see how a clean whole paleo based lifestyle is critical to any training regimen you may be doing. I kept reminding myself of an old work adage I heard back in my early career ” Shit it, Shit out” and it’s so true for your food choices as well. If you eat bad processed food then you are going to feel bad. I also understand that eating whole organic and grass fed food can be expensive yet you can make it work without busting your bank. There are so many options available these days: Farmer’s markets, food barters, gardening, fishing and hunting are just some of the other ways to help change the mindset about eating this way. I’m no expert, nor do I pretend to be, I’m just one man living with a disease and making choices about how and what I eat so I can live a healthy life.