As you may know, I am a member of several diabetes support groups on Facebook, where I “hear” a lot of both success stories and tragedy stories from a wide spectrum of people. Most of these groups focus on only one approach to diabetes management. (Some of these groups are listed in a previous article.) Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics is one of the few groups that welcomes members no matter what your dietary or lifestyle approach to managing your Type 1, Type 2, or other type of diabetes. The purpose of the group is to provide information and support for your success, regardless of your definition of success. Furthermore, it is a Public Group, not a Closed Group. I changed it to Public early on because my original idea of hoping for an active discussion group did not materialize. It seems the majority of the members wanted a resource for diabetes-friendly recipes and other diabetes information rather than a venue to ask questions and discuss issues they might be having with managing their diabetes. But I digress.
This morning in one of the other groups, a member posted this story about a dear friend (she gave me permission to share this anonymously):
“I recently lost a very close friend due to diabetes complications. He was only 31 years old. He ate to the ADA standards, kept a good journal, was on metformin and insulin. Because he was told to eat fruit and whole grains, he ended up building up an [insulin] resistance that killed him. I was around him all the time; and, by most people’s standards, he ate very healthfully. This man was only 31! And lost his life trying to save it. He had no other health problems. He also kept his very well-managed eating grains and fruit ‘in moderation’ for about 5 years or so. But it caused him to build up insulin resistance. Because of the resistance, they couldn’t get his sugar down and he wound up in a coma and died from that. I’m not using this story to tell you what diet to eat, only to let you know that the [insulin] resistance part is real and will catch up with everyone. He was very healthy otherwise. Football coach and some years he did basketball. He left behind a wife, 3-year-old little girl, and a 3-month-old little boy.
“Please, everyone, when someone gives you advice, please, at least, consider it. Don’t get mad and refuse to listen and stay in denial. My friend didn’t have to die; but, because of being given the wrong information, he did.”
Believe it or not. she was verbally attacked and cyber bullied for telling that story. She was accused of “scaremongering” and called a “keto pusher.” I’m surprised that I haven’t been called this (to my face) in the Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics group! Undoubtedly, some members have left the group because it doesn’t push any one “Adventist dietary lifestyle” to the exclusion of all other approaches. If you’re in the group or have seen it on Facebook, you very quickly get the idea that I, personally, do favor a low-carb high-fat lifestyle. That’s because it’s what works best for me. However, I don’t criticize or belittle other approaches (or recipes), especially when other members report that their approach works for them. And, although I am critical of the ADA recommendations, I do not condemn other members who follow them, because at least they are doing something.
The one thing that baffles me, though, is that I have found it nearly impossible to get high-carb low-fat vegans (like “Weimar NEWSTART” and “Forks Over Knives”) to ‘fess up to any actual numbers (other than the number of pounds lost). When I’ve asked about their A1C or fasting blood sugar, they act like I’m asking for confidential financial information! They use terms like “normal,” “perfect numbers,” etc. without ever being specific. What I have concluded is that they have no idea what their numbers are! Sometimes they say they can’t afford test strips to test “that often.” One said that he never tests anymore since his A1Cs are “always good” (without being specific about what that means). One kept saying that this diet makes her “feel great.” So perhaps that “feeling great” is what constitutes success for her.
Last night, another member reported the following about herself:
“My diabetes is diet-controlled. November of 2014 I was diagnosed with an A1C of 11.0. After 3 months my A1C was 5.6. After 6 months it was down to 4.7, which is non-diabetic levels. I believe that Type 2 diabetes can be controlled by many diabetics if they would simply remove certain things from their diets that put excess stress on [an] already damaged pancreas. I have been holding my A1C at 4.7 for over 9 months. I have been med-free for almost a year. I really am not a believer in ‘moderation.’ My dad followed the ADA guidelines for 3 years and ate ‘in moderation.’ He lost weight, had his meds increased every 6 months due to uncontrolled blood glucose levels, was eventually put on insulin after a year and a half, had a massive heart attack brought on by his diabetes, recovered, but had more insulin added because of his high numbers, and then had another heart attack from which he didn’t recover less than 3 years [after] being diagnosed with Type 2. He had just turned 63.
“My doctor told me that ‘moderation’ doesn’t work for drug addicts, alcoholics, or diabetics. He says that a drug addict can’t take ‘just a little’ drugs without doing damage to themselves, an alcoholic can’t just have a nip without being swept back into drinking, and a diabetic can’t eat ‘in moderation’ foods that will continue to damage [their] body. My diabetes is genetic. I was going on to end up with it eventually. I am going to continue to eat foods that I know will not put undue stress on my pancreas, and try to keep my numbers in check. I test pre-meal, then at 1 hr to see if I spike over 20 points. Any spike over 20 points is considered a significant spike and I test again at 2 hrs to see if my numbers are back to where I started. So far, avoiding all grains like wheat, rice, oats, and corn; avoiding quinoa, peas, pasta, and potatoes; and avoiding fruit other than berries have helped me achieve my good numbers. Most Type 2s have a degree of gluten intolerance. I was diagnosed as a celiac at the age of 27, diagnosed with degenerative disc disease at 41, diagnosed with lupus at 46, and Type 2 at 51. So far all my other illnesses have improved with changing my eating habits. I understand that it depends on how much damage has already occurred; but, with that being said, I know many Type 2s who have completely come off meds or reduced their meds by simply changing their diet.
“I forgot to say that I have gastroparesis as well as degenerative disc disease, celiac disease, lupus, lupus nephritis, for which I am on steroid shots, along with diabetes. That’s why I have to keep my numbers in check. All my other conditions have improved by controlling my blood glucose levels.”
What will be your story?