This morning I woke up pain-free, perky and full of energy for the first time in a very long time. So many of you have written to me about being on the edge of diabetes. Thank you for all your encouragement and suggestions. I’m taking it all to heart. Your caring gives me confidence to continue.
(Reminder…my Facebook Messenger is not running properly, so email, text, or phone. Or leave a comment here or on my FB page. You can send me a tweet if that’s your thing. I’ve gotten positive messages from all these platforms and I can’t tell you how much it helps.)
Since I got the latest sugar report from my doctor and it finally hit me that if my sugar numbers did not go down at next appointment in September, she might be recommending medication. I don’t want to take diabetes meds. Diabetes is one of those cascading diseases that start with pills, then pricking your finger three times a day, then injecting insulin into your body twice a day, then taking more meds for diabetic nerve pain, then blindness, amputation, kidney failure and more.
There is a way to stop this cascade before it goes over the cliff into medication. I’m lucky enough to have a doctor who asked me about my diet and made a recommendation that I try the Mediterranean diet. Of course I left her office and went right to the bookstore to buy a cookbook. It’s a good one as it explains the what and why of this way of eating. There’s an illustration of the Mediterranean food pyramid (the photo this week). You can see it’s way different than the one our government recommends.
It looked to me like “almost vegetarian” and I knew I could do that. I’d been a vegetarian for several years before being seduced by a sly filet mignon. After a brief binge with one of those “eat all the meat and cheese you want” diets, I was sick of all that meat. Meat is no longer my favorite food. I admit I love a juicy burger and who can resist bacon? But I don’t love those things more than my health. The Mediterranean suggests fish a couple of times a week, and though I never have and still don’t love fish, my husband does, so I figured he’d be happy with this diet.
The other thing my doctor thinks is going on with my body is lactose intolerance. She asked me to refrain from dairy for two months. I love cheese, but I love my health more, so I gave it up and finally remembered not to use butter. Butter is just automatic with me, in cooking and as a topping. Not that I eat a lot of toast or baked potatoes. I’m still terrified of carbs because I saw how fast the weight can come off if I avoid them as much as possible.
Or I should say I WAS terrified of carbs. Not so much anymore. Once I got good and used to the Mediterranean diet, I got the message from Sara. She’d read my blog post last week and wanted to recommend The Starch Solution, a book on why eating carbs is not only a good idea, it’s the healthiest way you can eat. I ordered it right away because I was curious. And because she said the magic words: I could eat potatoes again.
I called her over the weekend and she shared her story about how this diet changed her life. Sara’s pretty healthy to begin with (she’s been vegetarian since she was 14), but she’d had a couple of minor setbacks and wanted to reboot. She did some research and found The Starch Solution. We caught up with each other’s lives, then she started explaining about this high carb diet. It sounded a lot like the Mediterreanian diet without the top tiers of the pyramid. In other words, pretty doable.
Over the weekend I watched several YouTube videos, especially the “High Carb Hannah” channel. Then I watched a couple of docs. One was on YouTube “The Marshall Plan” (about a whole town in Texas, in cattle country! that went to a plant-based diet) and “Forks over Knives” on Netflix. This one is about how people can heal themselves of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes by switching to a plant-based high carb diet. Because fruits and vegetables have a lot of carbs. Whole grains have a lot of carbs. And as it turns out that is NOT a bad thing.
The key is to eat only whole foods, only plant-based. Finally I realized “oh, this is vegan.” I never thought I’d have the stamina to go vegan. It seemed so hard-core. But since my doctor took me off dairy, vegan isn’t such a stretch. Meat (for me, because I’ve done it before and because I am desperate) is easy to give up.
With a plant-based vegan diet you give up refined and processed foods, all meat, all dairy, even fish. None of that bothers me like a needle full of insulin does. So, Saturday night at dinner I ate less salmon than I’d planned and more potatoes. Then Sunday, with my limited knowledge (I still haven’t got the book! Hope it comes today!) I ate vegan. I went shopping for a vegan meals, checking labels for whole grains and no added dairy or sugar. So yesterday I ate vegan.
Last night, I slept so well. (I have been waking a lot at night with aches and pains in different places in my body for no reason I can figure out. I’ve even had to get up and take Motrin because my leg or my hip aches so much.) None of that happened last night. And, added bonus, today I woke up for the first time in a really long time feeling perky and happy. I’ve been waking up lethargic and apathetic for longer than I can remember due to migraine meds I may not need much longer…
Yes, this diet is said to cure migraines and many other maladies, including cancer and dementia. I know it’s hard to believe, but there’s good science behind the claim. Most of these diseases come from plaque in our bodies. I don’t know a doctor who would disagree with that. Eating a plant-based diet eliminates the plaque and can even repair damaged cells, reversing the ills age (and all those years of junk food!) relentlessly piles on.
I wrote this blog post before I had any coffee. Usually I need at least two cups before I can do more than lift the cup to my lips. And I’m really energized and happy, which is an amazing way to feel after being in a low-key depressed state for so long. I can’t help but think that in a mere 24 hours, eating vegan is making enough of a visible, remarkable change that it will be very easy to stick to.
So is this going to be a lasting change or just another experiment in my endless quest for good health and happiness? I’ll post again after I’ve done it for awhile.