In April, I kicked off a six-week program of very low carb eating. My mission was two-fold. I wanted to zip my jeans again after a vacation (that happened within a week) and turn a two year “pre-diabetic” diagnosis around. After the first pre-diabetes report, I quit eating sugar. No more desserts. For me, that was huge. I love chocolate and sweets of all kinds. After the second test, one year after giving up sugar, my numbers were better, but I was still pre-diabetic. My doctor suggested cutting carbs that turn to sugar in the body. The white stuff: flour, potatoes, pasta.
This is tricky for a vegetarian. I love cereal, bread, and potatoes. Pasta is a staple. It is almost impossible to eat in a restaurant without either meat or grain. Soon into my new program, I found myself adding a little meat back into my diet. I didn’t like the idea, but my health is primary so I did it, telling myself it would just be for six weeks, until I got my test results. Then, if nothing changed, I could go back to being a vegetarian who relied heavily on grains and legumes for my protein needs.
I am a questioner, so I needed more to go on than just my doctor saying to stop eating “refined carbs.” I mean, I was a vegetarian who mostly ate whole wheat pasta, brown rice, multi-grain bread. The healthy stuff. I’d been eating that way all year. So I knew it was going to take more than just cutting “refined carbs” for me. Auspiciously, at just the right time, I found the book that changed my life and my health forever. Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. I figured I’d give Taubes’ findings a try, and see what happened.
After about a week of adjustment, my digestion got much better. No more bouts of IBS. And best of all, I no longer had craving or the urge to binge. Freedom from the tyranny of food! Feeling in control of what and how much I put in my body is incredible. For the first time in forever, I can be around cookies, bread, rice, potatoes, crackers, muffins, donuts and just say no. I can even occasionally indulge in pizza or potato salad, but I don’t particularly crave these foods. I don’t even want chips anymore, and they used to be my favorite food.
According to Taube, humans evolved to be meat-eaters. Our earliest ancestors relied on a diet of mostly meat protein, green leafy vegetation and a few berries in season. Our bodies still carry that basic DNA. Grains were only introduced a few thousand years ago, not long enough for our complicated and ancient physiology to catch up. At least for some of us. I love Taube’s analogy: just as not all smokers will get lung cancer, not all carb eaters will end up with pre-diabetes. The research is not in on exactly why, but genetics seem to play a role.
Six weeks later and my test results are in. Good news! I am no longer pre-diabetic. My blood sugar has stabilized. My cholesterol and other numbers, including calcium and some other former deficiencies, are off the charts wonderful. This is what Why We Get Fat predicted. I talked to my doctor about the books’ premise and the changes I’d made in my diet because of it. When she gave me the good news, she commented that my new diet is working wonderfully and to keep it up. Music to my ears.