If you’d told me 18 months ago that eating more bacon, cheese and steak—but no bread—would make me lose weight, get healthier, and reverse diabetes, I would have said you were deluded.
If you read no further than this sentence, let me tell you something that not many people outside of the worldwide diabetes community knows: Type 2 diabetes can be reversed or managed in most cases without drugs. Here’s my story.
Sixteen months ago, the diagnosis was swift and serious: Type 2 diabetes. What I thought I knew about the situation was that it was “progressive,” meaning that over time, no matter what I did, I would get worse. I would need drugs, and then more drugs. Pills, then insulin.
My doctor said that if I didn’t improve my numbers before my next appointment three months away, I would be put on pills (metformin) to manage the diabetes, and likely high blood pressure meds, as my pressure had been rising steadily the past year.
I grieved. There’s no other way to say it. All of those stages—I went through them. I did sad. I did angry. I did bargaining. I started to read (all the usual sites—medical sites, diabetes sites) and got sad all over again.
My doctor told me to change my diet. No more pop. Less takeout food. I tried to eat “healthy.” I felt awful and starving a lot of the time. I had sugar highs and lows, when I’d never really had them before, but now I sure did. Lows made me shaky and dizzy. Highs made me want to sleep for a year.
But I continued to read. I read everything I could get my hands on. Not just medical sites, but studies, and discussion and support forums. In less than a month, I found the beginning of the resources that would come to save my life: groups of diabetics all over the world were not just managing their day to day diabetes, but actually stopping or even reversing the progression of their disease. Not just for a few years but for decades. How could this be possible?
1. Remove all grains, sugars and high carbohydrate plants. Forever.
2. Frequently test your blood sugar (far more frequently than doctors recommend). Gathering data about your body is critical to healing it.
3. Educate yourself about your body. I’d never found a community of people online more dedicated to not just reading about but constantly questioning both traditional medicine and their own understanding of how the body works. These source references were a key part of this new community I discovered.
The way they ate (usually called low-carb, high-fat or LCHF) seemed utterly foreign, even dangerous, to me (what about heart disease? oh. huh.). I also just didn’t think I could do it. Are you kidding? Like, I LOVED food. Loved cooking. Owned hundreds of cookbooks. I kept thinking: “Impossible. I could never do that” and “What about quality of life? Sure, maybe eating only, like veggies, would keep me alive till 120, but how miserable would I be?” (Yeah, I was wicked hyperbolic.) Classic bargaining stage.
The turning point for me came about a month and a half after diagnosis, still feeling sick and uncontrolled and like I’d signed up for a lifetime of suffering. I finally asked how bad it could possibly be—just how high were the risks for diabetics and complications, anyway? Which is when I found out these hard facts:
Complications come with this disease. I’d have to worry about my feet getting amputated (70% of all amputations in Canada are because of diabetes), about going blind (also the highest cause of blindness under 65 in Canada), kidney disease (33% of all diabetics, can be fatal), and finally heart disease. Literally 33% of people who died in 2008/09 were diabetics.
I had never been so scared, nor cried so hard, in my entire life. The next day, I resolved to try this, no matter what. I was not about to die and leave my life, my family behind. I loved myself and them way too much.
I started eating high fat, low carb. Day by day, I learned more about my body. I changed the food that went inside it. I tested my blood sugar every time so I could learn what that food did to my body. If it raised my blood sugar more than a little, I just stopped eating the food.
It started working immediately. My highs decreased. My lows decreased. I started to feel normal. I wasn’t hungry all the time. How could I be? I was eating bacon. Butter. Cheese. Beef. Delicious cream sauces and 35% cream in my tea and as many green veggies as I could possibly want. Food was *delicious* and satiating in a way it had never been before. I stopped needing snacks every few hours. I stopped needing snacks, period. I just wasn’t hungry.
Within two months, my blood sugar stabilized (no more highs, no more lows), my blood sugar dropped back down from diabetic ranges to totally normal, non-diabetic blood sugar (a daily range of 65-100 mg/dl or 3.6-5.5 mmol/l), I lowered my blood pressure from 135/90 to 108/70 and I nearly doubled my HDL (that’s the good cholesterol) and cut my triglycerides by 60%.
My skin cleared up—no more zits, no more dry and scaly patches. My headaches were gone. I had no gastrointestinal issues. I had a huge increase in energy levels and I was calmer, more alert. I lost 50 pounds without even trying or working out. I haven’t had a cold in 18 months.
It didn’t take long for my family to notice and hop on the bandwagon. Guess what happened? Husband: All of the above. Oh, yes, and he ALSO lost 60 pounds without trying. Daughter: All of the above. Twenty-plus pounds without trying.
But I’ve saved the best story for last.
My mother, a 20-plus year diabetic who was on metformin for 10 years, lowered her blood sugar to normal. Her highs and lows were gone, and she was off metformin entirely within three weeks. And she remains drug free, nearly a year later.
How often do you hear about someone over 60 years old who has this “progressive disease” for decades suddenly getting better?
I am in no way deprived when I eat. I eat steak. Bacon. Fried eggs. Cheese. Whipping cream. I can have lots of above-ground veggies. I don’t count calories. I eat when I am hungry. I eat until I’m full. I even have dessert. (I just don’t eat anything made with flour, any kind of grain, sugar or any of these 56 other words for sugar, root vegetables or fruit.)
Through my experience, I’ve developed the opinion that doctors and medical associations teach you that Type 2 diabetes is a “progressive disease,” regardless of what you eat (OK, not all of them; Sri Lanka and Thailand are beginning to get it). I believe that’s wrong. There’s just no other way to avoid diabetic highs than by changing your diet.
I have an amazing life, much improved health, and a distinct lack of the scary future I once thought (and was told) was inevitable. Seriously. If they invented a pill tomorrow that destroyed diabetes permanently, I’d take it…but I’d eat exactly the same way I already do the next day, and the next.
Diabetes is a full-blown epidemic. Thirty-three per cent of Canadians will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2020. Another 1 million Canadians are already walking around undiagnosed. That’s why I’m sharing my story. It doesn’t have to be this way.
You can contact Angie McKaig at firstname.lastname@example.org