Friday, November 3, 2017

A Weighty Task

A little over a month ago (46 days to be exact) I told you of my plan to eat a ketogenic diet and test my blood sugar levels. My son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and, like most people who don't know someone with the disease, I was totally unfamiliar with it. Type 1 diabetes isn't caused by the foods you eat or even much by heredity. Instead it is the result of something causing the pancreas to fail. Scientists have pinpointed two possible causes through study: a strain of enterovirus, an illness common during childhood, and global warming from climate change. Two therapies look promising: a vaccine for the strain of enterovirus and stem cell therapy to replace brown fat damaged by too much heat, but as of now there is no cure. Unless something changes my son will spend the rest of his life carefully calculating the carbohydrate content of his food and giving himself insulin.

My husband and I decided to try to stick to a ketogenic diet so we could learn to cook food our son can eat and I went a step further and got some ketogenic test strips so I could understand his experience fully by testing myself every time I eat. I also ordered a copy of the original Atkins diet book, Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution because I remembered Dr. Atkins saying his original diet was a treatment for diabetics he decided to try when he needed to lose weight. I tried the New Diet Revolution back in the early 2000s and I remember my mom saying how different it was from the original. Let me tell you, she wasn't lying! I remember thinking the New diet would turn you into an alcoholic because you were allowed to have so much wine and liquor but the original diet limits all alcohol, including sugar alcohol sweeteners. 

I really want to recommend reading the Diet Revolution book because I tried the ketogenic diet early this year following advice from the Internet. It was a dismal failure! Not only did I actually gain weight but I was sick the entire time. It seemed like I caught every germ that floated past me! I think the reason I failed is because the version of the diet, which recommended only drinking bulletproof coffee for breakfast as well as intermittent fasting, and which allowed wine, played into all my worst weaknesses. I would fast until about noon and then would have only coffee. After supper I would of course be ravenous and would eat and drink everything in sight, staying up late most nights. Then the next day I was exhausted. I was also lifting weights and exercising way too much for my caloric intake. Over-exercising has been a problem for me in the past. I have actually stopped my menstrual cycle before because of strict diet and heavy workouts and I think one reason I struggle with weight loss now is I damaged my metabolism so terribly in my youth. So, this time I am following the book and only walking the dog or working in the garden or other purpose-driven activities for exercise. Later on I may add working out back into the mix if I feel like I can control it.

When we got our son's diagnosis I was the heaviest I've ever been despite having been on a diet for basically the past 18 years. Cast your memory back to every diet and exercise technique you've ever heard of... I guarantee you I've tried it! In fact, when he was diagnosed I was eating 90% vegan and still not really losing weight. I struggled constantly with fatigue as well. Reading the book I found out I probably react to alcohol as a carbohydrate and certainly have been struggling with what Atkins called "hypoglycemia" but which  we would now refer to as unstable blood sugar. 

Almost all my adult life I have found myself hungrier at night than during the day. My typical pattern was to eat little to no food until supper. Then around 10PM I would experience intense cravings for wine and hunger pangs, to which I would usually succumb. Not eating or drinking after supper was a nearly Herculean task for me. Dr. Atkins taught me I was the victim of falling blood sugar at night, for which I was self-medicating with wine and typically cheese (I've never fit the pattern you usually think of with people who develop diabetes, those who crave sweets). I would then have a surge of insulin with increased energy and would find it very hard to fall asleep. In the morning I would wake up exhausted and not at all hungry. And the pattern would repeat itself in a vicious cycle! My mother and her entire family always exhibited the night-eating, night-owl mentality so I most likely inherited the tendency toward unstable blood sugar. Which isn't surprising if you consider that until we came to America just a century ago all we mostly had to eat were fish and dairy products!

The first day of my diet I forced myself to eat a huge, fatty breakfast and was promptly and incredibly sick. I forged on, however, eating protein-rich foods with quality fats whenever I had a craving for something which wasn't on the diet. I also tested my blood sugar before and after every meal. As Dr. Atkins promised, my nighttime cravings for food and drink disappeared immediately. This is probably due to the sudden switch from the vegan to the ketogenic diet! I was so sick for the first week, Young Living's DiGize oil was my best friend! After that, however, I experienced a real difference in the way I felt. I rarely eat or drink at night now, and when I do it's because I want to and have the carbs and calories left to do so, not because I have some uncontrollable urge to eat. I found out Atkins wrote other books back in the 1970s: the Super Energy Diet and the Diet Revolution Cook Book, so I ordered those too.

My first month's results were extremely disheartening. Despite following the diet religiously I lost only 3.2 pounds and only had one day  when I experienced the surge of energy that the diet is supposed to give you. I lost the weight the first week and then for the whole rest of the month there was nothing; I even gained some weight back in the middle of the month. This is what has always happened when I try to lose weight, every single time! This time, however, I had the keto strips and I used them to understand  what foods raise my blood sugar and shut down my weight loss. Breaded foods, like popcorn shrimp and clam strips, long favorites of mine, throw  me out of ketosis even when I stay within my carbohydrate count for the day. Wine does not, unless I drink a ton of it, so at least that's some consolation for having to severely limit some of my absolute favorite foods. Using the keto strips I was able to get back on track and so far in November I have lost 3.6 pounds. I had already lost a little from stress during my son's initial diagnosis and hospital stay, so all together I am down 10 pounds.

These are supposed to be for sale but I want them!

I am so proud of myself. Since the beginning of September our son got diabetes, our dog died, our other dogs got terribly sick, we had a flood in two rooms on two different floors of our house, and our clothes dryer died. The dryer just died yesterday, so you can see our luck hasn't exactly improved! I'm kind of scared to wake up in the mornings! In the past I would have fallen right off my diet and schedule during all the stress. This time I have kept testing and stayed on my diet fairly well. Some days I have chosen to heat up clam strips for supper because we were busy, or something like that, but then I have immediately gotten right back on track and it's working! It isn't even very difficult. I rarely have cravings for anything, I guess because my blood sugar is stable. If I do I immediately eat some protein, just as the doctor suggests!

My Studio Mandaline closet on Poshmark is now a boutique and I just got my first shipment of wholesale fashion merchandise in stock. I purposely ordered clothes I knew were too small for me so I wouldn't be tempted to keep them, but guess what? They fit me now! So now I'm tempted, especially by the ensemble shown above! So if you see something you like on eBay or Poshmark you'd better grab it before it makes its way into my wardrobe! You can link from my website to those shops. From my website you can also order the Young Living products I find most helpful to staying on track: Slique Essence oil, 3 drops taken in water before meals, Slique CitraSlim capsules, and DiGize essential oil, taken in water whenever my stomach gets upset, which is still pretty frequent.

I know I haven't even been on this diet for two months, and I've failed at so many diets, including newer versions of Atkins, so it's really hard for me to believe this time it might work. I wanted to share my experience so far, however, because I talk to women all the time who have the same issues as I and I want to encourage you. Read the book. Use the test strips. Pay attention to your results. You might find some simple changes make a big difference! If you've made it all the way through this LONG post, I congratulate you and hope my experience helps you!

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