Friday, May 15, 2015

What and How I Eat

Soon after my diagnosis with the help of the online community and Richard Bernstein I learned that restricting the carbs in my diet let to dramatic improvements in my blood sugar control.  But I also came face to face with the utter contradiction between what worked for me and what I was told by the so-called "experts."  This led to a period of years where I variously went back and forth trying to work with my healthcare team and periods when I actively deceived them and declined to talk about what I was eating.  Eventually I started seeing more understanding doctors (I'm still working on the educator/dietician side of the issue).  My current endo is very supportive of my diet.
So how has my diet evolved.  Initially I ate low carb, I bought low carb products like Atkins bars.  But over time I realized that it wasn't just macronutrients like carbs it was also about the quality of the food.  Over time I also studied nutrition, reading lots of papers, reading books and gathering information on-line.  Major influences during that time were people like Michael Pollan and Gary Taubes.  I've been strongly influenced by the movements towards whole foods and the paleo movements, particularly efforts to try to match my diet to what my body is evolutionarily adapt to.

So these days my diet is what is typically called a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet.  It is also significantly aligned to the Paleo diet in that I eat lots of nuts, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, wild fish and grass fed meat.  I eat few grains, but contrary to the Paleo diet I eat lots of dairy, Irish butter, heavy cream and cheeses of all kinds.  But I also eat few fruits and the ones that I do eat are typically a few berries that might be thrown on yogurt.

So that is my overall theme, but how do I do it?  That has been perhaps the key for me.  Before my diagnosis my wife and I shared kitchen duties and while we are both good cooks having little time and two kids meant often quick and easy was the hallmark.  After my diagnosis, things changed.  In order to have the diet I needed I could not just sit down at dinner and have a plate of pasta placed in front of me.  So over a period of time I took over all cooking and all shopping.  I now prepare meals from scratch from mostly whole ingredients, there are almost no prepared foods in my house.  I can mostly walk the center aisles of the grocery store quickly without filling my basket.

And I have learned that while cooking from whole foods where the ingredients are more expensive can be more time consuming and a bigger drain on the budget there are ways of dealing with it.  I have become a more savvy shopper, buying deals and quantities of things.  I'll often see grass fed beef at half price as it reaches expiration date and I'll scoop up all of it and freeze it.  And I cook at larger scales as well often cooking batches of food that will serve a number of meals.  For instance I will make an eggplant lasagna, but I will make 2-3 pans of the recipe.  We can have a couple of meals over the week as well as some in the freezer.  And I have become a bit a food fanatic, I have hundreds of cookbooks and am a regular visitor to epicurious and foodnetwork.  And finally I changed our family behavior with eating out.  We used to eat out a couple of times a week.  I still eat out all the time when traveling but eating our is now rare and this also saves us lots of money.

So despite my seeming restricted diet I actually eat very well.  Since my diet is a primary part of my treatment then I feel more comfortable spending a bit more on quality ingredients and spending more time preparing meals.  And the meals can be great, I have friends over and they all really enjoy the meals.  So my view is that I have diabetes and that Filet Mignon with a Lobster Tail is my treatment and I am worth it.

So in ending, I'll describe what does a typical day look like.  I know that you might think my diet is somewhat spartan and I should be hungry but following a LCHF diet I really don't get hungry.  This is a meal for a quick and easy day.  More than half the time I actually cook much more elaborate meals like Coq Au Vin.

2-3 cage free eggs in a cheese omelet of fried
2 pieces of sausage

Salad - as much greens as I can get with oil/vinegar or blue cheese

Wild Salmon 1/3-1/2 lb
2 servings Non-starchy veggies

Homemade low carb yogurt with a few berries

Diet is a very controversial topic, but for many of us it actually has a central role in our blood sugar control.  I feel a sense of huge disappointment that our health care system has let us down by not giving us better information to guide our choices.  I'll often pull out a book from the ADA and realize that the book is great only because I can just do the exact opposite of what they say.  How sad is that?  But everyone is different and perhaps some people find this ADA type of device helpful.  I didn't.


  1. We eat a lot like you do, even though our d-situation is very different (ours started with an 8 year old T1). I am still sad that the original advice we were given was to just keep feeding our son the same normal kid things: cereal, sandwiches, cookies, and to balance them with insulin, even if it meant taking a giant dose. The priority on was on keeping things normal, but that makes blood glucose management INSANE. This is all a rambling way to say I'm glad I found your blog! I love the topic today and it gives me a good feeling that you and I have settled into such a similar pattern, even though our stories are so different!

    Discount grass fed beef FTW!!

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Brian. Enjoyed reading your thinking behind food and meal options. I'm very impressed that you cook so much of your meals, and that's something we have been trying to do more of ourselves. And that breakfast and dinner both sound REALLY good, and I kind of have a craving for both now. :)

  3. Great post, Brian. I agree with what you have written although I am not as diligent in my cooking. I would love to eat everything that you cook, but I am a lazy cook. I am inspired today with your post and Kate Cornell's and always with Bigfoot Katy. Also I've read some new blogs today with the same type of low carb fantastic food.

  4. Our diets are so, so similar! Unfortunately, I didn't come to the realization that I needed to eat LCHF until sometime in the last year. Oh well, I got there. Great post Brian, thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow, a male D-blogger! And a Type-2er! And an iconoclast! And one who uses Alfred E. Newman as his symbol (though mine has a kerchief & an eyepatch)! And whose biggest issue isn't what to wear to the prom!
    I learned fast that the ADA & I had differing goals: They need to avoid being marginalized by the medical community; I need to avoid heart attacks. We both need to stay "safe" - but their "safe" recommendations would just help me erode slower, not keep me safe from any & all side effects.
    I run A1c's of 5.6 - 5.9, don't watch my mono- & poly-unsaturated fats much. A friend is trying to convince me to go Paleo, but I won't cave. (Clever, huh?)
    My blog has 9 posts & yours only has 8, so I'm WAY ahead! (I took the "sample" item off my "menu" header about 2 days ago, so I'll have to wait before I can look down at anyone!)
    "What? Me worry?"

    1. Thanks Izzy! I guess you are right, I am an iconoclast. If you believe in low carb it shouldn't be much leap to consider paleo. Careful, I may dump a bunch of posts. You may need to do some more writing! Thanks for your comments.