Why I Posted My “Before” Pictures When I was Still Obese

INTRODUCTION: It is not uncommon for people to post their “before” pictures after they’ve reached their goal weight to show how much they’ve accomplished, but why on earth did I post pictures of myself when I was still obese and metabolically unwell? That’s a good question.

There’s a saying that “it is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick” and while people will consult with Dietitian for many different reasons, those who are significantly overweight find it very difficult to take that first step when it is weight loss they’re seeking. Why?

People feel ashamed of being overweight or obese.

Oftentimes, overweight people feel that they are assumed to be undisciplined or lazy — that their condition is their own fault. They have heard over and over again that;

“If only they would eat less and move more they wouldn’t be so fat!”

or

“If only they ate ‘real food’ instead of ‘junk food’ they would be so much slimmer!”

Really?

If it were that simple, why would 1 in 4 Canadians (and 1 in 3 Americans) be obese?

Because it’s not that simple.

It’s been my experience that many overweight people and obese people often eat what has traditionally been thought of as a “healthy diet”; plenty of fruit and vegetables, low fat dairy products and only brown bread, rice and pasta and they feel frustrated and ashamed of being what is perceived as “a failure”.

Some have told me that sometimes their own healthcare providers have given them the impression that they must be being untruthful about what they’ve been eating because surely if they were eating the way they say, they would have been losing weight. In other words, they are not believed, or in stronger words, they are thought to be lying or at least incapable of accurately assessing how much they are ‘really’ eating.

Why would an overweight or obese person seek help in losing weight from a healthcare professional that views them as undisciplined, lazy or unrealistic about what they are eating?

They don’t.

Often people will try various diets that they read about online because no one will see them try and more importantly no one will see when they give up, feeling once again that they are ‘failures’.

I don’t think that overweight and obese people are failures. I believe many are doing what they’ve been told is the “right thing” but for different reasons. it is not working for them.  My role as a Dietitian is to help people understand what isn’t working and to enable them to be successful — without judgement.

 

It is for just such people that I posted my “fat” pictures before I ever started to lose weight!

I wanted people to see me as no different and certainly no better than they are, because I’m not. Sure, I have an undergraduate and graduate degree in nutrition, but I don’t get any “free passes” when it comes to losing weight and turning around my own metabolic health. I needed to do it just like everybody else.

I’ve lived each step of my weight loss and metabolic health recovery journey in public because I wanted people to experience in “real time” my frustrations and my victories. I wanted people to see that the path is not linear; that there are twists and turns and stalls, but yes it is possible to be successful. It just takes time and some dedicated work to get well and achieve a healthy body weight.

I look at it this way;

If it took me 20 years to become metabolically unhealthy and obese, what’s a couple of years to become metabolically healthy and normal weight?

Everyone’s weight loss and health restoration journey will be different.

There are no “magic bullets” or “super diets”— but there are different dietary and lifestyle options that can be pursued for success.

I can help.

If you would like to learn more about how I can help you or a family member achieve and maintain a healthy body weight and metabolic health, please send me a note using the Contact Me form located on the tab above.

To our good health!

Joy

You can follow me at:

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Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

Middle-Eastern Style Lentil Soup – whole food plant based

The new Canada Food Guide encourages a whole food plant-based diet which is a good option for those who are metabolically healthy — especially those who are insulin sensitive. The challenge is that I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 10 years ago and while I am in partial remission now as a result of dietary changes I implemented 23 months ago, on a cold winter day like yesterday I really wanted a bowl of my favourite homemade lentil soup.

I knew from testing my blood sugar in response to different foods that I was beginning to tolerate a small amount of whole, unground legumes such as chickpeas that had been soaked from the dried ones, then cooked. I also knew that leaving the lentils whole rather than pureeing them would reduce the blood sugar response and by adding additional non-starchy vegetables such as spinach and fresh green herbs would also help lower the glycemic response, so in the interest of science (of course) I decided to make the lentil soup and test my response two hours afterwards and the next morning.

The only significant source of carbohydrates that I ate yesterday was the soup which was ~20 g of carbs per bowl.  I was pleased and encouraged that after 23 months of changing how I ate that my blood glucose two hours after eating it was only 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dl), which was normal. This morning my fasting blood glucose was 6.3 mmol/L (114 mg/dl) which was significantly higher than what it has been the last few months eating a low carbohydrate diet, but considering the amount of slowly digestible carbohydrate in the soup, it was somewhat understandable.  To more accurately assess my glycemic response to the soup, I should have tested my blood sugar before I ate it, after 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 2 hours after eating it, as I did with my chickpea “experiment” as the 2 hour snapshot after 2 hours doesn’t provide any information as to what was happening to my blood glucose at 30 minutes and 60 minutes, which may have included a spike.

The soup was a nice treat and it was encouraging to me to continue to discover that as time goes on, I can reintroduce small amounts of whole-food carbohydrate sources without unduly impacting my blood sugars. Of course, being in remission from Type 2 Diabetes is not Diabetes  reversal, so I am by no means “cured”, but I am doing much better than 23 months ago.

As I know from several studies, including a 2015 study from Israel (Zeevi D, Korem T, Zmora N, et al. Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell. 2015 Nov 19;163(5):1079-1094), everyone’s glucose response to individual foods is different and the only way to know how each person will respond (whether Diabetic or non-diabetic / insulin resistant) is to test individual response to a specific amount of the food, which is what I did. While legumes are not something I would eat on a regular basis as it would negatively impact my glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) level, it is certainly nice to be able to have it sometimes.

Of course, for those who are insulin sensitive, this is a delicious whole-food, largely plant based meal.

Below is the recipe for the soup. I included a piece of beef shank, but it can as easily be made without any meat for those that don’t eat it.

NOTE: This recipe is posted as a courtesy for those following a variety of different types of eating styles and not necessarily as part of a Meal Plan designed by me. This recipe may or may not be appropriate for you.

Middle Eastern Lentil Soup

Ingredients

1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced finely
2 tbsp olive oil
1 slice of beef shank, optional
2 cups small brown lentils, rinsed well
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt, to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (coriander greens), chopped
1 cup fresh parsley (flat leaf or curly), chopped
2 300 g packages of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
4 liters cold water

Herb Topping (optional)

3 green onions, minced finely
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced finely
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced finely
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced finely
1 tbsp olive oil

Saute the green onions in the olive oil over a medium heat until wilted, but not browned, add the garlic and saute a minute or two then add the chopped parsley and cilantro and continue sauteing until the greens are slightly cooked.  Set aside to top each bowl of soup with, just before serving.

Method

  1. Saute the chopped onion in the olive oil until lightly browned
  2. Add the chopped carrot and saute until partially cooked
  3. Add the beef shank, if using and brown on both sides
  4. Add the minced garlic and saute (being careful not to let it brown as it would become bitter)
  5. Add the coriander and cumin powder, and keep stirring
  6. Toss in the rinsed brown lentils
  7. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper
  8. Add cold water and stir to dislodge anything that may have stuck to the bottom
  9. Over a medium-low heat, bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam that accumulates from the meat protein
  10. Cook at medium-low for several hours, until the lentils are cooked but not too soft
  11. Twenty minutes before serving, add in the well-squeezed spinach, fresh parsley and fresh cilantro (coriander greens)
  12. Prepare the herb topping and set aside to top individual bowls of soupd when serving
  13. Enjoy!
Middle Eastern Style Lentil Soup

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Copyright ©2019 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

 

 

Finally Reaching Normal Body Weight – a Dietitian’s Journey

Me – May 2015

Today I reached “normal body weight” according to Body Mass Index (BMI) classification  no longer obese and not even overweight. Normal. It seems surreal.

When I began my health and weight loss journey on March 5, 2017 (19 1/2 months ago) I was obese. My weight bordered between Class I and Class II Obesity and I had multiple metabolic health issues. I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes 10 years earlier, had elevated blood pressure and abnormal lipids (cholesterol).  Most significantly, I was in denial as to just how ill I really was. The undergraduate and post graduate degrees on my wall did not inform reality. The mirror did.

I didn’t feel well that day and took my blood pressure. It was dangerously high— classified as a hypertensive emergencyI decided to take my blood sugar too and it was way too high. I sat and considered the numbers of both and considered my options. At the time, I only saw two choices; I could go see my doctor who would have immediately put me on multiple medications or I could change my lifestyle. In hindsight the safest option would have been to do both, but I chose instead to begin to “practice what I teach”.

You see, I had two girlfriends suddenly die of natural causes within 3 months of each other just previous to that day; one of them I had known since high school and the other since university. They were both my age, both chose careers in healthcare, just like I did, and both died from preventable causes. They spent their lives helping others get well, yet unable to accomplish the same for themselves.  It was not for lack of trying, but for not having found a solution before death ended both of their lives. March 5, 2017, I realized that if I didn’t change I would likely die of heart attack or stroke, too. Their deaths may have saved my life.

I began a low carbohydrate diet immediately. I cut refined foods, ate whole unprocessed foods, didn’t avoid the fat that came with whole foods but didn’t add tons of fat either. While it helped a great deal, after several months I realized that I needed to lower my carbohydrates further in order to achieve the remission from Type 2 Diabetes that I sought.  I didn’t simply want to lose weight — I wanted to get healthy!

I consulted the experts and continued to make dietary modifications that got me closer to my goal. The first significant improvement was in blood pressure followed by blood sugar. I lost weight and more significantly lost inches off my waist.  While I hadn’t been formerly diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease based on my lab work I more than likely had it. I tweaked and adjusted my Meal Plan many times over the last 19 1/2 months — each time moving myself closer and closer to my goal. Ten days ago I was within an inch of my waist circumference being half my height and now I am within 3/4 of an inch of it. It’s happening!

Body Mass Index (BMI) October 17 2018

Two days ago, I got on the scale and saw a series of digits that I had not seen since my twins were born 26 years ago tomorrow. I decided to crank some numbers.  I did a happy dance. I was almost there.  The photo on the left is weight category.

 

I am not one of those people that the press often writes about that pursued a low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet for “quick weight loss”.  I wanted to get well.  I chose a low carbohydrate diet for therapeutic reasons because it was my underlying high insulin levels which drove my high blood glucose and high blood pressure. To get well, I needed to address the cause, not the symptoms.

So here I am, having reached normal body weight!

Did I think at the beginning that I would actually get to this point? I wasn’t sure. I knew it was possible because I had helped others achieve it, but had never tried myself, so I didn’t know.

For health reasons, I no longer had the option of doing nothing!

At first, I set my preliminary goal as “no longer being obese“. Then I revised it to “being less overweight“.

I found some old photos recently of what I looked like as a young adult and realized what the weight was where I felt and looked my best then reset my goal weight once again. I knew it was entirely doable!

I am almost there!

Then the hard work begins.

Losing weight has been challenging, but not difficult.  Sure, I needed to determine what was holding things up at various stages of my journey and make dietary adjustments just as I do for my clients, but it’s much easier to do that for someone else than for oneself. The “hard work” will be finding out how to eat where I don’t lose any more weight, while maintaining my blood sugar and blood pressure at the best possible level.

If possible, I want to achieve full remission from Type 2 Diabetes and if not, I will learn how to maintain full reversal of symptoms.

I’ve documented the entire process throughout “A Dietitian’s Journey”, including “fat pictures” and lab test results to demonstrate the therapeutic benefit of a low carbohydrate diet and that this lifestyle is both practical and  sustainable.

Perhaps you would like to find out how I can help you achieve your own health and nutrition goals?

Please send me a note using the form on the Contact Me tab above and I’ll be happy to reply.

To your good health!

Joy

you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

My Approach to Eating Low Carb and Links to Popular Recipes

Some people think there is only one type of “low carb” diet; one that includes lots of meat and lots of fat, but that’s not the case.  There are low carb diets that are higher in fat than protein, higher in protein than fat and those that are somewhat of a hybrid. The same thing is true when it comes to “ketogenic” or “keto” diets as it depends what it is being used for. A keto diet for epilepsy or as an adjunct treatment for Alzheimer’s disease or certain kinds of cancer will look very different than one used therapeutically to reverse metabolic conditions like Type 2 Diabetes. There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” low carb or ketogenic (keto) diet.

As well, there aren’t any “one-size-fits-all” people! Some folks have higher protein needs because of their age or stage of life or the sports they engage and for people seeking weight loss those who have 15 or 20 pounds to lose won’t necessarily need to eat the same way as those with a great deal of weight to lose.

In addition, low carb diets often change over time. For example, those with a lot of weight to lose will often eat differently at the beginning of their weight-loss journey than they do towards the end of their weight loss because their body adapts and changes. As a result, these folks need to have their Meal Plan adjusted over time, whereas someone with a smaller amount of weight to lose may do fine with the same Meal Plan all the way through. Everybody’s different.

How I Approach It

My own meals usually center around some kind of grilled, roasted or stir-fried protein along with a generous serving of fresh low carb veggies plus some added healthy fat such as cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil or a touch of butter just to make things tasty. I don’t hesitate to sprinkle salads with pumpkin seeds or a few nuts, some berries and even a bit of crumbled goat cheese and drizzle it with olive or macadamia nut oil because this way I’m happy to eat a large bowl of it and it keeps me satisfied for hours. For those whose of my clients whose dietary needs are similar, I encourage them to do the same; switching up the type of nuts or seeds they use and changing the type of cold pressed oil they use, as each tastes very different. Even changing the type of vinaigrette from vinegar-based to lemon-based or using different types of vinegar or herbs adds more variety. There are so many kinds of meat, fish, poultry and vegetables that can be eaten and each can be prepared lots of different ways, so there’s no need to get bored eating the same thing.

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes

In a little over a year I’ve lost almost 40 pounds- first eating a low carb diet and then necessarily because of significant hyperinsulinemia (high levels of circulating insulin) and insulin resistance, a ketogenic diet. I’ve put my Type 2 Diabetes into remission while reversing my high cholesterol and high blood pressure and while I’ve not yet arrived at the point where my waist circumference is half my height (lowest risk) I am getting close.

Because I was Diabetic for 10 years and obese for longer than that, I tend to limit my own intake of low carb baked goods (muffins, pancakes and breads) that are often made from ground nuts or seeds and cheese as these are very  energy dense. I still have some of my own excess fat stores to lose as well as continuing to lose fat from places it should never have been in the first place (including very likely my liver) so eating extra dietary fat outside of those found naturally in whole, unprocessed foods (meat, fish, poultry, cheese, egg) doesn’t make much sense.

I do better with a low carb lower fat cauliflower crust pizza  (recipe below) or a low carb zucchini pizza crust (recipe coming soon!) over the very popular “fathead pizza” (based on almond flour and lots of fat from different kinds of cheese) or even my own Crisp Keto Pizza (recipe below) which is high in protein and fat but low in carbs. That’s why there are a few kinds of pizza recipes, so there’s a choice – not just for me, but my clients and visitors to my site. One can’t have too many healthy, tasty ways to eat pizza, right?

Most Popular Recipes

Below are a few of my most popular low carb recipes grouped by type of low carb diet. Please remember, not all recipes will be suitable for your specific health conditions or weight loss goals, so if in doubt please check with your Dietitian or physician. I hope you enjoy them.

Higher Fat Low Carb Recipes

For those that follow a high fat low carb lifestyle, below are a few of my most popular recipes. For me (and quite a few of my clients who are also in the weight loss phase) these are “sometimes foods” and not “everyday foods”.

Low Carb Beer-Batter Fish (seriously amazing)
Quiche Lorraine
Crisp Keto Pizza

Desserts in this category include my  Low Carb New York Cheesecake (amazingly good!) and Low Carb / Keto Ice Cream .

Low Carb Moderately High Fat

Recipes more suited to daily fare for me and those who are in the weight-loss phase of a low carb diet are posted here.  Some of the most popular are;
Crispy Cauliflower Pizza (lower in fat than the Crisp Keto Pizza above)
Low Carb Chow Mein
Low Carb Thai Green Curry
Spaghetti Zoodles with Bolognese Sauce
Low Carb Kaiser Buns great with sliced meat or cheese and lettuce (or used as a hamburger bun!).

This Low Carb Chocolate Chip Pancake recipe was recently posted but I’m pretty sure it will become a favourite, too. It is around my house!

Great everyday side dishes that can accompany a wide variety of poultry, fish, meat and veggies whether for the family or company are;
Low carb high protein broad noodles
Keto Yeast Rolls
Low Carb Roti (Indian flatbread)

Higher Fat Convenience Food Recipes

I have created and posted several recipes for higher fat protein bars if you need an easy, tasty and cost-efficient substitute for expensive low carb convenience bars on the market. These are;

Chocolate Orange Low Carb Protein Bars
Chocolate Mint Low Carb Protein Bars
Low Carb High Fat (Keto) Protein Bars

I even have a Low Carb Green Tea Matcha Smoothie that can be used to target abdominal fat in those following a higher fat low carb eating plan.

If you have questions about how I can help you to lose weight, reverse Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol or to adopt a low-carb lifestyle for its other health benefits, please feel free to send me a note using the Contact Me form on this web page. I provide both in-person services in my Coquitlam (British Columbia) office, as well as services via Distance Consultation (phone or Skype) to those living elsewhere.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and please feel free to send me a message on social media (Facebook or Twitter, links below) if you have questions about any of the recipes or to post pictures when you make them.

To our good health!

Joy


you can follow me at:

 https://twitter.com/lchfRD

  https://www.facebook.com/BetterByDesignNutrition/

Copyright ©2018  BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes ARE reversible – a Dietitian’s Journey

For the last 16-months my goal has been to put my Type 2 Diabetes into remission and to no longer meet the criteria for Metabolic Syndrome. Towards that end, last year on July 11, 2017 I had complete lab work done, including fasting insulin, cholesterol, fasting blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) and planned to redo the same tests at the same time this July to see how much progress I was making.

The day I had been waiting for arrived!

So, how did I do?

Let’s see where I started from in July 2017;

fasting insulin July 11, 2017

Last year, my fasting insulin was 54 pmol/L which converts to 7.8 μU/ml — well above the ideal insulin sensitive range of 2-6 μU/ml. I was insulin resistant, which was no surprise given I had Type 2 Diabetes for more than 10 years.

What about yesterday – 16 months after starting a low carbohydrate lifestyle?

fasting insulin, July 10, 2018

I went from 54 pmol/L (7.8 μU/ml) to 33 pmol/L (4.8 μU/ml). I no longer have high insulin; in fact, my insulin was now in the ideal range, between 2-6 μU/ml. Very cool!

But then what explains why my fasting blood sugar is still so high?

fasting blood glucose July 11, 2017

I mean, it has dropped a lot from 8.0 mmol/L  (144 mg/dL) last year to 6.9 mmol/L (124 mg/dl) this year, but this was still a huge disappointment.  Yes, many days my fasting blood sugar is in the low 5’s mmol/L (94-95 mg/dl) but not this time. It was at the high end of what it goes to!

Why?

fasting blood glucose July 10, 2018

In the last several months, I’ve been losing a lot of fat from my abdomen (2.5 more inches since the beginning of March, on top of the 8 inches I lost in the first year) and the end result of the action of hormone sensitive lipase on fat cells (adipocytes) is the release of free fatty acids and glycerol. The liver cells (hepatocytes) take the glycerol and turn it into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis (literally “making new glucose”).  It is this glucose that is produced by my liver from my broken down fat stores that is raising my fasting blood sugar.

The good part is that my fat cells are emptying out.  The bad part is that my liver is making glucose out of it…and what complicates the matter is that I have what’s called “peripheral insulin resistance” from often eating only once a day (time-restricted-eating) and that causes my body to “save” the glucose for necessary processes.  As a result, my body cells don’t take in the excess glucose made by my liver and it hangs around in my blood until I get moving.  Then it will dissipate (provided I eat some breakfast).

What about my glycated hemoglobin (that is effectively the three month average of my blood sugar)?

glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) July 11, 2017

A year ago, my HbA1C  was 7.5% which is well above the cutoffs of 7% which is set for those with Type 2 Diabetes.

glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) July 10, 2018

This year it was 6.3% which is below the cutoffs for Type 2 Diabetes of 6.5% and lower than what it was 3 months ago, which was 6.4%. Naturally, it is higher than I would like because it includes all the glucose my liver is making from the fat cells it is breaking down, but sooner or later it is going to run out of that!  Soon my waist circumference WILL be half my height and around that point, my fasting blood glucose should be dropping.  My goal is to see my HbA1C below 5.5 mmol/L (100 mg/dl) and be in full remission from Type 2 Diabetes, not only partial remission which is what I have now.

But celebrating the victory, I am in partial remission of Type 2 Diabetes!!

So how have my lipids changed this last year, with the butter, coconut oil and coconut milk and full fat cream that I have been eating, as well as much more meat than I used to?

Last year, four months into my following a low-carbohydrate diet, this is what they looked like:

Lipid panel, July 11, 2017

 

…and this year?

 

Lipid panel, July 10, 2018

My LDL is down (2.60 to 2.47 mmol/L) , my HDL is up significantly (1.97 to 2.44 mmol/L), my non-HDL cholesterol (chylomicrons and VLDL) is down (2.45 to 2.11 mmol/L) and my already low triglycerides went even LOWER (0.64 to 0.52 mmol/L).

In July 2017 my TG:HDL ratio was 0.35, which is well below 0.87 and this year my TG:HDL ratio was 0.21! This means that of my LDL cholesterol, most are the large fluffy kind (the ‘good’ LDL), and not the small dense kind (the ones that put us at cardiovascular health risk).

I no longer meet the criteria for Metabolic Syndrome which is having 3 or more of the following 5 symptoms:

Criteria for Metabolic Syndrome – from Merck Manual

My waist circumference is significantly <35″

My blood pressure is well below 130/85 (usually around 120/70)

My triglycerides are well below 1.7 mmol/L (150 mg/dl) at 0.52 mmol/L

My HDL is well above 1.29 (it’s 2.44 mmol/L!!)

…but yes, my fasting blood glucose is still > 5.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dl).

So, I’m not “done” yet.

While I didn’t get “perfect” blood work, it’s pretty good for someone that 16 months ago was obese, had been Type 2 Diabetic for 10 years, had been diagnosed 3 years earlier with mast cell disease (which elevates blood sugar and insulin), had extremely high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol.

Not bad at all.

…and all this by simply reducing my carbohydrate intake and eating whole, real food, including fruit, dairy, meat, lots of veggies and healthy fats from a variety of sources.

Of course, these are only my results. Everyone is different, but at a year, my results closely mirrored the results Virta Health’s study published at one- year study, with 218 subjects that had been eating the same as I have. So, it is certainly not unusual for people following a well-designed low carbohydrate diet to get these kinds of results.

NOTE: There is no "one-size-fits-all" low carbohydrate diet and what works for me may not be what is best for you. Before undertaking a major change in diet, please discuss your plans with your doctor.

Perhaps you wonder what adopting this type of eating style would look like for you, or have questions about how Distance Consultation services work compared with in-person services, and the cost involved. Please send me a note using the “Contact Me” form above and I’ll reply shortly.

Copyright ©2018 BetterByDesign Nutrition Ltd.

LEGAL NOTICE: The contents of this blog, including text, images and cited statistics as well as all other material contained here (the “content”) are for information purposes only.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, medical diagnosis and/or treatment and is not suitable for self-administration without the knowledge of your physician and regular monitoring by your physician. Do not disregard medical advice and always consult your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or before implementing anything  you have read or heard in our content.

References

  1. Merck Manual – Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X; Insulin Resistance Syndrome), https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/professional/nutritional-disorders/obesity-and-the-metabolic-syndrome/metabolic-syndrome

 

Update on My Own Weight Loss Journey

It’s 16 months since I began my own weight loss journey and I thought it would be a good time to do updated “before” and “now” photos, as well as some measurements.

The photo on the left was me “before”.

Not only was I very overweight, but I had Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol and was in denial about how very metabolically ill I was.

I was in denial partly because I believed that I was eating a healthy diet for someone with Type 2 Diabetes. I dutifully followed the recommended diet from the time I was pre-diabetic until I was diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes and continued on it because that is what was recommended to control my blood sugar. I deliberately avoided missing meals or fasting, to keep my blood sugar stable.

As per the recommendations for Diabetics (covered in an article I wrote here), I ate 193 – 259 g of carbs per day, plus sufficient daily protein for my age and a little essential fat.  Keep in mind that only the recommended amount of daily carbs adds up to ~800 – 1000 calories per day — and with sufficient protein for my age was another ~4oo calories, plus another ~150 calories or so in olive oil and a few nuts or seeds on my salad. With intake of 1400 – 1500+ calories per day, how was I supposed to lose weight?

If “eating less” wasn’t an option for me then of course, I was expected to “move more“.  If I didn’t move enough to burn off the excess carbohydrates that I was expected to eat as someone with Type 2 Diabetes, then this was my fault. This is why I was fat, right?

Really?

My diet was “healthy” by most people’s understanding — certainly as defined by the Dietary Guidelines (Canada’s Food Guide) as well as the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Diabetes. My bread was whole grain and so was my pasta and I ate brown or red cargo rice (with the husk). Lunch and dinner and my 2 snacks per day were comprised of lots of fruit and vegetables of all kinds along with some lean protein; 3-4 oz at each meal and an ounce of cheese at snacks.  I barbecued meat, fish and chicken all year round and if I did pan-fry something, I always poured off the ‘excess fat’. The quantities I ate were recommended by the guidelines and as evidenced by the fact that I neither gained, nor lost any weight.

Eating 65 g of carbs at each meal along with protein and 45 g of carbs at each of 2 snacks each day along with a bit of protein however didn’t help me avoid getting Type 2 Diabetes — so what was I expecting to accomplish eating this way after I was diagnosed?* It was supposed to help me manage my blood glucose levels, but unfortunately after a few years of eating that way, I ended up getting high blood pressure and then abnormal cholesterol as well, which is common.

*I believe that some people with Type 2 Diabetes do well eating according to the standard recommendations of the Clinical Practice Guidelines and others by following a whole foods, Mediterranean-style Diet. There is also strong research evidence that still others achieve excellent clinical results following a therapeutic low carb or a well-formulated ketogenic diet for a period of time. There is no one-size-fits-all diet for everybody and it is for this reason that I offer people choices.

When I saw my Endocrinologist 2 1/2 years ago, she said that if I kept eating as I had been, that in 2 years I would be on medication for Diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol — and within 5 years, I would be on insulin. At that time, I discussed with her my intention to eat a low carb diet and how low in carbohydrate I was willing to go, if I needed to. I was expecting a great deal of resistance from her, given some doctors consider a low carb diet unconventional. Her response surprised me. She told me that me that eating very low carb was the best chance that I had to avoid the scenario she outlined above as well as the complications of Diabetes, including blindness and lost limbs. In fact, she recommended less grams of carbs per day than I was intending.

Unfortunately, it took another 2 years before I became metabolically unwell enough to actually implement the dietary change, but with my Endocrinologist’s approval and encouragement, as well as my GP monitoring my health, March 5, 2017 I began changing how I was eating and I’ve never looked back.

Me – July 2 2018 (16 months later)

The photo on the left is of me on the Canada Day stat (July 2nd), which was Monday.

As of today, 16 months along I’ve lost;

  • 39 pounds (18 kg)
  • 10.5 inches off my waist (27 cm)
  • 2.5 inches off my chest (6.5 cm)
  • 3 inches off my neck (8 cm)
  • 1.5 inches off each arm (4 cm)
  • 1.5 inches off each thigh (4 cm)
  • Both my HbA1C and FBG are in the non-diabetic range
  • My blood pressure is normal for someone without Type 2 Diabetes
  • My lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) are considered ideal.

I still have an inch and a half to lose off my waist to get to where my waist circumference is half my height and I’m guessing that will take me losing another 18 lbs but who knows? Whatever it is, it is. I had a foot to lose from my waist when I started — so what’s an inch and a half more?

Now, “moving more” is possible! Yesterday, as I do most weekends, I walked for 2 hours and wasn’t tired at all. I work out each week doing slow High Intensity Training and love it and am thinking about joining a dance class in September.  “Moving more” is the result, not the solution.

Keep in mind that my results are only relevant to me, as I am “a sample-set of one” (n=1). As well, my doctor’s recommendations to me may not be the same as your doctor’s recommendations to you. Everyone’s results following a low carb diet will differ, because each person’s Meal Plan will be based on their own medical history, any metabolic conditions they may have, medications they are taking, their family risk factors, starting weight and lifestyle factors. What my journey and yours will have in common if you’re working with me is that it will begin as a moderately low carb intake, where you’ll be eating whole foods from all food categories, with your doctor monitoring your labs and the dosage of any medication that you may be taking.  I’ll gradually lower the amount of carbohydrate you’re eating only as necessary to achieve the clinical outcome(s) that you’re seeking, and with you doctor monitoring the dosage of any medications you’re taking. This often has to occur quite soon after lowering the amount of carbohydrates and in time they may be discontinued entirely.

Some “low carb diets” available on the internet or in popular books promote unlimited amounts of meat, cream, butter and eggs and others promote (or promise) “rapid weight loss”.  I don’t do either. But if you are looking for a Dietitian to support your desire to eat a low carb diet in order to lose weight and lower metabolic markers of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol, then I’d be glad to be part of your healthcare team.

I have almost a decade of experience providing services via Distance Consultation (Skype and long telephone) and for those living in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia you can see me in-person in my Coquitlam office.

Perhaps you have questions about how I might be able to help you?

Please send me a note using the “Contact Me” form above and I will reply shortly.

To your good health,

Joy


Note: I am a "sample-set of 1" - meaning that my results may or may not be like any others who follow a similar lifestyle. If you are considering eating "low carb" and are taking medication to control your blood sugar or blood pressure, please discuss it with your doctor, first.

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