Counting Carbs

Dietician working on diet plan for weight loss and right nutrition concept. Source: BS

Canada urgently needs a diabetes strategy – just not necessarily the one that Diabetes Canada would have us believe is the right path

The following information is from Diabetes Canada – Basic carbohydrate counting for diabetes management. The charts and recommendations are EXACTLY as outlined in their PDF file available from the Diabetes Canada website

Following the information provided by Diabetes Canada, I will discuss briefly my own take on what this actually means, in the context of intermittent fasting and the low carb lifestyles recommended by Dr. Fung in his Diabetes Code.

STEP 1 Make healthy food choices

  • Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat milk products, and meat and alternatives at your meals. A variety of foods will help to keep you healthy.
  • Use added fats in small amounts. This helps to control your weight and blood cholesterol.
  • Choose portion sizes to help you to reach or maintain a healthy weight.

STEP 2 Focus on carbohydrate

  • Your body breaks down carbohydrate into sugar (glucose). This raises your blood sugar levels.
  • Carbohydrate is found in many foods including grains and starches, fruits, some vegetables, legumes, milk and milk alternatives, sugary foods and many prepared foods.
  • Meat and alternatives, most vegetables and fats contain little carbohydrate. Moderate servings will not have a big effect on blood sugar levels.

STEP 3 Set carbohydrate goals

  • Your dietitian will help you set a goal for grams of carbohydrate at each meal and snack. This may be the same from day to day or may be flexible, depending on your needs.
  • Aim to meet your target within 5 grams per meal or snack.

STEP 4 Determine carbohydrate content

  • Write down what you eat and drink throughout the day.
  • Be sure to note the portion sizes. You may need to use measuring cups and food scales to be accurate.
  • Record the grams of carbohydrate in these foods and drinks.
  • For carbohydrate content of foods, check the Beyond the Basics resources, food packages, food composition books, restaurant fact sheets and websites.

STEP 5 Monitor effect on blood sugar level

  • Work with your health-care team to correct blood sugar levels that are too high or too low.

My take on the information provided above by Diabetes Canada is that it is great information, as far as it goes… Which means that I think that there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Trust is a dangerous game.
—via Quotes ‘nd Notes

VARIATION 1 Make healthy food choices – just not the ones implied

Enjoy a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat milk products, and meat and alternatives at your meals. A variety of foods will help to keep you healthy.

Diabetes Canada

This is only one point of view, and one that isn’t necessarily all that helpful, especially since built into the advice are prejudices about the virtues of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low fat. From my reading in the recent past I am now vitally convinced that the international obsession with starch and sugar based foods (ie: vegetables, fruit, and whole grains) is the fundamental CAUSE of the current epidemic of diabetes. Included in this obsession is the unproven argument against fat and meat.

Recent articles and books on the subject suggest strongly that the prejudice against fat has directly led the world’s health practitioners and public health authorities to make recommendations that have strongly affected whole populations into wrong minded and dangerous eating habits.

So the first point is almost right. Just totally wrong about low fat, oh, and about having a healthy mixture of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Generally one considers that the first items listed in a list of recommended items should be the items encouraged and supported as the primary source of dietary energy. And this would be WRONG! Sugars and starches should never constitute more than about 10%, maybe 15% of your daily calories. The rest should be made up of proteins and fats, as your primary source of dietary energy for life.

And portion sizes are really important – mostly to keep the amount of starches and sugars to the lowest possible levels, to allow the body to use fat as a primary sources of energy, leaving dietary sugar and starches to supplementary roles.

VARIATION 2 – Don’t trust traditional dieticians or doctors to give you good dietary or lifestyle advice.

Don’t trust you dietician to set goals for you, especially regarding carbs, sugars, fats and protein. Most dieticians today have been trained in a world where fat and protein (especially from red meat) have demonized and starches and sugars elevated to saintly status. Most cook books, dietician training materials, and schools are teaching the same poisoned information that has led us into the diabetic disaster that is underscoring modern lifestyles.

If you want to continue to fight with obesity and diabetes, then follow the Canada or US National Health Strategies, because doing so with take you down the same path as millions of us who are now suffering from severe diabetes, and other side effects of this advice and governmentally supported policy.

On the other hand, if you want to get off the Merry Go Round, and start to live a healthy, happy life, start to adopt what is considered to be a radically reduced diet of sugars and starches. Take your primary sustenance from meat, butter, eggs and fat, or even from vegetables rich in fat. Sugars and starches should be considered as purely luxury items, to be consumed sparsely, and in consideration of their potential for causing harm

Fast Changes

At the end of another week of three 36 hour fasts, I’m contemplating how much my life has already changed, and how much it may still change, as I continue my fasting and attack on diabetes.

Changing your lifestyle is the first key to beating diabetes

First of all, I currently weigh about 30 pounds less than when I started on the low carb high fat program. Fasting started about two weeks later, after I took the time to consult with my endocrinologist about how to manage my blood sugars during my fasting. We had already switched to two different types of insulin, long acting and fast acting, and I’m using the new meter that tests all day long, so he felt that the risk of a dangerous low could be managed.

Secondly, I now know that fasting isn’t really all that hard, for me. I suspect that motivation is a huge part of this, but fasting seems pretty straightforward to me now. Take care of my insulin and blood glucose levels, otherwise just don’t eat. Anything. Instead of it being hard, it’s been pretty easy, and the results so far are gratifying.

Weighing myself every day has become a lifetime habit. Getting my weight to a better levels is one of the keys to improving my diabetes, blood pressure, arthritis, and many other inflammatory problems and diseases.

I made the change to my lifestyle on July 10, and began fasting near the end of the month. It’s now the end of the first week of September so I’m approach two months into the program. My insulin levels are lower than ever as are my glucose readings. I take half of the prescribed dose of long acting insulin these days, and no fast acting insulin at all on my fasting days, and about three quarters of the previous prescibed dose on my non fasting days.

The biggest concern is keeping my blood sugars high enough not to end up in a coma from hypoglycemia from having too much insulin in my system and lowering my blood sugar too much. In more than 20 years of trying to manage my diabetes low blood sugar was never ever a remote possibility, even after being on insulin, as my blood sugars were always higher than desireable.

I recently made two new holes in my belt to keep my pants from falling down, after moving from the last belt hole at the other extreme. I didn’t measure my waist when I started because I was too embarrassed to admit how big I had become. Now I wish that I had because I’m shrinking fast.

When I started this fast, I told myself that I would stay the course for three months, and then re-evaluate where I’m at then, from a health perspective as well as general feeling perspective. I also said that I would be happy if I were to get my weight under 200 lbs or 90 KG by the end of the 90 days of fasting. Today I weigh 217 lbs, down from 244 lbs on July 10th. I believe that I will achieve both goals, at which time I will commit to the next phase of this program.

I wish I could say that there have been no negative effects of fasting. It’s a little early to make that statement. What I can say is that there haven’t been any, so far.

Children and diabetes

I’m current working through the discovery that diabetes and obesity are the evil twins of post-second war American policy in health care and diets. If you read about the history of high carb, low fat diets you soon discover that the United States, and the rest of the world, were conned years ago, about the benefits of high carbs and the dangers of fat, any fat, but especially fat from animal sources. These policies were initiated by the National Health authorities to try to reduce heart disease but instead have led to several generations of increasingly unhealthy populations.

We are taught all the wrong things, for good reasons but terrible outcomes.

Children don’t eat too much. But their choices are influenced by what they are taught by their parents as well as what they see in the media, and on social media. All of the sources of information are tainted by misinformation pumped out by a combination of well meaning but uninformed dieticians, medical doctors, school authorities, health boards and urged on by corporate interests who make money selling foods based on this advice. Eating foods that inevitably bring on obesity, as surely as clouds bring on the rain, is dangerous. Childhood habits encourage the eating of carbs and sugar, rather than healthier alternatives.

Our generation is perhaps the last generation that needs to be poisoned by the demonization of fats and the promotion of carbs and sugars. The recent book by Dr. Jason Fung, the Diabetes Code, should be must reading for everyone responsible for feeding themselves, but especially for anyone responsible for giving advice on healthy eating and living.

Reviews for the Diabetes Code by Dr. Jason Fung

I am currently on a fasting program outlined in the Diabetic Code by Dr. Fung. Here are some reviews by other, professional doctors and experts, who might be better qualified to give a review. From my point of view what Dr. Fung does extremely well is combine recently discovered truths, and rediscovered nutritional wisdom from the past, in a readable and applicable book. It inspired me to change my life.

DONALD B. WILSON BA MAOM, author of the Rain Coast Review, a recent blogger on diabetes and health.

“By understanding the underlying cause of the disease, Dr. Fung reveals how [type 2 diabetes] can be prevented and also reversed using natural dietary methods instead of medications. This is an important and timely book. Highly recommended.”

MARK HYMAN, MD, author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?

“With rich scientific support, Dr. Jason Fung has sounded a clarion call to re-evaluate how we view and treat diabetes. Considering that roughly half of all adults worldwide are diabetic or on their way (pre-diabetes), The Diabetes Code is essential reading.”

DR. BENJAMIN BIKMAN, Associate Professor of Physiology, Brigham Young University

“In The Diabetes Code, Dr. Fung lays out the case for eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates and replacing them with whole foods with healthy fats. Dr. Fung gives an easy-to-follow solution to reversing type 2 diabetes by addressing the root cause, diet.”

MARIA EMMERICH, author of The 30-Day Ketogenic Cleanse

“In this terrific and hopeful book, Dr. Fung teaches you everything you need to know about how to reverse type 2 diabetes. It could change the world.”

DR. ANDREAS EENFELDT, author of Low Carb, High Fat Food Revolution

The Diabetes Code should be on the bookshelf of every physician and any patient struggling with blood sugar control.”

CARRIE DIULUS, MD, medical director of the Crystal Clinic Spine Wellness Center

The Diabetes Code is unabashedly provocative yet practical . . . a clear blueprint for everyone to take control of their blood sugar, their health, and their lives.”

DR. WILL COLE, leading functional medicine practitioner and educator at drwillcole.com

“With his trademark humor, Jason Fung exposes the secret that type 2 diabetes can be reversed with the right combination of diet and lifestyle—you can reclaim your health and vitality. Dr. Fung will teach you how.”

AMY BERGER, MS, CNS, author of The Alzheimer’s Antidote

The Diabetes Code clears the fog around type 2 diabetes and underscores that for most people, it is preventable or reversible.”

DR. KARIM KHAN, MD, British Journal of Sports Medicine

Fasting for my life

I’m current engaged in intermittent fasting. That is I fast three days a week for 36 hours each day of fasting. I thought it would be hell. I was wrong.

I’ve previously blogged about why I’m fasting. It’s a part of getting rid of diabetes from my life, in as much as that is possible. It’s a part of a change in eating habits that started in my childhood and led me to becoming a Type 2 Diabetic before I was 40 years old.

Prior to starting the change, on July 10, 2019, I weighed in at 244 pounds (111.13 kilograms), about 80 (36 kg) pounds above my ideal recommended weight of 165 (75 kg) pounds. Even that is more than the Canada Health Guide suggests would be my healthiest weight. The guide suggests that I should weigh between 145 (65lg) and 165 (75 kg) another 20 pounds (9 kg) less.

Whichever weight guide I use the real point of this fast is not really about weight, or even the Body Mass Index. (I was at 45 BMI when I started this.) It is about my diabetes and my obesity. Losing fat is precisely the point of this exercise, in that it is fat, particularly around the waist and in the internal organs that is the source of insulin resistance itself, the precursor and the cause of Type 2 Diabetes.

According to Dr. Jason Fung, in the Diabetic Code, one of the most effective ways to reduce and eventually eliminate diabetes is to fast on an intermittent basis for sufficiently long enough for the body to attack and consume the fat in the liver, the pancreas, and the other internal organs responsible for regulating insulin production and diabetes. My 36 hour fasting periods are recommended by Dr. Fung, along with a much reduced carbohydrate load on the days I do eat. By doing the fast it is suggeted I will cause my body to start using the fat accumulated in my internal organs, even before I lose significant weight from elsewhere in my body.

Periodic fasting can help clear up the mind and strengthen the body and the spirit. Ezra Taft Benson

Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ezra_taft_benson_556127?src=t_fasting

So what is it like? Fasting three days a week for about a day and a half each time? It’s not hell! That much I can say. I have found that I don’t really miss eating on my fasting days, although food is very much still top of mind. I’m constantly reminded of the fact I’m fasting by the smells and sights of food being consumed and promoted.

Truthfully, on my non-fasting days I have more problems with food than on the days I don’t eat at all. It is hard to make the adjustment to eating meals with substantially less carbs and sugars than I am used to. There are whole types of foods that used to be my main diet that I no longer eat, including things like pasta, potatoes in the form of french fries or chips, bread served at every meals, desserts like donuts which I used to eat at lunch every day.

And even at that, I don’t really miss the high calorie carb and sugar foods like pop and cookies. I quickly figured out that the low carb diet didn’t mean that I have to go hungry, but simply means that I fill up on other things that don’t cause my liver to produce more insulin and convert more sugars and carbs in more and more fat. I’m eating more fish, meat and fatty foods like avocados. Until now I have never thought of eggs as healthy, or as a main source of protein and fat, in a good way.

I’m having to unlearn bad food habits, both in the sense of things I now avoid, as well as things I eat more. My diet is getting more interesting and diverse, because no longer do I use sugar in food to make it palatable. Sugar is fine is small doses. Really small doses!

I still eat potatoes. Really small potatoes, and not deep fried. And only a small amount of potatoes with my dinner meals, if any at all. Same with rice and pasta. Same with really sugary fruits, like my standard apples and bananas. Now I eat a lot of salads, with my meat or eggs or fish or vegetable proteins.

This is my fourth week of fasting three times a week, for 36 hours each time. Oh, and by the way, I am losing weight and fat around my belly. So far my belt is now on the smallest hole setting. I’ll need a new belt soon, as I keep going.

The first couple of weeks on my changed diet, even before I started the fasting part, I lost 10 pounds, and I immediately lost another ten pounds in the first three weeks of fasting, But my weight has been static for a few days after that initial success. For the past five days my weight has been going up and down about five pounds. Hopefully I’ll break through to a new low soon and quit cycling. But whether or not I’m losing weight quickly or slowly I know that I’m pushing my body to clean up the fat in my liver, and that’s the whole point of this.

I’ll be touch, as I continue this journey where I’ve never gone before.


The Diabetes Code: Prevent and Reverse Type 2 Diabetes Naturally

I’m reinventing myself again. My goal is to eliminate or radically reduce prescription medications for diabetes, and a whole host of inflammatory diseases caused by the same thing that causes diabetes. 

Change doesn’t come easily when one is used to surrendering autonomy to the medical profession and simply being the obedient patient. It is NOT SAFE to simply trust that doctors know what is best for us. We already know this, but it is no surprise when we obediently follow their advice. Like everything else in life, you need to check the information out for yourself, and ask a lot of questions.

It seems that diabetes is actually caused by the thing that is supposed to cure it – insulin. In his book, The Diabetes Code, Dr. Jason Fung has coined the word diabesity – combining the words diabetes with obesity, to indicate that diabesity is caused by excess glucose in the body stored as fat, particularly in the internal organs, particularly the liver. There is a cycle in the body, controlled by the liver, that triggers the production of excessive blood sugar and results in insulin resistance.

Too much sugar and the body develops insulin resistance because the body simply can’t absorb any more sugar into the cells. To make matters worse, the medical profession prescribes increased insulin, or even just metformin, which helps the body to try to consume even more sugar.

Dr. Fung’s prescription for the elimination of diabetes is contained in a book called the Diabetes Code. Read it and weep, but understand that it calls for regular fasting to reset the diabetes cycle. 

This week I’m seeing my endocrinologist, and am going to be seeking support to follow Dr. Fung’s program. I’m curious as to what he will say.

Will he continue to prescribe insulin, Janumet, and Invokana to address my extreme diabetes? Or will he support a major lifestyle readjustment along with a fasting program to eliminate the disease altogether, eventually? I have already started to substantially reduce my carbohydrates and sugars in preparation for the revised program, and have already lost over 10 lbs in just under ten days.

I started writing about my diabetes and this journey several months ago, when I decided to review the prescription medications and their side effects, as a result of finally getting fed up with being sick, and seeming to get worse and worse and the years roll by.

With the encouragement of my middle son, Don, I began to look at diet as a major issue in my illnesses, as well as my diabetes. Sure, I went to many diabetes dietician clinics years ago when I first became aware that I was a diabetic. They always talked about reducing carbohydrates and sugars, and using diet and exercise to control my weight, and therefore help control my blood sugars.

As noted by Dr. Fung in his book, diet and exercise programs have been a massive failure, all over the world, in controlling or preventing diabetes or obesity. There are many reasons for this failure, but the medical professional continues to support this old and tired cant, that doesn’t actually work. I think the real reason that nobody wanted to actually examine diabetes and obesity with new eyes is that the old views are very profitable, to the pharmaceutical industry, the vegetable oil industry, even the health and diet industry itself.

But you’d have thought that somebody would have noticed that it didn’t work. And finally somebody has.

Anyway. Wish me luck on this new direction in my journey to solve my diabetes, and eliminate the side effects of so many medications by eliminating my need for them at all.

Finally, my wife Katherine has been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in the past month, and has begun the journey through this ugly territory as well. Hopefully we can solve the riddle of the disease for both of us, and she never has to go through the years of pain and agony I am experiencing as a result of having poorly controlled blood sugar for the past twenty five years.

How to improve your health when your blood sugars are out of control.

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  • Healthy people are proactive about our health
  • Healthy people seek out more information
  • Healthy people consult professionals before implementing significant changes in our medications or lifestyle choices
  • Healthy people are patient and persistent in overcoming health or lifestyle challenges.
  • Healthy people accept total accountability for our own health, without taking on blame for things beyond our control.

What can you do to improve your AIC when you’re feeling terrible from a variety of symptoms and conditions, many of which are either a direct result of your diabetes, or at least are indirectly impacted by persistent high blood sugars.

There are any number of things you need to deal with in order to make real change. The most important of these things is probably NOT your diabetes. At least not directly.

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I’ve been a type two diabetic for many years. Diabetes probably started with me in my twenties although my first symptoms didn’t start to show up until I was nearly forty. I’m now in my sixties and I’ve been on insulin for more than fifteen years. That means I’ve been pricking my finger at least once a day since I was fifty years old, and injecting myself with insulin ever since.

The one thing I can say about my diabetes is that it has progressed in a predictable way, gradually causing negative effects to my body. All the way along the road various doctors have given me a lot of prescription medications, as well as a lot of advice. I’ve been to diabetic clinics where nurses and dieticians have attempted to teach me how to control my blood sugars through diet and exercise.

Why Me?

When I was first diagnosed with diabetes I even received counselling, to try to make sense of Why Me? I think everyone feels victimized by negative health conditions, whether it’s COPD, Heart Disease or Cancer. The answers to Why Me? are both existential and practical.

There are two parts to the answer. First, there is the part of Why Me? over which you have no control, never did, never will have and makes no difference anyway. Whether it’s fate, God, a cruel universe, DNA or the conditions of your life (including a bad diet, smoking, poor or no exercise, etc.) leading up to becoming diabetic none of them actually matter in coming to terms with the emotional fallout of Why Me?

Truthfully, there are many things I could have done differently in the past that might have made a huge difference in my experience of diabetes now and in the future. But for whatever reasons I had, or gave myself, I did what I thought was within my capacity to change in my habits and behaviors.

You can check your blood sugars regularly with you meter tests, get your AIC blood work done in the lab and consult with your doctor as often as she thinks is useful or necessary. You may make changes in your diet and exercise program, and do your best to lose weight and keep it within certain boundaries. And if you do all these things from the beginning, your diabetes will be stable and you will reduce the consequences of this disease.

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For most of us, however, no matter how much we say we care about our health, we’re not really willing to do whatever is necessary to fundamentally change our outcomes. We do some of it, maybe ever some of it every day with serious intentions.

This is the Second Part to Why Me?

This is the part of Why Me? you can control if you choose to do so. So how do you change what you do and how you act, to have a real impact on your own health? This goes back to me saying that it’s not actually about diabetes, or even about your physical health.

It’s really about becoming conscious about who and what you want to be in your own life. We’ve all been beat-up by life along the way. Parents, friends, lovers, partners and even strangers have both positive and negative impacts on our self esteem. Why is that? Why do we let anyone else impact how we feel about ourselves, and how we make positive or negative choices about our lives, including those choices about dealing with negative health outcomes resulting from poor choices.

I hate to say this but “Who cares?” It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, or how you allowed yourself to be negatively influenced regarding healthy living. It really doesn’t matter, but only if there is some way you can turn your life around and ultimately take control of those things that you can control.

How to take control and like it.

The first thing is to understand what it is you need to do to make things better. If you don’t know what you need to do, it’s pretty hard to decide what to do. So find out. See you doctors. Read everything you can find out about current treatment alternatives, and inquire from other people their experiences. Read blogs. Get new referrals to diabetic clinics and resources. Talk over alternatives with your specialist. Make a plan of action with on a few, specific steps, done regularly and persistently.

Don’t try to do everything all at once. Set limited goals with realistic objectives. For example: Don’t try to lose a lot of weight in a week or even a month. Lose weight in amounts that can actually be achieved. If you find it too hard to do by yourself, join a club or a weight loss program which comes with monitoring and emotional support. But don’t blame the program if your weight loss isn’t happening. Be totally honest with yourself, and reset your goals. Weight loss is fundamental to improved diabetic outcomes and lowering blood sugar.

Don’t hang around waiting for someone else to improve your health.

If it isn’t happening, then look elsewhere for support, but don’t give up on necessary change. Remember that whatever happened yesterday is no longer relevant unless it results in change today. Guilt is useless unless it is accompanies by a renewed sense of personal accountability.

When I graduated many years ago from UBC my school motto was TU UM EST. What I didn’t realize was how powerful an idea that really is.

TU UM EST!