After getting married, graduating, and moving to take a job in Chicago -- I work in the computer consulting industry -- my increasing age and decreasingly active lifestyle started to catch up with me. I think this caused a bit of a chain reaction -- the less active I was, the more depleted I was of energy, and the less energy I had, the less motivation I had to become physically active again.
This lack of motivation lasted for about 6-7 years, when finally, being about 15 lbs overweight (which in my family is noticeable as everyone is very active and fit), and noticing some small complications which I felt were related to diabetes, I decided to try to proactively manage my diabetes.
I tried doing the classic ADA diet (low fat) and was meticulous in tracking every single variable in a massive spreadsheet. I tracked my food, exercise, medications, and blood sugars over the course of 4 weeks. I plotted some interesting graphs based on this data and immediately came to a conclusion -- it is impossible to have normal blood sugars while following the low fat, high carb diet promoted by the ADA (as manifest by the recipes they publish in their publications alone).
This wasn't really rocket science -- I could actually see my blood sugar dropping and climbing. I gained a massive appreciation for the amount of work a pancreas does and the sheer beauty of its design.
It was at this point after my 4 week experiment that I started looking for alternatives -- thank heavens for Google! (A very sad aside is that I work intensely with the internet on a daily basis and had never even googled the word "diabetes" up until this point in my life. The two things were completely separate in my mind.)
I quickly discovered a book with the exact title I was looking for: Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Sugars. I immediately bought this book. Before receiving my copy, I was apprehensive that it might be what most products are and be overselling just a bit. I read some of the book, parts of which are freely available online at Dr. Bernstein's website, and that sold me -- it was the real deal.
When I received my copy I devoured it, and highlighted the entire thing. There was so much in there I had never known. Everything it said made perfect sense, especially in the context of my recent 4 week experiment. It is just not possible for a person to mimic the complex behavior of the pancreas with injections, and so the best course of treatment to achieve normal blood sugars is to reduce the demand for insulin. (Dr. Bernstein refers to this as the Law of Small Numbers).
It was a beautiful moment when after 4 weeks of trying to do things perfectly right and becoming increasingly discouraged that I would have to resign myself to the ADA's story that diabetes is always progressive and complications were inevitable that in fact one could achieve normal blood sugars. Dr. Bernstein had laid out a solution in black and white, and it was like finding a needle in the haystack of diabetic treatments being pushed by most medical professionals and government organizations.
Another great discovery I made during this time was the Dr. Bernstein Diabetes Forum. Here I found some of the nicest, most knowledgeable, and genuinely helpful individuals around. I know others from the forum will agree with me when I say it
is one of the most unique online forums around where there is an amazingly strong sense of community. There are many more success stories like mine on that forum.
After reading the book, I immediately started to put together my own treatment plan following the book’s guidance. Again, at this point in my life, I had done enough self-treatment and experimentation that I was quite confident in taking this course of action. Those who do not feel comfortable with this may need to try to actually set up time with Dr. Bernstein or someone that follows his approach.
After three months, my insulin usage went down by 75%, my A1C went from around 8.0 to 5.0, and my mental health was better than it had ever been before. I finally felt like I had the energy and drive to get my physcial activity going again, and I embarked on intense cardio and weight lifting exercises. In no time, I was in the best shape I had been in in over 10 years. My blood sugars were getting closer and closer to normal. I won't lie -- it takes a lot of fine tuning to truly get them to be normal, and takes a lot of self control to stay away from even small cheats. But even if you do cheat here or there, you are still orders of magnitudes better off than you would be following a straight ADA style diet.
With my diet taking a fundamental shift from about 25% protein, 10-20% fat and the rest in simple/complex carbs to 25% protein, 5% carbs, and 70% fat, I have never felt better. Of course, there were those, including my doctor, who I pretty much use just to get my official A1C about twice a year, who brought up the question of cholesterol. I spent a year researching the question on my own and also leaned on the research already done by the likes of Dr. Ravnskov and Anthony Colpo. I have done a lot of reading and now feel completely okay about my cholesterol -- in fact, my numbers have improved, but in general I am a firm disbeliever in the overall lipid hypothesis and anti-saturated fat movement.
One word of caution is around using the "calibration" techniques described in the book to really figure out how much a gram of carb and a gram of protein affect blood sugar and likewise to determine how much 1 unit of your insulin will lower your blood sugar. (I actually use Novolog to cover carbs and Regular to cover protein with Lantus twice a day.) When I started, I had a number of low blood sugar episodes since I was a bit rushed to start and skipped this important step. Since starting this program, I now take 75% less insulin, so don't expect to keep using the same dosage when you adjust to this diet.
For 2007, one of my New Year's resolutions was to help share the solution I had found to my diabetes with a broader group of people. The last 16 months following this diabetes management has convinced me this truly was a solution to diabetes in the truest sense of the word. And so D-solve was born on January 8th, 2007 with a goal of sharing my story with the world (and hopefully many others as I know there are thousands like mine). Reader's Note:
Thanks to diabetes.wikia.com that we were able to publish Ryan's story as is from that site. The site has an open license for reuse of content.