I am happy to report that I’m finally starting to feel better and my knee is getting stronger. Unfortunately, I’m still having bouts of significant pain and having to limit my activities but it is better than before. I only have one more physical therapy appointment to go which is fabulous because it really hurts. My therapist tells me that it could take weeks or months to get back to my full activity capacity but he says I’m doing fabulous, as well :-)
As I’ve previously mentioned, free time can spell trouble with me because I begin to percolate and ponder all of life’s issues. Things I never have time to think about when I’m at the hospital working. With all this time on my hands, I have been reflecting on my dietary journey and what’s best for me moving forward.
My about page briefly speaks to my nutritional interests but let me take a moment to explain where I’ve been and where I’m going … I come from a family ravaged by diabetes and other significant chronic illnesses. My whole life I was overweight and so was my family. I became interested in the power of food and nutrition when I was caring for my mother as she battled diabetes, stroke and renal disease. You can read more detail about this time in my life on this post; however, the gist of the story is that food is powerful and can cure disease. This is one of the most significant reasons why I went into healthcare. When the day came that I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, I completely overhauled my eating and became serious about not becoming chronically ill. I immediately went on a low carbohydrate eating plan and saw some results with my blood glucose coming down. Unfortunately, I was never able to to take off the weight or decrease my hunger for any length of time.
About five years ago, I decided to try to clean up my eating by eating more whole foods. In fact, I jumped in with both feet and consumed a raw vegan diet for about 3 months. This lifestyle was extremely difficult to dive into but once my body adapted, I was hooked. I felt the most energy and vitality I had every felt in my life. More than anything, it made me feel confident and powerful because I was finally able to control my hunger and lose weight. If I was hungry, I ate … If I wasn’t, I didn’t. It was life-changing! Unfortunately, this lifestyle was very challenging to fit into my long shifts at the hospital and I finally converted over to a vegan diet. This diet was much easier to maintain and I still felt great.
I was a strict vegan for a couple of years and I felt vibrant and healthy. Unfortunately, my diabetes worsened and I just couldn’t justify the continuation of carbs in my diet when my body was struggling to process them. After much research and thought, I decided to go back to low carb but I went extreme low carb (so as to try mitigate the damage to my body from the elevated blood sugar levels) to give my pancreas room to breathe. To eat almost no carbs, my diet consisted of predominantly meat, cheese & nuts which was extremely hard to do after being vegan for years. My husband was also vegan so this was very difficult to navigate in our household. During this time period, my husband went vegetarian and consumed some meat and cheese but he remained primarily vegan.
As my diabetes continued to worsen, I began taking medication and researching how to best care for myself. Being that I had been overweight my entire life, the next step was bariatric surgery. I had the sleeve gastrectomy procedure in late 2010 and started dropping weight rapidly. During the rapid weight loss phase, my surgeon recommended that I stay low carb until my body settled out. This procedure does not re-route anything, it just decreases stomach size so I can physically digest any food but in smaller quantities. I have been eating low carb since my procedure because I do still have weight to lose but now that I’m at home with plenty of time to catch up on my nutritional research and reading … I’ve been re-thinking how good I felt when I consumed a vegan diet and have been asking myself what would happen if I went back.
After bariatric surgery, I was able to go off all my diabetes medications and my fasting blood glucose numbers remain in the normal range; however, when I eat carbs my body does struggle to get my blood glucose levels back down. A lot of research indicates that a low fat, vegan diet that favors lower glycemic index foods will bring blood glucose down but it doesn’t happen overnight. It can take time, even up to a few months for some. Before my bariatric procedure, I had always intended to back to vegetarian/vegan eating but I had never really made up my mind completely as to when, how and how much.
I guess there’s no time like the present. If I want to eat vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits then I should probably just do it and see what happens. Hence, the blog post title of The Vegan Experiment … Can I feel great and keep my blood glucose at a reasonable level? I’m not sure so let’s see what happens :-)
For the next couple of months, the hubs and I will be eating a low fat, vegan diet that focuses on low glycemic foods and I will be monitoring my blood glucose to see what my body thinks. For the record, dear hubby is very excited about this as he never fully embraced meat & dairy, anyway. Also, I will be adding my daily fasting blood glucose values to the bottom of each of my blog posts, primarily for my own benefit, but you guys can follow along, if you so desire. Now, I’m off to have some steel cut oats with cinnamon … so the experiment begins :-)
The Vegan Experiment & Type II Diabetes
Today’s Fasting Blood Glucose was 86
My goal is < 100
By the way, here are some great educational links & resources:
- 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
- 21-Day Vegan Kickstart Meal Plan
- Cooking Without Eggs – PDF
- Diet & Diabetes: Recipes for Success – PDF
- Essential Fatty Acids – PDF
- Health Concerns About Dairy Products – PDF
- Healthy Eating for Life: Food Choices for Cancer Prevention and Survival – PDF
- Foods & Arthritis – PDF
- Foods for Cancer Prevention – PDF
- NEW Four Food Groups – PDF
- Power Plate
- Protecting Your Bones
- Protein Myth
- Vegetarian Starter Kit
- Vegan Diet How-To Guide for Diabetes – PDF