My Type 2 Diagnosis
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in September of 2000, just before going on a weekend campout with a group of women. I remember that when I told Dr. John Duge, our pastor, I bemoaned that I would never be able to have Almond Roca again, and he laughed, thinking that I was very funny. I was working in San Francisco at Degenkolb Engineers then, and I walked around the city streets during my lunch hour on a route that I carved out for myself, and then I came back to the office and ate lunch at my desk, being very careful to pack lunches that met the ADA dietary guidelines of 150 grams of carbohydrates per day. On breaks, I drank Diet Dr. Pepper. For the first few years, I was able to manage to keep my A1C under 7.0 with just diet and exercise.
Weimar Reversing Diabetes Retreat
In the fall of 2004, I attended a 3-day Reversing Diabetes retreat, conducted by Weimar Institute. I was familiar with the Weimar Diet from 20 years before when I had my kids on the Feingold Diet, which eliminates artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, plus testing for salicylate intolerance. We were living in North Dakota and were not able to find any bread that was suitable, so I learned to make whole-grain bread with dates and avocados since Weimar prohibited all processed sugars and oils. But the Weimar Diet was vegan and we still ate eggs and dairy products. (We were not quite ready for translation.) After attending the Reserving Diabetes seminar, I was certain I could follow it if (1) I had all day to spend cooking and (2) I had enough time to walk five miles a day, seven days a week. So “Reversing Diabetes” was something I put on the back burner for when I retired, which I thought would be sometime after age 70.
Looking for Weimar on Facebook
Fast forward a decade, and I found myself working at home, no longer spending 60 hours a week at a corporate desk, and in a place where it was theoretically possible to “spend all day cooking” and walk five miles a day. It was in the spring of 2013 that I decided to look for a Facebook support group, should it exist, of people who had attended a Weimar Reversing Diabetes program. None existed, only a Facebook Page promoting the NEWSTART® Lifestyle Program, and I signed up to subscribe to their email newsletter. But, in searching the term “Reversing Diabetes” on Facebook, I found some discussion groups that I could join. I also searched “Reversing Diabetes” on Amazon and found a number of books that looked promising that I downloaded to my Kindle. And so my journey began.
Finding a Different Kind of Reversing Diabetes
In the beginning, I read a lot and I “listened” a lot in the groups. I began to get the sense that the real key to diabetes control–and maybe even reversal–was carbohydrate control: greatly reducing carb intake. That made sense to me. What was harder to wrap my head around was the idea of high-fat along with low-carb. I learned that if you lower your carb intake enough, your body will start to burn fat for energy. Now that made sense to me, because excess glucose (from carbs–sugars and starches) had been stored as fat anyway for whenever you didn’t have enough glucose for energy. I settled on two Facebook groups that made the most sense to me: Reversing Diabetes (https://www.facebook.com/groups/reversingdiabetes/) and The Vegetarian Low Carb Diabetic Healthy Diet Society (https://www.facebook.com/groups/veglowcarb/), both closed groups.
Creating an Adventist Diabetic Community
Then I got an idea to start my own Facebook group and call it Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics (https://www.facebook.com/groups/vegetariandiabetics/), which would include diabetics who understood the Seventh-day Adventist position on vegetarianism and “clean meats.” I was hoping against hope that I might find someone who had gone through the Weimar Reversing Diabetes program and could share their success with the group. So I added a dozen or so of my Facebook friends who I knew were current or former Adventists and were diabetic and put out invitations for anyone interested to join the group.
Experimenting with Low-carb High-fat
In the fall of 2013 I decided to give this LCHF (low-carb high-fat) idea a try, though I was sure I would never be able to get as low as 20-30 grams of carbs a day as the most successful ones in the groups seemed to be doing. I figured if I could get my carb intake down to <100 grams/day, that would be a first step. So in the first several months I watched my A1C go down from 7.5 to 7.1 to 6.8. That was “good enough” for my doctor, so she stopped having me get the A1C test every 3 months. I convinced her, though, that I needed to test at least three times a day and that I needed a prescription for 300 test strips every three months, and she complied with my request.
Year of Recipe Testing
I spent most of 2014 experimenting, trying new recipes, trying low-carb foods, trying high-carb foods, and testing to see how things affected my blood sugar. As with Feingold, I seemed to have to make the same mistakes over and over before I could become truly convinced of cause and effect. I asked a lot of questions and posted a lot of opinions on Adventist Vegetarian Diabetics and got very little response, and that was discouraging. I began to wonder if anyone was reading what I was posting. At one point I was so discouraged I fleetingly thought of just deleting the Facebook group, but when I even hinted toward that in a post, I got enough responses of encouragement to keep going with it. However, since it seemed that what people want most was information–especially recipes–and really did not want to have group conversations, so I made the group Public: anyone on Facebook could see the posts and the member list, but only members could post.
Now, as 2015 begins, it’s time to re-evaluate not only my personal goals but the goals and purpose of this online community (even if the “community” feels a bit one-sided!). Perhaps my poll questions should not be for the purpose of gaining statistical data about the members, since such a very small percentage of the members even respond to the polls. Perhaps the purpose of a question–whether responded to or not–should simply be for the purpose of getting the members to think about a particular aspect of managing their diabetes. So I will be diligent in presenting a new question weekly and will not be concerned at all how–or if–it is responded to!