All posts by No Med Matt

My Diet – Foundation for No Medication

Raw Plant-Based Diet is the Key

For my second blog post, I thought it would be a good idea to just lay out what my diet is. After all, any T1D interested in staying off medication will be mostly interested in this topic. I will discuss in more detail below, but I predominately eat a raw plant-based diet. When I say raw, I mean uncooked foods (i.e. garden salad). Raw foods retain higher nutrient levels that aid in healing my body. The more cooked foods I eat, the less nutrients my body absorbs.

When I say plant-based, I mean that 90 to 95% of what I eat is centered on vegetables, nuts and seeds…all organic. The other 5-10% of what I eat is animal-based (i.e. chicken, fish, eggs, steak). The only reason why I still eat animal products is because it’s very difficult to completely eliminate these considering how ingrained they are into our society. I do admit they taste good, but I know they are bad for me, so I try and avoid them as much as I can.

When I first was diagnosed back in January 2014, I read a few books outlining the benefits of the plant-based diet. I initially thought these books were crazy talk as I was coming from a completely animal-based diet, so the concept of limiting my diet to 1-2 small servings of animal products per week almost seemed comical.

However, what wasn’t comical was the continued rise of my blood sugars over the first 9 months after my diagnosis when animal products were still a staple in my diet. This included eggs for breakfast, chicken on my salads for lunch and some kind of animal product for dinner. Newly diagnosed T1Ds have some flexibility soon after diagnosis (0-9 months) when your pancreas is still functioning to a certain extent, but this “honeymoon period” does eventually fade unless you convert to a plant-based diet, at least in my experience.

Plant-Based Diet is Good for Everyone

Before I jump into my diet, I want all non-diabetic readers of this blog to know that I would recommend my diet for everyone, not just T1Ds. We all should be eating plant-based diets. It’s what’s natural and the food that is meant for our bodies.

I realize many of you are rolling your eyes right now, just like I was when I first started researching this, but it doesn’t take much internet research to uncover a lot of the adverse effects from eating animal products. I’m not saying you need to completely eliminate animal products, but just know that the more you eat the worse off you will be.

My Diet And Path To No Medication

Below I’m going to outline my routine for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks on a daily basis. At this point, I’m on cruise control with my diet. I was stricter when I first began following it, but over time I’ve learned certain areas where I can loosen up because my blood sugars remained in a desirable range. I will admit this diet is not cheap and it’s high maintenance, however, staying off medication will save you money in the long run, and you will have an extreme sense of personal accomplishment.

Breakfast (Raw Nut Granola Recipe)

For breakfast I eat raw nut granola with homemade almond milk. On a typical 30 day month, I probably eat this 26 days for breakfast. It actually tastes very good and is filling. This is probably my favorite thing to eat. The other 4 days of the month I eat pecan porridge which has similar ingredients to the nut granola.

I use something called yacon syrup that flavors the granola with a similar taste to that of maple syrup. Yacon syrup tastes amazing, and I’m not sure how it’s low glycemic, but it is. It’s also super expensive unfortunately. Here is the link to the yacon syrup I buy: Amazon Therapeutics. The granola is dehydrated on 115 degrees for 12+ hours. Cooking foods at 115 degrees or less preserves the nutrients so the meal is still technically “raw”. Here is the dehydrator I use: Nesco.

Lunch

For lunch I almost always have a garden salad made up of low glycemic vegetables. The items I typically include on my salad are spinach, kale, cucumber, cauliflower, broccoli, chickpeas, green/red pepper, tomatoes, avocado, carrots, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds. For dressing I use some type of low-to-no sugar organic salad dressing from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

This really should be the staple in everyone’s daily diet, not just T1Ds. All of these vegetables are key in reversal of disease and healthy living. If you wanted to be stricter, you can try using apple cider vinegar dressing. I used ACV for a while, but just couldn’t handle it anymore…I needed something with more taste.

Dinner

Dinner is where things get interesting. This is probably the biggest pain in my diet. I have the breakfast and lunch routine down, but it’s not easy finding low maintenance vegan dinners (at least in my experience). I really wish I was filthy rich and could just hire someone to research and prepare vegan dinners for me each day, but for now I’m stuck working through this myself. I will give credit to my wife though as she does find cool things for me to eat.

Many of the dinner items I experimented with tasted great at first, but I became sick of them after about 4 or 5 times. So, I’ve had to keep searching for new things to eat. A good website / app to locate good vegan meals is Pinterest (clean eating). My wife got me into this, and it does provide some excellent options. I’m going to list below the link to some good meals that I’ve had. These are probably my top choices at this point. I just try and rotate them to try and keep the appeal. Worst case scenario I just eat a salad for dinner if I’m in a crunch.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Raw Lentil Tacos

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

Roasted Cauliflower, Broccoli, & Sun Dried Tomato Salad with Chickpeas

Black Bean Meatball Bowls with Cauliflower Rice

Snacks

The above diet can leave you a little hungry during the day, so I almost always eat some kind of daily snack in the afternoon. I’ve experimented with many types of foods, but the most low maintenance, good tasting snacks I found are kale chips and flax snacks.

If you go to Whole Foods, they have a snack isle with a lot of good options. Just make sure you read the ingredients to ensure there is no added sugar in the kale chips. The “Brad’s Raw Chips” are really good and they are located at Whole Foods.

Fruit

I hardly eat any fruit. I wish I could eat more, but most fruits in general have a large amount of natural sugars and carbohydrates which translates to higher blood sugars for me. If I do eat fruit, I try to eat berries as they are the lowest glycemic fruits out there (i.e. blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries).

The next best would be fruits like apples, pears and oranges. Dried fruit should be avoided if you are a T1D. These are fruits such as dates, raisins and cranberries, and they are extremely high on the glycemic index.

Sweets / Deserts

I almost never eat sweets, deserts, soda or other sugary drinks. I may have something once per month. I did used to love ice cream, but the dairy and sugar in ice cream will throw a T1Ds blood sugar out of whack, so I suggest avoiding them. If you must indulge, there is ice cream made out of nuts like cashews that tastes just as good as cow’s milk ice cream.

Ultimately, I would suggest not eating any sweets or deserts. They are packed with sugar and garbage ingredients that wreak havoc on your blood sugars, not to mention your entire body. My guess is that this is where a lot of T1Ds would have trouble following my diet.

However, once you research and better understand the adverse effects that sugar desserts have on your body, my guess is that you’ll be less inclined to eat them.

Alcohol

YES! I definitely still indulge in a few drinks here and there. I do, however, drink much less than I used to, but this can be attributed to me just getting old as well and being married with children. In my experience, having a glass of red wine or two has typically lowered my fasting blood sugars the following day. Alcohol is known to have this effect on blood sugars. If I drink beer, I’ll have Miller Light or Michelob Ultra which are two of the lower carb beers.

If you want to be super strict, drink potato vodka, club soda with a lime…this would be your lowest glycemic choice. I tried drinking these, but I never was much of a liquor fan, so I just stick with red wine for the most part and have the occasional beers. Just remember there is a tipping point where consuming too much alcohol in a given night will actually raise your blood sugars.

Supplements

In general, most supplements are not good for you. A majority of them contain all sorts of weird chemicals that hurt your body. Even if you find a healthier one, chances are they provide more nutrients / minerals than your body actually needs. If you follow my diet above, you will not need any additional supplementation and you can rest assured that your body is getting all of the nutrients and minerals it needs.

There is one caveat, you need to take a B12 vitamin if you are vegan. From my research, this is the only mineral that your body needs that comes solely from animals. This is the spray I use: Pure Vegan B-12 Spray.

There is one supplement that I took for a while when I first started the plant-based diet. It is super healthy and contains only raw vegan natural ingredients (no chemicals). However, the drawbacks were 1) it gets expensive; 2) it tastes awful and 3) I had to use stevia to stomach the drink which actually increased my blood sugar levels. Ultimately, I stopped purchasing it, however, here is a link to the one I used to get: Healthforce Vitamineral Green.

Conclusion

This diet definitely took some getting used to, but I truly enjoy it now. Obviously it’s no fun having T1D, but it’s sure a great feeling when I can manage a disease naturally that nearly all standard doctors say is impossible. I’ve learned a lot over the past couple of years regarding diet and its effects on your body. Even if the medical community found a cure for T1D tomorrow, I sincerely believe my diet wouldn’t change much from what it is now.

I’m certainly not happy about having this disease, but in some respects I feel blessed that my wife, children and myself will be much healthier in our lives than we otherwise would have been if I’d not been diagnosed. I wish the rest of society could become enlightened like I was. Unfortunately, it usually takes some form of tragedy in one’s life before getting the motivation to change.

Fighting Type 1 Diabetes Naturally – My Story

Hello everyone! This is my first blog. I am a 34 year guy from Pittsburgh with Type 1 diabetes. I wanted to use this first blog to provide a summary of my background and what my purpose is for blogging.  I anticipate doing a monthly blog around the 15th of every month. This blog runs a little long, but I thought it was necessary to try and tell my story with the first post.

My Blog Mission Statement

Create public awareness among Type 1 diabetics (“T1Ds”) that it is absolutely possible to manage their disease naturally without the use of any medication for an extended period of time while still maintaining a healthy quality of life.

My Story

Nearly two years ago in January of 2014, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I had a fasting blood sugar of 300 and an A1c of 8.4. As a reference, a non-diabetic has a fasting blood sugar below 100 and an A1c below 6.0.

My father is a Type 1 diabetic and was diagnosed in his late 20’s with the disease, so it certainly runs in the family. I had always gotten an A1c test (standard test in diabetic world) semi-annually since I was 22 because of my family history with the disease.

Over the years, my readings were hovering around the 6.0 mark, which some doctors would call this pre-diabetes. However, my doctor wasn’t pushing the panic button so I wasn’t overly concerned.

The Initial Shock

When I was diagnosed, it was difficult news to grasp. It’s depressing when a doctor tells you that you now have a chronic disease for the rest of your life and you will undoubtedly have to start taking multiple insulin injections on daily basis just to survive. On the bright side, there are much worse diseases to get. Also, I was very fortunate I didn’t live during the early 1900s before insulin was introduced. Back then Type 1 diabetes was essentially a death sentence. It was a total life changer though. Imagine what it’s like one day to wake up and now have to worry about everything you put into your body, especially when I was completely uneducated about the glycemic index at the time.

During my first couple months following diagnosis, I had many doctor appointments. Ultimately, each and every doctor gave me a doom’s day scenario telling me as a TID, I’ll have a short “Honeymoon” period (6 to 15 months) where my pancreas will still work, but this eventually fades over time and I’ll then have to start on insulin injections.

No doctor told me of any type of possibility to live medication free for an extended period of time.

In fact, the initial doctors I went to literally tried to put me on medication immediately…totally ridiculous.

Every time a doctor, or anyone for that matter, told me insulin was in my near future, it just fueled my desire to stay off meds and prove them wrong. Just the thought of having to give myself 4/5/6 shots a day made me cringe. Not to mention having to prick my finger 4/5/6 times a day to test my blood sugar. Sound pretty annoying, right? Also, you now have to worry about low blood sugar if you inject too much insulin in your body (risk of diabetic comas – bad stuff!).

Meeting The Nutritionist

Following those doctor visits, my brother-in-law recommended a nutritionist that helps with diabetic diets. In fact, my brother-in-law told me that this nutritionist had worked with T1Ds that have been off medication for years. I’m talking 10+ years and no meds. This was the glimmer of hope I was looking for!

I was diagnosed in early January 2014, and I started doing sessions with this nutritionist later that month. It was probably a 2-3 month process with the nutritionist, but following his diet had dramatically reduced my fasting blood sugars. His sessions did give me hope that somehow/someway, there were other T1Ds out there managing this disease 100% through diet and exercise, and I was focused on figuring out the tricks.

Initial Diet

As for the initial diet (Jan 2014-Oct 2014). I pretty much cut out all sugars/sweets, breads, soda, etc. I was still eating what I would call an “animal based” diet, but I cut out the carb heavy things like bread, cereal, pasta and things of that sort. I was able to bring back down my blood sugars and achieve A1c readings of that of a non-diabetic person. I became more comfortable with my body and diet, and I began only testing my blood sugars once per day first thing in the morning (fasting blood sugar). As long as these readings were within a certain range (90-115), I didn’t even think about medication. My endocrinologist told me that when my fasting blood sugar gets above 140 for 3 straight days, then I need to start using insulin, so I began using this as my basis. Things were going great from February 2014 through September 2014, but I noticed my blood sugars were gradually creeping up. My fasting blood sugars started getting around 120 to 140 with some consistency and I started to think insulin was in my near future.

Intense Research

In October 2014, I started doing some heavy research to try and find some alternatives. I started reading sites about how a mostly raw vegan diet has “cured” T1Ds in certain cases. I’m a guy from Pittsburgh that has been eating dairy, chicken, beef, fish my entire life. I don’t think I even knew what a vegan was at the time when I initially started reading about this. I’m going to elaborate further in later blogs on my resources and food choices, but I ended up adopting a raw vegan diet for 2 weeks in early November 2014.

The results were astonishing. Over the course of these two weeks, my average fasting blood sugar dropped to 99. As a reference, my average fasting blood sugar the 30 days prior to me starting the raw vegan diet was 117.

Fasting Blood Sugar Chart.

Benefits From Proper Diet

Over the next 2-3 months, I did a tremendous amount of research on the positive benefits that a raw vegan diet can have not only on diabetics (Type 1 and 2), but on all people. I am now writing this in December 2015, and I’ve been completely off medication for nearly 2 full years (9 months longer than any doctor gave me a chance for).

My blood sugars aren’t perfect, but they are within a range I’m comfortable with. My average fasting blood sugar over the past 30 days has been 107, and my last three A1c tests have been at 5.6 (non-diabetic readings). I now eat a plant-based diet, with ~85% of what I eat being low glycemic vegetables, nuts and seeds (mostly uncooked), and I try to minimize consumption of all animal products (chicken, beef, fish, dairy).

I can say with confidence that it’s almost like I don’t even have the disease to a certain extent.

The Future

I anticipate writing a blog once a month to continue telling my story. I want to be a resource for other T1Ds out there so you too can try to stay off medication and combat this disease naturally. I only wish I could have found a resource like this early in my diagnosis to give me more hope and guidance. I won’t lie though, you have to be extremely disciplined and motivated with your diet/exercise routine to stay off meds as a T1D…there’s not much wiggle room.

If I can help just one person from this blog, then it’s worth it for me. Stayed tuned for my next post in January 2016, and please spread the word if you know other T1Ds out there that could benefit from this post. Also, please contact me with any questions/comments you have. After all, this is the reason I’m doing this!

Thanks – Matt