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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.