Plant Based Eating for Type 1 Diabetes

Only 10% of diabetics have Type 1, but one of them is my mom. As I have been happy with Dr. Fuhrman’s whole food plant based guidelines, I wanted to see what he recommends for diabetes.

The End of Diabetes is largely intended for Type 2 Diabetes, which nutrition and exercise can actually cure. But it speaks directly to those with Type 1 Diabetes about increasing quality of life and preventing the many health complications associated with diabetes.

A nutritarian diet typically requires half the insulin as an American Diabetes Association diet.

Many of the complications actually come from the insulin injections rather than diabetes itself. While excessive insulin promotes plaque and heart disease risk, green vegetables can prevent and remove plaque, in addition to providing you a ton of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Dr. Fuhrman states his nutritarian plan typically cuts the insulin needed in half; controls glucose levels and lipids; and, reduces swings for a happier and healthier life.

The book recommends starting with a strict phase with the first goal of reducing insulin:

  • Avoid high carb foods for the first few weeks, aside from about a cup of beans daily. Cauliflower is a good substitute where you crave carbs.
  • Aim for eight servings of non-starchy veggies (i.e. greens, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, mushroom, onion). They have the highest nutrient density and are always unlimited.
  • Of those eight servings, aim for one of which is a raw cruciferous vegetable and one a cooked cruciferous vegetable (i.e. broccoli, cabbage, Bok Choy, radish, watercress, kale, collards, Brussels sprouts, arugula, mache, mustard greens). Cruciferous veggies repair, protect, and have the most anticancer effect.
  • One ounce of nuts and seeds per day is the main source of healthy fat. In addition, aim for 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds and 4 walnut-halves daily. This meets omega-3 needs without trans-fatty acids or saturated fat. Half an avocado is good occasionally, but avoid all oils because they are refined, low-nutrient and high-calorie without fibre.

For an easy salad dressing, mix equal parts nut butter, vinegar, and water.

Of course, work closely with your doctor because you will need to reduce insulin when eating this way – that’s the goal! In the first few days, Dr. Fuhrman says glucose readings should run 125-175. Any time a reading goes below 120, you should be reducing your insulin dose. Running a little high during transition is safer than risking hypoglycemia.

To mimic a normal pancreas, he recommends a 24-hour shot before dinner or at bedtime and a short-acting insulin immediately before each of the three meals. For a typical patient, he’s seen the long-acting dose move from 40-50 to 15-25, and the short-acting from 6-9 to 3-5. His objective is to make insulin requirements physiological instead of pathological in order to avoid fluctuations and hypoglycemia.

Note in the beginning you may feel unpleasant symptoms unrelated to diabetes. The big change in your eating can cause lightheadedness, fatigue, headaches, increased urination, sore throat, flatulence, and maybe even a rash and itching. I felt pretty awful for about a week and am nowhere near diabetic. To minimize these symptoms, Dr. Fuhrman recommends taking it more gradually with raw vegetables, cruciferous especially; spreading out your beans between lunch and dinner; and, increasing the amount you chew.

After a few weeks in the first phase, you can move to a more flexible approach that should still keep your insulin needs as low as a non-diabetic. The main changes will be:

  • Continue to avoid all refined carbs, both sugar and starch, but you can have a daily serving of whole grains or starchy vegetable like sweet potato, corn, or carrots
  • Increase beans to a maximum cup with lunch and one cup with dinner
  • Add up to one or two fruits with breakfast, one with lunch, and one with dinner
  • Keep avoiding added sugar (including non-calorie sweeteners, honey, agave nectar, fruit juice) – instead, sweeten with whole fruit, occasional dried fruit, or spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice
  • Keep avoiding added salt (sodium intake should stay below 1,200 mg/day)
  • If you want to eat animal products, 1-2 ounces for flavour should be safe up to three times per week, favouring fish, nonfat dairy, and occasionally poultry

An example meal plan looks like this:

Breakfast: 1/2 cup cooked oats (not quick oats), ground flax seeds, walnuts, and two low-sugar fruits (i.e. berries, kiwis, oranges, green apples)

Lunch: A huge salad with nut-based dressing, bean soup, and any fruit

Dinner: Raw veggies with bean dip, a big dish of steamed greens and various veggies, plus a fruit sorbet for dessert

Raw oats have more resistant starch than cooked oats, so try soaking steel-cut oats overnight in the fridge for a soft (uncooked) breakfast the next morning.

Type 1 diabetics are advised to maintain three meals, each around the same calories. Also balance each lunch and dinner with greens, beans, and nuts. Instead of counting carbs and adjusting insulin, this approach stabilizes diet and insulin. You can find more information on Dr. Fuhrman’s website!

23 pounds down in 6 weeks WFPB

When I committed to 6 weeks following Dr. Furhman’s Eat to Live guidelines for whole foods, plant-based eating, I hoped mostly to reduce cravings and binge eating. I wanted to see if cutting out sugar would help me not crave sugar as much – but I didn’t just want to cut it out, I wanted to maximize nutrition at the same time. Since calories weren’t a focus, I didn’t expect to lose much weight.

A month and a half later, I have lost 23 pounds. My skin is clear most of the time, although it is dry now. And unbelievably, I have not binged in all that time. I had one planned night off plan (New Year’s Eve) and I’m actually most proud of that. I’m usually good at staying 100% on plan but fall apart as soon as I go off; but this time I planned going off, planning going back on the next day, and I followed through with minimal extra effort.

Some things I learned so far: Continue reading

Whole foods, plants based for 4 weeks

In 2017, I was almost entirely vegetarian. I had one bite of a hot dog at a concert to prove to myself I wasn’t restricting myself. I have learned over time that dairy correlates with phlegm and often acne in me, but that was harder to give up. Most vegetarian meals come with dairy. Plus, pizza.

In December 2017, I went vegan. Not only that, I cut out saladselfiealmost all added sugar, salt, and oil. Yes, I STARTED dieting DURING the holidays and I survived. I lost 12-17 pounds (unsure of my starting weight, but it was over 200 pounds on a 5’5 woman). This is not dramatic at my size, but quicker than I expected because I was never hungry; I mostly enjoyed the meals; and, rarely had cravings beyond emotional eating habits. I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder a few years ago, so that in itself is remarkable.

What made it easier was unlimited vegetables, fruits, and beans. Plus, nuts. I followed the guidelines (not meal plan) from Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live book for an evidence-based approach to optimal nutrition without unnecessary calories. Most days, I ate: Continue reading

How to Record Diet & Exercise for Healthy Habits

When you see people take photos of their meals or post about their workouts, they might be on to something – not a vain something, but a healthy one.

Why to record food and activity

Studies show writing down what you eat will likely help you make healthier eating choices. The act of recording it makes you take a couple minutes to reflect on your choices and feel accountable for them. It also helps put different foods you eat in perspective – maybe you tend to binge on a healthy food like nuts but didn’t realize how that added up nutritionally.

“Hands down, those that record their food intake in detail are far more successful than those who don’t. It shows a level of commitment, mindfulness, reflection, and honesty.” – Stephanie Middleberg, R.D.

Recording exercise can have the same benefits of considering choices more carefully and feeling more accountable. It will remind you tomorrow and the next day if today you skip your workout. It is also full of non-weight victories for a more balanced measure of success – maybe you were able to complete more reps or had better posture in a challenging exercise.

record exerciseDiet and exercise logs also help you review where you may have gone off track. Maybe you tried to ramp up your exercise too quickly in one week and the next week you started eating less nutrient comfort food. You may blame it on your willpower, but you may have been burning yourself out and taking pleasure out of activity that you sought more pleasure in food.

Since it takes time to see effects in your body, it can be tempting to sneak an extra sugary treat or hide a skipped workout. But we know that long-term health is based on daily decisions – so breaking down achievements to the daily or weekly level is more effective than waiting to hold yourself accountable by the date you plan to reach your goal weight.

How to improve your health with photos and videos

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Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt: Strength and Stretch Exercises

Like many people who sit a whole lot, I have an anterior pelvic tilt: my lower back arches so much it’s stiff and pained no matter how much I try to “draw-in” the abdominal wall. anterior-pelvic-tilt-anatomyBasically, my paraspinal muscles are likely too short and stiff while my rectus abdominis is too long and weak. I’ve been stretching tight hamstrings and tight hip flexors, but apparently those may be symptoms of this tilt and not its cause. Even strengthening abs and glutes can backfire if my body is used to relying on my lower back and hip flexors to execute those movements.

In order to correct this biomechanical imbalance, I need to strengthen my abs, glutes, and hamstrings, plus stretch hip flexors. The key is to avoid relying on the hip flexors when strengthening the upper and the lower abdomen; and separately, stretch the hip flexors while strengthening the glutes.

Sample Workout

  1. High knee march warm-up
  2. Planks while tucking glutes in
  3. Side planks, optionally with one leg raised
  4. Stand holding ball at chest and rotate the trunk in each direction
  5. Modified sprinter lunge
  6. Bridge or single leg hip thrust
  7. Child’s pose

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