I’m not a diabetic. I just happen to have diabetes.

I believe that there’s a very important distinction between having a disease, and identifying yourself with that disease. To some this might be mere semantics, but I see it as having a fairly profound affect on one’s mental fortitude and desire/ability to do something about said disease.

“I’m a diabetic”, to me, is an internalization of a medical condition into a core pillar of my being. It’s a slippery slope towards “I can’t do that, I’m a diabetic”, or “I’m a diabetic, so I might as well start taking insulin”. And with this I’m not saying that insulin is bad, or that I can do anything I want. I’m saying that, for me, it’s a hell of a lot easier to externalize the issue.

We work on externalization all the time with the young people out at Base Camp. “I’m an addict” is a very different frame of mind then “I happen to have an addiction”. The latter gives you hope and power over something, and acknowledges that you might have some strengths to bring to the situation. The former assumes that you might as well give up and learn to “manage” the disease. The first step in many of the 12-step addiction recovery programs is to “admit that we’re powerless over our addiction”. That approach doesn’t work for me, although it’s certainly proven effective for a lot of other people.

For all intents and purposes, I’m not a diabetic. As long as I stick to a paleo diet and get a reasonable amount of exercise, I can expect a long and healthful existence (free of insulin and diabetes complications).

Among other things, I’m a father, husband, brother, son, friend, manager, blogger, volunteer & entrepreneur….not a diabetic.

I just happen to have diabetes.

Paleo update

As most of you know, I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago (2). Since then I’ve embraced the “paleo” diet (which includes being wheat free), which I’ve written a little bit about here and there. I figured it was time for a bit of an update on that adventure.

Remember the A1C? It’s a blood test that measures your average blood sugar level from the previous 3-months. When I was first diagnosed, it was 11.0 (it should be under 6.0). This time around it came in at 5.8, which is consistent with the last test. Good news.

Next up: the Lipids (aka, Cholesterol).

Triglycerides, down from 0.74 to 0.69 (reference range is from 0.60-2.30). So that’s a pretty great result.

HDL (High-Density Lipid, the “good cholesterol”): Up to 2.20 from 1.88. Anything over 1.55 is considered optimal for protection against strokes and heart attacks.

LDL (Low-Density Lipid, the “bad cholesterol”): Holding steady at 2.51 (well within the reference range of 2.00-3.40). The doctor is hoping it comes down a bit, but given the high HDL numbers she’s not too concerned.

HDL Cholesterol Ratio: 2.3. Anything 3.4 and below is considered “very low risk” when it comes to a coronary event. That’s probably good news.

All in all, it appears that eating pounds of bacon has done wonders for my cardiovascular health!

Paleo Baby

So I promised my wife that I wouldn’t post pictures of our child on the blog. There are numerous reasons why, including (but not limited to), the fact that he has no choice in the matter, the internet is a permanent record and privacy is a big deal. We still struggle a bit with facebook, but the fact that grandma’s and great-grandma’s can keep tabs on his development is pretty cool.

None of that relates to the topic of the post (but does explain why a post titled “paleo baby” has no pictures of an actual baby). What the hell do you feed a baby, when you’ve sworn off things like wheat and corn? Imagine, childhood without cheerios!

Well, his very first solid food was avocado. And he was pretty stoked on it. Anyone ever read Avocado Baby? Turns out it’s pretty accurate, although our 10 month old is definitely not lifting weights (yet!).

I was cruising through Shopper’s the other day and decided to check out some of the baby “foods”. The first thing I spotted was Nestle Gerber Baby “mixed grain cereal”. Here’s a shot of the nutritional information and the ingredient list.

Now that you’re all familiar with Wheat Belly…anything wrong with this picture? First of all, check out the serving size: 28 grams. 5 Tablespoons. For a little comparison, that’s the same sugar content (8g) as a 30g serving of 70% dark Lindt chocolate. But the chocolate’s actually better for you, because the carb content is lower, and fats are higher.  I’m not advocating that you feed your baby chocolate (please don’t!). It’s just interesting.

Something else that’s interesting is the reaction that people are having to the notion of eliminating grains from their diet. Some people are well on their way, others are pretty resistant to the idea. For those that need a little motivation, check out this guy.


Back to feeding babies. Why would my wife and I knowingly feed our little guy something that’s proven to be toxic to ourselves? I was diagnosed with diabetes about a year ago (a disease whose symptoms have disappeared on a paleo diet). I saw this quote on Facebook the other day:

“Food can either be mother nature’s best form of medicine… or mankind’s slowest form of poison.”

I know which route we’re going with our little one.

Wheat Belly.

So I’ve just about finished reading the book “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, a cardiologist in the US. Pretty scary stuff.

Why is it so scary? Well, let’s start with a little bit of what wheat does to your body. Ever heard of the glycemic index? It’s a measure of how much a food affects your blood glucose level, measured in comparison to straight glucose (which would be 100 on the scale). Wheat measures in at 72, higher than table sugar (59). That’s right, eating that whole wheat slice of bread is worse for your body than a spoonful of sugar.

What does consuming simple carbohydrates do to the body anyway? Why be concerned about the glycemic index?

The sequence is pretty simple, as Dr. Davis describes it. “Carbohydrates trigger insulin release from the pancreas, which causes growth of “visceral” (belly) fat. Belly fat causes insulin resistance and inflammation. High blood sugars, triglycerides, and fatty acids damage the pancreas. After years of overwork, the pancreas succumbs to the thrashing it has taken from glucotoxicity, lipotoxicity, and inflammation, essentially “burning out”, leaving a deficiency of insulin and an increase in blood glucose (also known as diabetes).”

Which is why, having been diagnosed with diabetes a year ago, and embracing a “paleo” diet, I was able to control my blood sugars and save my pancreas from further thrashing by the insulin-carbohydrate cycle.

In short? Read the book. It’ll change your perception on what’s healthy, and enlighten you to the host of problems associated not only with wheat, but the gluten in wheat, and other “healthy whole grains” (from celiac disease to diabetes, arthritis to addiction). Grains, by the way, turn out to be about the worst things we can consume for our health (despite what the agricultural lobby…I mean Canada Food Guide…tells you).

The “heart healthy” sign on the honey nut cheerios? It’s like putting a “now with less tar” sticker on a carton of cigarettes and calling it a health product.

Sugar: the bitter truth.

Now that everyone’s enjoyed a bit of Easter feasting… it’s probably a good time to learn some more about what’s in your food; specifically high-fructose corn syrup. FOREWARNING: This video is 1.5 hrs long (but well worth it).

Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.

Great Paleo Infograph

So…I was going to wrap up the long weekend with a post about systems and how they change and fail. Riveting (but essential) stuff. Then I found this really great infograph about the paleo diet and changed course. Interesting note, I was at a dinner party the other night and all 3 couples have started eating a paleo’like’ diet (with a few exceptions).

More Health and Fitness News & Tips at Greatist.