Whether you’re talking ADA, as in, American Diabetes Association or, ADA as in American Dietetic Association, the advice is the same and the effects are the same: not helpful at best, deadly at worst.
This is a sort of follow-on to my recent post on registered dietitians.
One of my readers, Steve Cooksey, offered to share his experience with the “ADA,” and it doesn’t really matter which one, or both. He might have died but for his finding Mark Sisson and from there, others in the paleo / primal blogging community.
Before you see Steve’s amazing story in his own words, let’s pause for a little history. While I was aware of Dr. Richard Bernstein’s history concerning the development of home-test blood glucose meters, I hadn’t put all the pieces together until listening to Jimmy Moore’s amazing hour-long interview with the doctor. I very highly recommend listening to that for all, and if you’re diabetic, it’s essential.
Very simply and briefly, it turns out the the various admonishments to eat all sorts of grains, starches, and even sugar that you hear from the ADA has some rational basis. See, there used to be no such thing as knowing what your BG was at any given time. Diabetics used to go in once per month for a glucose test. They had no way of knowing how a meal or any food affected them throughout the day. Well, if you’re on insulin, which would be a prescribed dose at given fixed intervals, then there would be a real, life threatening danger of going hypoglycemic (dangerously low blood glucose) if you didn’t have enough carbs in your diet.
Knowing diabetics would be eating some range of carbohydrate, dose needed to be set in a way to make sure BG didn’t get too high, then admonish patients to get their X number of servings of whole grains & starches. Better the BG gets to high than too low, and if the patient eventually goes blind or has limbs amputated then, well, that’s just an aspect of the disease. But dying of hypoglycemia put blame square on the treating physician. So, for liability reasons, we have high carb diets for diabetics.
Dr. Bernstein’s argument was that with home monitoring, people could effectively manage BG on their own, eat far fewer carbs and reduce the meds. He was met with strong resistance all along the way. The medical establishment did not want to control glucose, only dose, and so high carbs were necessary. Now that monitors are readily available, blood glucose control is in reach of every diabetic, and yet, the dietary advice has yet to change.
So, the takeaway for me is that I’m willing to cut them all a little slack in terms of the foregoing. But, now that meters are available for all, it is time to alter the dietary advice and to teach patients how to modify their own dose in response. And, those who still want to munch high carbs can, though carbs act far quicker than insulin, and excess insulin is a slow killer. If your A1C hemoglobin is more than 4.5-5, you are probably aging yourself far faster than you otherwise would.
And now to Steve’s story.
I was an obese diabetic who weighed as much as 235 lbs and I had missed several weeks of work the last several years due to respiratory issues. I was typically being diagnosed with bronchitis or “episodic asthmatic” events.
My health deteriorated to the point that in February 15, 2009, after two doctor visits earlier in the week, I told my wife to take me to the doctor or the hospital. Literally…I could barely move.
Long story short, I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance with a BG reading of 700+ and an A1C that was literally “too high to read”. Three days later I was discharged home as a Diabetic and while the doctors were not sure, I was told that I was likely a Type 1 and that I would be on insulin and medications for the rest of my life.
While still in the hospital, I was given an ADA Food Pyramid by the “hospital nutritionist” and upon inquiry was informed to “eat the food groups” but stay below 2200 calories. This seemed odd to me but at the time, I was a mental wreck — having been given several body blows — so I took the advice and ordered my meals from the hospital menus. To be honest…they looked a hell-u-va-lot like what I ate ordinarily….
So, I go home and start researching what to do. I was determined to do ALL I could to stop taking insulin and medications. I’d seen too many relatives go down this road…and quite frankly…I did not like the destination nor the ride to get there.
A couple days later after discharge, a home health nurse came by — I also quizzed her about my diet — SHE HANDED ME ANOTHER ADA Food Pyramid and told me to “eat the food groups”.
A couple of days later my doctor told me to check out the Low Glycemic Index to see if that would help…it did and it started me on a journey that lead me to Mark Sisson’s website where I explored all things Primal.
Today, with the benefit of a great workout program and a Primal diet, I am 75 pounds lighter and I take -0- insulin and -0- medications. My latest blood work showed NO EVIDENCE OF DIABETES NOR OBESITY! (I am still diabetic, you just wouldn’t know it from my blood work).
I have been insulin and medication free for about 6 months. Because I know how utterly confusing and hopeless life can be when diagnosed with diabetes, I have attempted to reach out to “spread the word” about paleo / Primal eating and living. I often “befriend” people in social media groups and strike up a conversation.
Multiple times — I’d say at least 4-5 times — I have began a conversation with a “Certified Diabetes Educator”. EVERY SINGLE TIME — NO EXCEPTIONS — they do not HAVE A CLUE when it comes to paleo / Primal eating. Honestly…I find this disgusting. Especially when I have to hear (or read) how they are required to go to X number of hours of recertification classes and how they are trained on the latest…blah, blah, blah. ALL of this is bad enough, but here’s the kicker…
THEY ATTEMPT TO CONVINCE ME TO STOP!!! …And go back to eating grains, beans, rice, pasta etc. THE AUDACITY!!! EVEN AFTER they know that I have lost weight and kicked diabetes in the ass (for now) they try to get me back on the train…the train to hell.
WHY? Why would they do this?????
Certified Diabetes Educator: “Because you are missing nutrients and fiber.”
Fiber? …I laugh… “so you are telling me to go back to insulin and meds …for fiber?“
CDE: “you need a balanced diet from a variety of sources and all of the nutrients”
….”Ok… tell me what nutrients I am missing from eating meats, broccoli, cauliflower, greens, celery, tomato, green peppers, mushrooms and nuts….. plus I take a multivitamin… Tell me exactly what nutrients I’m missing that is worth going back on insulin and medications.”
I have never received an explanation or answer to that question…. NONE!
Richard, I understand that not every Type 2 is going to be able to stick to a Very Low Carb diet… I get that. BUT the ADA should PUSH Very Low Carb diet as the PRIMARY solution and IF THE PATIENT CAN NOT Stick to it…then promote the carb laden diet that keeps people “carbing up and shooting up”.
So there you have it. Is it really necessary for me to add anything? Didn’t think so.