Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” For a long time, I thought this was just a fanciful thought from an old guy who lived more than 2,000 years ago. Today, I am convinced that food is the best medicine for managing type 2 diabetes, and just about everything else having to do with our bodies.
Before I explain, I first need to make a confession. After nearly 5 years of managing my diabetes through nutrition and exercise, I slipped. No, I didn’t exactly slip, it’s more like I stumbled and landed face first in a pile of glazed donuts.
My fall from discipline started last October with an injury I sustained running my last half-marathon. What started as a soft tissue injury in my hip led to full-blown piriformis syndrome (not my first rodeo with that issue). A course of medication, therapy, and an injection later, I’m still not able to run much – although no longer having pain shoot down my leg is progress. Not being able to run for someone who actually likes to run is a very frustrating experience. It also eliminates one of the key strategies I’ve used to manage my diabetes.
Add to the list of excuses the holiday season. I typically allow myself some leeway on strict carbohydrate control during the holidays, and around special events. It’s unrealistic to be perfect all the time. This past holiday season was extended well into the new year, and spiraled out of control. One thing in life led to another. I stopped measuring my BGs on a regular basis.
I gained 15 pounds. When I started measuring my BGs again in February, my fasting number was averaging 220. Shit! My A1C was quickly approaching 7 for the first time in 5 years, which caught the attention of my primary care physician; he promptly threatened to put me on medication. I knew it was time to regain control, even if I was not able to run.
Food Is The Best Medicine
The good news was that I knew exactly what to do. The answer was nutrition. I had done it before, and now had several years of experience to guide me. I returned to a focused diet that I knew would reset my body, reduce my glucose, and help drop the extra pounds that I had accumulated. In less than 2 weeks of healthy eating, my fasting BG was averaging 102 (still a little work to do). I’ve lost over 13 pounds. I’m beginning to feel much better.
Going through the experience again, this time without being overwhelmed with a new diabetes diagnosis has allowed me to recognize benefits that I did not see the first time I made this change. Within a week of eliminating all grains, processed foods, dairy, and carbs from sources other than fruits and vegetables:
♦ Significant bloating my my gut completely subsided
♦ A skin rash (not a creepy, disgusting kind) that I had for several months disappeared within 48 hours
♦ I started sleeping through the night
♦ I no longer got dull headaches every afternoon
♦ I was less hungry, and had to remind myself to eat
♦ I was able to function first thing in the morning without multiple mugs full of coffee
♦ My energy increased
♦ I was more focused on my work, and
♦ All of my hair grew back (okay, the last one isn’t true).
A Return to Running?
There are a number of benefits that running and other exercise have for controlling diabetes, namely reducing insulin resistance. But at its core, controlling type 2 diabetes will always be proper nutrition. It’s funny that the solution has been around for more than 2,000 years, yet we continue to search for the next magical answer. Maybe we should start paying more attention to old, fanciful guys. And for the health and wellbeing of my wife and children, I hope I can start running again soon. Real soon!