Following my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in 2002 at the age of 29, I was bewildered and terrified. Like most type 1 diabetics, I can remember the day of diagnosis well. Sitting outside the endocrinologist’s office I had just visited, I was holding a blood glucose meter, samples of insulin and needles, and a one-size fits all 2000-calorie “food pyramid” type diet. The words “for the rest of my life” kept going through my head.
Here is what I understood at the time. Insulin makes your blood sugar go down. Carbohydrates make your blood sugar go up. High blood sugar over time can lead to devastating health consequences. And finally, eating healthy foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein would help me stay healthy and maintain “normal” blood sugar levels.
Over the next few months, I noticed a pattern. Many foods didn’t alter blood sugar levels at all while other foods would send my sugar through the roof. Even foods from the so-called healthy whole grains list could affect my blood sugar in catastrophic ways. One day, I took these results to a nutritionist. I mentioned the breakfast I ate that morning of whole grain cereal. I told her that my blood sugar went up to 180 and then came crashing down like a ton of bricks leaving me shaking by 10 a.m. The nutritionist looked at me somewhat surprised and said, “That’s great!.” I replied, “180 is not a normal blood sugar level; moreover, shaking and craving sugar by 10 a.m. can’t be normal either, is it?” She smiled sympathetically at me and said, “It’s the best you can do.” It felt as though I had just received a D+ on a test. And when I brought my test to the teacher and asked, “What did I do wrong?,” the teacher looked at me sympathetically and said, “It’s the best you can do.”
Because I’m somewhat competitive and have a little pride, I took this meeting with the nutritionist as a challenge. I’m going to eat good, healthy food AND keep my blood sugar normal. After years of cataloging which foods were friendly to my blood sugar and which foods were not so friendly, I noticed that the friendly foods formed the basis of the paleo diet. The why’s and how to’s are described in Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution. Controlling type 1 diabetes is far more complicated than just diet. That’s why I wanted to create this site. I wanted to share with others some of the tricks I’ve learned over the years that result in stable, normal blood sugar levels while maintaining high levels of energy, strength, endurance, and mobility. I love to swim and run competitively, so I’m confident that if I can maintain normal blood sugar levels while running marathons, I can certainly use the tricks I’ve learned to maintain normal blood sugar levels while at work or wrestling with my daughter.
Blood sugar levels are modulated by so many different things — illness, stress, exercise, diet, weight, etc. The list goes on and on. Type 1 diabetics know this more so than type 2 diabetics due to the nature of the two radically different diseases. The information in this site can be helpful for any diabetic regardless of age, gender, or physical activity. In fact, I believe that all diabetics can achieve a hemoglobin A1c of 5.0 while minimizing the amount of insulin. Type 2 diabetics could even find they don’t need insulin at all and type 1 diabetics could find that their need for insulin decreases and stays low over the years.
I invite anyone who reads this to leave comments, ask questions, or pass this info along to others.