It’s been 2 years since I decided to take control of my Type 2 Diabetes without the use of medicine and I’d like to share 5 things I’ve learned on this journey.
Paleo isn’t just a diet, it’s a lifestyle
Most people hear about the Paleo “diet” but anyone who has read up on the subject knows it is better described as a lifestyle.
Yes, Paleo is about knowing what to eat and what to avoid but it’s also about getting enough sleep, getting the right type of exercise and simplifying your life to remove stress.
As a Type 2 Diabetic, I realized that my blood sugar levels were very dependent on what I put in my mouth so I concentrated on the diet portion of the Paleo lifestyle first but then adopted the other areas and saw more improvement in not just my blood sugar levels but also my quality of life.
Avoiding grains isn’t as hard as I first thought
There are few people in the world who love bread more than I do. I grew up eating bread with every meal and I’ve even walked out of a restaurant that didn’t have a basket of bread that I could order with my meal.
Avoiding grains is, in my opinion, the primary point of the Paleo lifestyle and I received the most benefit from just doing that one single thing. I often tell people that if you can only do this one part of the Paleo lifestyle you’ll receive most of the benefits. But until you’ve truly tried to rid your diet of grains, you have no idea how easy it is for these grains to sneak into your diet.
Avoiding grains is not just about eliminating bread, corn and rice. You have to check the ingredients of everything you buy to make sure these pesky grains are included.
Many sauces, soups and gravies have grains in them and heck, even Beer has grains in it!
But after a couple of months avoiding grains by eating a hamburger with a knife/fork and wrapping meat and veggies in lettuce, I eventually got used to this and it wasn’t as bad as I would’ve thought.
Once you see the benefits of eliminating grains, you eventually associate this food to a poison to your body and I limit my grain cheat occasions to just a few days a year.
Making the Paleo transition slowly over time is easier than going cold turkey
I didn’t fully embrace the total Paleo lifestyle immediately but instead took about 18 months.
I first started out with eliminating grains, then moved on to eliminating legumes and then dairy about a year later. Adding high intensity exercise and getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night came much later.
My first goal was to get my blood sugar levels in the normal range and I found that the elimination of grains did most of the heavy lifting for that task. And since that part of the Paleo lifestyle worked so well I decided to take on the rest of it but slowly phasing this in wasn’t as difficult as going full Paleo at once.
Living a Paleo lifestyle is tough in today’s world and it is a tall order to switch to this lifestyle in just one day. Grains, legumes and dairy are everywhere you look and it takes work to prepare meals that avoid these Paleo no-no’s so doing this slowly over time is more manageable.
Choose the right moment to share your Paleo journey with others.
Because I saw such a drastic improvement in my quality of life, I initially felt the need to tell everyone I saw about this wonderful lifestyle and beg him or her to follow the same. Especially once I met someone with Type 2 Diabetes.
As I droned on about the current western diet and how that has created most if not all of our current autoimmune disease problems, I could see their eyes glaze. They were polite and congratulated me on my success but I could tell they were secretly saying to themselves – “Poor guy, I think he’s a member of a cult.”
Keep in mind that not everyone is ready to embark on this journey and there have been so many fad diets out there that constantly pushing this on people will only turn them off to it.
I now restrict my conversations about Paleo to what it has done in my life and stick to the facts as they relate to my body.
Paleo isn’t a religion and we shouldn’t treat it as such.
Follow the data and choose the lifestyle that best fits your body.
Although I do believe that every Type 2 Diabetic can see drastic improvements in their blood sugar measurements by following the Paleo lifestyle, I also have to acknowledge that my sample size is limited and everyone’s body is different.
I think Paleo isn’t about a one size fits all mentality but more about finding out what foods work for your body and then sticking to that plan.
Find out what variables are important to your body – blood sugar levels, weight, BMI, resting heart rate, 5K time, frequency of illness, joint pain, etc. – and track those as you embark on this Paleo journey.
I started out just tracking my blood sugar levels but I also tracked how often I was sick during this time period and noticed a significant improvement in this area since adopting the Paleo lifestyle.
I’ve struggled with allergies my whole life and received allergy injections from the time I was 6 years old until I was about 20 years old. I suffered from 2-3 sinus infections or upper respiratory infections every year but I’m happy to say that I haven’t been sick at all for the last 18 months. No sniffles, no colds, nothing related to allergies at all even though I still live in an area that is prone to allergy related illnesses in the Spring and Fall. There is no other explanation for why I have been allergy free for that time frame other than the adoption of the Paleo lifestyle.
Your definition of “quality of life” is unique so decide what is important to you and then experiment with what works best for you.