Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Diabetes & Plant-Based Lifestyle

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Diabetes was taking its toll on my feet. Neuropathy was a bad problem for me; pain, numbness, tingling, arthritis and very jagged and rough bones at the top of my feet.

It was not a good situation, and one that I never though could be reversed. Talking to several diabetics since going plant-based, who are also plant-based, I knew that neuropathy and damage is something that can indeed be helped even healed with a healthy plant-based diet. I knew my feet were doing better, no more pain (well except this recent injury), no more numbness, tingling or severe cramping. Yet not till yesterday did I know how much my feet had healed. A detailed look at my foot shows that there are no more rough bones at the tops of my feet – they are completely smooth. The doctor was really encouraging, telling me that my feet don’t show any signs that I have/had diabetes. This all in a year.

It’s fantastic news. News that should be celebrated. Yet, in the past few weeks, it seems that I have been getting a big influx of people who just don’t want to believe any of the healthy plant-based talk at all. They say it’s ridiculous, that it can’t work, that diabetics can’t eat carbs, that it’s dangerous, that it can’t work, that it’s not a cure.

It’s funny, most people, when I ask what their personal experience was with a healthy plant based diet, they usually tell me that they have not tried it, or if they did – they explain a way of trying it that would even drive me insane. People who expect it to work overnight, not be a challenge in anyway, or people who want it to be as easy as popping a pill.

I have had a hard time with all of it – people who have high blood sugar numbers who not just eat an unhealthy animal protein diet – but an unhealthy – highly processed foods diet – just in general. I have had people e-mail telling me that a cure is not a cure unless we can eat and drink anything we want with out it having an impact on us at all. Excuse me, but really? That’s bull.

I would highly doubt that if someone gets lung cancer as a result of smoking that we would tell that person “HELL! Keep smoking, you shouldn’t have to give that up just to help cure yourself! Medicine will find something – someday – ummm I hope?” Or better yet – just smoke, because we should not have to refrain from things we love to do. We should just find a cure for it, so we can do whatever the hell we want.

This is the trouble with Type 2 diabetes. It is a lifestyle disease, it is caused by the unhealthy lives we live, yet we don’t want to really talk about that. We don’t want to think that we did it to ourselves, that there is a cure, but we missed it – because we really didn’t want to hear that it could possibly have something to do with the way we eat and drink.

Honestly, it’s the trouble with a lot of preventable disease. People want to consume whatever they like with no consequence, but when the consequence happens, they do not want to change their lifestyle, because it’s just too  (fill in the excuse). Of course, as someone who used to take part in this kind of lifestyle, I would have never said “I want to eat whatever I want with no consequence.” Instead I would make excuses, say that it’s not fair, that other people don’t gain weight or get diabetes from eating the way I do. I’d play this never-ending game with myself, trying to convince myself that things in moderation were just fine, or things that were unhealthy were even okay every so often. I feel the same way about bad food as I do cigarettes – I would not tell someone to smoke in moderation, nor eat bad food in moderation.

The only reason we think we have a right to bad foods is because we’ve been marketed to in such a way that we believe we have the right to eat bad food, and then we have the right to medication that will fix our bad food and non working out ways. I know this, because I used to think the same way, even if I didn’t admit to it.

We are constantly marketed to. Constantly told things are not our fault. We have the highest rates of disease in this country, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer – yet we don’t want to look and ask what is it that we are doing and why isn’t anyone looking at the obvious? We eat A LOT. We eat a lot of processed foods, we eat a lot of animal products, we eat so many things that are made in a factory somewhere. We are not eating food anymore, we are eating manufactured tastes.

Somehow, a lot don’t make the connection. And I don’t blame most people. Honestly, the way we are marketed to, the way most doctors are taught – no wonder why we have the troubles we do. We’re told over and over, not only can we not change it, but it’s ok, keep eating the way you want, surely medications will catch up, surely there will be a pill that prevents you from having high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, surely, there is an answer that is not found by changing the lifestyle you have become accustomed to.

I’m not sure why eating a healthy plant-based diet has so much negative response. Why people react the way they do to eating things like vegetables and fruit. And I think this is when we have to stop and ask ourselves, have we let ourselves become programmed by programming? Have we watched one to many commercials about something quick and easy? Have we been told by too many morning talk shows that losing weight and preventing disease is “easy” and you can still “eat anything you want to”.

Maybe it’s time for a wake up call. A call to really do research to really understand about the body and the way it works. Maybe it’s time to become your own doctor, and not rely on the medical industry to come up with a cure for our bad habits. We have lost the sense of responsibility when it comes to our bodies, as a society. We are constantly looking for a cure, when the answer is in front of us, the answer is not out of reach, and does not cost billions of dollars.

Until there is a magic pill that will instantly cure every major disease, maybe it’s time to do the next best thing? Get your health in order so you don’t have to take any medication, so you are in control of your body again, so you understand every thing that goes into your body, and the impact that it will have. Food is medicine and medicine is food – what you put into your body either heals it or hurts it, and it is up to us to figure out, and finally be honest with ourselves on which is which. I think most of know the truth about it, most of us know what is bad and what is good. For that matter I think any five year old could tell you that McDonald’s is bad food and a piece of fruit is good for you – food. Yet a lot of us actively choose things that only make us more sick.

Perhaps the problem is deeper. Perhaps, like myself at one point of my life, I ate the way I felt – I felt like crap, I ate crap. I didn’t care about myself or my body, and deep down I didn’t want to get healthy, I just wanted to get that temporary high I got and satisfaction from eating bad food – and screw the rest.

Even when I became a diabetic I looked at all of these other answers that would allow me to continue eating things like cheeseburgers, I just wanted to do what I wanted and I didn’t want anyone to tell me otherwise.

Thankfully, I finally got an almost too late wake-up call, in the form of hearing the words “partial amputation”. It was at that moment that I had to stop every thing and ask myself not only did I want to live, but did I want to thrive. Did I want to suffer or did I want to live life? I had been told over and over that I should not have to alter my behaviors that much, that I should still be able to eat a lot, and indulge from time to time. But that got me nowhere – except in a doctor office, sobbing over the fact that I was not getting any better, just worse.

I remember three weeks after I went plant-based. I hated the first three weeks – I thought it was impossible. I went through withdrawal like a drug addict, I acted like a child. I wanted to eat certain things more than I wanted to lose the diabetes. I complained a lot, said it wouldn’t work – looked at ‘unhealthy vegans’ who ate too much carbs or sugar and said that it wasn’t healthy. I didn’t want to accept that there was a healthy way of eating and curing myself, and no longer being on medications. I wanted an easier answer.

Low and behold, going plant-based? That was my easy answer. After the tantrum I threw, I realized that it was the easiest thing I could do. Eat simply. Eat foods that came from the Earth, don’t eat things that were made in a factory. How much more simple could I get. The answer wasn’t in a medical lab, wasn’t in my doctor office, wasn’t in a morning talk show, it was simple – the thing I put the most of in my body (food) was causing the problems I was having. Simple. Once I stopped the kicking and screaming tantrum, and calmed down, I realized that I was just trying to find ways to not eat healthy. I kept telling myself that a cure meant I would someday be able to eat whatever I wanted without consequence. I was wrong.

A cure is that moment in which you realize that you are in control of your health. A cure is when you realize there is hope, and it is in your hands. A cure is when you realize that you have more power than any pill. A cure is when you don’t have a pharmacy bill every month. A cure is when you don’t have to go further than the produce aisle or the farmers market to shop. A cure is when you don’t cause other major issues in your body from different medications or ways of eating that cause things like high cholesterol (like low carb, high animal protein diets). A cure is when it works on your entire body. A cure is when you can go off pain medications for problems you once had that left you crying after a few steps on a treadmill. A cure is deciding that your life is worth working for, that your life is worth changing a few bad habits. A cure won’t be advertised on television or at the doctor’s office, but will be right there for you when you are ready. The truth is, that there is a cure for many preventable disease, we just have to accept that they are there.

Prevent and cure – don’t wait, don’t expect a lab to fix you – expect YOU to fix YOU. Take the power back into your own hands and find out every thing you can about your health and the way you live your life. If you started by simply being honest with yourself, and asking before you ate something “is this going to heal or hurt my body” you would do yourself a world of good. Because, as I said, I believe most of us know the truth, it’s just a matter of accepting it, and getting over ourselves long enough to make the changes and find happiness and joy in those changes.

P.S: Medicalnewstoday.com says “While diabetes cannot technically be cured, it can go into remission.” Tell me, if your diabetes is not impacting your new healthy lifestyle, then really what is the difference between permanent remission and a cure?

16 COMMENTS

  1. Alex

    I’m sorry you are getting negative comments and emails. Don’t lose the hope! What you are doing is great in so many way. You inspire me and I refer to you a lot. Thanks for keeping this blog up and for everything you do towards helping people get better!

  2. Leisel

    Thanks for pouring out your heart. The negative comments will always be there . . . but they need not sway us. In addition to “factory-produced” foods, it is always important to realize that the best foods we can eat are fresh from the market and prepared in our own kitchens. Even what we consider to be “healthier” foods, eaten out . . . may not be as healthy as you think. Restaurant foods are usually made with unhealthy oils and way too much salt – not to mention the unsanitary conditions and improper food handling. You are on the right track, lady . . . love ya.

  3. Beth

    Awesome post! and I agree with everyone else- screw the negatives!

    Don’t ever let them stop you, and don’t ever stop blogging. I seriously look forward to your posts just as much as my favorite vegan blogs- which is only like 2 or 3 of them. When the little boglines reader box has “Vegan Hope” in bold, I get so excited!

    You are SO one of my favorite bloggers.

  4. Stephanie

    My husband is type 1, and when we met his A1C score was around 10. In the two years of eating my first veggie and then vegan diet his score has dropped to 7. If that doesn’t back up what you said, I don’t know what does!

  5. L.

    I’ve found that whenever I get a lot of negative feedback and criticism for choices I make, it usually means I’m on the right track.

    For some reason, many people find it threatening when other people choose to grow and change. You’ve obviously found something that works for you, and your passionate attempts to communicate it to others have nothing but good intentions behind them – anybody can see that.

    So, don’t mind the haters. They’re just proof that you’re on to something.

    L.

  6. Jason

    I and the rest of my family are big fans of your blog. Your journey and your courage have been very inspirational to all of us. Although we’ve been vegan for a while, your writing reminds of why we went vegan. It reinforces what we know to be a healthy way of living and it provides us with background information that we can use in our discussions with omnivores. I recommend your blog to all my friends who are questioning their diets. I’m a lurker and I don’t like to get involved in the comments, but I had to add my two cents. Yours is only the second blog I’ve ever commented on.

    I just want you to know that what you are doing is important and meaningful. You are a positive influence in the lives of more people than you can imagine.

    Please ignore the negative people. If you only reach one positive person for every 5 negative comments you hear, you are still saving lives. But I think your impact is much more powerful than that. I’m sure that there are tons of people out there who support you but they don’t give you the positive feedback you deserve.

    Thank so much for everything that you’ve done and everything that you have yet to do.

  7. Sagan

    *hugs* I’m happy for you.

    I work at a vet clinic that solely focuses on Chinese medicine (chiropractic, acupuncture, and physio therapy). It’s amazing how often people will call and ask what the success rate is. The fact is, they would NEVER ask their regular vet what the success rate is of steroids or other kinds of medications. And it’s sad, because the Chinese medicine works just as well as- if not better than- the Western medicine!

    We just have to keep plugging away at it, do what’s best for our bodies, and try to spread awareness in a positive way.

  8. VeganOne

    As people see the World, so they behave.

    All you need to do is adjust your response to how you percieve those comments. Do not view them as negative, view it as positive feedback that you are on the right track.

    It is futile to struggle against that which you have no control. Doing so will only waste precious energy that you could use to teach those who are ready to learn.

    What would be the point of taking your time and energy to teach something, if everyone were already in agreement with you?

    Think of it like this…

    You are holding up a mirror that forces people to see themselves for what they truly are, when they cannot stand to look at what they see, and realize they have no defense, they do the only thing they can do, and that is to strike back at you.

    It has been said that it is easier to get a person to change their religion than to change their diet.

    I hope the following words of wisdom will comfort you.

    “Why does truth call forth hatred?” Saint Augustine, 354-430 Confessions, Book X

    “My plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth?” Socrates, 469-399 b.c. quoted in Plato’s Apology

    “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.” ~A.B. Alcott

    “Against stupidity the very Gods themselves contend in vain.” ~Schiller

    “I honestly believe it is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so.” ~Josh Billings

    Keep up the great work.

    Know that you are loved.
    Vegan

  9. Amy

    Don’t let the ba****ds get you down, Good Lady. You are a tremendous source of inspiration and hope and happy thoughts for a bunch of people.

    Excellent article. Self-deception and circular games of entitlement followed by guilt are very, very common. I did not choose to go vegan for my health, but I have discovered in making this change that I have been doing exactly what you describe to justify very unhealthy parts of my lifestyle for YEARS.

    Good wishes and many smiles.

  10. Jen

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your description of a cure! I have shared my story of triumph over disease many times with people who are suffering, and I have been baffled many times when they have looked at me and said, “You gave up dairy, eggs, and meat? I could never do that.” or “Well, I’m NOT going VEGAN. That’s for sure.”

    I don’t understand choosing disease in order to eat foods that are harmful either. I do understand that I am the only person I have control over.

    I found that the most convincing thing I ever did was to live my life in a way that made me feel vibrant, happy, and alive. It made others curious enough to want what I have.

    In any case, here’s to a life of vitality, health, joy, and abundant blessings! These are freely available to anyone who chooses them!

  11. K

    I have to say a big AMEN, sister! 85% of all chronic illnesses are preventable. Most chronic diseases are caused by our lifestyle choices.

    I was vegetarian for about 9 1/2 years when I lived in the Seattle area and kinda fell off the wagon when we moved to Idaho (just poultry and fish). Had to do a self-intervention for my Health Psychology class for one month. I decided to try to lose 5-8 pounds by following a vegan diet-after the intervention I decided to continue eating vegan (one of my son’s had already been vegan for over a year and his digestive issues went away, he hasn’t had an asthma attack in about that long and hardly misses any school anymore-used to miss A LOT!).

    My DH decided to do it with me and by just diet and no alcohol alone (without much of an increase in physical activity) he lost over 10 pounds, can wear clothes he hasn’t worn in years and his blood pressure (which runs high with medication) is now in the normal range. He hopes to eventually get off it altogether. We have just started going to the rec center at the college and working out. I even got him to go to a yoga class with me.

    I have always been interested in health issues and nutrition, and am majoring in Health Education and Promotion. I am particularly interested in childhood obesity and also the agricultural and political aspect of our food system. How everything always comes down to the bottom dollar. Money and political endorsement are more important than the health of our citizens (such as GMO’s and factory farms). I think if people really understood where there food comes from, what kinds of poisons are in their foods and how it can affect their health, I think people would make better decisions. But a lot of this information is hidden from the public. There are some good documentaries on this subject-”Food, Inc” is a really good one, “Food Matters”, “The Future of Food”and I think the last one I saw was “Rivers of Waste”. Just to name a few. Very informative.

  12. Mom

    To the so called Christian who told my daughter she was going to hell for not eating meat, let me tell you as a real Christian and as her MOTHER IF you were a Christian, you would have never said such a thing and I suggest that you actually read the bible… for if she is going to hell for not eating meat ~ Let me tell you emphatically that we will then see YOU there !!!!! If you were able to have the slightest idea of how difficult it is to have lost 120 pounds, and still have more, from the brink of DEATH, and illness, to NO medications, normal blood sugars, and the amazing health benefits, you would not have shown how ignorant you really are !
    I am her mother, you have no idea who she is, how loving she is, how talented she is, how caring, and how concerned she is about people who can make a change and refuse too to save their own life
    Even towards me, who has run 3 FULL Marathons, and countless other races, but diabetes runs in my family, and I will do anything it takes to ward it off the rest of my life, a small price to pay to see my great grandchildren !
    As a Christian, all I can say to you is SHAME ON YOU, who has such a prejudice judgmental spirit, I question and challenge your proclamation of being a christian ~
    Don’t bother to reply as we, my daughter and I will not have a battle of wits with an UNARMED person.

  13. K

    Wow, someone actually said that? Amazing. Going to hell for not eating meat, that is a new one on me. Guess a lot of people are going to hell then, including a lot of Seventh Day Adventists who are all vegetarian. They believe that whatever is done in eating or drinking should honor and glorify God and preserve the health of the body, mind and spirit. God gave them their bodies and it is their job to take care of it.

    Don’t know why people seem to think it is any of their business anyway.

    Amazing how cruel people can be sometimes and how people can distort the so-called word of God to fit their needs.

  14. Nat

    Just wanted to thank all of you for the very nice comments. (and my mom, got to love a mom for sticking up for their kid!)

    There was an internet stranger who told me I was going for hell for not eating meat… I’ve had A LOT of really nasty e-mails/tweets/comments, everything from people wishing that I get diabetes again (or get very sick) to people telling me that some god will judge me for not eating meat. (huh?) (I delete the nasty ones – just fyi).

    I’m not going to entertain those who want to be entertained with fights and being mean spirited, I am filled with hope and a lot of love, and that is the way I will remain and my blog will remain. 🙂

    *but thanks so much to those of you who are filled with tons of hope – you fill my life with lots and lots of joy.

    Till next time –
    nat

    PS – also, just like I don’t like mean comments from people who are not vegans, I don’t like mean comments from vegans to the mean people – I don’t think it gets us very far – and I want to remain as hopeful and loving on my blog and in my comments.

    *Also, please note – my Mom can totally defend me still* 🙂

  15. Annabel

    You know…people criticize veganism precisely because it’s so empowering. People fear being accountable and responsible for their own health — it’s much easier to shrug and wonder why they are in chronic bad health, discomfort or pain.

    It’s flippin’ hard, but I am trying to be fueled by criticism. When people criticize my lifestyle choices, I am fueled to continue to evolve and to be more compassionate, to have an open-mind and to grow. The best response (and revenge) is to seek knowledge and have happiness.

    xoxo

    The Cranky One

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on nat@cleanseplan.com

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