A True Story of Weight Loss.
- Yes – I was obese.
- Yes – I didn’t like it.
- Yes – It made me ill.
- Yes – It was the cause of my diabetes.
- Yes – I was ashamed.
- Yes – I was scared.
- Yes – I didn’t know what to do.
That’s how I felt 2 years ago when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Despite being vegetarian and teetotal for over 30 years I had become obese and ill.
Since then I have lost 84 pounds and stopped the progression of diabetes (some say “reversed”, some say “in remission”, but since diabetes is a progressive disease it cannot be cured, however, its progress can be slowed to a halt).
This is the true story of my weight loss. It’s not complicated but it did require persistence and some changes. There are 2 bad guys and one good guy in the story.
Sugar: Bad guy #1
When I was first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes my doctor was quite casual about treating it. I’m sure he meant well but he told me not to worry about it, it could be controlled with drugs and it would help if I avoided sugar. My own curiosity led me to find out more and the true extent of the disease unfolded before my horrified eyes. Following my doctor’s lead, any kind of refined sugar (sucrose) became my Number 1 Enemy.
I began to look for it everywhere. Cakes, biscuits and sweets were the obvious places but it turned up in many processed foods, tins of baked beans, drinks – including juice drinks, low-fat yoghurts, jams, chutneys, and even “healthy” breakfast cereals had high amounts of sugar in them. I became an avid label reader (slows the shopping down but increases longevity). A free phone app called “Sugar Swaps” helped too. Just point it at the barcode and it shows how many lumps of sugar are in it.
Once identified these foods became “no go” foods. I adjusted my mind-set to think of these sugar laden foods as rat poison. To eat would have dire consequences. Not only does sugar have no nutritional value but it was also killing me. I didn’t just cut down on their intake, I cut them out completely. After all you wouldn’t have a nibble at just a corner of a rat poison pellet would you?
Just cutting out sugar enabled me to lose 42 pounds over 6 months.
Now it wasn’t easy. It did require persistence. But after a week or two a strange thing happened to my taste buds. I no longer craved the “sugar rush”. My body adjusted. Sure I still wanted to sweeten some foods and would sometimes want something “sweet” after a savoury meal, so I began to look for alternatives. Fortunately Mother Nature has the perfect answer: fruit. The natural sugar fructose provided a much healthier alternative. Grapes, bananas, dates, figs, pineapple, oranges, apricots, plums, pears, blueberries, raspberries all became my “sugar rush” of choice.
My snack of choice became dried fruit: figs, dates, apricots, prunes, raisons, sultanas, apple rings. Just a few with some plain nuts (walnuts and almonds) are the perfect energy booster. Dates and apple rings are my favourites. And for good reason. Dates are 80% sugar but in recent research conducted by Israeli scientists, they stuffed a group of people with dates for a month and then measured the results. They found there was no weight gain, no change in blood sugar levels and because of the high fibre and nutrients there were other beneficial results including reducing oxidative stress levels.
And why dried apple rings? Because tests have shown they are the most effective way of reducing cholesterol.
Still miss sugar in your cooking or in tea or coffee? I enjoy poached pears and cooked rhubarb, without sugar they can be really sour and bitter, I looked at the artificial sweeteners or the market. Unfortunately all have harmful side effects apart from one. The harmless one? Erythritol – in regular use it’s free from side effects such as laxative, almost non-calorific, no effect on blood sugar, and does not cause tooth decay. (Available from Amazon.)
And a natural sugar for cooking? Try Date Sugar.
Fat: Bad guy #2
During the first 6 months of my sugarless weight loss regime I continued to eat fats in various forms. I cut down on saturated fats (just a bit of butter and a lump of cheese here and there) but continued with unsaturated fats, mainly virgin olive oil. After giving up sugar my body weight stabilised for 6 months or so – it had found it’s “set point” and it stayed that way for another 6 months. By concentrating on cutting out sugar I had ignored the effect of eating too much fat. I should have worked on both together.
What I didn’t realise then was that all types of fat provide the same number of calories (9kcal/g), this is, of course, a very rich source of calories. Splashing an olive oil dressing on my salad or cooking with it was, I believed, good for my cholesterol. Unfortunately it wasn’t that good for my waistline. Our bodies do need fats (the good sort) but all the essential monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats needed to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels can be found in avocados, nuts and seeds. There is no need to cook in oil and add oil-based dressings.
Now this was a bit revolutionary for me. I love Italian style food and cooking without olive oil was just not right. And salads without an oil dressing was a new experience for me. But I wanted to lose another 42 pounds so cutting down on fats and oils was the place to start.
The average person needs about 30g of fat per day (it does vary slightly and the over 50s need less) but these fatty essentials can all be obtained from avocados, seeds and nuts. So out went olive oil, cheese, cream, sunflower oil, butter, “reduced fat” spreads and the like. I started using apple cider vinegar, balsamic, red wine and white wine vinegars for dressings (sometimes mixed with a little lemon juice and tahini) and sprinkled toasted seeds and nuts over my food. I sautéd using a mixture of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and miso mixed with vegetable stock.
It provided the kick-start my body needed and the pounds started to come off.
Fibre: The Good Guy
This is the number one, most under-rated essential in body weight control and health. The average person eats only 10 to 15 grams of fibre a day whilst overdosing on protein. That is only half of what the body needs.
Fibre comes from plants (vegetables, fruits and whole grains) and is essential to keep your colon clean and healthy. Fibre helps with weight loss by creating fullness in your intestines and that helps you eat less. It also lowers blood cholesterol and glucose levels and helps move harmful carcinogens through the digestive tract.
Get more fibre by eating more oats, oat bran, peas, rice bran, legumes/beans, apples, citrus fruits, whole wheat flour, wheat bran, rye, cabbage, carrots, brussel sprouts and nuts. And forget portion control.
By cutting out sugar I lost 42 pounds. By cutting out olive oil and reducing oils/fats to nuts and seeds and eating more fibre I lost another 42 pounds.
- Yes – it wasn’t easy
- Yes – it took persistence
- Yes – it was worth it
- Yes – I feel so much better
- Yes – You can do it too
Source: Michael Greger M.D. http://nutritionfacts.org/
PS – Want a good, safe alternative to sugar? Check this out…