The subject of this Retrospective came to mind after reading a post on an online forum the day after Thanksgiving 2012. A “newbie” wrote about eating just a smidgen of this and a taste of that from the bounty of the table.
Another poster responded rather harshly, coming down hard on the newbie. He lectured her about “commitment,” albeit ending with a smiley face emoji. My take on this was in the context of someone who had been doing Very Low Carb for over 10 years. I too had been exposed yearly to a bountiful Thanksgiving table. That year I had a fasting blood glucose the morning after of 82mg/dL. Who better than the self-righteous to express sanctimonious indignation at people who enjoy small indulgences on such special occasions as holiday dinners with family?
Upon being diagnosed a Pre-diabetic or Type 2, many low carbers try in the beginning to go halfway instead of “all in.” This is understandable because you begin with the idea that eating Low Carb involves denial and deprivation.
This approach is also the advice given by the vast majority of physicians and diabetes educators. They believe that compliance with major dietary change is difficult. This is true even for the enlightened who know that a “balanced” diet, containing far, far too many carbs, is “bad medicine” for anyone who has a degree of Insulin Resistance and can no longer tolerate carbohydrates. But the harm of diabetes is very slow in coming and invisible for many years.
Besides, in the medical community most physicians and diabetes educations recommend that Type 2 diabetics continue to eat a “balanced” diet. They say Type 2 diabetes is a “progressive disease,” which it will be if you follow their dietary advice. It will be treated with progressively more medications and eventually injected insulin. And that comes along with the Microvascular complications: retinopathy, neuropathy, ED and end-stage kidney disease (with dialysis). That is, unless you die first from one of the Macrovascular complications like heart disease or stroke.
Denial and deprivation, however, are still powerful forces, and going halfway instead of all-in serves as comfort in the sense that you were “good” but still allowed yourself an indulgence. It’s “virtue signaling” to yourself and others. But it leaves you vulnerable. It shows that you are on the fence. You’re wavering. You lack commitment.
Besides, you’re going to take yourself out of “fat burning” status and stall any weight loss you had been working on. If you need to lose weight, as most Pre-diabetics and Type 2s do, it doesn’t get you there. You need to commit “all-in” to Low Carb eating to get to the point where you are not “craving” sugar (all forms of carbohydrate, both simple sugars and complex carbohydrates). They all becomes glucose in your blood. And as long as you are a “sugar burner,” you will be “hungry” at times, and you will continue to feel like you are being denied and deprived.
At our family Thanksgiving dinner that year, before dinner I had nuts and cheese (no crackers) and wine both before and with the meal. At the table I had a big plate of dark meat turkey (no gravy), and cauliflower and Brussels sprouts roasted in olive oil. That was a feast meal indeed! After all that I was no longer hungry, and dessert held no interest for me. Anyway, I wasn’t even offered any of the homemade pecan or apple pies that were served.
That wasn’t always the case. My wife or my host always used to ask if I wanted dessert. They know not to ask now, and I no longer have to politely decline. I have reached the point where they and I can say I have “commitment.” I like to think they respect me, and I myself, for my commitment. Compare this with the perception of “waffling” and “half in.” When you think of it that way, I hope I can inspire you to feel “commitment” and self-respect too.I feel pretty secure that I am “there” now, but we’ll see. The days after Thanksgiving are the cookie baking season in our house. There are ten pounds of flour on the counter and five pounds of butter in the freezer. Soon the smell of some of my favorite cookies will be wafting through the house. I have never before been 100% successful in avoiding the feeling of being denied and deprived when it comes to my wife’s home-baked cookies. My mother’s recipe for peanut butter cookies is my favorite. This will truly be a test of my self-respect and commitment.
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