If you’re recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D), you may feel like you’re lost at sea with one foot in two lifeboats, each pointing in opposite directions. And it is now time to make a decision: Which lifeboat should you take?
One lifeboat is occupied by others like yourself and is led by the ship’s captain, who brought you to this point. The other lifeboat has survivors as well…and just a boatswain’s mate to guide you safely to shore. But you can only take one lifeboat! Will it be the captain’s lifeboat or the boatswain’s mate’s lifeboat? How do you decide?
The captain has a lot of education and experience. Wikipedia says, he’s “a commissioned officer and the ship’s master. He is “ultimately responsible for aspects of operation such as the safe navigation of the ship, its cleanliness and seaworthiness, safe handling of all cargo, management of all personnel, inventory of ship's cash and stores, and maintaining the ship's certificates….” We have confidence in our captain, right?
A boatswain’s mate has the rate of petty officer and also has acquired lots of knowledge and experience, but of a more practical nature. Wiki says, “Boatswain’s mates take charge of working parties; perform seamanship tasks; act as petty officer-in-charge of picket boats, self-propelled barges, tugs, and other yard and district craft.” In other words, a boatswain’s mate has the experience and navigational skill to coxswain a lifeboat.
Which “lifeboat” should you take? Well, the “ship” that brought you here…has sunk. The Captain failed you. And everyone else too who followed the McGovern Committee’s Dietary Goals for Americans, published in 1977, and the first Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980. The “Titanic” first set sail in the 50’s with physiologist Ancel Keys as Captain. His infamous “Seven Country Study,” got him on the AHA board and on Time Magazine’s cover in 1961.
You could get into that “captain’s” lifeboat. The current captain, your doctor, will use all the skills he learned in medical school (in a 1-hour lecture) to diagnose and treat your symptom, an elevated blood glucose. He will counsel you to lose weight; he will suggest “diet and exercise” and eat the “healthy fats” he and the USDA recommend (PUFA’s aka “vegetable” oils) And he will tell you to do what you have always done on this ill-fated “cruise,” just “eat less (on a cruise!) and move more.” And if that doesn’t work, (s)he will start writing prescriptions TO TREAT YOUR SYMPTOM.
This “boatswain’s mate” will steer you in a completely different direction – one that treats not a SYMPTOM (high blood glucose) but the CAUSE of type 2 diabetes, a dysfunctional metabolism. Instead of encouraging you to eat a “balanced,” “mostly plant-based” diet, high in refined carbs, sugars and “vegetable” (seed) oils, you will be counseled to eat a low carb, moderate protein and high fat diet, including saturated fat (not PUFA’s), to guide you to shore.
But as you can see, I have a bias. I lived the “high life” on the Titanic for 63 years. But I am among the lucky survivors who chose the “boatswain’s lifeboat.” After I made my decision 18 years ago in 2002, I lost (at one point) 187 pounds and a wile back had an A1c of 5.0%. I started my journey to remission and reversal of T2D by strictly eating just 20g of carbs a day. Within a week(!) of starting in 2002, I got off almost all of the anti-diabetic medications I was on.
My “coxswain’s” mates were mostly on online forums; I owe so much to them for their support. Today there are lots of special online support groups. I think the best is DietDoctor.com (subscription: $9/mo.); they get more hits in 1 day than I’ve had on my blog in 10 years. My favorite books are "The Obesity Code," by Jason Fung, "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living," by Volek and Phinney, and "Blood Sugar 101," by Jenny Ruhl.
Of course, I’d like it if you decided to read my blog regularly too. I publish this Retrospective Series daily now. I have a great editor who helps me make it readable and keeps me honest. She’s so much more qualified than I am, and in so many areas of health and wellness. I am so lucky to have had her help for all these years. As you can see, we do this without advertising. We don’t want or need ad revenues so we don’t sell or promote anything except an idea.
After the disastrous voyage you’ve been on that has brought you to this point, we know that all YOU have to do now, to make it to shore safely, is to make a smart, informed decision and step into the right lifeboat.