New Plan 3.0

I’ve been eating starches for almost 2 week now, and they make me feel like taking a nap. Every time.  Some of the common reasons folks get tired in the middle of the day are sleep deprivation, lowering of stress hormones, and food intolerance.  Hm…There’s no way I’m this sleep deprived.  There’s no way my stress hormones are super-high and the starches are lowering them, thus revealing my “true fatigue” (cuz if that were the case, sugar would have made me sleepy too). There’s no way I’m intolerant of every kind of starch…is there?  Is it possible white potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, and gluten free bread/pasta are all making me tired because my body is completely intolerant to all of those foods?  No.

I don’t know why this is happening, but it sucks.  I can handle about 1/4 cup of potatoes with a meal before I get too tired to function.  And even then I don’t have much energy.

So my conclusion – for now – is that I won’t find the solution to these problems in my diet…because EVERYTHING (with the exception of maybe milk and dill pickles) seems to be killing me or killing my enjoyment of life.  Or both.

So here’s my new plan:

I’m going to focus instead on exercise.  The last time I got in the habit of bicycling every day my blood sugar improved dramatically, dropping to within normal ranges within a week. I stopped because it got cold outside and because I was afraid my slowing pulse meant my thyroid wasn’t happy.  Things are more dire now….because now I have diabetes, for realz. Uncontrolled diabetes.  A couple days ago my fasting blood sugar was 155 – not an all time personal record or anything, but too flippin high.  When I first started eating starches my fasting blood sugar dropped to between 110 and 120 for a few days (don’t know why) – now it’s above 130 every day.

Yesterday I started biking.  I biked today too, and will tomorrow.  And the next day.

So what to eat?  For now, mostly Peat-friendly foods, without much of a plan. Someone on Facebook linked to this interesting study about saturated fats causing greater insulin resistance than monounsaturated fats.  They found that among people who ate less fat than the median (I think it’s less than 37% of calories, but I’m not sure and don’t have the full-text of the study), monounsaturated fats (e.g., olive oil) promoted insulin sensitivity, while saturated fats caused greater insulin resistance.  Can’t say I’ve ever heard that before.  I do eat about 40% of my calories in the form of saturated fats right now, so it may be a good idea to try substituting some olive oil, and reduce fat overall.  So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to be crazy about it, but I’ll stop adding fat when its not necessary, and swap out some of the saturated fat for a while.  Olive oil has more PUFA than either butter or coconut oil, but that’s just going to have to be ok.  For now.

I predict my fasting blood sugar will be in the 90s within 2 weeks.

My resistant starch + probiotics experiment continues.  I’m so scared to up my potato starch intake because of the extreme GI distress it caused me before.  But I must.  Maybe tomorrow.

If my blood sugar isn’t under control within 1 month, I’m going to see a doctor and get medication.  I feel like my time to noodle around has run out.

I’m so tired from eating starches – even just 1/2 cup of potatoes or rice – 15g of carbohydrate – that I find myself avoiding them.  Low carb is no good for my thyroid.  High sugar no good for my triglycerides.  Out of time, out of ideas.  If exercise and olive oil don’t fix this very soon I’ll have to give in.

33 thoughts on “New Plan 3.0

  1. Yay! I generally love this plan, but I would add lots of green tea and chocolate and berries and substitute fresh olives for olive oil. At the risk of being banned from comments, I leave you this:
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/01/24/opinion/food-chains-extra-virgin-suicide.html?_r=0

    Also,
    Please don’t exercise until you’re stressed and hating it. Just focus on how amazing and strong you are. And do a few pushups and planks for your upper body/core. Yay!

  2. I think this talk by Chris Materjohn is very illuminating, in terms of explaining how oxidative damage can cause Diabetes, even in the absence of “energy overload”. This is why I am stressing the antioxidants. (And don’t give up on the nutrient dense liver). If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, just start it at the 38:00 minute mark. I PROMISE it will be worth it.

  3. I have heard that vinegar can lower blood sugar, but I don’t know much about it. I’ve started sprinkling it on my food, mostly for taste and because it was recommended in the Perfect Health Diet. I’ll look into it – thanks for the tip.

  4. I like tea but it makes me hungry – I don’t know if it causes hypoglycemia or what, but both tea and coffee do that to me. Chocolate – totally on board, and I do have some every day. Berries I don’t particularly like and they’re expensive. How about an antioxidant supplement? I got this Amazing Grass super antioxidant stuff, and I’m not really sure what to do with it. Olives – I love! But I was thinking of something I could put on a potato in place of butter, that kind of thing. Seriously though, olives stuffed with garlic are one of my favorite things ever. I was aware that olive oil is often compromised/cut with bad oil, but that olive oils produced in California tend to be safe, so that’s what I’ve got. I do need to learn more about this, though – like what brands in particular are super-duper-for-realz olive oil. Re: exercise, I love biking. 30 minutes is plenty for me, and that’s when I stop. I won’t get sick of that. I’ve biked thousands of miles over the years. It’ll be ok. I will take a break if I feel I need one. Re: upper body toning, I hate planks and pushups. I refuse! Maybe I’ll feel differently tomorrow. 🙂 Thanks for all the great tips and resources! You’re a wealth of information.

  5. Ok, watched the whole thing. It was interesting – thanks for sharing it. Are you personally experiencing benefit from using/ingesting lots of antioxidants?

  6. Steady weight loss and no blood sugar spikes. More energy and noticed that a week after I started. That seems to be contributing to the weight loss and steady BS readings. Haven’t done an A1c yet.

  7. If its cold maybe just do walking. Pushups are usually difficult for females anyway. Building muscle would definitely help you in the long run. Easier said than done I know. Give the probiotics and resistant starch more time. It will probably take months from the comments I read on animal pharm.

  8. “Are you personally experiencing benefit from using/ingesting lots of antioxidants?”
    Let me first say that I was a little careless with my language to use “antioxidants” to refer to some of these foods, because some aren’t antioxidants and are actually purported to work by eliciting a mini stress response/adaptation.

    Now, in answer to your question, it’s a hard to summarize my experience here, but I’ll try:

    Anyway, I was vegan for many years, and I’ve always been sort of focused on getting a generous array of “phytonutrients”. But despite this fact, I haven’t always been nutritionally-replete on the most fundamental level. So for example, when I was vegan and restricting my calories, (with occasional higher calorie binge-days) I often went long periods of time without getting sufficient amounts of certain B vitamins, Selenium, etc. I was chronically tired, but I didn’t fully appreciate the fact that I was also chronically under-nourished. (I was too busy making some sort of exotic superfood smoothie). I gradually added in some animal products, but I was still mostly “plant based”. At some point after each of my boys were born I became what I considered to be insulin resistant/pre-Diabetic despite a pretty low caloric intake overall. :-/

    My body seemed to be unwilling to break down fat. Instead, I just became colder and colder the less I ate, and I experienced female pattern hair loss. This only turned around after I resumed resistance exercise and let myself eat many more calories, especially in the form of more nutrient-dense animal foods, like eggs, cheese, and shellfish. I believe that getting nutrient-replete and some muscle mass finally up-regulated my metabolism so that my body would let go of some fat. (Prior to this, my body seemed to continually down-regulate my metabolism and break down lean muscle tissue rather than break down fat).

    Both Peat and Masterjohn have persuaded me that providing one’s body with the essential nutrients it needs to build and support its own endogenous anti-oxidant system is absolutely critical to resisting/avoiding oxidative stress, much more than the phytochemicals, but I believe that combining both is probably ideal.

    I also think that we underestimate the importance of food preparation. For, example, I think that we should consider rethinking the consumption of cooked eggs, despite the fact that I LOVE cooked eggs. They produce cholesterol oxides when cooked, and I believe their pufas oxidize, and I suspect that might be the real reason why many studies seem to suggest that eggs aren’t good for Diabetics. (I am rather convinced that oxidative stress is indeed at the heart of Diabetes, and I was pretty convinced of this even before I encountered Masterjohn’s work). So for the most part, and I say this with great sadness, I’m now generally going with raw eggs (just the yolks). Also, I think it’s really better to use wet cooking methods and protective marinades on foods that are prone to oxidation, like meat and fish. For this reason, I’m strongly inclined to choose/recommend raw milk and cheese over pasteurized, if available.

    Soooo, in answer to your question about the consumption of antioxidants working for me: I can’t really say for sure. I think that I SEEM quite healthy and all of my numbers seem really good, but I do have EXTREME issues with insomnia, and I don’t know what effect that is having on my overall rate of decay, lol. However, I don’t have an alternate me who rarely consumes these foods for purposes of comparison. 🙂 That’s where twin studies seem helpful. But I do want to stress again that I don’t think that consuming the “colors of the rainbow” is the only/primary strategy to best combat oxidative stress.

    In retrospect, I wish I had just asked you to watch just 2 minutes (38:00-40:00) of Masterjohn’s presentation, because at that point he summarizes his conclusions. The rest of it is really to show how he reached those conclusions.

    p.s. When I say pushup/planks, I am really talking about something like 1 minute sessions, 2 or 3 times a week. 5-6 minutes of pushups/planks a week just to prevent injury and maintain/gain a little lean muscle mass, which is your metabolic bff. And pushups with knees on the ground are TOTALLY legit. 🙂

  9. I sprinkle a little here and there on various foods but I’m not using two tablespoons before and after each meal.

  10. N2P – Yeah, there are ways to do resistance exercises that aren’t so hard they’re torture. I have some free weights I could use. I quit my gym for various reasons. Regarding giving RS and probiotics more of a chance – absolutely, I have 6 months worth of this stuff. I’m going to use them until they’re gone, unless for some reason they seem to be causing harm.

  11. By the way, when I say that I think I seem pretty healthy, that’s below the neck. Above the neck is where my real issues lie. That is why I’m sticking with Peat for now, despite the fact that I’m a little jigglier after applying his ideas. 🙂

  12. Karin – Thank you for telling me your story – It’s really helpful to know where you’re coming from. Let’s start from the end of your awesome comment, and work backwards. I’m resisting the idea of doing planks/pushups right now because I am starting to have real mood swings that make me feel terrible. I’ll probably blog about it. I’d be very open to doing that 1-2 minute a day thing but right now I am too tired and depressed. I’ll come back to it. 🙂 (<–Ironic smiley face). Re: the C. Masterjohn video, I'm glad I watched the whole thing. I thought all the salivary amylase stuff was really interesting. I've never seen him talk, and he's really good at it. I really admire people who can lecture well. I taught a college class once. It's not a strength of mine. So I enjoyed it. Re: oxidative stress, I don't really know much about this. You're a smart cookie though, and I respect your opinion, so I'll learn more about it. Let me know if you have links/videos/articles that impressed you that would be educational.

    I'm not ready to go full-on raw egg yolk yet. I love cooked eggs.

    You made a comment once that I'm not prone to bingeing…actually I used to have a binge eating disorder, 20 years ago. At the time I was in college and eating ramen noodles every day. No awareness of nutrition, couldn't afford animal products. As I got older I started working in restaurants (nice ones) and eating their food. My health improved and bingeing became less and less frequent. I think it has everything to do with nutritional deficiencies. Now that I eat lots of animal products I don't binge eat. Wish I would have known back then.

  13. Above the neck was just a way of way of alluding to the fact that I’ve got pretty severe issues with sleep-deprivation, anxiety, depression, motivation, fill in the blank.

    Yeah, I think I came across as a little paranoid, talking about cooked eggs as if they’re going to kill, KILL us all! haha! (Sorry about that). A couple of months ago, we got our 23andme test results back, and it turns out that my husband is one of about 2% of the population who is homozygous Apo e 4. According to some stats I’ve seen, this gives him about a 92% chance of getting Alzheimer’s (about 10 years earlier than average as well) and a hugely increased risk for heart disease/artherosclerosis. There is very little rock solid information out there about how to best eat/live to prevent it, and everyone seems to present their theory as fact. (Sound familiar?) I can’t do this topic justice here, and I’m actually thinking about starting my own blog on the subject, but I’ll just say for now that I’m a little more hard core about food right now, because I’m trying to give him every chance of being among the lucky 8% that avoids this disease. In the meantime, ironically enough, the increased stress/insomnia seems to be steadily devouring my own brain. Maybe that’s why I like Peat’s dietary philosophy right now. I’m in no friggin condition to worry about eating my veggies! 🙂

  14. Well, that sure makes the 23 and me less fun. I’m heterozygous for that APO e 4, which increases my risk a bit (like 12.5% chance instead of 7.1% chance. I”m prolly more likely to die of a coronary, according to 23andme. It’s encouraging that not everyone with that genotype gets Alzheimers though – like, what are those 8% doing differently? If anyone can figure it out for him, you can. It’s ok to be a food nazi. This is important stuff.

  15. Thanks so much, Lanie. I just read today’s post, and I just want you to know that you’ve got a wide variety of people who are also benefiting enormously from your work here, silently cheering you on, even if you don’t hear from us all on a regular basis.

    I wanted to comment about yesterday’s post, but I’m in a mad rush to get out the door. What I essentially want to say is: Please try not to make impossible rules for yourself….

    You already know this, but I’m going to remind you that insisting that you have NOTHING but micronutrient-rich food makes the empty stuff seem much more attractive than it is. Please consider focusing on ADDING stuff rather than removing it. If you have to set rules, I would suggest that you just make sure that you eat an excessive amount of nourishing foods, get completely useless foods (like the gluten-free processed ones) out of the house, and exercise consistently. And if you want to eat some fantastic dessert or rice-based dish, that’s absolutely FINE: Just make sure that you then go PLAY for a half hour to get the blood sugar down.

    One final rule: Enjoy your food and your life!

  16. One more thing:

    There is no shame in going to the doctor, and I’m sure that they don’t make you sign a lifelong contract when you get prescribed Metformin. Just do what you think you need to do and not what you think you SHOULD need to do.

  17. Thanks, Karin. The gluten free processed stuff (only bread and pretzels) is in the house in the first place because these were the concessions made by the rest of the family. My husband is willing to give up potato chips and other PUFA madness if there’s other crunchy things around – hence, the pretzels. I’m not willing to make my kiddo go completely without sandwiches – I pack her a lunch 3 days a week (better than her eating her preschool’s food) and having gluten-free bread around makes that a little easier. I don’t eat these things every day.

    You’re right about setting up impossible standards. I didn’t even mean it, apparently.

    I’d love to enjoy everything. I don’t think it’s a choice. When I was eating sugar I felt great – life felt like a joy. Now it doesn’t. I think depression, anxiety, and joie de vivre are a function of biological processes. I’m a mental health counselor and behavior analyst – I have a masters in psychology, and I now don’t believe anything I learned about the “psyche”. When my emotions feel like crap I know something’s wrong with what’s below the neck. Over the years I’ve forced myself to do playful fun things even when I felt like staying home and hiding out. That just doesn’t work for me.

    I just don’t believe happiness is a choice. I believe it’s a product of good health.

  18. Thanks. 🙂 I’m avoiding it for several reasons…I would need to find a doc, I’d have to pay full price for everything, and I’d feel like I gave up. Plus my parents are now suffering from chronic problems that I believe may have been caused in part by their long-term cholesterol and glucose-lowering medications. I feel comfortable giving myself a deadline and then going to a doc after that.

  19. Okay, I’m sorry that I didn’t take more time to develop my thoughts . I totally relate to and/or agree with every word you have written. I’m in the car and can barely see the computer screen, but I’m going to try again.

    Last week, I made myself play with my sons at the playground, even though what I REALLY wanted to do was to send them with my husband so that I could have time alone at the house. I ran around and played tag because it was good for us as a family and I knew it was good for my body. I can’t say that I enjoyed myself, exactly, but somehow PRETENDING to enjoy myself enabled me to feel ever so SLIGHTLY better about the whole day, which hadn’t gone well at all overall, and it also enabled me to feel okay with eating a satisfying dinner. (This is sad and pathological, but ever since I was about 8 years old, I have felt guilty eating to satiety, so that alone is a big plus for me).

    So of course I am oversimplifying things to say that you should make it a rule to enjoy yourself. Instead, I would like to make it a rule to affirm yourself by making sure that what you eat usually tastes pretty good. For example, I believe you stated that you ate potatoes without butter before you resorted to eating the gluten-free pretzels. If you have access to good butter, eating plain potatoes might be considered a culinary crime. If you eat the potatoes with butter and then occasionally find yourself STILL following them up with pretzels, then allow yourself to fully enjoy the pretzels, knowing that you will need to have exercise for dessert. 🙂

  20. I hesitate to answer because I don’t want to make you feel bad or like you’ve said something wrong. But I’m still going to. hahaha. Your playing-with-the-kids story is what I do EVERY DAY. Right now, I never feel like playing with my kiddo. I’m tired most days now and my kid is super high-energy and social. I do it anyway because I love her and want her to have good experiences. I enjoyed playing with my daughter back when I was eating sugar – at the time I couldn’t wait for Spring so we could go out and play at the park. Now it’s here and I’m tired/depressed again from eating starches.

    Regarding eating – I didn’t feel guilty about anything I ate yesterday. I just don’t have that experience with food – I did many years ago, but now I don’t. Guilt doesn’t enter the picture. I DO have fabulous Kerrygold butter. I eat it all the time. I had a potato with no butter to see how it tasted that way, as I suspect my blood sugar would be better managed with fewer fat calories (and/or overall calories) in my diet. It wasn’t an emotional decision. 🙂

  21. I do still use the vinegar but have also switched to high fat/low carb. Ratio is about 70/10/20 (fat, carb, protein). Example….scrambled 3 eggs in 1tbsp coconut oil….worked on my computer and after 1.5 hours checked my sugar reading. 134! With carb percentage at 40% or more prior, my BS would spike 200+. Not good. Will do this HF/LC way of eating and see what happens. I don’t mind the high fat. One has to watch that the fat doesn’t come from excessive protein or weight gain can be the result. Weight loss seems to be the bonus on HF/LC. Researched it for a few hours. Liked what I read.

  22. I don’t doubt for a moment that you play with your daughter every day. But I think we’re talking about different levels of play. In my case, I was referring to the kind of play where you’re continually sprinting away from someone who runs faster than you, the kind of play where you are glistening with sweat, and you turn a slightly different color. That is the kind of play which lowers blood sugar and changes bodies. It can work as well or better than any bike ride.

    And I would guess that well over 99% of people hate planks and pushups. But well over 99% of people who DO planks and pushups for a few minutes a week enjoys their lives more than they would if they didn’t.

  23. What you describe (sprinting, running) suggests to me that you and I are at significantly different levels of fitness. I’m nowhere near that. Wouldn’t you recommend finding exercise that’s fun for me? Biking is fun for me. That wouldn’t be play for me – that would be torture.

    You sound frustrated with me. Are you? And are you sure more than 99% of people who do planks and pushups have greater enjoyment of life? I don’t see why that would be.

  24. Let me first say that I’m sorry if I came across as curt. Since you were telling it like you see it, and I was failing to convey my thoughts, I felt like I was in a position to be a little more direct. I’m going to address your question/point about upper body strength first, because my answer to that is relatively straightforward. I apologize if I’m repeating some stuff that you already know.

    Let’s say that we are wearing a 20 lb weighted vest all of the time. This has positives and negatives. Obviously, we’d have to work harder to do all of our daily activities than we would without it, and that makes everything a little more tiring, a little more of an annoying challenge. On the other hand, over time, many of our muscles will adapt to it and get a little bit stronger, many of our bones will increase in density to support the weight, and we’ll eventually not even realize just how challenging it is. A big plus is that the vest will enable us to lose weight while eating the same number of calories (or to maintain weight at a higher caloric intake).

    If we are carrying around 20 extra pounds of fat, it is very much like walking around with that 20 lb vest. We have stronger muscles and denser bones than we would without it. If we restrict calories and start to lose the fat, we will likely feel like we have more energy, but the amount of lean tissue that we have will also decrease. (There is no known way around this….everyone loses a significant amount of lean tissue on a restrictive diet, even bodybuilders). Since metabolic rate correlates with lean tissue, and we’re doing less work just to go about our day, we’ll need to continually reduce our caloric intake as we lose weight. And then after we’ve lost all of the weight that we wanted to lose, we’ll need to decrease caloric intake further as we age, to account for the muscle loss that comes with age (mostly as a result of disuse).

    Let’s say that our plan is to eat normally and lose weight through exercise. If we lose fat by biking alone, we’ll still need to keep readjusting our caloric intake downward as weight is lost, to account for having less lean tissue to maintain. (I know that thigh muscles might grow, but overall we’ll have less lean tissue). If, however, we combine biking with overall resistance training, adding muscle tissue to our entire body, our resting metabolic rate will increase, and as our metabolic rate increases, we can expect to maintain or even lose weight at a higher caloric intake.

    The research is showing that people can add a significant amount of muscle through resistance training, in surprisingly short sessions. Even less time is needed to maintain it once you have added it. Plus, having extra muscle enables your body to stay healthier during times of inactivity and illness, and helps to prevent some really terrible age-related diseases, like osteoporosis, etc.

    There is also research on the impact of weight training on mental health:
    Resistance Training Improves Mental Health:
    http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/RTandMentalHealth.html

    So in answer to your question, I really do believe that strength training improves quality of life, but my 99% figure wasn’t scientific, to say the least. I think I can say with confidence that the vast majority of people who have had an extended opportunity to strength train are to some degree more satisfied with life as a whole than they would be if they did not strength train. They get to take in more nutrients without having to deal with the stress of caloric restriction, their insulin sensitivity improves, they tire less easily, recover from injury more easily, prevent a whole host of diseases, slow down aging throughout their bodies, tend to sleep better, maintain better cognitive function, etc. etc. They definitely don’t need to get super-lean to get all of these benefits.

    On the other hand, I think that it’s really important that people choose exercise that they enjoy for their primary form of exercise. Biking is fantastic, but it’s not always convenient to bike, isn’t a weight bearing activity, and leaves out a lot of important muscle groups. It also causes you to tighten certain muscles, like your hip flexors, and curl your body inward. So I was suggesting some sort of body weight exercises like planks (both supine and prone) as a supplement because they tend to strengthen the muscles while keeping them elongated, which will help to prevent posture/back problems that people can get on a bike. They’re also super-efficient, can be done anywhere, and quickly bring down blood sugar. This article mentions them for this purpose, along with other tips, like deep laughter: http://collectivewizdom.com/BestExercisestoLowerBloodSugar.html

    But obviously that’s just one example of an effective exercise. If you hate them with a passion, or if you have some injury which makes them risky, of course you can be extremely healthy without them, but I really strongly think that it’s important to try to find some sustainable way to safely work all of the muscles that aren’t worked (or even slightly hurt) by biking alone.

    It appeared to me that you thought my first set of suggestions were somewhat facile, so I thought it might better help to show you where I was coming from by relaying my personal experience. It was just an attempt to express how I’ve found something that slightly improves my quality of life, enabling me to have my cake and eat it (more often). Obviously, we are experiencing two very different sets of challenges: I didn’t mean to imply that you have to engage in sprints with your daughter and I’m well aware that you don’t have the same issues with food that I experience at times. (The word “guilt” is not really accurate…..let’s just say that if the family gets a pizza for dinner, I usually regret it if I partake, but vigorous exercise seems to make it okay for me to occasionally enjoy not-so-healthy food).

    My general impression of that day out with your daughter (the “starch almost killed me” day) is that you got food which would tend to impact your blood sugar, and then got back in your car. I know that those kinds of situations can be really hard on our bodies. So perhaps on those kinds of occasions we should always make it a point to do something active, like go for a brisk walk (maybe with her on your back?) or even make it a point to quickly find a park (and briefly engage in the kind of active play that you almost never see among adults) and get the blood sugar right back down before sitting again. I did NOT in any way mean to imply that I have anything to teach you about parenting, or that you are anything less than an awesome and playful Mom. 🙂

  25. You can always be direct with me – that’s the language I understand best! I was just checking to make sure you weren’t getting mad at me. 😉

    I’m not disputing any of this. I’ve been depressed since I’ve started eating starches and it’s hard to do more than the minimum required right now. Also I just started exercising – every day! How bout a high five for this girl! haha.

    I’ll get there. Just not all this week.

  26. Here’s my high five, but I don’t even feel worthy. You’ve been much more consistent than I have been lately. Great job! 🙂

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