When I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic in 2013, one of the first things I did was look into books on preventing and reversing diabetes. One of Amazon's top sellers is Dr. Neal Barnard's 21-Day Kickstart which is a vegan whole foods diet plan that is low in fat and high in carbs. I devoured this book and it opened my eyes about the environmental impact and ethical issue related to consuming animals products. It also helped me understand the relationship between food and health, because up until this point I believed that I could exercise my way out of a bad diet and that being somewhat slim equated to being healthy. This book catapulted me into veganism and I loved the idea that I could eat all the carbs I wanted and reverse my diabetes, as long as it was low-fat whole foods and vegan. Needless to say this plan didn't work out for me for many reasons, one being that I wasn't overweight.
The majority of people who develop pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are overweight and it's this excess body fat that has lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. That is why when you research treatment for Type 2 diabetes, weight loss is key to reversing the disease. Here's how it works in layman's terms. When we consume any kind of carbohydrate, the sugars and starches get broken down into glucose and our pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to carry that glucose out of the blood and into our fat, muscle and liver cells for energy use or stored energy. If you have too many fat cells tucked into your muscle cells, then the muscle cells find it difficult to absorb the glucose and it starts to accumulate in the blood also known as high blood sugar. Eventually your pancreas will dump more insulin into the blood in order to bring down the elevated blood sugar and this leads to insulin resistance, where the cells are not responding to the effects of insulin. Left untreated and Type 2 diabetes begins, when blood sugar is elevated all the time. This is one way people develop Type 2 diabetes and weight management is a huge factor in this scenario. So if an overweight Type 2 diabetic adopts new healthy habits that result in weight loss, they should see improvement in their blood sugar readings. This is one of the reasons that people find success on Dr. Neal Barnard's plan because they swap processed, refined and highly fatty foods with healthy naturally low-fat whole foods which leads to weight loss. But what if you're a skinny diabetic and weight loss isn't an issue?
Information and treatment for skinny diabetics is hard to come by and I've had to dig deep and piece information together to understand why I developed diabetes and what's a healthy and sustainable path to reversing my Type 2. As a skinny diabetic I can tell you that learning how my body reacts to carbohydrates has been crucial to managing fasting blood sugar levels; as well as, learning about body composition and "skinny-fat" syndrome, having a balanced exercise regime with an emphasis on resistance training and understanding how an unhappy stressful mind can lead to diabetes. I'll address each of these points in future posts under Skinny Diabetes.
(***Picture up top was taken a few months post diagnosis)