Patricia does not have a typical diabetes diagnosis story, but it is one that is becoming more and more common. Patricia lived diabetes-free for most of her life, but at age 63 suddenly found herself with a diagnosis of type 1.5 diabetes.
If you are unfamiliar with type 1.5 diabetes, here are the diagnostic criteria:
1. Being older than age 30 when diagnosed
2. Having only 1 antibody against beta cells or insulin
3. Having a slow-progressing version of type 1 diabetes
Living with type 1.5 diabetes (a “slow-progressing” version of type 1 diabetes) means that your pancreas is still capable of producing insulin, however a weak autoimmune reaction targets beta cells for destruction over the course of time.
As Patricia adjusted to this new reality, she did her best to manage her blood glucose. She tried out a variety of dietary approaches to controlling diabetes, and eventually adopted a ketogenic diet in which she restricted her intake of carbohydrates to less than 30 grams per day, and increased her intake of low-carbohydrate foods like chicken, eggs, fish, and dairy products.
She followed this low-carbohydrate diet with 100% compliance, but much to her frustration found that as time went on she became increasingly exhausted. Her energy levels dropped dramatically, and yet she could not lose a single pound.
Even though it went against what she thought she knew to be true, she was intrigued, and decided to join the coaching program to give it a try.
She started the program with 4 specific objectives in mind:
Patricia turned her diet on its head, going from eating low-carbohydrate, high-protein, high-fat foods to high-carbohydrate, low-protein, low-fat foods. She stopped eating all animal foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, and began eating nutrient-dense plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils, potatoes, and squashes.
She also began exercising more often, especially using resistance training, although she confesses that she is still working towards making it a consistent daily habit.
Here are a few examples of meals that Patricia regularly eats to manage type 1.5 diabetes and feel her best:
In the first 4 months, her A1c dropped from 7.1% to 6.4%, and by 8 months it was down to 5.6%.
Two years later, Patricia maintains an A1c level of 6.1%.
She has lost 50 pounds and has maintained the weight loss over the course of time, and her LDL cholesterol dropped 40%. She and her endocrinologist are both thrilled with the results. Her laboratory work is shown below:
Total Cholesterol (mg/dL)
LDL Cholesterol (mg/dL)
HDL Cholesterol (mg/dL)
Carbohydrate Intake (g/day)
Basal Insulin (U/day)
Bolus Insulin (U/day)
Insulin Sensitivity (g/U)
Beyond the numbers, Patricia feels better than she has in decades. She has not only gained a ton of energy, she has more energy than before she was diagnosed with type 1.5 diabetes.
As an added perk, she is frequently complimented on her healthy weight and skin complexion – which she especially enjoys hearing from her husband, Chris.
She enjoys cooking and loves the food that she eats. Her current favorite cookbook is the How Not to Die Cookbook by Dr. Michael Greger.
Patricia plans to continue eating this way for the rest of her life, which she now has tons of energy to fully embrace and enjoy!
What do you think of Patricia’s story? Leave her a comment below!
Tara Kemp is the Director of Nutrition Education at Mastering Diabetes. She has been active in the field of health and nutrition for many years, including working with Forks Over Knives, Engine 2, and Dr. Neal Barnard and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Tara has a bachelor's degree in Education from Bucknell University, a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell, and is a Certified Food For Life Instructor through the Physicians Committee.
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