Is it genetics, obesity or lack of activity that causes diabetes type two?
Where do I start? Is it when I gave birth to my daughter at the age of 29? It was thought I might have had gestational diabetes, a condition that has a greater chance of manifesting diabetes type two in the future, although the original diagnosis was never confirmed. Or is it from years of taking antibiotics for tonsil infections that eventually led to their removal at the age of twenty one? Antibiotics were seen as the medication for all infections, hence why they were prescribed without hesitation. I ate well, or so I thought, but unknowingly I was consuming a lot of carbs, sugar and processed food. It was the start of an era of easy and instant meals, influenced by misleading and untested advice from the government health department, you will often have seen the misleading food pyramid diagram. The diabetic epidemic has been linked to this time in our dietary history, the sad thing is we know it is wrong but we still follow it today.
I now know that genetics does not play a role in diabetes type two, it is more to do with the foods we consume, foods that cause insulin resistance, I will explain this in more detail in future posts as this is a subject that needs its own discussion. This post is about the role that my early years played in my current health.
I have always been active, starting ballet at the age of 5, and it took centre stage in my life until the age of 21. As an offshoot from dancing I competed as a gymnast, I would regularly play baseball with my father, I ran, hiked and cycled. I continued in the same vein throughout my life, I love moving and it is a big part of who I am.
I have been a slim all my life but in my thirties I started to gain weight, nothing had changed, I was still eating the same, being my active self, but with this extra weight gain, I felt it was appropriate, like most people would, to go on a calorie restricted diet. This would take many forms of dietary programs for the next 30 years with varying degrees of success, eventually none of them worked, I would start to gain weight even though I was religiously following each diet to the letter. Despite eating so little and being very active I continued to gain weight. It did not matter what type of diet I was on, no carbs, high fat, low fat, no fat, no meat, lots of meat, lots of protein, liquid, nothing, just air… I was banging my head against the wall, nothing worked, I would get close but it would never last, eventually I would start to gain once again, I could understand it if I cheated or wavered but that was never the case. I had a will of iron and I was determined to prevail.
When I was finally diagnosed with diabetes, I continued all these diets, just with even greater fervor and spent the next decade experiencing one failure after another. I think the most frustrating thing was being told by one doctor that I needed to eat less and exercise more, you could almost hear my metaphorical chin hit the floor with an astonishing clunk when he said that, it was the most insensitive comment I had received from a medical professional. Thank goodness he was not my regular GP.
This is a typical mindset that many people have about dieting and weight loss, fewer calories + more movement = weight loss, but this is one of the biggest lies that we have been told. It assumes that our bodies are dependent on calories to maintain a stable metabolic rate, this model completely ignores the ‘multiple overlapping hormonal systems that signal hunger and satiety’. It is not calories in and calories out that will determine how we use or store our food, our bodies can adjust the metabolic rate by about 40%, so when we eat fewer calories, your body slows down so you use fewer calories. This is a survival instinct, which I will discuss later.
So, trying to lose weight and control my diabetes has been one of the greatest challenges of my life, I have always felt there must be answer out there and so I just couldn’t accept the diagnosis that this was a chronic condition that would worsen with time with its many unpleasant consequences and I would just have to learn to live with it. My journey has taken a decade but now that I have found some answers, I would like to share them with you.