To Mellissa and the TuDiabetes community –
I understand the tired reluctance that many here react to anything to do with using a low carb way of eating as a method to treat diabetes. This community has been torn by heated discussions over the years and I, for one, do not want to return to that.
First I would like to set some context to explain where I am coming from and to help the newer members of this community.
For many years the medical community and the three-lettered diabetes advocacy and medical professional organizations have used their various platforms to discredit a low carb way of eating as a viable method to treat diabetes. They used their organizational power to argue against any patient, doctor, or other medical professional that might consider a low carb diet as a reasonable plan to moderate blood sugar. They said that low-carbing was dangerous, unsustainable, and bad for your heart.
In the face of this almost universal medical community agreement about using low carbs as a way to treat diabetes, a small and growing contingent of people with diabetes experimented using a low carb way of eating to keep their blood sugar in check.
My low-carb experiment
I began my low-carb experiment three years ago inspired by fellow TuD member’s success. Like many before me, I found that for the first time in my 28-year struggle with type I diabetes, I started to gain the upper hand. For the first time in my adult life I lost weight without trying, cut my daily insulin dose in half, and had blood glucose control that didn’t think was possible for a person with diabetes.
Once my euphoria about this great personal discovery started to wear off, I began to ask some hard questions. If this method worked so well for me, why didn’t even one doctor, dietitian, or other medical professional mention this to me as a possible means to control my blood sugar?
My years in diabetes crisis
Before my low-carb discovery, I spent several years caught in a web of diabetes crisis. The relative control that I felt for the first 25 years was now gone. Insulin didn’t work like it did before. I was gaining weight. Even exercise didn’t seem to have the same effect. My digestive system was acting up and my blood sugar was on a 24-hour per day roller coaster. I was constantly working to bring down skyrocketing highs and pulling up from steep dives into some scary mind numbing lows. I was tired, brain-fogged, and miserable.
I went through three endocrinologists in five years. I consulted dietitians, certified diabetes educators, and started to look for help online. Not one peep from any of the medical professionals asking me if I considered limiting my carbohydrate consumption. Not one peep!
My response to low-carb critics
I think this borders on medical malpractice. Prior to my crisis time, there had been bubbling controversy on this topic from time to time. The mainstream medical community investigating whether there was any kernel of truth to using carb limits as a viable tool for diabetics remained enthralled with low-fat high-carb status quo. At the same time, these mainstream practitioners and their various advocacy groups chose instead to ignore and marginalize.
“Vitriol” is defined as bitter criticism with an implied meaning of inappropriate over-reaction. It may seem like that to the diabetes advocacy organizations and their spokespeople. They have no idea the extent of the damage that their advice has done to this community over the years. They appear to me to wish to just sweep this dirty business under the carpet and just “go along and get along.”
Accusations do not create healing
This is not how fences get mended on a personal or even organizational level. When you harm someone and wish to repair the relationship you use the only method that’s worked since the beginning of mankind: acknowledge the wrong you did, apologize, ask forgiveness, and make a commitment to not do it again. It’s the lesson any parent of a five-year old tries to give their offspring.
Using words like “vitriol, anger, and libel” is not the language of apology and forgiveness. And I don’t expect this wound to heal well. I have no illusions that the harmful actors in this social injustice will ever own up and take responsibility for their misdeeds.
Don’t blame diabetics
I will not, however, allow them to paint the low-carb movement in the diabetes community as unjustifiably angry, vitriolic, and purveyors of libel! This is a classic blame the victim tactic and it won’t work.
I am justifiably angry about their past and present actions. They should have known better, especially as the years and decades rolled by. Many of these organizations were and are enmeshed in crippling conflicts-of interest. They are often compromised by the by the money of Big-Parma and Big-Food.
It will take time and perhaps a new generation to take over, one without the fresh memory of this transgression. My anger has cooled over the years and I don’t hold it very close. Anger, I know, is corrosive and not conducive to good health.
If the other players in the Diabetes Community want to forge a strong alliance with the patient community then I suggest they own up to their role in low-carb misinformation and the demonization of low-carb adherents. They need to recognize that as the science moves away from them, take responsibility for past misdeeds and seek to move on.