Veganism and Diabetes

| Mar 5, 2012

As I was sitting in the hospital after a heart attack, my cardiologist walked in and said, "You have to stop eating meat." "Red meat?" I asked hopefully. "All meat," he replied firmly. It was disconcerting, to say the least, because meat has been in my life since I could feed myself. But my cardiologist explained, "If you don't want to end up back here again, you will start on an plant-based diet immediately." That day, I stopped eating meat. In fact, I asked the hospital food service to switch me to a vegetarian diet.

At the time, I didn't understand the overwhelming emotional and physical impact this change would have on my life and family. Until something is gone, you don't know how much you will miss it. The experience has been like a bad break-up: You miss it, you want it back, and everything reminds you that it's gone. But one thing I can say is that my health has improved. It has been only three months, but I can already see a difference in myself, my husband, and my children.

My decision to change my lifestyle has impacted not only my everyday life, but also my life with diabetes. I have had diabetes for over 10 years, and the hardest part is still the fluctuation in my sugar levels on a day-to-day basis. Changing from a complete carnivore to a vegan has had a major impact on my sugar levels, which go down quickly on some days but not on other days. Planning meals has become a big part of my life, and it still takes up a lot of my time. Over the last three months, I have struggled with designing meals that will help both my diabetes and my heart disease.

If you are planning on making the change to veganism, prepare yourself for the ups and downs that will follow. Easing into it will make the change less emotionally and physically overwhelming. The following tips may prove helpful if you are planning to become a vegan:

1. Check your blood sugar regularly.
2. Check the amount of sugar and carbs in the fruits and vegetables that you eat.
3. Eat six small meals instead of three larger ones.
4. If you are exercising more, check your sugar levels before, during, and after each workout.
5. Drink plenty of water.
6. Carry a snack with you at all times.
7. Reduce your juice intake if you increase your fruit intake.
8. Most important of all, don't worry if you slip up. Becoming vegan is a total life change, and we all know that change doesn't happen overnight!

When you reduce your meat and carbohydrate intake, you tend to overdo the fruits and vegetables to feel full. But when you have diabetes, you must watch the natural sugars in foods as well. Checking your blood sugar more frequently will ensure that your sugar levels are not going too low or high.

As my cardiologist explained, "Meat creates additional plaque in the arteries, causing a narrowing of the arteries and blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke." A vegan diet reduces the chances of future plaque build-up. While being a vegan can't undo the damage that is already done, I believe that it can prevent further damage from occurring. I don't know if the plaque is clearing from my arteries yet. But I do know that I feel far better now than I have in a long time. Making the switch to veganism has been a hard road, but the payoff is well worth it.

 

 

 

 

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Categories: , Carbohydrate Intake, Cardiologist, Carnivore, Diabetes, Diabetes, Eating Meat, Food, Fruit Intake, Heart Attack, Heart Disease, Planning Meals, Plant-Based Diet, Plaque in the Arteries, Sugar Levels, Vegan, Veganism, Vegetarian Diet


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Comments

Posted by Anonymous on 5 March 2012

This is complete HORSEHOCKEY! I am a VEGETARIAN -- but I make sure I get plenty of fat and omega-3's and Vitamin D -- I eat eggs, cheese, cream, and coconut oil to maintain a ketogenic diet -- and my endo is amazed at how low both my insulin dosage AND my A1c is.

Is the author with PETA or its shill -- PCRM?

Posted by Anonymous on 6 March 2012

Congratulations on your lifestyle change and you are so right. I experienced vegan meal planning and eating recently while on the Daniel 21 day fast. I felt so much better, my glucose levels are almost normal, and I plan to adhere to it from now on. Good luck!

Posted by Anonymous on 6 March 2012

In your article you did not mention whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. I have type 1, and have had it now for forty four or five years. I also am an Orthodox christian, (just got confirmed last year) and have to follow a vegan diet for half of the year. Doesn't do me any harm. Good luck with yours, perhaps you should try eating natural fruits and vegs and cut down on the fruit juices. I don't know much about type 2, so maybe this is unwarrented advice. God bless.

Posted by seashore on 6 March 2012

Tell your cardiologist to supply the evidence that redmeat causes heart disease. It does not exist!

The primary cause of heart disease is elevated blood sugar. To control your blood sugar you need a low-carb diet. A Vegan diet is the worst possible choice.

Posted by Anonymous on 7 March 2012

Oregon born -- mine is comment #1. And ONLY comment #1. The others ARE NOT ME.

I am no fan of PCRM, I followed their diet, lost weight, was miserable, craved FAT ... and it crept back into my diet. I then became diabetic. This time, I elected to eat low carb, HIGH FAT, including a lot of saturated fat and Vitamin D and omega-3's in my diet, and eliminating grains and legumes. It has worked wonders and kept my insulin dose AN D WEIGHT down! I truly believe that PCRM is wrong in their approach to diabetes and diet for healthy people, as well. I cannot speak for other posters.

Posted by Anonymous on 7 March 2012

"Could the negative postings on this site possibly all be from the same person-- who is obviously anti-PETA and anti-PCRM?"

About as likely as one person posting all the pro-vegan comments! Are you, Mr. conspiracy theorist, posting over and over again?

Everybody I ever met knows Barnard's true colors - knows that he's just a confederate of PETA and that PCRM is nothing more than a pretentious facade to advance animal rights, not human health & wellbeing. Y'think it's an association of physicians? Big horse laugh! Only 5% of the membership are medical personnel. The $64,000 question is, why would they try to make people think they are doctors when they are not.

Posted by angivan on 7 March 2012

Sorry, add me to the list that think this is a terrible practice for a diabetic. Low to moderate carbs with healthy fats are the way to go to keep your A1C and weight down. At least eat egg whites and cheese. This has been the key for me. My ex was veggie and I was always overweight when I ate that way. Protein based eating is essential for glucose control and satiety.

Posted by JDCA2025 on 8 March 2012

Oh, being Vegetarian, and even vegan with diabetes is quite possible. I know because I have tried it and lived to tell the tale. It is not so different than not being a vegetarian, as diabetics we always have to be aware of our food choices and how much of something is too much. A vegetarian diet does not restrict you, not really, in fact it forces you to explore new foods and diets you may not have been aware of before.

Posted by lrobertson0207 on 10 March 2012

Overall this article was to show you my experience in the transformation of a vegan lifestyle, not a debate. I wanted others to see that making this type of life change can be much more than simply saying "No" to meat. Additionally I want you to understand that while many think this type of diet is not a good choice for a Diabetic I also have to factor in my heart disease, which has grown more serious than I was ready to handle. And while Diabetes is a chronic concern and life time illness so is my Coronary Artery Disease. And one that will also affect my life forever. Juggling both condtions on top of the other conditions I haven't yet mentioned is the daily struggle.


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