This is my story. It’s mine, though many share a similar one. It doesn’t constitute advice other than, if you have Type II diabetes, you owe it to yourself to do your own research. It’s your life. It’s your health. It’s your future.
My doctor called with my most recent test results. My A1C was through the roof and he wanted to put me on a third diabetes medicine. I listened to him, but all I could hear was that my diabetes was getting worse.
I had been following the rules. Oh, I admit to the occasional chocolate, but overall, I was following the dietary guidelines laid out by the nutritionist when I was first diagnosed. To keep my blood glucose levels steady, I ate small meals, five or six times a day and worked hard at avoiding simple carbohydrates such as added sugar, white bread, and starchy foods.
Now something else had to change but after reading about the possible medications that the doctor suggested, another pill would not be my first choice. I wasn’t yet taking insulin directly, but I could see the prospect looming on the horizon. After that it would likely be a constant scramble to stop my body from rotting from the inside out.
I’m a clinical hypnosis practitioner. In fact, I fancy myself as a Personal Change Manager. I help people achieve the changes they desire every day. I’ve even seen my fair share of seemingly miraculous changes. The human mind is amazing. But even I would have a hard time believing that hypnosis alone could do much to help diabetes.
One thing I knew was that hypnosis could help me make almost any necessary lifestyle changes. But what further changes could I make? What had I been doing wrong? I was eating a very healthy diet. I had almost eliminated processed sugar and processed foods. I ate whole grains. I love veggies.
I am naturally skeptical of fads and automatically suspicious of anyone who has anything to sell. While wading through all the internet dross of miracle fruit, supplements, and juicing recipes, I found the work of Dr. Jason Fung and his presentation at a conference open only to physicians. (He authored a book called, The Diabetes Code.) In the presentation, he presented his rationale that Type II diabetes was really about over saturation of sugars in the blood because we keep consuming more. He suggested that our accepted dietary standards actually caused obesity and laid the groundwork for diabetes. (Hope!) He presented study after study adequately demonstrating that the dietary recommendations that I had been following were not only insufficient; they were wrong. (Confirmation!) And he presented an alternative that made perfect sense. A low-carbohydrate diet combined with intermittent fasting.
Here’s a simplified version of how it works. I consume food that spikes my blood sugars. My body produces insulin to clean my blood and push the glucose into my liver in the form of glycogen. When my liver is full of glycogen, it starts making fat which can be stored anywhere in the body. If I eat frequently, my body never knows to start using the stored energy. In deed, it doesn’t need to. So it just continues to build up.
Just like when there is too much rain and floods destroy homes, fields and lives, my body had been coping with a flood of glucose for years. My medications were trying to build up levies that were continually being breached when what I needed to do was to allow the flood waters to recede during dry weather. In other words, I needed to fast and allow my body to begin to clean out the excess glycogen and fat.
I admit that the idea of fasting made my head reel. Who wants to fast? The alternative, however, was simply unacceptable. I had the advantage of hypnosis. Hypnosis helped with cravings, the perception of hunger and building determination. Hypnosis helped me adjust more readily to the changes I was implementing. I also found it very helpful to know that I was actively doing something about my diabetes and not merely placing my hope and confidence in a pharmaceutical. With hypnosis it was easier than I suspected, though not always easier than I would have hoped. As my inner dialog and my body changed, fasting became easier and easier.
In the beginning I was testing my blood sugars aggressively--up to 8 or 9 times a day. Within two weeks, I was cutting down my medications because my blood sugars were going too low. Within a month, I was off them entirely. Of course, everyone is different. Progress will differ from person to person. Individual attention to detail is necessary. One should always work collaboratively with a physician when making radical changes, but many doctors may not be ready to part with traditional advice. That’s just the way it is.
I still test my blood several times a day and will continue to do so perhaps for years, maybe the rest of my life. Currently, all my numbers are in the normal (not even pre-diabetic) range. At my last doctor’s appointment, my A1C, a three-month average measure of blood glucose, was 5.4 and my fasting glucose was 83. If you are diabetic, you know how great that is. (Oh, and by the way, I’ve lost over 60 pounds.) It will take time for my body to adjust and settle into my new normal. And later adjustments will probably be necessary. I’m pretty comfortable with that idea and my doctor is, too.
Joseph Onesta is a clinical hypnosis practitioner in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He helps and guides his clients in achieving a wide range of changes using hypnosis, basic mindfulness practice and integrative coaching. He can be reached through his website, www.MindPowerPittsburgh.com.