I was diagnosed a type two diabetic in March 2008. My HbA1c was 12 and blood glucose meter showing 26, extremely high and highly dangerous blood glucose numbers. I was prescribed Metformin and given a guide to diabetes control by my appointed diabetes nurse. The guide was sponsored by Takeda the largest insulin manufacturer in Japan. My nurse informed me I must cut out all sugar, as did the guide. The mainstay of my new diet was to be starchy carbohydrates. Rice, bread, pasta, couscous, potatoes etc. according to the Takeda guide. At that time, I did not know what a carbohydrate was, I did not know, that when digested they would have the same effect on my blood glucose as sugar. I tried the diet for a few weeks, my blood glucose numbers improved, but never got better than 12 mmol, an improvement, but still highly dangerous numbers. I was acutely aware of the very serious complications of highly elevated BG numbers. Two weeks after my diagnosis, I buried my Father. He died riddled with diabetic complications. He had followed the NHS advice including diet to the letter.
I decided to research type two diabetes, I was very eager to avoid the grim complications if at all possible. It seemed logical to me, if I could get my blood glucose numbers to non diabetic, I could avoid blindness, kidney failure and amputations. A few weeks later, I received one of the greatest pieces of luck of my entire life. I met via a forum a man called Fergus Craig. Fergus has been a type one diabetic since his teenage days, for many years his diabetes control was very poor. Running high BG numbers and well over weight, in short, a disaster waiting to happen, and it very near did. Driving one day he suffered a serious hypo (dangerously low blood sugar) he passed out and crashed his car into a lamppost. Mercifully no one else was involved and Fergus suffered no serious injuries.
After years of denial and poor diabetes control, Fergus realised he had been very lucky and changes had to be made. He went looking for sound information, and discovered the work of Dr. Richard Bernstein, considered by many, including Fergus and myself, as the world's leading expert on blood glucose control for diabetics. Fergus adopted the Bernstein diet of 30 carbs per day spread over three meals. Within a short time he lost over 40 lbs in weight and for the first time in his diabetic life, was maintaining non diabetic HbA1c numbers. He took up marathon running and competing in 100 mile plus cycle races. In short a completely changed man. He has held non diabetic BG numbers for the last ten years or more, and his insulin use reduced to a third of previous requirements.
As for my story, I adopted the Bernstein approach, 30 grams of carbohydrate per day. I dumped the breakfast cereals, toast and orange juice. Eggs, bacon, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes became my start to the day. Fish with a salad my lunch, and meat and three veg my dinner. Within seven days my fasting BG numbers ranged from four to six. Three months after my diagnosis it was time for a check up with my Doctor and more blood work. Results, 50 lb weight loss, HbA1c 5.5 and vastly improved lipid panel. My Doctor was amazed in the changes, I told him how I had achieved the transformation. I then heard the words so many like me have heard “well if it works for you stay with it”
If it works for me, it will work for almost all diabetics. I was so outraged regarding the lamentable treatment, and dietary advice dolled out to diabetics, I set up a website to demonstrate the massive benefits of the low carb lifestyle lowcarbdiabetic.co.uk and posted many posts on a forum encouraging diabetics to follow my way of diabetes control. At that stage it should have been plain sailing for me, and other diabetics on the forum, to stay safe and take control of their diabetes. How wrong I was, heavy duty negative comments came in almost immediately, from a high profile BDA dietitian, Chris Cashin using a pseudo name. Cashin hounded low carbers around the clock, we could be setting ourselves up for scurvy, osteoporosis, bowel disorders and worse, with our low carb lifestyle. That was my first communication with a BDA dietitian, it would not be my last.
I should state at this stage, I have been helped by excellent dietitians, some have become friends, none from the BDA. It is my opinion the BDA is a major health hazard for diabetics. They appear to have no sound policy for the safe control of diabetes, and their dietary recommendations are lamentable. I have informed BDA dietitians of my views on numerous occasions. Unsurprisingly, my words fell on deaf ears. On twitter they blocked me, straight questions never received a straight answer. They were the dietary experts, how dare this mere blogger, this upstart, have the temerity to question their supreme knowledge. Meanwhile the BDA and other dietary organisations have done absolutely nothing to stem the epidemics of obesity and the often linked type two diabetes. In fact the situation gets worse by the day.
That being said, the BDA has become world class in passing the buck. Nothing to do with us they bellow at every opportunity, blame the others. Well, who are the others you may be thinking. Regarding the BDA dietary information for diabetics, it's all down to Diabetes UK according to high profile BDA dietitian Catherine Collins. The dangerous and misleading information on the BDA website regarding "ideal HbA1c" is the fault of NICE, according to another high profile BDA dietitian Paul McArdle. Another very high profile BDA member Dr. Duane Mellor appears to be distancing himself from the mainstay of the BDA for many years, the awful Eat Well plate.
So, there you have it. I suspect the BDA will stay cosy in their smug little world, while pleading, almost begging, with their motto "Trust A Dietitian" Hiding behind other organisations, who incidentally, are getting nowhere fast in the fight against diabetes, as the NHS audited diabetes statistics prove year after year. High profile dietitians will continue to hang out on places like twitter, rubbishing highly qualified and respected Scientists and medical professionals, who are proving to be the salvation of countless diabetics and people wishing to lose weight. It does not require much thought to understand the stance of the BDA, they have been very wrong for decades. In the real world they are becoming increasingly irrelevant. The mainstay of their message to diabetics "reduce saturated fats and increase starchy carbs" has failed totally.