“I think that you are going to see a whole batch of books coming out about diabetes and eating like a diabetic…this is going to be the hot thing.”

— Jackie Warner, RxMuscle.com

I read Jackie’s interview and was like, Wow! I’m so far ahead of my time! I’ve been eating like a diabetic since 2008!

If you are a new reader, you may not be aware that I am insulin resistant. What this means is that it takes a lot of starchy foods to spike my insulin levels enough to make me feel full — or it used to. Because I ate so poorly when I was obese, my body wasn’t sensitive enough to insulin to feel full after normal portions. I would crave doughy and greasy things because I thought that was the only way I could feel full — but it was really just that those foods were able to spike my insulin.

My story has an interesting twist because my body reset itself after six months of working out, and everything sailed along for three years. In March 2008 I hit a plateau and attributed it to stress, but by August I knew something was wrong. I remember working out like crazy that summer because I was so hungry all the time — I’d go to the gym and then go with my friend and her black Labs on a hike to burn off everything my body was constantly craving. I was always hungry before I started to lose weight, but once I started to exercise I just wasn’t as hungry. What I didn’t know was that the exercise had kicked everything — hormones, insulin levels — into gear.

I was really lucky and saw a great doctor, who listened to my weight loss history and said, “I think you are insulin resistant and have polycystic ovarian syndrome. If a normal girl worked out the way you’re telling me that you do, she’d be a stick.”

The blood work came back and all of the levels they test for  — insulin, obviously, but also follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone and so on — were just a little off. Most doctors, mine told me, would have not gone right for medication, but clearly diet and exercise had done all they were going to do for me on their own. I take 500 mg of glucophage (well, its generic brother, metformin) twice a day.

Glucophage/metformin can be a sensitive medication. I had a friend who’d actually received the same diagnosis as me about a year before I did, and between her advice and reading on the Web, I learned that I would have to eat every few hours to keep my insulin levels stable. If you get too hungry, you feel really sick, and then you overeat and get even sicker. Anything too doughy, starchy, greasy, sugary or fatty makes you sick. Twice I’ve had a migraine and vomiting from eating things the metformin disagreed with (that was the end of my beloved tater tot casserole, with all its cheesey and starchy goodness).

I needed to eat complex carbs, more protein and a lot more veggies. I learned about the glycemic index and how foods low on the GI digest slower and keep you fuller longer. In other words, I was a prediabetic eating like a diabetic. Countless times, I have thought that if we all ate like diabetics, no one would actually become a diabetic.

Diabetes is, to put it mildly, serious stuff. 7.8 percent of the U.S. population, or 23.6 million people, have diabetes. It was the seventh leading cause of death listed on U.S. death certificates in 2006. To me, that statistic is like a slap in the face because I wonder how many cases of diabetes are preventable — according to one study, 90 percent of cases are.

I make no bones about it: My insulin resistance is 100 percent self inflicted. But it’s under control, thanks to diet and exercise and metformin. If you could save yourself the time, money, hassle and, uh, major health complications of diabetes — why wouldn’t you?

Eating like a diabetic is actually less labor intensive than Weight Watchers’ complicated food math. You eat good, whole foods in small quantities every few hours. Take some time and learn what foods are low on the glycemic index — they’re your best bets. In addition to doing wonders for your health, you’ll probably lose some weight along the way.

To learn more about diabetes prevention, check out the American Diabetes Association’s Stop Diabetes campaign.

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