Archive for August, 2007

A week’s musings

August 24, 2007

I have been intermittently fasting for the past nine days, and here are my thoughts and findings.

Findings

  • Hunger: Although there are a couple of times each day (typically breakfast time and lunch time) that I feel some hunger twangs, I am amazed that if I wait them out, they don’t last long, and really aren’t that uncomfortable.
  • Snacking: Most of my adult life, I have had troubles with frequent food cravings, or just the bad habits of eating constantly. I would have one small snack, and I wouldn’t want to stop! Repeat trips to the cupboard were often a problem. By deciding NOT to eat until 5:00 p.m. each day, the temptation isn’t as great. Sounds illogical, but it is true! It is like potato chips…it is easier to not eat any, than to eat them in moderation!
  • Fasting Schedule: I have found it most tolerable to fast about 20 hours each day and eat between either between 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. or 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. Since my primary trouble time with eating has always been the evenings, this works well for me. I now have permission to eat in the evenings!
  • Glitches: So far, the only times I’ve chosen to eat before the evening are the two times I have gone out to lunch. When that happens, I fast in the morning till lunch. I then eat a lighter dinner and try to stop eating a little earlier in the evening.
  • Low carb: I feel best when I choose to eat low carb foods. Unfortunately, I only accomplish this about 1/2 the time or every other day or so.
  • High carb: When I eat higher carbs, I feel bloated and tired. My tummy swells. My blood sugar goes over 200 in the evenings and it takes a day or two for it to come back to baseline.
  • Clarity of thought: Before I started IF, I was concerned about working all day on an empty stomach and that I might not be able to think clearly. I have found this difficult to assess due to the nature of my work. I am working on a project that is quite confusing and challenging right now. I am in meetings with ambiguous agendas and my project team members and I don’t have clear direction from leadership. All this leads to feelings of confusion and feeling like I’m trying to see through a fog. I think the feelings of fogginess are due to work conditions, but time will tell.
  • Blood Sugars: When I choose to eat low carb for at least two days in a row while doing IF, my blood sugars come closer to normal than they ever have, even if I test an hour or so after eating. From the research I have done, I suspect this is due to improved insulin sensitivity and the rest my pancreas gets all day while I’m fasting.
  • Weight: My weight has stabilized. Before I started with IF, I was challenged to keep from gaining weight. It has only been nine days since I started IF, but so far, I have lost a little weight. I don’t want to use IF to lose weight though. The point for me is to feel better and to control my blood sugar better.

Thoughts/Feelings

  • Deprivation: I have not felt overly deprived. I know that once a day, I get to eat a nice, large meal. I get to eat until I am satisfied. By the time I eat in the evening, I am hungry, but for a nice healthy meal.
  • Body: I like the way my body feels. My tummy is smaller during the day.
  • Clothes: While I’m at work during the day, my clothes feel better on my body. I don’t have that fullness around the waist after lunch.
  • Cooking: I don’t have to worry about cooking breakfast or bringing a lunch to work. This saves time, effort and money!
  • Energy: I don’t feel sluggish like I expected to while fasting. If anything, I feel peppier. I think part of this is not feeling like I’m stuffed into my pants. A problem I have had before starting IF is that of feeling fatigued after eating. I don’t have that problem anymore during the day.
  • Sleep: I can sleep in a little longer on work days since I don’t have to make time for cooking and eating breakfast! I LOVE that advantage!

Future Plans

  • I would like to continue with IF for long enough to determine a trend. Will I continue to feel better? Will my blood sugars come down to non-diabetic normal ranges? Will I be able to maintain this way of eating? Is it going to be an ongoing life change for me?
  • I would love to stop having carbfests every other day or so. That has been an ongoing challenge for me though.
  • I would like to plan better for my evening meal(s) so I have good healthy food around when I sit down to eat.

Trying it on for size…

August 14, 2007

What is this blog about? I’m not sure yet. At this point, it is starting as a tool for me to monitor my personal journey with intermittent fasting or IF. I want to be able to look back over time, to see if IF is helping or harming my quality of life. I have been frustrated by the lack of personal antecdotes from others, so I figured I’d share my journey.

Some background…I am 51 years old, female, a registered nurse, married with grown children. I have PCOS, and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in April 2007. This diagnosis came in spite of me eating lower carb for the past decade. Perhaps the diagnosis came later than it would have, had I continued with the low fat/high complex carb diet my doctor recommended.

I do not take any medications for my diabetes at this point. My A1c started at 7.1 in April 2007. After three months of great struggle to control my blood sugar, my A1c was 5.8 in July 2007. I feel constantly deprived trying to keep my blood sugar below 120 though. In order to get my blood sugar to stay under 110, I have to severely limit my food intake.

Although I have eaten lower carb since 1997, the truth is that I love carbs! My net carb intake over the years is certainly lower than pre-1997, but it has not been unusual for me to break my low carb trend with carbfests. I don’t know if those carbfests are what pushed my poor pancreas over the edge to diabetes, or if I was destined to end up with this diagnosis eventually.

Denial can be a wonderful world to live in. Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I would rationalize that because I spent most of the week watching my carbs, the carbfest I might have for a day or two didn’t count. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were true? Once I started testing my blood sugar though, my eyes were opened to what I was doing to my body. When I choose to eat carbohydrates, the effect on my blood sugar lasts a few days, not a few hours. My poor little pancreas is pooped and can’t recuperate from those sugar blasts very quickly.

I feel better when I choose to eat very few carbs. I think more clearly. I don’t have heartburn. I don’t feel bloated. The difference is so remarkable, it makes me wonder why I ever go for the sugars and starches. Immediate gratification I suppose.

So, on to “intermittent fasting” or IF. I had never considered trying IF until I read about it in Dr. Michael R. Eades blog on 8/13/2007. After reading his blog, including the references he makes to past blog entries (this one and this other one), I did some more of my own research.

A few things I read while researching stood out and caught my attention.

  • C-reactive protein (a blood test which measures inflammation) drops significantly with intermittent fasting
  • Insulin sensitivity improves with intermittent fasting
  • Intermittent fasting does not slow the metabolism down

I don’t generally go for fads. I don’t believe everything I read. Hence, I am approaching IF with caution, awareness, and a bit of skepticism.

Most of the research I did was about IF in general, not IF for diabetics. Since I don’t take medication for my diabetes, I won’t have to worry about timing of medications.

So…let the journey begin. As a kick-off, I ate a high carb meal and snacks till 10:00 p.m. tonight, and I feel like crap! My blood sugar is 233. Great start!