Autoimmune Protocol Food Journal
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Autoimmune Protocol | Reintroduction Phase

If you’re new here, my journey through the Autoimmune Protocol began on February 19, 2018. The elimination period of the Autoimmune Protocol lasts 30 days or until symptoms subside. My autoimmune disease is Type 1 Diabetes. I have never heard of a diabetic using the Autoimmune Protocol to manage Type 1 Diabetes. Since I’m forging my own trial (as far as I know!), I am documenting my results and journey here to help other Type 1 Diabetics who might be looking for alternative blood sugar management solutions. (Check out the first 5 weeks here (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5).) Today I will outline my plan for the Reintroduction Phase, and my 3 keys for a success!


The elimination period was not smooth sailing for me as weeks 3 and 4 were filled with sickness and a diet-busting meal at the beginning of week 3. Due to my sleep and routine being so thrown off, in addition to the sickness, I really couldn’t flesh out what was causing my higher blood sugar those weeks. At the time, I blamed my routine and sleep being thrown off, but now I am thinking the dinner out was as much the culprit. It could have been any one of those factor or all of them combined.

Thankfully, my blood sugar returned to normal range in weeks 5 and 6. Since I was past the 30 day mark, and I thought my blood sugar was leveled out. I decided to start the reintroduction phase.

Reintroduction Phase

Autoimmune protocol reintroduction phase

Once the symptoms of the autoimmune disease have stopped, you can reintroduce some of the foods that were eliminated during the elimination phase. There is a best way to do this, and I wish I’d known this back when I first did an elimination diet in October 2017. Foods need to be introduced one at a time and symptoms monitored for 3 days to a week after eating before introducing another food. In my first attempt, I introduced the foods I missed the most first and only waited 2-3 days between introductions. I definitely rushed things.

Choosing which food to introduce first matters too. In the graphic above, the Reintroduction Phase is broken up into four stages. The food in stage 1 is the most likely to be accepted by an autoimmune impaired body, and stage 4 is the least likely to be accepted. Within each stage, it does not matter which food you try first, just pick one and keep the results as clean as possible.

How to Reintroduce a Food

I gathered most of my information on reintroducing foods from Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s book The Paleo Approach. I highly recommend that book if you are looking for answers to an autoimmune disease!

After selecting a food to reintroduce, eat only a small bite at first and wait 15 minutes for a severe reaction. At this point, you are checking for severe allergic reactions. If you’ve gone gluten-free before, you know your body can change its mind as to what foods it likes or doesn’t like!

If the first bite goes fine, then have a normal-sized bite then monitor symptoms for 2-3 hours. Again, this step is looking for severe adverse reactions. As long as those two bites go well, have a full serving of the food then monitor symptoms for 3 days to a week.

Keys to Success

Reintroducing foods and monitoring symptoms can add up to a lot of data/details, so carefully documentation and maintenance of diet and lifestyle are key. Here are 3 key tips to successfully reintroducing foods as a Type 1 Diabetic on the Autoimmune Protocol.

Food Journal

Autoimmune Protocol Food Journal

First of all, a food journal is essential. You will be documenting SO many things. It is impossible to keep each day straight let alone look for patterns over days, weeks, or months.
A food journal does not have to be anything fancy. Mine is a $.25 spiral bound notebook that goes on sale just before school starts each year. Dedicate an entire notebook to the journal; it will get filled up quicker than you think! Don’t rely on scrap pieces of paper, use full size paper so you have plenty of room to write everything out!

The food journal is the main reason I’ve been able to stick with the diet for so long and to figure out which foods are not agreeing with me. I tend to over-exaggerate my blood sugar levels over days/weeks. If things are not going well, I tend to negatively think I’ve been off for a week or more, when in reality it has only been a few days. It has been so important to have a written record so I can go back and see a clear picture of what really happened.
Make note of anything of consequence along with the major measures for your autoimmune disease. You won’t regret more detail when you go back to review the results. I have Type 1 Diabetes, so I monitor the following things:

  1. Fasting Blood Glucose
  2. Sleep notes
  3. Supplements taken
  4. Breakfast Food
  5. Snack
  6. Pre-Lunch Blood Glucose
  7. Lunch Food
  8. Snack
  9. Pre-Dinner Blood Glucose
  10. Dinner Food
  11. Supplements
  12. Snack
  13. Pre-Bed Blood Glucose

Jotting down these things throughout each day was a game changer! There are SO many moving parts in one’s diet, and many lifestyle routines, habits, and choices make a difference in blood sugar level too. I’m so glad I went through the effort to keep this journal. It is helping me tremendously analyze my results.

Healthy Habits

Healthy habits like consistent sleep (8-9 hours), consistent bed and wake time, and exercise are vital for a healthy body. Keep these routines consistent throughout the reintroduction phase. You want as few variables as possible when trying new foods, so don’t let your lifestyle habits prevent a clear reading on how the food is affecting you.

As a Type 1 Diabetic, these are the healthy lifestyle habits I stick to every day:

  1. Wake up at 5:45am every day – even on the weekends!
  2. Time in God’s Word and prayer – beyond communicating with my Lord and keeping that relationship growing, I need His peace as I go through each day. This diet stresses me sometimes.
  3. Exercise – I do a Fitness Blender workout Monday through Saturday.
  4. Consistent mealtime – Breakfast at 8am, Lunch at 12:30pm, and Dinner at 5:30
  5. Bed time at 10:00pm every day – even on the weekends!

Blood Glucose Monitoring

Since I am a Type 1 Diabetic, blood glucose or blood sugar is my primary indicator if a food is agreeing with my body or not. I test four times a day: fasting or first thing in the morning, before lunch, before dinner, and before bed. My goals for each of those times are as follows:

  • Fasting – less than 130
  • Pre-lunch – less than 130
  • Pre-dinner – less than 130
  • Bed time – between 100 and 150

For my non-diabetic readers, a non-diabetic’s blood sugar level is around 100.

Measurement of Results

The plan for the near future is to reintroduce one item from phase 1 then watch my blood sugar for 3-7 days and make note of any spikes. My criteria for a successful reintroduction as a Type 1 Diabetic:

  • Fasting Blood Glucose less than 150 – This is the biggest indicator that a food has irritated my gut. If I wake up in the morning with a blood sugar higher than 150, that’s when I know my body is off track. I wish I was consistently under 130, but it doesn’t look like that will happen (dawn phenomenon? Not sure…).
  • Pre-Lunch Blood Glucose less than 120 – My normal pre-lunch blood glucose is usually around 100-120, so if it is above that (even if still less than the accepted 130) I know my body is not tolerating that food well.
  • Body tremors – I have doubts that any food besides gluten will do this, but if I’ve ingested gluten, I get the shakes three days later. It feels like the organs inside my rib cage are shaking. I do not do anything to treat this symptom. Although it feels bad, it goes away in a day, and it has happened enough times that I know it is only a sign of gluten exposure.

Autoimmune protocol reintroduction phase

My plan for the Reintroduction Phase of the Autoimmune Protocol is to choose one food at a time, wait 3-7 days between new foods, document my results in my food journal, and keep my health lifestyle going every day. I am hopeful with careful analysis and cooking to be able to reintroduce foods that I’ve been without these past weeks! Egg yolks is first up on my list, I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!


Autoimmune protocol reintroduction phase

diabetes testing supplies
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Insulin-Free Type 1 Diabetes | How I Became Dairy-Free

This is the story of how I can manage my Type 1 Diabetes without insulin. We left off my Gluten-Free, Insulin-Free Type 1 Diabetic journey in the late summer of 2017. I was managing my diabetes completely without artificial insulin through a gluten-free diet that was high in vegetables.  However, in August and September, my fasting blood sugar was getting higher and higher. I was about to discover that other foods can inflame the gut and raise blood sugar. Dairy-free and grain-free were about to be added to my diet description.

Why an Elimination Diet?

In my effort to bring my blood sugar down, I started eating more and more dairy and meat. Zero carbohydrate foods, right? They can’t raise my blood sugar, right? Wrong. They can. I will try to explain what I know…diary is inflammatory. If the gut is inflamed, the villi do not form a tight wall. It becomes very permeable, allowing partially digested food into the blood stream. This can trigger an autoimmune response and raise the blood sugar level.

Jumping back to August/September 2017, I couldn’t figure out how to lower my blood sugar, so I checked out a book from the library that was recommended by a friend, The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Meyers. This was sort of a last ditch effort. My thought was that my blood sugar levels were getting to the point that I’d need to go on insulin again, but if this book claims it can fix my autoimmune disease, what do I have to lose?

As I jumped into the book, it resonated with me. Yes, this is what I was going through, and I was willing to try anything at this point before going back on insulin. While I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my “use-food-to-heal-my-body” theories,  I had just enough gumption to try it.

Blood Glucose and the Elimination Diet

diabetes testing supplies

The book has a 30 day elimination diet that is nicely laid out with exactly what to eat each meal along with recipes and shopping list. I followed it to a T. I bought every item and made every meal. Everything that wasn’t allowed (coffee, alcohol, sugar, grains, dairy, nuts, nightshades etc.) I stopped eating.

My blood sugar improved dramatically and immediately. As in the first official day of the diet, my fasting blood sugar was 126. (I had stopped coffee a couple days before and basically began eating according to the diet the day prior to officially starting.) That first day’s fasting blood sugar was perfectly in range (less than 130). The next day it was 111, the next 135, 124, 110, 104, 132…my blood sugar was between 100 and 140 every morning.

What in the world? This is the power of eating food that nourishes your body!

I attributed the dramatic blood sugar change primarily to the elimination of dairy. Cottage cheese and brick cheese were my go-to snacks prior to the elimination diet, and I was probably having upwards of 8 servings of dairy every day. Possibly overdosing on dairy. 🙂 Looks like dairy-free is the life for me going forward!

Me and the Elimination Diet

Paleo AIP Food Prep

The Meyers Way threw me into the kitchen like I had never been before. I like to cook and enjoy being in the kitchen, but this diet was a whole new level of cooking:

  • Zero processed or convenience food
  • 100% fresh vegetables, no frozen or canned
  • TONS and tons of vegetables at every meal = lots of chopping!
  • No easy sides or bases to the meal, i.e. corn tortillas, rice, beans, potatoes

I’d love to tell you I thrived and found joy and purpose in making fresh meals that clearly were healing and nourishing my body. However, that would just not be true. I found the extra hours in the kitchen a huge burden and the results of my effort were lacking in the flavor department. The amazing blood glucose results were the only reason I could hold on for two weeks of this diet.

Yes, I’m sad to report, I only stayed on the diet for two weeks! After two weeks, I was happy with my blood glucose numbers, but I was very unhappy with the tastiness of my meals and time in the kitchen. I started the re-introduction of foods after two weeks, and I now know, this was likely too soon. However, I continued to have good, in-range fasting blood sugar results for six weeks post elimination period.

The book did not mention a reintroduction schedule, so I began withe the food I missed the most. First, I introduced eggs, whole eggs. I did not separate the yolk from the white. I just ate the whole thing. These had no effect on my blood sugar so I continued on with nuts, followed by coffee and chocolate. Last, I introduced alcohol. All of those were fine. My morning blood sugar was still in the 100-140 range, and it stayed that way for six weeks after the diet.

After the Elimination Diet

After my short stint in the Meyers Way diet, I began a strict Paleo diet. Now that I wasn’t eating dairy or grains, the name for my diet was/is Paleo. Now that I had a name for the way I was eating, I could find tons of recipes via Pinterest or blogs I already knew about, Against All Grain for one.

Want a funny story? Dan has been wanting to eat Paleo for years. I always poo-pooed it because of the amount of pressure on me in the kitchen. After our first son was born, we were eating Paleo and using Danielle Walker’s cookbook, Against All Grain, as our primary recipe source. When I finally stopped eating Paleo, I sold the cookbook because I hate keeping things I’m not using. Now, in November 2017, I’m back on the Paleo bandwagon for good, for life, and I needed a cookbook. What’s the first one I buy? Danielle Walker’s Meals Made Simple, and I’m planning to buy Against All Grain again soon. Ha. Isn’t life ironic?

Even though the Meyers Way diet only lasted for two weeks, I saw dramatic effects on my blood sugar. I also figured out I have an sensitivity to all grains and dairy. Eliminating these from my diet allowed my gut to heal so it wouldn’t leak foreign objects into my bloodstream. With my bloodstream clean, my beat-up pancreas is able to produce enough insulin to keep my blood sugar within normal range for a Type 1 Diabetic. The taglines for my diet now include gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free; this diet is commonly called Paleo.


Insulin-free, Type 1 Diabetic series:

  1. Gluten-free Type 1 Diabetes
  2. Eat More Vegetables

Dairy-Free Grain-Free Diabetes

AIP Blood Sugar Results
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Autoimmune Protocol | Review for Type 1 Diabetic

For the last six weeks, I’ve been going through the elimination period of the Autoimmune Protocol. This is the strictest time period of the Autoimmune Protocol. Many foods are eliminated to reduce inflammation in the body, allow the gut to heal, and halt the progression of an autoimmune disease. I am a Type 1 Diabetic, and I went on the Autoimmune Protocol to bring my fasting blood sugar back into Type 1 Diabetic normal range (less than 130 when I wake up).

Due to some chocolate candy I ate over the holidays in late 2017, my fasting blood sugar was high, over 160, every morning when I woke up. Even if I didn’t eat carbohydrates after dinner, my fasting blood sugar was high come morning. Once I discovered the source of the problem (dairy in candy), I eliminated it from my diet along with coffee and alcohol which I suspected might be aggravating the problem. I did not see significant improvement, so on February 19, 2018, I began the elimination period of the Autoimmune Protocol to heal my gut and return my fasting blood sugar to normal.


I’m happy to report the Autoimmune Protocol has been successful in bringing blood glucose back into normal range for a Type 1 Diabetic without the use of artificial insulin. It has decreased my A1c and solidified the need for healthy routines to manage Type 1 Diabetes.

Just in case there was any doubt, I am a diagnosed Type 1 diabetic. In April 2017, at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My stats at diagnosis: A1c 9.6, blood glucose of 512, and GAD65 200+, higher than the test result could show. No question about it, I am a Type 1 Diabetic!

Let’s jump into how the Autoimmune Protocol enabled me to have even more control on my diabetes than I did previously with just a Paleo diet.

A1c Results

An A1c test gives an average blood sugar level from the previous 2-3 months. I had taken an A1c home test before beginning the Autoimmune Protocol. The result was 6.3. This is still good for a Type 1 Diabetic, as the goal is less than 7. The chart below translates the A1c (middle number, 4-14) result to blood sugar level.

A1c Chart

As you can see an A1c of 7 means the average blood sugar level was less than 154mg/dl. This is the goal for all Type 1 Diabetics. My result of 6.3 translates to an average blood sugar level of less than 134mg/dl. While this is technically still in range, my fasting blood sugar was too high, 160+ on the regular.

After eating strictly on the Autoimmune Protocol for 6 weeks, my A1c result was 5.8. This means my average blood sugar for the last 2-3 months was 120mg/dl. According to The Diabetes Council, this is a normal blood sugar level. A1c results of 5.9 and above are considered pre-diabetic.

A1c after AIP

This is the power of the Autoimmune Protocol! My average blood sugar levels are in normal, non-diabetic range!

I am not saying I’m cured; I am still a Type 1 Diabetic. Here is what I believe is going on in my body:

  1. The autoimmune response, i.e. the attack on the beta cells of my pancreas, has stopped. Largely due to eliminating gluten but gut health is further improved through the Autoimmune Protocol.
  2. With my gut wall healed, not leaking foreign substances into the blood stream, low carbohydrate foods, like dairy no longer raise my blood sugar.
  3. Since my pancreas is functioning, around 20% I think, my body is able to handle small doses of carbohydrates and return my blood sugar to normal range after eating.
  4. The Autoimmune Protocol allowed my gut to heal from the recent dairy exposure allowing my fasting blood sugar to come down almost to normal Type 1 Diabetic range and allowed for lower blood sugar results throughout the day with less variability.

Speaking of variability, let’s take a look at my daily blood glucose results.

Blood Glucose Results

As I analyze my blood glucose numbers from the last six weeks, it is difficult to measure how blood glucose improves when it bounces around each day. I am going to focus on averages, max, min, and range of my blood glucose throughout the six weeks of the Autoimmune Protocol.

AIP Blood Sugar Results

 

Let’s discuss each of the measures in the chart above.

Average

I calculated the average of my four blood sugar tests from each day for the week before I started the Autoimmune Protocol (Control Week) and the final week of the Autoimmune Protocol. Blood sugar levels are not a uniform distribution, so a straight average is not a perfect representation of average blood sugar level, but it is the best I have with the tools available to me.

Conclusion: The Autoimmune Protocol lowered my average blood sugar level from 142 to 122. Success!

Maximum

I calculated the maximum reading from the control week and from the final week of the Autoimmune Protocol. Prior to beginning the Autoimmune Protocol, I was having spikes over 200, but once on the protocol, the spikes were much lower, 162.

Conclusion: The Autoimmune Protocol has made lower blood sugar spikes.

Minimum

This is simply the lowest reading of the week. There is very little change from the control week (79) to the final week of AIP (81). I still think this is a win. I’m not looking for blood glucose levels lower than 80. Since my pancreas is still functioning, it will keep me from going very low as it won’t give me too much insulin like an injection could.

Conclusion: The Autoimmune Protocol has stabilized my blood sugar on the low end too. There are no cases of going too low and needing additional glucose.

Range

This is my best result, I think. The range is the difference between the max and the min (Maximum – Minimum = Range). To describe it, the range is showing the swing or variation in my blood sugar. A non-diabetic would have very little variation in blood sugar levels because the pancreas is keeping everything in check, constantly monitoring blood sugar and insulin levels. The blood sugar range of a Type 1 Diabetic could be all over the place if the insulin input does not match the carbohydrate load ingested. I have to be extra careful because I am not taking additional insulin, and I do not know exactly what carbohydrate load my pancreas can handle (my guess is around 20g carbs per meal).

The range of my blood sugar readings has decreased from 149 prior to starting the Autoimmune Protocol to 81 after six weeks of AIP. This means less variability in my blood sugar. This is a major win in my book. Less dramatic swings in blood sugar must mean good things for my internal organs and overall management of diabetes.

Conclusion: The Autoimmune Protocol has made my blood sugar more stable. There is less variability between my highest and lowest readings throughout the day.

 

Routine

Routine is so important. During Weeks 3 and 4, my morning routine, evening routine, and sleep patterns were all thrown off as illness ran through my entire family. I stuck to the AIP diet throughout these weeks yet the results were not the same. Take a look…

AIP Results through Sickness

While the average blood sugar was a little lower than the control week, the range was higher. My blood sugar was not as controlled even though my diet was right on. When healthy routines are not in place, it has a major impact on my blood sugar levels.

Here are the major routines that were thrown off during Weeks 3 and 4 resulting in less blood sugar  control:

  • Going to bed at the same time every night
  • Waking up at the same time every morning
  • Exercise every day
  • Drinking water

Once my family’s health returned, and my routines were back in place, my blood sugar levels returned to Type 1 Diabetic normal. That is the power of good, healthy routines!

Conclusion

The Autoimmune Protocol works! If you’ve been looking for hope to manage or even cure your autoimmune disease, this is it. It is working to manage my Type 1 Diabetes better than conventional medicine can with artificial insulin. The Autoimmune Protocol is addressing the cause of the disease: the foods that trigger an autoimmune response. By removing those foods, your body can heal and return to normal functioning. There is hope for autoimmunity, and there is healing. The Autoimmune Protocol is a good place to start.


If you want more information, check out my beginning post, weekly reviews (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), or contact me!

AIP for Type 1 Diabetic

Gluten-free Type 1 Diabetes
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Insulin Free Type 1 Diabetes Management | Why I Became Gluten-Free

I am a Type 1 Diabetic who is living insulin-free. You read that right! I do not take artificial insulin injections! This post is the beginning of a series of posts that outline how and why I can manage my Type 1 Diabetes through diet and lifestyle. The first step is key: go gluten-free. It is not widely spread information, but it IS out there. The effect of gluten on the gut and the resulting autoimmune diseases (Remember, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease!) is published in medical journals. I will provide links to what I’ve read and watched. Take the time to read the links provided. I believe they will change your life and health dramatically, even if you don’t have Type 1 Diabetes.

Not all of the principles I’ve discovered come from Type 1 Diabetes research. Many of the principles I’ve learned come from Type 2 Diabetes research, Celiacs, or just autoimmune diseases in general. I believe in reading all the information you can, synthesizing it (make it all make sense together…really understand what you read), and applying it to your health situation. It reminds me of a Dr. Seuss quote from one of my favorite books of my kids’:

The more that you read

The more things you will know.

The more that you learn

The more places you’ll go.

~Dr. Suess, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!


I want to offer hope to other adult-onset, Type 1 Diabetics (T1D). A T1D diagnosis is not a death sentence. It is a manageable disease, and I have found that it is even more manageable than you will hear from your doctor’s office. You can thrive in better health than you ever were prior to your Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.

Want to know how? I’m so glad you asked.

Insulin Free Type 1 Diabetes

Let me give you a little history on my family, and my person health journey.

  1. My brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a 9 year old, around 1990. From a young age, I was familiar with blood sugar (glucose) monitoring, insulin injections, and sugar awareness.
  2. When my brother graduated from college and began to see an endocrinologist for his diabetes management, he (and through him, me) learned the new system of diabetes care: carb counting and using two types of insulin to manage blood sugar level: long acting and fast acting insulin.
  3. My brother’s oldest daughter is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a young girl, around 4 or 5 years old.
  4. My father was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic in his 50’s, around 2010. His diagnosis was long and drawn-out as adult-onset diabetes was not as common then. He has elevated amounts of the antibody GAD65 present in his system which is the key to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis (versus Type 2).
  5. At 29 years old, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy in 2013. I was able to control my blood glucose levels with diet and exercise. Upon giving birth, I was declared diabetes-free, so I resumed my usual lifestyle and eating habits (home-cooked meals BUT included wheat, dairy, and not enough vegetables).
  6. At 31 years old, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes again during my second pregnancy in 2015. This time, I knew the symptoms, and I knew the weekend my pancreas could no longer keep up with my carbohydrate intake. I gave birth in June 2015 and was declared diabetes-free at my 6 week check-up.
  7. For the next two years, I ate what I thought was a healthy diet (homemade, whole wheat sourdough bread, whole foods, home-cooked meals, moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables). In April 2017, I felt the symptoms hit again: severe thirst (drinking a gallon of water or more a day), frequent urination, and blurred vision). I knew I had diabetes. Sure enough, within one week’s time, I had a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis (GAD65 levels were off the chart, A1c of 9.6, and diagnosis blood glucose level of 512).
  8. I was diagnoses with Type 1 Diabetes at 33 years old after 2 cases of gestational diabetes.

Based on my history and my family’s history, I thought I knew all there was to know about Type 1 Diabetes. Initially, I did not look for alternative methods to manage my diabetes. I thought carbohydrate counting and matching my insulin intake to the carbohydrates I consumed was all I needed to know.

A week or so into my insulin-managed diabetes, I was forwarded this blog by a friend. Mark’s Daily Apple promotes a primal diet and how it can completely change your life and health. That night, I dug in to the Diabetes category. I dug in deep; I followed citation after citation: blog articles, medical journals, newspaper clippings, book prefaces, tons of them.

My husband was busy that night. He came home to a dark house and me glued to my computer screen, reading like my life depended on it.

“Honey, what are you doing??” he asks as he clicks on the lights.

“I think I need to go gluten-free” I say, “I think gluten could be causing Type 1 Diabetes.”

“Ok” he responds. We head off to bed discussing how I would do it. I don’t think it will take too much since we already didn’t eat processed food which has wheat hidden everywhere! I just need to not eat our delicious homemade bread, no big deal.

That day was the last day I intentionally ate gluten. I’ve ingested accidentally now and then, but I quit cold turkey that night.

I immediately was able to stop bolusing at meal time, and over the course of 4 days, I weaned myself off my long acting insulin.

Did you catch that? I stopped taking my fast-acting insulin the day I went gluten-free! I was completely artificial insulin-free 4 days later! 

**A little tidbit I just read in Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD.

The concept that diabetes should be regarded as a disease of carbohydrate intolerance is beginning to gain ground in the medical community. Diabetes as a by-product of carbohydrate intolerance is actively being advocated by Dr. Erin Westman of Duke University; Dr. Mary Vernon, former medical director of the University of Kansas Weight Control program…Drs. Westman and Vernon report, for instance, that they typically need to reduce the insulin dose by 50% the first day a patient engages in reducing carbohydrates to avoid excessively low blood sugars.

 The quote above is only regarding carbohydrates, not wheat specifically, but it is comforting that others are seeing what I am seeing, even if only in part!**

The gluten withdrawal symptoms were real and hard. I made my husband take me to the emergency room I was so convinced I was dying. Visible shakes, tremors in my chest, and feeling faint and dizzy are all symptoms I was experiencing. I couldn’t sit upright because I would start to pass out. It was an intense afternoon/evening! It took 6 days for me to start to feel normal again, and once I did, my blood glucose numbers stabilized to (almost) normal range, for a Type 1 Diabetic.


That is how I found out about gluten’s link to Type 1 Diabetes. Below are some facts and findings with the supporting articles that I read that convinced me to get rid of gluten in my life. These are the tip of the iceberg! There is SO much information out there! Read these articles, follow the citations to find more information. Read! Take back control of your health!

Type 1 Diabetes Remission

This was one of my first Google searches when I was still hopeful that my diagnosis was a fluke. Unfortunately for my hope, it does happen! It’s not common, but it has occurred.

Remission of an adult woman

Remission of a 6 Year Old Boy by Gluten-Free Diet – If you read nothing else, READ THIS ARTICLE! This was it. This convinced me to give gluten-free a try. At this point, I had nothing to loose. As I’ve done more and more research since, it has supported the findings in this first article.

It is important to note that to preserve maximum pancreatic function, the gluten-free diet needs to be implemented as soon as possible after diagnosis. The pancreas does not grow new beta cells (at least not that we know of); so to preserve insulin production, gluten needs to be eliminated right away. Not to say that other long-term diabetics couldn’t benefit from a gluten-free diet. They will experience more stable blood sugars, elimination of other autoimmune ailments, and less insulin need. Win, win, win, right?

Gluten’s Link to Type 1 Diabetes

Once I decided to go gluten-free, I needed to understand why gluten could cause or be linked to Type 1 Diabetes. I didn’t understand autoimmune diseases at the time, so the connection really made no sense to me.

Here’s the boiled-down, Emily version: gluten causes the walls of the gut to become inflamed allowed partially digested food particles into the body. The body’s immune system sees the foreign substances and attacks the intruders (an autoimmune response). However, sometimes, the attack goes awry and the immune system begins attacking cells other than the intruder/gluten cells.

In the case of Type 1 Diabetes, the immune system begins attacking the beta cells in the pancreas. The immune system can attack other things which lead to different autoimmune diseases: thyroid, skin,  joints, etc. resulting in hypo/hyper-thyroidism, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. In fact, if the gluten issue is not addressed, other autoimmune diseases can develop. Below is a quote from the previous article:

Prolonged exposure to gluten in CD (patient’s with Celiacs) may promote the development of other autoimmune diseases.

Even though this quote is in regards to Celiac patients, it holds true for all autoimmune diseases. The presence of an autoimmune response in the body sets the stage for the immune system to attack other areas of the body resulting in another autoimmune disease. In order to stop the body from these autoimmune responses, the irritant must be removed from the body (wheat) so that the autoimmune response will stop. When wheat is removed from the body, the inflammation manifested in skin, joints, organs, etc. will stop. It will go down and the body returns to normal.

Bottom line: Heal your gut. A permeable gut lining is the source of autoimmune diseases or maybe eating wheat which causes inflammation in the gut and causes the body to release zonulin which increases gut permeability is the source of autoimmune diseases. It’s complicated, but it all centers around the gut. Heal it. Take care of it. You whole body will thank you.

Read this article for a thorough review of Type 1 Diabetes and other potential causes (dairy being one in addition to gluten! I’ll touch on this in another post.)

This post from Mark’s Daily Apple also has many great ideas on how to manage Type 1 Diabetes with tons of good sources to read.


In summary, I gave up gluten because it was inflaming my gut and causing my body to attack my pancreas. I believe by going gluten-free, I have stopped my body from attacking my pancreas. I will be honest; I do not know this as fact yet.

There is a “honeymoon” period after a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis where the pancreas can spontaneously start working better again. I do not believe I am in the honeymoon period because my pancreas did not spontaneously start producing more insulin. I would still be on artificial insulin if I had not changed my diet. My blood glucose returned to T1D “normal” only after I began a gluten-free diet, and even then, I was taking artificial insulin for a few days afterward until it was very clear that I did not need it anymore.

Thankfully, my C-peptide results are normal which is a great sign of insulin production working as it should. However, my blood sugar levels are definitely not normal so I know my pancreas is not working at full capacity. I believe I can preserve the currently level of insulin production by continuing my gluten-free diet. My hope is I can prolong it indefinitely. Time will tell, and I will be sure to let you know.

Thoughts? What have you read? Please share any and all resources and questions!

 

Gluten-free type 1 diabetes

diabetes testing supplies
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Processing an Adult Onset Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis | Self-Pity

Self-pity is addicting. It feels good to tell myself I don’t deserve what’s happening to me. It feels good to roll the scenarios of the last week around in my head.

How did I get a diagnosis in one week exactly? I called my endocrinologist, who needed a new referral, my primary care physician doesn’t practice anymore, find a new primary care physician, whoops set 2 appointments with PCP, cancel one appointment, run to a PCP visit that day, wait 24 hours, call endo to see about referral, explain nicely that I’m VERY concerned and need to see the endo, push, push, push, fight, fight, fight…

I did so much work! I am amazing.

Proof of this lies in the fact that the endocrinologist can’t believe I (1) got an appointment with her with two days notice and (2) even noticed my symptoms in the first placed. I am so good.

Well, since I did all that work, poor old diabetic me, I can take a lazy day. No housework for me. I’m spent. I’ve done SO MUCH today. Let me think it over again…

I can get so wrapped up in what happens to me: the sequence of events, the unfairness of it all, or even the unknowns to come.

However, wallowing in my own self-pity gets me nowhere. In fact, it actually takes me backwards.

  • Emotionally – I haven’t truly accepted the diagnosis. I’m not fully in denial but definitely not embracing and moving forward.
  • Physically – While my body is doing fine, the physical state of my house and home are a wreck. It feels like too much to vacuum, too much to wipe off the mirrors, too much to clean the toilets. I’ve been thinking about my food, insulin, health insurance, glucose test strips running out, comparing health plans during open enrollment, etc. etc. How could I possibly do housework right now???
  • Spiritually – A song comes to mind: Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey. I’m not really trusting Jesus with anything if I’m stuck in my own self-pity. That’s the thing about self-pity. It only focuses on myself, not on God, as my focus should be. I’m not seeing the blessing in the diagnosis. I’m not asking to see the blessing in the diagnosis. I’m not seeing how God can use diabetes to make me more like Him. I’m not seeing how I can be impacting others for Christ. I’m not seeing any of this because I can only see myself. Poor old broken me.

I may stumble sometimes, ok, all the time, but I know Jesus. I know He has more for me. I know He is working in me, and He designed my pancreas to last only 33 years and 3 weeks. I don’t know how He’ll use this for my good and for His glory, but I’m trusting Him to do so.

So I picked up a rag, cleaned the mirrors, and wiped finger prints off the windows/appliances/trash can. You know what? It only took 10 minutes. At the end of the cleaning, I had a boost in my step because I had accomplished something that day! I had 2 items to check off my To Do list!

The boost also allowed me to open my Bible and seek Jesus, not for what he could do in me, but just seek Him. I’m in John 19 now, Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s beyond horrific. The older I get the more I can picture and imagine the beatings, the mocking, the pain, and He did it all in quiet submission to the Father so I could have a relationship with Him. Me, this “broken” (sarcasm font) human, wallowing in self-pity because boo-hoo I have to inject a teeny needle into my body so I can eat and live. There’s nothing like true suffering by someone who actually didn’t deserve it to bring me back to reality.

Jesus is my life. Serving Him with what I have is my desire. He just gave me another tool with which to serve Him, and a whole new circle of people to show Christ’s love. What a blessing!

diabetes testing supplies
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A New Chapter Begins | Adult Onset Type 1 Diabetes

I started this blog with the intention of being a home decor or possibly a DIY blogger of some sort. I like alliteration, and I was quite pleased with myself on my blog title: Flawed yet Functional. “Good one, Emily! Repeating “F” words, short yet meaningful, easy to remember (at least for me it is!), useful in many applications houses (no house is perfect), furniture (same), decor (always somewhat flawed, I’m not a professional!), my health (my AVM story), etc. Yes, this is a good title with a variety of uses and applications in blogging.” Little did I know just how useful it would be with another health hurtle around the corner: Type 1 Diabetes.


While I still love decorating and renovating our house, my family has taken precedent the last few years. The desire to write, share my story, and encourage others still exists. My most recent physical struggle brings this blog to the forefront of my mind again. What if my story (and it’s continuation…) can encourage/guide/warn others? What if by writing out my story, I not only help myself process but others as well? In that vein, I no longer write for the hope of being internet famous or even making money on this ole blog, I feel the need to share. God is working something out in my life. I don’t know what yet, but I think writing here may help me figure that out.

So what’s happened?

Symptoms of Diabetes

Last week was Spring Break here in West Michigan. My husband and I intended to spend it quietly at home for the most part. We had two weekend trips planned, but those were going to be small and low key. The first weekend trip had us staying in a hotel, and my husband knew to purchase a couple gallons of bottled water knowing that hotel water doesn’t taste wonderful. Friday I was drinking it fine. I thought it tasted a little odd, but I was thirsty (and the hotel water truly was yucky) so I just kept refilling my water bottle.

Friday – In the evening, it occurs to me that I’ve filled my water bottle a lot, several times since arriving that afternoon. Just how many times, I’m not sure, but it is starting to occur to me that it might be more than normal.

As it happens when you drink a lot of water, you must urinate often. We had a hotel room with a separate bedroom, and of course, the bathroom is in the bedroom. We had put the kids down in the bedroom so they could have the quieter, darker room. The things we parents do for a good night’s sleep! I had to sneak into the bedroom several times that night. Hmm, that’s odd. I still thought I just drank too much water.

Saturday – I notice how thirsty I am and decide to keep track. I drank 75 ounces before lunch. Yikes! That’s a lot! Now I’m wondering what the cause is. I immediately think it’s the bottled water.

There must be something in that water!

I mention my issues and concern to Dan, and we both think it’s odd but likely the bottled water. My body must not be used to it…or something.

Sunday – I think my thirst returns to almost normal. It’s still high, but not 75-ounces-before-lunch high.

Monday – I’m driving my kiddos to a petting zoo in the morning, and I notice my far-sight is blurry. I couldn’t focus further down the road. In fact the more I tried, the blurrier it got and the more my eyes watered. By the time we returned from the petting zoo, it had returned to normal. Weird, but I didn’t really give it too much thought. I talk it over with Dan. “Diabetes?” I mention “Probably, not but I’m seeing my brother’s family tomorrow. I can test my glucose level there.”

Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

Tuesday – I’m heading to my brother’s house, and my vision is blurred again. I’m aggravated/nervous. It’s looking like diabetes to me, but I feel fine. Absolutely fine. I test my glucose level as soon as I arrive. I’m chatting it up with my sister-in-law and niece, not really paying attention to the glucose meter.

“Aunt Emily!!!” My niece exclaims.

I look down at the meter, 522 it reads. “Is that finished counting down? Like, is that the number?” I ask.

“Yes! That’s your blood sugar!” My sweet adolescent niece exclaims. Shock and awe are all over her face.

“You need to see someone right now!” My sister-in-law informs me.

Sigh. It looks like I have diabetes. Tuesday began an adventure to get back into my endocrinologist to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes and determine type 1 or type 2.

By Friday, I had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a 33 year old. In exactly 1 weeks time, I went from a healthy adult to an adult with a lifelong autoimmune disease. From someone who rarely goes to the doctor to one who will be seeing 1, 2 or even more on a regular basis. I went from someone who spend very little on healthcare to one who will be maxing out her health plan every year. Once I was a healthy eater yet didn’t consider what or how much I’m eating to someone who needs to know every morsel she ingests.

It’s a touch overwhelming. I’m still at the beginning, but that’s where I am today: a human being with a hole in her brain and a pancreas that doesn’t work anymore. Flawed? Yes. Still functional? Absolutely. Type 1 Diabetes will not defeat me. I will live a flourishing, fulfilled life in spite of my health.


To continue with my story, check out these posts:

Insulin-Free Type 1 Diabetes | Why I Became Gluten-Free

Insulin-Free Type 1 Diabetes | Eat More Vegetables