Who Lynn, 69, West Vancouver
Age diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
Number of years in remission
Life before diagnosis
Up until my son was born, when I was in my mid 30s, I didn’t have any problems maintaining my weight. But after that pregnancy, it was like a switch was flipped. My weight was constantly fluctuating between 150 and 220 lbs. I would diet, usually by counting calories, and get it down to 150 pounds. But then I couldn’t sustain that and I would rapidly gain again. I’ve yo-yo’d for more than 30 years. And I have been on high blood pressure medication since my 40s.
Symptoms prior to diagnosis
I started noticing symptoms at the beginning of the pandemic, mostly my eyesight was blurry. I also had fatigue and some increased urination. But I had been going through a difficult time, a separation in my marriage, and being the pandemic, I just didn’t want to deal with things at that time. That is ironic because I am a medical doctor and I tell patients not to ignore symptoms. But sometimes you don’t want to know what is going on until you have the mental and emotional capacity to deal with it. When I was finally single again I knew I was responsible for myself and it was time for me to act.
My blood sugar had probably been trending higher for a number of years. But in February 2023 I went to a retinal specialist and he could see diabetic retinopathy in both my eyes. Three days later I went to my GP and my A1C was 12 mmol/L, which is very high. I had diabetes. Having eye damage and blood sugar that high scared me.
Why did you try remission?
I didn’t want to be on medication and I did not want the complications of type 2 diabetes. I always tell patients “Cut out all the white stuff – sugar, flour, rice, bread.” I was finally ready to do that. I knew that I had been eating a lot of junk food and I had to stop that.
What did you do?
I cut out all sugar. I immediately went on a ketogenic diet, which is very low carbohydrate, typically less than 25 net grams of carbs a day. Ketogenic diets cut out all the white stuff, but also sugary fruit, and below-ground vegetables, like potatoes and sweet potatoes. You can eat a lot of above ground veggies, but I have all my life hated vegetables. My father did too. They just don’t agree with me. So, overtime, I found myself gravitating to a carnivore diet and while I get a lot of looks, comments, and pushback from girlfriends, I find it works for me. I do eat asparagus, and mushrooms and make my own ketogenic tomato soup. I also do time restricted eating, just eating two meals, lunch and dinner.
Since February of 2023 I have lost 65 pounds and I am now finding that easy to maintain. I am no longer trying to lose any weight. I’ve gone from a size 2XL to a small. My diabetes is in remission. My A1C is now in normal ranges. I am off all my medications, including my high blood pressure medications that I've been on for more than 20 years. My retinopathy has disappeared in one eye and the other is steadily improving, which is fantastic. Even stranger things have happened such as my sense of smell is much better. And weirdly, I think because I no longer have post nasal drip that is irritating my vocal chords, my singing voice is better and has a larger range. Generally I feel great. I have more energy than I have had in years. The hardest part is the social part, because others find the carnivore diet extreme. But for me if it means I am healthy, off all medications and feeling great then it feels right for me.
What is a typical day of eating for you now?
With my time restricted eating, I skip breakfast. And then I will eat a lunch like bacon and eggs. For dinner I will have a ribeye steak or something like that.
What do you want others to know?
I think a lot of the way the medical system deals with obesity is not helpful to people. They tell you once you are overweight you are never going to lose it. People are discouraged from doing time restricted eating, or carnivore, because it is seen as extreme and an eating disorder, but then they will be encouraged to take drugs like Ozempic or to do bariatric surgery, which removes part of your stomach. To me, it just doesn’t make sense. I think people need to be encouraged to find the way that works best for them and if they are nourished and it improves all their health markers, then what they are doing is working for them.
This type of lifestyle is not for everybody. You can get a lot of pushback, so it helps to have support from your doctor, your family, and community. But ultimately it does come down to you and what you feel is right for you. You have to make up your mind to do it and that you are willing to make the sacrifices when you are surrounded by ultraprocessed food in the food environment.