early as 1988 (age 34) I had elevated blood sugar levels,
but my doctor at that time did not discuss that fact with
me or recommend treatment. Many years later I changed doctors
and was immediately diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. After
going through a diabetes education course it became clear
that the slow miserable decline associated with long term
diabetes presented a grim future for me. That decline may
not have caught up with me for another 5 or 10 years, but
it was certain to arrive unless I could somehow find a cure
- or at least a diabetes management program that would permanently
keep the disease at bay. Because the medical profession does
not have such a cure, I was determined to find one myself.
any diabetic knows, monitoring and controlling blood sugar
levels is critical, so I obtained a blood glucose meter and
began testing. I also kept (and still do keep) a daily journal
of everything I eat, including quantities, time of day, calories,
protein, carbs, fat, and fiber content. The journal also records
exercise, blood sugar level, weight, and notes about my mental
and physical condition.
(Click to enlarge)
expected, I discovered that various foods have different effects
on blood sugar levels in the hours following consumption.
These changes were somewhat consistent with the Glycemic Index,
although my body (and yours too) does not necessarily handle
each food item in the same way the Glycemic Index predicts.
This is only natural, because the index is an average rather
than a precise measurement tailored to each individual. However,
it is a useful starting point. I highly recommend that you
experiment to find how your own body reacts to various foods
so you can tailor your diet accordingly. Of course, you will
need to have a blood glucose meter in order to do so.
followed a strict regimen for months and months, during which
time I ate only low glycemic index foods and lost approximately
Unfortunately, the switch to low glycemic foods and the weight loss was not
sufficient to fully counteract the disease. My blood sugar
levels improved approximately 5%, but there was still work
to be done.
next item I worked on was exercise. Diet and exercise are
the two recommendations made by the traditional medical community,
so I wanted to find out if they would be effective. Therefore
I worked hard to modify my lifestyle to provide enough time
for exercise. This wasn't easy, because I have two young children,
many social obligations, and am President of a technology
company - a demanding position. But I felt it was absolutely
necessary for my future health. I enjoy active outdoor sports
such as SCUBA diving, kayaking, golf, gardening, and so on,
and was NOT interested in facing old age without the capacity
to participate in those activities.
to this time I was relatively active for a person of my age,
averaging 4 hours per week of moderate to heavy exercise,
including weight lifting and skating. However some of my daily
hobbies were sedentary, as is my job, so I reduced the time
spent on sedentary hobbies and focused on active hobbies like
kayaking. I increased my weekly average to more than 8 hours
of strenuous exercise. Again, I continued to monitor my blood
sugar levels, mental and physical state, and food intake.
I lost no further weight during this period, but gained physical
stamina and lean muscle tissue.
Unfortunately, the switch to a vigorous exercise program was not sufficient
to fully counteract the disease. My blood sugar levels
improved another 5%, but there was still work to be done.
had lost weight, maintained a low glycemic diet, drastically
reduced carbohydrate intake, and significantly increased exercise.
I had followed all the recommendations of traditional medicine.
There was some improvement, yet the disease was not eliminated.
I had a bit more energy than before, but still had highs and
lows during the day. My sugar levels were not normal. The
quality of my life had improved slightly due to the weight
loss and exercise, but it was not a dramatic, life-changing
Diet and Exercise
|After monitoring my blood sugar levels each day for months and months, I noticed repeating patterns. You will too, if you monitor your sugar levels closely and record them in a journal. One thing I noticed is the effect of skipping meals. Now, diabetics who take insulin or other medications cannot skip meals because of the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, Type II diabetics WHO ARE NOT ON INSULIN OR MEDICATION generally have HIGH blood sugar rather than low. The risk of low blood sugar levels is very low in these individuals. When I skipped meals I felt hungry, but my blood sugar levels went down - sometimes all the way to the normal range! At the same time, my energy level was higher and I did not suffer the ups and downs that a typical person experiences as the day progresses. Having heard all the traditional advice about eating a hearty breakfast, not skipping meals, and breaking meals up into more frequent but smaller helpings, I was reluctant to believe the new data. However, facts are facts, and I decided to cautiously explore this further.
you can see from the chart, my blood sugar levels were random
prior to diet and exercise changes. After those changes you
can see noticeable improvement, but the sugar levels were
rarely within the normal range. This was not good enough for
decided upon a somewhat novel experiment. I would wait until
my sugar levels dropped into the normal range BEFORE consuming
food. I stayed with the same low glycemic foods and maintained
the same exercise levels in order to gauge the effect of this
new regimen independent of other changes.
waking in the morning I tested my sugar levels and found they
were typically in the 150 mg/dl range. I expected them to
come down by noon, but was surprised that they stayed above
normal for quite some time. As the day went on I became worried
(and hungry!), but I held off eating until nearly 6 PM, when
my blood sugar level was normal. At this point I wanted to
eat a huge meal, but I ate a normal dinner instead. As the
evening progressed I snacked on healthy, low glycemic foods.
following this regimen for days, which stretched into weeks,
I discovered it provided whole new level of physical energy
and mental alertness. After the first few days I was already
"un-training" my body of the expectation that food
would be provided at set meal intervals. After a week or so
I no longer felt hungry until about 4 PM. On some days, I
do not get hungry until 7 or 8 PM, but if I do get hungry
earlier, I wait until 6 PM to eat. The one exception to this
schedule is if I am doing strenuous exercise; I might have
a small mid-afternoon snack (an apple or a few nuts).
was reluctant to stick to this schedule when doing physical
activity for the whole day, but through experimentation I
found that the body can do quite nicely without food - even
when exercising. This is in stark contrast with traditional
sports nutrition advice, but it works well for me. I have
often gone out sea kayaking from 9 AM until 4 PM (7 hours)
without eating before or during. I always have snacks along
just in case, but only rarely consume them. I often stop for
a half hour rest around noon and sometimes take a 5 minute
break hourly - otherwise I paddle constantly. During this
time my average heart rate is approximately 125, with peaks
around 160. By the time I land, get my gear loaded, and drive
back home, it is easily 6 PM before I eat dinner. Of course,
I stay hydrated with water or a no-calorie beverage, but I
don't consume food or sports drinks during the day.
similar kayak trips, I've been with paddlers (sometimes 25
years younger than I) who barely had the energy to make it
back, or who had to be towed, even though they had consumed
numerous energy bars and carbohydrate-laden sports drinks.
had finally discovered a method that keeps my blood sugar
levels at or close to the normal range. Diabetes was defeated!
I naturally lost weight, and also began to experience many
quality-of-life benefits which I did not expect, as well as
marked improvement in measurements such as cholesterol and
||As I continued my diet regimen I found that I was naturally consuming far less calories than before. As a result it became more important to choose foods that provided a good nutritional foundation. After experimenting and adjusting, I ended up on a calorie restricted diet with good nutrition. Later I learned there is a scientific basis for CRON, or Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition. One benefit of this dietary approach appears to be the improvement in blood sugar levels which I had stumbled upon. As I researched CRON further I found that many of the biometric and quality-of-life improvements that I had experienced were associated with the CRON dietary approach. As a result I now follow the CRON diet, with my own modifications regarding meal timing. My modifications do not violate the basic principles of the CRON diet, but they are not part of the original diet.
Compared to my previous self, I now have far greater endurance and energy levels, can easily maintain an optimum weight, and have gained numerous other health benefits. Some of the health benefits are measurable, some are quality-of-life benefits which, in my judgment, are invaluable!
Lee A. Shurie
(Note: I am not a doctor and do not dispense medical advice.
This is purely an account of my own personal experience, which
may be unique to my own body type, genetics, and lifestyle.)