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Humans have the wonderful ability to put up with difficulty and hardship in the present moment through trusting the promise of a reversal of circumstances in a future moment. Humans hope.

Hope is a well-known feature of certain religions, usually postponing the future moment of reversal to a time after death. That makes their promise unverifiable, but does not necessarily diminish the power of hope to make the present moment bearable.

My own hope of avoiding the inevitable complications of type 1 diabetes by trusting in the promises made by the low carb crowd, has been dashed. After eating a very low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet for 18 months, my blood sugars were well controlled (HbA1c = 5%), but my cholesterol was sky-high and blood pressure going up, up and away. The consumption of largely animal based foods is an intrinsic feature of this kind of diet.

I could envisage my epitaph: “His blood sugars were pristine, a fat heart did him in”.

I am sure (hopeful?) that the benefits of low carb living are based on proper science and not on belief in dogma, but for me it wasn’t working. I was staring down the barrel of  statins, blood pressure medication and beta blockers for the term of my natural life.

Having nothing to lose, I decided to experiment (sample size n = 1) by switching to a whole foods, plant based diet as taught by Dr McDougall, Dr Barnard and others. I trusted the promise made in the book ‘The Starch Solution’. I became a traitor to the carbs-are-evil cause and went from a low carb, high fat, animal based diet to a high carb, no fat, plant based diet. A vegan diabetic, that’s me.

With blood glucose meter in one hand and insulin needle in the other, I gingerly started to consume plant based whole foods – starches, grains, potatoes, legumes, fruit, pasta, even some bread. I avoided all oils and fats. I felt guilty for disobeying Dr Bernstein’s dire warnings. But I was ready for the blood sugar rollercoaster.

It didn’t come.

After three months on the starch solution, my total cholesterol is 3.3 mmol/l (127 mg/dl), blood pressure is 125/70, BMI = 20.75 and HbA1c = 5.3%.

Weirdest of all, and perhaps a clue to a potential flaw in the low carb diet, my injected insulin went from 24-30 units a day as a fat burner, to 6 units a day as a carb burner. No more bolus injections before meals. No more corrections either. 1 unit of Novorapid is guaranteed to send me into a hypo.

I was insulin resistant.

It is not complex carbs that are the culprit, fat is. That’s my theory anyway. N = 1.

My hope has been renewed. My tombstone will say: ‘He died of old age’.


About the author Rien

dutch by birth 🇳🇱 | australian by choice 🇦🇺 | type 1 diabetic 💉 | married ❤️⚭ | grandfather 👴🏻 | fujifilm photographer 📷 | boat builder and sailor ⛵️ | seeker no more 🚫📖

All posts by Rien →


  1. An interesting story. There are a couple of things I have learnt from your experiences since you were diagnosed: one must invariably be sceptical about what we so often come to accept as scientific evidence. The other, is not so much something I have learnt, but more like something I have been ruminating over for decades, and that is: one can’t just place oneself into the care of a doctor and hope (there goes that word again) that medicine will deliver the results. We owe it to ourselves to look, test and find the way, as you have Rien. Good on you.



  2. Well, that is a comprehensive, but also a encouraging Om Toch. Great you are able to deal with the ‘unpleasant’ condition. Om met moeder te spreken: Je krijgt kracht naar kruis. Soli Deo Gloria.





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