Over time, I finally started to suspect prediabetes. I had several screenings, but my numbers always came back in the normal range. (They weren’t doing A1C tests.)
I was still slim overall, even with my blood sugar issues, but my previously flat stomach had left the building. And I was definitely struggling with depression.
At one point, I took a temporary job working days after having worked second shift for years. I was always in a rush in the mornings, so I would eat cereal or some toast. I noticed that I could barely keep my eyelids from fluttering by 10:30 a.m. At first, I thought it was just the adjustment to working days. I switched to eggs and bacon or sausage and could feel the difference almost immediately.
The cereal would be very low sugar, like Cheerios or Chex. I knew that my body could never handle the sweet stuff. The language I often used was, “I can’t metabolize too many carbs.”
I had been dieting off and on trying to lose a little weight, but it was just a few pounds here and there. Jeans kept getting tighter and blouse buttons stopped laying flat. And I was working out regularly!
In 2015, I had an appointment for a physical. When reviewing my blood work results, my doctor made an offhand comment that I might want to watch my blood glucose. She quickly drew a circle around a number and went on discuss something else.
When I got home, I saw that my glucose level was 97. I went online to learn, for the first time, what those numbers actually meant. But what struck me was that my A1C was 6.0, which my doctor didn’t even mention.
At this particular lab, the range for prediabetes is between 5.7 and 6.4. They did not flag the result unless it was in full blown diabetes territory.
I went back through my paperwork and saw that my A1C in the previous year was also 6.0.
I had been prediabetic for at least a year and did not know it. I was very upset, as this was a year (or more) that I could have been working to reverse the condition. Lesson learned – pay attention and do the research.
I knew enough that I had to cut the carbs immediately. My mother was very ill at the time. I was spending several days a week caring for her at her studio apartment. After getting her meals ready and helping her get dressed, I didn’t have the time, space or energy to cook nutritious meals for myself. I subsisted on easy to prepare low carb foods like salads, pepperoni, cheese, rotisserie chicken and sugar-free Jell-O.
I got my A1C down to 5.6 and was no longer classified as prediabetic. Then it went back up – to 6.2. Then 6.1. I went up and down for quite a while, just barely avoiding diabetes.
I cleaned up my meals a bit, and the number stayed between 5.3 and 5.6 for two years.
Now one would think that that would be the end of the story. That I cleaned up my diet permanently, destroyed prediabetes, and went on to preach the ketogenic/low carb word.
At each appointment, my blood sugar was down.
So, naturally, I began eating what I wanted. Healthy, whole foods instead of junk, but not necessarily low carb.
And my belly kept getting bigger and bigger.
I tried some very healthy diets: Whole 30, AIP, Paleo and Primal diets. I gained weight and got an even bigger belly each time. I eventually ate my way back to prediabetes as those diets allowed too many carbs for me.
I revisited the Atkins revolution. I was very strict for weeks, but the scale didn’t budge. On to keto, with the same (non)results. Neither one of these diets alone did the trick for me. It was time to accept that I was going to have to do more.