Happy New Year! While I tried my darndest to get my blood glucose levels (A1C) down to less than 5.7% in 2015, I fell a little short. To be honest, I could have tried a little harder.
My dietary philosophy in 2015 was “5 Days a Vegetarian”, meaning, 5 days a week I would adhere to a strict vegetarian diet (cheese!), but on days 6 and 7 all bets were off…I could eat anything I wanted and in any amount. That usually meant 3 eggs and hash browns with bacon in the morning, a double ShackBurger® and fries for lunch, an entire medium pepperoni pizza for dinner, followed up with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Rinse-and-repeat the next day with a little variation (Did someone say cheese steak bomber and onion rings? Chunky Monkey?).
The good news is, the weight that I had previously lost, stayed off (plus I lost a little more). It seems as if I take care of myself and eat right 5 days a week, my body can quickly recover from the onslaught of greasy beef, sugar, and processed foods consumed on the previous two. Also, my Hemoglobin A1C percentage went down a full point, and my mean blood glucose estimate dropped from about 148 to 132 mg/dl. I do think it was a worthwhile experiment, though, so not all was lost. For one, it proved to be a sustainable lifestyle, meaning I was never hungry or left feeling deprived. Avoiding meat 5 days a week wasn’t that big of a deal since I had a variety of cheesy-eggy-buttery-oily fatty comfort foods to fall back on during the week. Plus, I always knew in the back of my mind that a free-for-all food binge was just around the corner, so I didn’t feel the need to cheat during the week. Overall, I wasn’t gaining weight, but I wasn’t really losing it either (only a few additional pounds lost last year), and my lab numbers kept looking better and better.
Well, not all my lab numbers. My cholesterol levels went up significantly. My HDL climbed from 55 to 61, my LDL went from 113 to 139. My triglycerides rose from 156 to 201. I blame this on my (over) consumption of dairy and eggs and my doctor seemed to agree (Dr. Rosemary Olivo – Mercy Medical Center). So the bad news is, a 71% (5 days a week) vegetarian diet is only slowly reversing my diabetes, and worse, the meat and dairy and eggs are putting me at a higher risk for heart disease. So while I can keep my limbs and kidneys and my eyesight, I’ll probably have a heart attack instead. Not optimal, eh?
Revised Dietary Plan 2016: “5 Days a Vegan”
The year 2016 rings in a new dietary health experiment here at Contrary Cook: “5 Days a Vegan”. This year I’m going to do a strict vegan diet during the week and continue to overindulge on whatever I want on the weekends. I may tone down the beef consumption a bit, as I’ve become quite fond of cows. I had a nice conversation with the fellow pictured below…met him on a country road in Upstate New York over the holiday break. I can’t imagine eating him after that. Pretty cool cow.
Anyway, it’s common knowledge that consuming less fat and cholesterol (animals and animal byproducts) reduces the risk for heart disease and lowers blood pressure and can help reverse diabetes. The real question for me is, can I be satisfied going vegan 5 days a week without cheating, and will my numbers dramatically improve even though I’m still going bananas and eating whatever I want on the weekends. I know enough about yo-yo dieting to know that a good plan only works if you can actually stick to it. Going vegetarian 5 days a week last year proved to be super-easy and had some measurable health benefits. I’m wondering if going vegan 5 days a week will have even more dramatic results. We’ll see!