The Search for My Ideal Diabetic Diet, Part 3

One month ago, I wrote Why Do I Have Diabetes? while struggling to find the ideal diet to help me reverse my diagnosis. Since transitioning to a whole food plant-based diet, I have lost 10 pounds and feel GREAT!

Before and After Dr McDougall

Dr. Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes
Books by Dr. Barnard and Dr. McDougall have been very helpful

I had previously had success on a whole food plant-based diet, so I attended a 2 Forks event (See what I learned.)  I also bought Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes.  During my first 2 weeks, I had a hard time overcoming my fear of too many carbohydrates. I mostly ate salads with beans. I was not very satiated.  Then I read Dr. McDougall’s site and books, such as The Starch Solution and The Healthiest Diet on The Planet.  My final 2 weeks were 100% compliant with Dr. McDougall’s program, and that’s when most of the weight has come off.

I did research on other diets, such as low-carb, all fruit, and fasting. I read and watched testimonials that showed that ANY of these diets could reverse diabetes, at least in the short-term.  I came to these conclusions:

  • The key to reversing diabetes is losing my body fat.
  • To reverse my diabetes (and keep the fat off) for life, I need a diet I can enjoy for life.
  • To maximize my health, I should maximize my nutrition (Exercise is also helpful.)
  • I should ignore everything my doctors and nutritionist told me. (Pretty much!)

Based on all my research, my answer became clear: Contrary to standard advice from the American Diabetes Association, I should eat lots of starch (e.g., potatoes, rice, pasta, bread). I should also eat beans, veggies, and a bit of fruit.  Serving sizes are a thing of the past. The way this healthful food works enables me to always be full or satisfied.

I’ve been participating in active, helpful Facebook groups, such as McDougall Friends.  It’s a private group with over 18,000 members, many who share lots of inspirational McDougall-compliant dishes. Another great group is WSLF, which is where I learned about the entertaining and helpful Mr & Mrs Vegan.

Healthy Breakfast via the Hilton Pasadena Hotel Buffet

My challenge: I don’t have a kitchen. I’m on the road a lot, and I live in hotels full-time. How can someone eat the healthiest diet in the world while staying in hotels? Well, here’s how I’m doing it…

My hotel elite status often comes with a free breakfast.  I sometimes eat their steel cut oatmeal and berries.

If you ask, some hotels can be extra accommodating. For example, the amazing Chef Manuel at the Hilton Pasadena makes oil-free veggies and oil-free homemade salsa.  I see it as a delicious feast when I add steel cut oatmeal, some berries, and grapefruit.

Oatmeal with Bananas and Blueberries
My Delicious Oatmeal Breakfast

Most days though, I enjoy a cup of oatmeal I make in my hotel room. I soak about a cup of old-fashioned rolled oats, flaxseed,  frozen blueberries, cinnamon, and almond milk for 1 hour in the fridge.  Then I add about a 1/4 cup Rip’s Big Bowl cereal (for a little extra crunch and variety) and sometimes 1/2 banana (for extra sweetness).  It’s so delicious that every night I look forward to waking up knowing I get to have it again.

Preparing some healthy food in my hotel club lounge

All of the meals I prepare in my hotel are 100% oil-free, meat-free, dairy-free, unprocessed food.  It all has lots of fiber so I’m kept full all day.  For maximum weight loss, I avoid high fat foods, such as oil, avocado, and nuts (I will add walnuts back into my diet later).

In my current hotel, the club lounge has the usual fried food item and cheese tray in the evenings, but they also have a fresh veggie tray from which I pick from sometimes.  More importantly, there’s a microwave. I use it to heat up my daily starch and beans and to steam some veggies.

Lunches and dinners are interchangeable. I usually mix-and-match my favorite foods, favoring the most nutritious, in each of the following categories:

  • starch, such as sweet potatoes, corn, tortilla, quinoa, and brown rice
  • beans (more starch), such as black, kidney, chickpeas, and edamame
  • Non-starch veggies, such as spinach, kale, radishes, cauliflower, and tomatoes
WFPB Food in my hotel
Samples of my healthy hotel room meals: Bean & Sweet Potato Salad, Bean & Sweet Potato Burrito, Engine 2 Chili & Greens, Purple Yams with Engine 2 Moroccan stew and broccoli. I like nutritional yeast, infused vinegar, oil-free hummus, and pico de gallo as easy toppings.

As a snack, I usually have a piece of fruit, some raw veggies, some edamame, and/or crackers with oil-free hummus.

One of the nicest aspects of this program is that you should generally ignore serving sizes; you’re supposed to eat until you’re satiated. I stop eating altogether by 6pm each day (only 3 hours before my bedtime). Since adding starches to every meal, I am never hungry, weak or tired at any time during the day.

My 2 times of slight non-compliance:

  • I’m currently hanging out in Pasadena, California, where there are lots of great Vegan restaurants with oil-free options.  I ate out once in one of those restaurants, called Green Earth Vegan Cuisine.   I enjoyed veggie wonton soup but also ate some of the avocado on my salad.
  • I was at an all-day work event, and my co-workers ordered me a falafel wrap in which I indulged.  The falafel was fried. It tasted good, but I was super bloated for 3 days after I ate it. That discouraged me from eating something like that again.

I am also walking briskly for at least 30 minutes per day, and I do a bit of cycling and weight training in my hotel gym 4-5 days per week. So my 10 pound weight loss is despite gaining muscle.

I also have lost my 2 diabetes symptoms: blurry vision and neuropathy (nerve issues).  All while being completely full and satisfied all day.  I am happy and on my way to great health. Hooray!

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