The Search for My Ideal Diabetic Diet, Part 3

Update: After I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I read over 20 books and attended conferences with a goal of reversing my symptoms.

6 weeks after I wrote this article, I was back in the hospital twice more for the same reason: life-threatening diabetic ketoacidosis. I had done everything I could to “reverse my diabetes.” Why wasn’t it working?  Because I was misdiagnosed.

I was finally diagnosed correctly with Type 1 Diabetes. Ketoacidosis is very rare in Type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance) but quite common to people with Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependence). Type 1 diabetes cannot be cured or reversed.

Misdiagnosis is quite common because people (including many doctors!) tend to think of Type 1 as something that only begins when you are a juvenile. I, and many others, are living proof that is not true.

On the bright side, I found a way of eating that makes me lose a lot of weight fast while still being healthy and filling. Now that I know I have Type 1 diabetes, my current way of eating focuses on low carb.  Still, I leverage all the success and learnings I describe below for good health and weight management.

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 Maximum 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 want to 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-starchy 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 focusing on starches and veggies for 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 which was made with some oil, and I 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!


  1. I’m so impressed by your discoveries and transformations. I too am a diabetic, rx about 4 yrs ago. I too went thru all the different phases/diets. I am now a vegan, following all the guidelines you are. I’ve done the vegan thing for a month now, lost 12 lbs and feel the best ever. I love that I can eat such healthy foods and never feel hungry. I can’t wait to see what happens in the long run. I never took any diabetic meds, just controlled it with diet. But the LCHF was the worst…so limited with your choices….esp being a vegitararian as I was then. I love my choices now. Yum!
    Thanks for taking the time and effort sharing all your findings with everyone. I look forward to your future writings as well.

    • Thank you for taking the time and effort to write this comment! It’s always good to hear another voice in the choir. :). I agree, LCHF was the worst. I also love my food options now and never feel hungry. I stopped taking my diabetic meds 3 weeks ago. I’m glad we can both expect continued great success. Hooray for healthy Vegan eating!

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