Sunday, April 30, 2017


So back to the food lifestyle (i.e. my sustainable version of the anti-inflammatory protocol diet), I've done something nutty even by my own standards: I bought a glucose monitor. Look, I didn't online-shop this one. I went to the pharmacist and told her my rationale (see below) and she suggested that, while she's never had a non-diabetic person purchase a glucometer, sometimes doctors do prescribe them to their patients when they're trying to figure out blood sugar things. Apparently, I could have got a prescription and the device would have been free. It was worth the 75 bucks to me to avoid having to spend 1.5 hours getting to, from and waiting for the doctor.

The Rationale: I've been wanting to confirm what's going on with my blood sugar for, like, 10 years. When I say I believe I have a hair-trigger response to food - and more specifically to not eating food regularly enough or in the right way - I'm not being glib. I've observed this multiple times a day for as long as I can remember. It's only in the last 3 months that I realize I ate simple carbs to forestall nausea (which is recurrent every few hours and not the result of stress - trust me, I'm an expert on my stress-response), shaking, tachycardia (I have SVT), headache and deep irritation followed by the kind of hunger that is desperate for sugar in a way I cannot describe (like drug addiction drive). My mother took me to the doctor for this when I was a kid and it was determined I had hypoglycemia (a diagnosis that seemed out of whack). In retrospect, I think it was idiopathic post-prandial syndrome but there's no way to know until I have a better sense of my blood sugar levels after fasting, before meals and after meals.

I can say that the one thing that's different in the last 3 months is that I eat a ton of fat and few simple carbs. My protein intake is about the same. I've gradually increased my fat intake to, oh, 60 per cent of my diet - healthy fats - and I am much less shaky. Yeah, I suppose this is ketogenic but that's not my goal. I'm just trying to find a way to eat that makes me feel stable (bizarre concept peeps) and, on experimentation, this has provided the best response to date. When I start to feel shaky - because I am really resistant to eating regularly and I do believe this is learned/habitual - I eat a tablespoon of fat (fish oil, mct oil, coconut oil, avocado oil) - yeah, out of the bottle, and it buys me a little bit of time to find food without nausea or shaking. I can see that my consumption of alcohol, while not motivated by low blood sugar levels, works to keep them stable in the absence of food, or the presence of small amounts of food. (Update: Actually, today I learned that booze lowers my blood sugar levels to the very lower edge of the normal level. I do appear to have lower than average blood sugar at certain times of the day.)

Let me be clear right now - I am acting as my own experimental subject. Needless to say, I am not suggesting that anyone else do what I'm doing. This is the latest step in an engaged conversation with my own biochemistry and it comes on the heels of many years of introspection.

But back to the monitor...

For starters, you practically need a higher degree to figure out how the fuck to use this thing (which is actually multiple bits and pieces). Don't worry - there are videos and tons of guides. I'm not one of those peeps who gets as much from reading instructions as I do from looking at all of the moving parts and independently figuring out how they go together. But this requires reading.

Also, everyone I've told about this (I've been planning this purchase for a while), thinks I'm insane because you have to lance your finger with a tiny needle (to get a drop of blood, which is how the blood sugar is tested). Let me make this perfectly clear: If that freaks you out, don't do it. I am in no way afraid of needles, blood or pain, though my preference is not to inject things, cuz that's creepy. There are so many people in this world who have to undertake this monitoring process multiple times a day and they manage elegantly. For me, to test my blood sugar 3 6 times a day for a few days is entirely baby-style so I don't intend to make something out of it. I can assure you, lancing barely registers on the pain scale. Barely. (This isn't to suggest that diabetics don't have a rough road because testing 7-8 times a day, life-long, is a totally different story and one I'm happy not to have to entertain.)

I just started this morning and I'll keep you posted, though I can appreciate my blood sugar levels are probably the most boring thing imaginable to anyone other than me. I do love that we live in an age where this monitoring is possible.

Kristin's Coconut Milk Hot Chocolate

Let me leave you with a hot chocolate recipe that I "made up", not that hot choc recipes are rocket science. It's SO insanely delicious, you might want to drink it every day. It's fab for curtailing hunger and moderating anxiety because the fat involved (medium chain fatty acids, from coconut milk) goes straight to the brain where it can be used as an alternative source of fuel to glucose. Also, the cacao (or cocoa) powder contains cannabinoids which get together with your brain's endocannabinoid receptors and produce the most fantastic sedative effect. But really, all that aside, it's really stabilizing for those of us with the hummingbird metabolisms.
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cacao or cocoa powder (use the good stuff and avoid dutch-process), mix with a bit of water to create a smooth sauce. Use fork or small whisk.
  • 1 can (798 ml) coconut milk - use the kind from BPA-free cans, organic, pref without guar gum. Put the cream in a saucepan. Discard the liquid. Add a bit of water to re-liquify the cream. Don't use too much because the cream will thin as it warms. You can always add more water later.
  • Pinch salt (smoked is good)
  • Tsp vanilla extract (the real stuff)
  • Tsp maple syrup - use the least amount of syrup you can while still getting with the taste. It should not make the coconut choc mixture sweet. The taste should be neutral between the bitter, salt and sweet, but not more bitter than you can stand. What you're looking for is richness, not sweetness.
Mix all of these together and stir till silky and lump-free on low heat. When it heats to point that you can see steam, turn off mixture and leave for 10 minutes to cool and cohere. Then turn back on - again on low heat - and wait till it comes almost to a boil. This will give a very silky, glossy texture to the choc. The texture should be what you like - so add water as necessary. I use very little water cuz I like it to taste like Mayan hot chocolate (really dark, bitter and thick). You may not be able to drink the full amount (which comes to about 8 oz). I don't have an issue with this but do keep in mind that it's somewhere around 500 calories of saturated fat. It's really good fat but, if you're eating a lot of carbs in your diet, you shouldn't overdo it with this. Fat plus simple carbs (sugar) equals weight-gain in many. If you eat very few carbs / sugar, you can make this part of your daily diet - though you may want to talk with your doctor if you have high-cholesterol.

You will know pretty quickly if it's not right for you. It'll seem too fatty and rich. If it works, you'll feel fantastic very quickly and it will not seem fatty at all. Also, you may need to adjust to the relatively low sweetness if you're used to eating chocolate sweet.  1 can use 1/2 tsp maple syrup before it starts to taste like dirt (though it's a pleasant, ground-like taste). Some peeps are put off by it. You can always add a bit more syrup, half-tsp at a time, to get to a place that works for you but be very discriminatory.

This is perfect as breakfast (you can prep it the night before and store in fridge in the saucepan for next morning) or dessert or meal replacement (on occasion). If you're one of those people who can't eat once you get shaky, you will prob be able to stand this because there's no chewing involved and it's taste-neutral. If you are anxious, it will calm you down. Trust me. In a rare few, the high-concentration of cocoa/cacao may make you actually high, so I've read. I can attest to the fact that my brain is very happily responsive to chocolate, hence my daily consumption going on 25 years.

Today's questions: Have you ever monitored your blood sugar with a glucometer? How did it go? Do you love hot chocolate made with coconut milk? Have you ever tried a low-sugar, high-fat, high-cocoa version like the one I've suggested above? Let's talk!

PS: I've posted a photo of the hot choc on my Instagram page in case you want to see what it looks like.


  1. Coming from a family of diabetics (mom, two sisters and two brothers) I was determined not to go that route if possible. When my A1C was at 7 my doctor gave me the opportunity to get a meter, and go to a nutritionist and see if I could get it under control. I used the meter every morning before eating to get my fasting sugars and made some major changes to my eating habits. Less sugar and refined carbs-clean eating, I guess they call it now. 8 years later I am down to an A1C of 5.7 and my doctor is happy. I still have not lost weight, but that has been on ongoing dilemma for me. I think it can be a wonderful tool for keeping track of your blood sugar. Here in BC, I get coupons in the mail for new monitors all the time. They are free. I didn't need a prescription for one, but I did need a card from the doctor to purchase my tester strips...Good luck and hopefully it will give you the information that you need.

  2. I've been doing Dr. McDougall's eating plan for 2 months now. My aches and pains aren't completely gone, but much better. I can get up from a chair now without using leverage. It may sound silly, but for the last year it had been agonizing to push myself up from a seated position. He has had great success with TYPE 2 diabetes (adult onset). Not trying to sell anyone anything, because I myself am doing his program for free:

  3. Ok - I'm a rare commenter, but have to weigh in here - I've been thinking of doing exactly this! My dear endocrinologist (I have a thyroid disorder) finally told me I have hypoglycemia b/c of my strong reaction to eating/not eating. I never did the test, because it involves fasting, which is absurd for me. In my 20s, I figured out that I wasn't getting deeply depressed every afternoon - I needed to eat. But, now, 20 years later, I'm still not able to completely deal with blood sugar lows. And, man do I have to think about what and how I eat - or I become totally non-functional. A diet like you describe sounds like it would really work - but I haven't been able to get myself to go there. So, thank you so much for sharing your research! Sending the best of wishes.

  4. My grandmother is diabetic and I remember using her monitor when I was younger. One time my blood sugar was really low, like around 50, I think, and she crowed that it was wonderful because hers was always way too high. As an adult, I looked that number up and realized it was far too low and she was simply uneducated about the lower numbers. As a result of that and the way I get shaky and sweat if I get too hungry, I've wondered if I have hypoglycemia.

    Have you ever tried an Atkins type diet? I did around 15 years ago and I remember feeling less hungry and shaky, but I love sugar so much that it took all the joy out of my life, and I could only do it for a few months. All of this together makes me want to get my own monitor (or maybe just use my grandmother's regularly the next time I visit). I'm certain I'm going to end up with diabetes because of my sugar intake, but I'm not sure what to do about it. I'm sure decreasing my sugar intake would help with my pain as well, but sugar is my only vice and I don't know how to kick the habit.

  5. You should be a good writer; your description of the hot chocolate is poetic!

  6. Those symptoms you describe (shaking, headache, nausea, irritability) sound exactly like my (admittedly self-diagnosed) blood sugar crashes. They make me crave all the simple starch and sugars, but that only leads to more crashes later---much better to eat lots of protein and fiber and avoid them. Which it sounds like you're doing. Have fun with the meter! (Oh and the cocoa sounds yummy but I don't think I could handle my chocolate unsweet. ;)

  7. I get all those symptoms after eating and it turned out to be post prandial hypotension. Since avoiding high carb meals on the direction of my doctor the worst of the symptoms have gone. I had hospital testing which confirmed it too.

  8. Hypoglycemics also use those devices.

    There is far too much simple sugar in contemporary Western diets, and a lot of this has been fuelled by the food industry. One of the aspects of the Mediterranean diet is the acceptance of quite a bit of olive oil. But it is important not to fall into too much white bread or pasta. There is a lot of vegetable dishes in that traditional diet, including dark green ones. In Vancouver, you'll find great vegetable dishes from Asian countries.

    And on a completely different topic, our friend Simons has its "Prix Pop" promotion running now. There are some tempting items...