AFTER a routine blood test in March last year, Kingston accountant Gail Freeman was told she was “full-on, type 2 diabetic”, with a dangerously high blood-glucose level of 20.
“It came as a complete shock, because I had no symptoms and didn’t feel any different from how I’ve always felt,” says Gail.
“I was devastated. It’s a horrible disease and you just don’t want it.”
Gail was prescribed drugs to help, but after three days she felt terrible – spaced out, sleep deprived and shaking.
“By the fourth day I couldn’t take any more,” she says.
“The doctor told me to stop the medication and suggested a sulphur-based drug instead.
“I’m allergic to sulphur so I knew I wouldn’t be able to tolerate it, and I refused to take insulin because I was trying to lose weight.
“In the end the doctor was wringing his hands because he didn’t know what to do with me, and I knew I’d have to find a solution myself.”
Gail met with a diabetes educator and was given a high-carb diet to follow.
“I tried the diet, while regularly monitoring my blood sugar levels, and after a fortnight I could see it wasn’t working because my blood-sugar [level] went up,” says Gail.
After trawling the internet, she found that the name Dr Bernstein kept popping up.
She ordered his book “Dr Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution”, and his low-carb diet became her guide to live by.
“It turns out I’m highly sensitive to carbs, which is why I have to be so strict and really watch what effect certain foods have on my blood-sugar,” says Gail.
“I found success by being strict at first, monitoring my levels consistently, and experimenting once I was in a safer place.
“I’ve found that for me, exercise is critical, so I do something every day, like Pilates, weights or cardio. I also see a naturopath and have acupuncture regularly.”
Gail says there are certain no-nos on the diet, such as tomatoes, onions and grains.
“It’s hard when you can’t eat a lot of the food you like,” says Gail.
“But you find a way around it. Now I eat eggs for breakfast; meat, salad, nuts and olives for lunch and something similar, but with less carbs, for dinner.
“I love texture and I find it makes meals more satisfying, so nuts and crunchy veg are my lifesavers.
“I never get hungry but I do get bored – I need variety in my food, so I have to get creative and find ways to make it interesting.”
After just three months, Gail’s blood-sugar levels were down below six. Her endocrinologist was astounded: “She told me I was officially in remission,” says Gail.
Gail still checks her blood-sugar levels four times a day.
“If I didn’t check them so regularly I wouldn’t have found out that I can be a little more flexible at lunchtime, and that has been important for me to know,” she says.
“Everything in the diabetes field seems to be misleading.
“It’s taken me a lot of heartache, plenty of research and a few blind alleys to get where I am, but in the end it was a blessing in disguise that I couldn’t take the drugs. It forced me to work this out myself.
“I’m a very determined person and once I apply myself to something I will see it through.
“Providing I eat this way for the rest of my life, I’m cured.”