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Hello From Tokyo

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  • Hello From Tokyo

    Hi Everyone. I'm a German, Type 1 diabetic living in Tokyo, Japan. I just finished reading Mark's "Primal Blueprint" book and am now in the process of trying to catch up on deluge of information on this site. I started reading the book because I need to find a way to control my blood sugars with diabetes and finally start losing the gradual weight gain that taking insulin four times a day does to me. Being in Japan makes it frustratingly difficult to get information that I can either understand or that the notoriously tight-lipped Japanese medical establishment will discuss with me. So for the last 13 years since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, not only has the diabetes progressed to Type 1 (my pancreas makes no insulin and I have no antibodies around my pancreas, which means I'm not a usual Type 1 diabetic), but I've had to try to learn all the necessary information on my own. With all the misinformation and conflicting views out there, you can imagine how frightening and confusing it all is. Yes, I've read Dr. Bernstein's book (he advocates low carb eating) and even tried to contact him, but living in Japan meant he couldn't legally allow consultation with me. Until I started using insulin I had never gained weight in my life. Now I am 78 kg, 8 kg up from my normal, pre-diabetes weight of 70 kg (I used to run at least 10 km everyday). I have constant inflammation and bloating now and am beginning to have diabetic problems. I'm scared and desperate. I don't know who to talk to. At the very least I want to gain control of my weight and blood sugars.

    So that's where I'm coming from. I'm only now beginning to understand how carbohydrates and insulin work and how important fats are. Mark's explanation of insulin is the best I've ever read and should be required reading for all diabetics. That's why I'm willing to give the Primal Blueprint a go. As a very avid ultralight backpacker, I have no trouble with unconventional ways of thinking or doing things and thus am open to what Mark is saying, but having diabetes means I must be skeptical and cannot take chances that will endanger me. So I'm scared to dive into this program. I've experienced hyperglycemia enough times to be wary of anything that plays with my blood sugar; two times I almost died in the mountains due to running out of food.

    I've so far calculated my BMR and how many calories I need when inactive, but after that I get confused. I can't figure out where Mark gets his required fat amount for the 932 kcal/day activity factor. Where did he get that figure? It doesn't add up even using the amount of 3500 kcal per pound that fat carries.

    That said, I'm trying to start the program using Mark's recommendation of doing it intuitively. I need to keep under the limit of my calorie intake, however, and there need some way to gauge how much I am taking in. I'm very confused.

    Living in Japan makes it doubly difficult ingredients-wise to follow a lot of the food recommendations. Prices of even regular vegetable themselves is astronomical, let alone for anything organic or raised in a healthy way. I simply couldn't afford to buy so many of the foods that Mark recommends, not to mention having a difficult time finding them. This is a carbohydrate society, albeit one that until about 30 years ago had virtually no diabetes or obesity.

    As to exercise, I try to walk at least an hour every day. I go to the mountains on the weekends when I can, or take my folding bicycle and ride all day in the countryside. At home I'm going to re-start low level CrossFit again (I did it two years ago for a year, but way overdid it). I also do Pilates once or twice a week. Backpacking is my passion and that is what I want my body to be strong and energetic enough to do easily. I have to learn more about eating while doing high energy exercise in the mountains, where most likely, with the Primal Blueprint program, a different view of carbohydrates will be necessary compared to my milder activities in town.

    I hope this program works as people say it does. But I'm a skeptic. I need to see long-term results before I believe hype. I'm not looking for a quick fix (can't afford to) and want something I can use to keep myself healthy and alive for the rest of my life.

    Does this really work? Is there anything I have to be concerned about?

    And a last question... I'm no nutritionist or biologist, but I don't get how grains are different from things like nuts or legumes... all of them are technically seeds. Their purpose is to provide protection and nutrition for new plant offspring. Why is a differentiation made between them? And there's a differentiation made between grasses and grains, but all grains are grasses., or at least part of them. What is it in grains that makes them so undesirable?
    Last edited by bamboo; 05-22-2010, 09:47 PM.

  • #2

    There is a Diabetic group here:

    We'll try to help you as best we can.


    • #3
      Konichiwa, Gute Tag, and Wilkommen.

      I understand skepticism, I think it's healthy.

      Read as much as you can here (and anywhere else for that matter) I'm no nutritionist, biologist or expert either, but there are people here who can give you very detailed answers when they have the time.


      • #4
        Was going to mention StoneAgeQueen and another forum member DiabetesCanKissMyButt. Thanks Fiona for pointing out your group.

        My dad had diabetes as have many of my relatives. So when I became obese and out of shape, I had to take charge. For me, the primal blueprint works. I've tried running and it didn't help me lose fat at all. Then following the primal rules, I easily slashed 17 pounds off in a month and that's where I have plateaued at 190 pounds. About 90% of fat loss is nutrition; eating the right foods and avoiding those that trigger a larger-than-normal surge in insulin. Those reactive foods are sugars and grains. Grains do take a lot of processing to become edible, so it makes a lot of sense to me to avoid them. If I could "distill" the book's message, it's changing your hormonal responses to get a beneficial result. Those hormones, for me primarily are insulin, human growth hormone and testosterone; the last two are stimulated by brief, intense exercise.

        I also live in Tokyo. I know some doctors that are Western educated and are more forthcoming than what you are experiencing that I can refer you to. Like many doctors in the U.S, however, many physicians are not informed about nutrition and shun primal-paleo-Atkins-low-carb lifestyles. It really is up to individuals to take control of their health. The medical establishment worldwide focuses on therapy, not prevention.

        I agree with you that the cuisine here is heavily focused on carbs. I think Japan has the best bakeries and patisseries in the world, and probably the best Italian restaurants outside of Italy. The rice is delicious. Still, I have been able to craft meals on my own, or go to restaurants and order primal without any problems. Contact me if you need help.
        Last edited by Godzilla; 05-23-2010, 05:46 PM.


        • #5
          Thanks everyone for your responses and for making me feel welcome here. I guess that is very important for a successful relationship to a forum. ANd for getting seriously into something new.

          Thanks StoneAgeQueen. I've joined the diabetes forum and hope to get involved with the conversations. Looking forward to learning as much as I can and sharing my own experiences. I've done a lot of mountain climbing with diabetes so if anyone needs any information on what I've gleaned from doing that, I'll be glad to share.

          Thanks DarthFriendly. I've already started reading, but I must say it's overwhelming coming in from the cold! SOOO much to read!

          Godzilla, a fellow member in Tokyo! That's good to know, especially because the food sources in stores will be very different. People talk so much about eating nuts and such here, and in Mark's book, but it's hard to get nuts in bulk here, so I'll have to find alternatives. I'll send you a private message asking about doctors here; it would be a great help to know what is available. Right now I go to St. Luke's Hospital and my doctor was educated at Harvard so there is one foreign educated doctor I know, but she has very limited knowledge of nutrition and is not open to alternative diets. I might just have to convince her through example and results!

          For now I'd like to ask how to get started... do I really keep it as simple as Mark describes in his book? Keep the carbs (in the beginning) down to 50 to 100 grams per day to lose the inital weight, then up them to around 150? Then add the proteins according to my BMR x 0.7 to get the number of grams I should be eating for proteins? And finally add the extra calories I need according to my activity level? Is it really that simple?

          What I need to learn now is what foods to eat and what to avoid...


          • #6
            I realize those numerical recommendations are in the book in the weight loss chapter. However, I am not good at counting calories. So what I did was basically stop eating rice, bread, potatoes, pasta, cereal, sugar, juice, sodas and anything with high-fructose corn syrup. I ate pretty much all the meat and vegetables I wanted. Some people avoid fruits because of fructose. I'm OK with it. The fat melted off rapidly week by week.


            • #7
              I live in Gifu-ken. Any decent size grocery store should have the nuts. I have no problem getting them in my city of 150,000 people. As for omega-3 rich meat... that's another story. I cook almost all my meals, but if I go out, it is usually for yakiniku. I feel like karubi gets the job done on my fat ratios =)


              • #8
                Well, it's been three days now since I've gotten started and already I'm seeing results with my blood sugars! It's quite amazing, really. I'm not quite down to Mark's recommended carb levels, just to be safe with my insulin injections, but I'm slowly getting there. See how this thing pans out!

                Bigwar, yes, I realize you can get nuts here in Japan just about anywhere. I've lived here over a span of 40 years and traveled throughout the country, especially by walking and bicycle, so nuts have been an important part of what I eat when I've been on the road. But don't you think that what you can buy are incredibly expensive? You certainly can't have them regularly as a mainstay in your diet, not at $3.00 for 100 g. As for the Omega-3's I like fish, so that's well-covered here in Japan. I guess I could eat dried fish for snacking, but that gets old pretty fast. I wonder how dried cuttlefish, squid, and octopus do in terms of available protein?

                Yakiniku... how often do you hear of diets where broiled meat is a recommended part of the menu? :^{>