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Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
26 Oct

Type 1 Diabetes No Match for Primal Lifestyle!

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My name is Shawn and I am 28 years old. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about a year ago. I haven’t seen many stories or articles related to diabetes on the MDA website so I thought I would share how going Primal has helped me take back control over my health and wellbeing.

First of all, I have actually been very healthy most of my life (or so I thought). In college I lifted weights, ran, and did pushups and sit-ups in my dorm room on a regular basis. I despised salad and fresh veggies, and loaded up on Hamburger Helper, cereal, and PB&J because it was convenient and I “worked it all off” during my workouts. I am 6’ tall and my weight maxed out at about 205 lbs (92 kgs) during my last year of college (2007)…perfectly healthy I thought.

Fast forward several years (during which I managed to drop about 10 lbs thanks to army basic training) to September of 2011. I started losing weight…lots of weight…about 25 lbs in 3 weeks to be exact, I drank water by the gallons, and I could no longer exercise without getting severe cramping in my legs. Something was obviously wrong, so I made an appointment with my doctor who I hadn’t seen in about 10 years. I had a fasting blood sugar level of 350 (normal is 70-99 mg/dL). The last several months of 2011 were very challenging. There was no explanation why I got this disease (no family history) and trying to come to terms with the fact that I would have to deal with this every day for the rest of my life was a bit overwhelming. I started working with diabetes educators and nutritionists at the local hospital and was told that I should take in about 320 CARBS/DAY(!!) based on my activity level. And they call themselves nutritionists?? Even my endocrinologist said I could eat whatever I wanted because the disease “sucks enough the way it is” and I just needed to shoot up with enough insulin to cover the food I was eating. At this point I still did not know any better so I bought into their conventional wisdom.

Needless to say, my blood sugar control was not good. I would go up to 250 right after meals, but since I dropped down to normal again after a few hours my doctor was fine with it. Being all too aware of the side effects of uncontrolled blood sugar, I decided to educate myself and become my own “nutritionist/doctor.”

Around January of this year a friend exposed me to the paleo diet. I checked it out and was intrigued. I started doing extensive reading and research (during which I came across this website) and decided to give it a try. I slowly started purging out the sugars/carbs/processed foods that were poisoning my body (especially cereal which was a staple of my diet at the time), and whaddya know…my blood sugars and overall health improved drastically, and my insulin requirements dropped like a rock!!!

Fast forward another 8 months to today and life has never been better! Through my faith, support of my wonderful wife and family, and a little help from the Primal Blueprint, I have been able to cope with my diabetes to the point that it is a mere afterthought in my everyday life. My diet includes massive amounts of meat/eggs/veggies/salad/nuts to fuel my active lifestyle, ~120 carbs worth/day with virtually no SAD food (if I do slip up, my blood sugar pays the price!). I do still indulge in some diabetic friendly, Primally questionable foods (quite a bit of cheese, a few peanuts, and the occasional artificially sweetened drink). I guess there is always room for improvement? I still work out quite often, but in Primal fashion: biking in to work as often as possible (~16 miles, 50 minutes each way), sprint sessions when I can’t get on the bike, and circuit-type training with pushups/pullups/core exercises/any other bodyweight exercise I can think up 4-5 days/week . The results: My weight has stabilized at 187 lbs (slightly less than pre-diabetes weight) while also managing to drop a couple pants sizes. I have tons of energy, especially compared to some of my type 2 diabetic relatives who always feel run-down due to their poor diets. (I’m trying to convert them, but no luck as of yet). And of course, combined with the omnipod insulin pump that I am now on (which I would strongly recommend to all insulin-dependent diabetics) I find it quite easy to tightly control my blood sugars (i.e. less than 100 AT ALL TIMES with very few hypoglycemic episodes, i.e. low blood sugar). And possibly the best part, my family/friends/coworkers are noticing these changes and starting to question their own diets and lifestyle habits…it’s like a contagious disease (the good kind)!

A few stats for the diabetics out there (or non-diabetics) who may be interested:

  • A1C – September 2011=13.0 (newly diagnosed), January 2012=5.7 (pre-Primal), May 2012=5.4 (partially Primal), November 2012=?? (should be under 5).
  • Average total insulin use per day (bolus+basal)=13-14 units (doctor thinks I’m still in the honeymoon phase after 1 year. Possibly, but I think it’s more a result of my diet and fitness level.)
  • Cholesterol levels at diagnosis: HDL=35, LDL=90, Tri=sky high because of high BS. Next test in November, the real indicator of the effectiveness of my new lifestyle!

I look forward to a long and healthy life (in spite of the diabetes) as my Primal lifestyle continues to evolve, and hopefully I can get more people on board! Thanks for reading and I hope this can provide some motivation for the diabetics out there who may need a little extra motivation once in a while!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Dude. You’re beast. OWNED the diabetes! So cool :)

    Nick wrote on October 26th, 2012
  2. Lookin’ good! Those abs! :-O

    Great to hear you’re helping friends/family question their own SAD. Keep up the good work!

    Erin wrote on October 26th, 2012
  3. Some people are ready to hear new information others need to see the changes in our bodies for the light bulb to go off (“Hmm…maybe there’s something to this paleo stuff.”). Every time people say, “Hey, you’ve lost weight, haven’t you?” I respond with, “Yep, I went paleo in January of this year and lost the troublesome last 8 lbs I wanted to.”

    Keep up the great work!

    André Angelantoni wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • I find that very, very few people are open to hearing new information when it calls for drastic action like paleo/primal. They want a quick easy solution that won’t require to much modification to their currnet life. I have had a few friends try paleo get great results for 3 weeks and just stop cause they don’t care enough to put in the work.

      Wayne wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • That’s almost as infuriating as my friends, who say, “I’m like, addicted to carbs! I could never stop!”

        Yeah, because you’re a unique snowflake.

        S.T. Scrivener wrote on October 26th, 2012
        • After they threaten to cut me I explain,
          “both sugar and wheat have been found to bind to opiate receptors…so that defensive reaction is due to feeling like I just threatened to take your crack. People did not eat wonder bread 8,000 years ago, they ate a meal of whatever was available smooshed into a pancake or loaf. If it means that much to you, you could source ancient wheat and other grains but I think it’s easier to just eat more greens and fat to make up the difference.”

          Then just leave it at that. You’ve planted the seed and now trust that other influences will germinate it.

          Oly wrote on October 27th, 2012
        • …and another typical thing some people say, “I smoke, do you think I’m worried about what I eat or my cellphone?”
          boom headshot

          Animanarchy wrote on October 29th, 2012
        • I love this statement. I may start referring to people as a unique snowflake from now on when the situation warrants. :)

          Danielle wrote on November 21st, 2014
      • I am experiencing the same. Friends tell me I look great and ask me how I manage to stay thin while entering the mid-life phase. I always share my “secret” of paleo/primal lifestyle, but see none of my friends making even the slightest modifications in their diets. Even though I went cold turkey on carbs and sugars, I encourage them with baby steps, being patient with themselves, etc, but it is as if the effort is just too much. I do not understand how the effort can be too much to improve quality of life so drastically. I forward the success stories, which I find very inspiring, to my friends, and still none bought into this lifestyle. This has been the easiest and most satisfying “diet” that I have ever followed and my family and I are most certainly hooked for life.

        Saret wrote on October 26th, 2012
        • It’s the zombie apocalypse, people, I tell ya … it’s happening NOW.

          Angel wrote on October 27th, 2012
        • I know!! I go through this with my family members and it drives me crazy…they come to me with their health problems, digestive issues, and wanting to feel better…and I tell them what has worked for me – and they’re smart people – and they just ignore me. I love them but sometimes I feel tired of being asked if no one is going to listen. PHEW! Guess I had to get that off my chest :)

          But excellent success story, thank you for sharing. These personal stories are excellent motivation.

          Christina wrote on April 24th, 2013
        • Well said! I’ve had the exact same experience.

          Patrice wrote on February 27th, 2014
      • We all live in comfort zones. Some our comfort zones involve taking control of our health, while the comfort zones of others involve less healthy behaviors. Even if they see their health going down, they might take comfort in the fact that they’re just doing what “everyone else” does and recommends. Diving into what, to them, is a drastic change in lifestyle takes them out of their zone. For these people I would recommend smaller, incremental changes. They should see smaller, incremental improvements which might help them take comfort in the control they’ve taken in their health, which might inspire them to do more.

        Joe Carbup wrote on October 29th, 2012
        • I engage in intermittent self-torture to feel like I’ve earned my comfort time. For example cold water plunges, resting/lazing only when necessary (mostly..), eating small amounts of raw meat once in a while, going for a barefoot hike in the rain through mud while not dressed warm.
          I’m sick of the shelter I’m staying in and a lot of the people in it so this week I’ll be leaving with a sleeping bag and probably a tarp or two to be subject to the whims of the ecosystem.

          Animanarchy wrote on October 29th, 2012
        • I agree. For me, what has been interesting was making all of these big changes and then realizing, “it’s really not that big of a deal.” I think we are more attached to our comfort zones than the content of said comfort zones. Though, that said, we also don’t realize how messed up our insulin/leptin/ghrelin sytems are and how much they affect our ultimate behavior.

          Tina wrote on February 11th, 2013
  4. Great story, thanks for sharing it! I look forward to hearing the results of your November check-up.

    Siobhan wrote on October 26th, 2012
  5. Very nice! I have just started eliminating all processed foods, dairy, grains, etc from my diet. My daughter and I both had a borderline a1c test (5.7), so we are taking the advice from my primary care physician to lower it. It appears that you have done a great job with it and this inspires me to continue, thank you!

    emily wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Glad to hear you are taking your health seriously. Keep up the good work.

      Wayne wrote on October 26th, 2012
  6. Shawn – way to overcome! Insirational story.

    John wrote on October 26th, 2012
  7. Great work Shawn! Curious to know if you’ve considered or tried the autoimmune protocol (no nuts, eggs, nightshades). Thanks for sharing your story, and best wishes for the future.

    Missy wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • I’m curious to know this too. I’m a type 1 with great control since starting paleo, but can’t lose a pound even with lower insulin levels. I’m starting to wonder if its because I don’t follow the autoimmune protocol.

      Susan wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • i havent really considered it, mostly because i eat alot of eggs and snack regularly on nuts between meals and i feel better than i ever have. If my blood sugar was out of control or if i was gaining wgt or getting upset stomach, i would definitely try it. although i should say ive never actually heard of the autoimmune protocol. Susan, maybe you are at your optimum body composition right now and you dont need to lose anymore weight?

      Shawn Reimes wrote on October 27th, 2012
      • Shawn, I’m also Type 1 diabetic, since age 2, and have celiac disease. I’m under good control but I’m interested in trying the Primal diet/lifestyle. I was curious what you do when/if your blood sugar gets low? What do you eat to bring it up quickly? Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

        KTJane wrote on January 30th, 2014
        • Hi ktjane, I always have glucose tablets or sweetarts available for when I go low, especially if im active. I find these to be the fastest acting and have the least amount of additives, basically just plain sugar. Milk or other high carb liquids will raise it even faster, but I typically drink these things. Its easy with liquids to drink too much and then rebound and go high!

          Shawn wrote on February 3rd, 2014
        • typically >don’t< drink those things…

          Shawn wrote on February 3rd, 2014
  8. Good work!You might want to get a copy of Dr Bernstein’s book to help you tune in. Also, think like a pancreas has great info for pump users.

    I had discussed getting a pump a year ago, but the reservoir was too small for my needs. By the time I got off the wheat and grains, my insulin doses were too low to bother with a pump. I now am 98% insulin free. Except for some Thai food that raised my bg, I haven’ needed a shot in 2 months.

    marcsfl wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • My sister in law is type 1, she is on a sad diet and it seems like she barely eats. her portion sizes are sooooo small. when i watch her eat, i feel like i am starving to death. i know she is on that pump, however I do not know the specifics. I just wish that she would see what the rest of us sees and get healthy!

      schmotza wrote on October 27th, 2012
    • @marcsfl are you Type 1? How do you manage your need for basal insulin if you are Type 1? My 8 year old son has had type 1 for 6 1/2 years now and I am very curious about this.

      Jamie Schull wrote on November 4th, 2012
    • Are you a type 1? If so, did you start as a type 2. I’m a type 1. I take very little insulin because I don’t eat much, but I still have to take a shot after I eat. I loved Shawn’s inspirational story. We are all looking for support and the cure for this life altering disease. I’ve had it for 13 years. I am trying the paleo diet, but my only vice is diet coke. I don’t ever crave sweets, just diet coke. Someone tell me how to get over this one.

      Nancy wrote on May 13th, 2014
      • How about trying plain mineral water or soda water with ice and some lemon or lime juice. I find it is really the bubbly water that I like. We have a Soda Stream, so I make my own carbonated water.

        My child is type 1 on paleo, and it really controls his blood glucose levels easily. I recommend it for all diabetics (and non diabetics too!)

        Lisa wrote on May 14th, 2014
    • Wow, so are you T1D or T2D?

      Rose wrote on April 15th, 2015
  9. Thank you! It wasn’t till I became diabetic (T2) that I learned how appallingly, criminally deficient and dysfunctional the current medical guidelines for diabetes treatment are. It boggles the mind. So much so that intrepid ones among us have decided to fend for ourselves. Looking forward to your update!

    Anna wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Anna, I totally agree. So “SAD” that we have to fend for ourselves. Why doctors aren’t required to learn about nutrition is criminal. It’s not a healthcare system, it’s sickcare.

      Christina wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • Exactly, Christina! We need holistic lifestyle approaches, not “Here, take this pill …” Clearly, that approach isn’t working. Our society is sicker than it’s ever been.

        Doug D wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • I’m a general practicioner in Germany and I learnt about nutrition – 100 hours of extra-lessons.
        I was taught the low fat and whole grain story. That was 5 or 6 years ago and there hasn’t been a basic shift since.
        The problem is twice:
        1. Patients are mostly addicted to carbs (I myself was)
        2. Money makes the world go round- I think the “Carbs-Lobby” is very strong
        I’m sure, the American doctors want to help and not harm their patients – they don’t know better!

        Ina Steckenreuter wrote on October 27th, 2012
        • I’m a current medical student and a primal eater (lost 40ish pounds because of it). We are learning the basic calories=calories out/willpower paradigm for weight loss…even though on the same token we are also learning about how fats and proteins cause satiety on a hormonal level and how de novo lipogenesis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise (which is caused by an increase in CARB CONSUMPTION!). My professors end all of their lectures with a list of “cool” new drugs that obese people/diabetics may be able to take one day to improve their poor/hopeless situations….it almost feels like the medical establishment has to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

          flunkyA wrote on October 27th, 2012
  10. Great article and I would love to hear more testimonies of diabetics going primal.

    I’ve had high blood sugar for years but I was in denial. About 5 years ago, my a1c was about 6. I should have done something about it back then but I chose to ignore it. I had it checked a month ago and it was 13!!

    So, that was my wake up call and I’ve been primal for 4 weeks. My blood sugar is coming down daily with only a few setbacks. I noticed that the ravenous hunger pains stopped in less than a week. However, I cheated about a week ago with a piece of pie and the cravings were back with a vengeance for about a day. So, no more of that!

    My blood sugar is not yet under complete control yet but it is continuously improving and I hope to have it below 125 in a few more weeks. I’ve been this way for years so a few more weeks in the danger zone does not cause me to panic. I see light at the end of the tunnel.

    I need to lose about 30 pounds and no weight loss yet but I’m in the early stages of this lifestyle change. With the food cravings under control and 4 weeks of light exercise under my belt, I’m ready to step up the exercise and grok on.

    Kevin wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • PS – I previously drank almost 100 oz of soft drinks per day. I know, that’s really horrible.

      But, the good news is that with the primal diet, I’ve had very few sugar craving since day one of eating primal. A few bites of fruit here and there but not one sip of a soft drink in 4 weeks and I don’t miss it at all – amazing!!

      Kevin wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • You should try kombucha! It’s full of many different B-vitamins, and lots of probiotics. Plus, it tastes like fizzy rainbows mixed with joy.

        Ariel wrote on October 28th, 2012
        • +1

          Alyssa wrote on October 28th, 2012
    • @Kevin
      the less carb you eat = less insulin which means you can drop wt.
      check out Dr. Attia talks a lot about insulin and the effect it has on wt. loss

      lockard wrote on October 26th, 2012
  11. Sean,

    One thing to check if your Triglycerides are “sky high” is Alcohol.

    I got diagnosed as being “Allergic” to alcohol about 12 years ago. My tri’s were 650 or so, and they determined that Alcohol was the cause. My Tri’s dropped to Normal (100-150) even though I was severely obese at the time.

    Since Alcohol is a sugar, and it is the kind that can’t be stored, it causes the body to want to store all other types of food as fat (hence the term “Beer Belly”) and causes the triglycerides to go up as a result.

    In cases like mine, it goes up pathologically.

    So I haven’t had much alcohol in the last 12 years. Like darn nearly NONE.

    Just something to check out.


    Pete wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Just wanted to point out one thing: alcohol is not a sugar, it’s not even a carbohydrate.

      That said, it’s true that the body tries do get rid of alcohol by burning it off as quickly as possible and also by turning it into fatty acids (causing fatty liver in the unlucky).

      Anna wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • What do you think alcohol is made of? He is obviously talking about produced alcohol, such as beer and wine – not the OH-group attached to a molecule of some kind which contains oxygen and hydrogen.

        Just a few examples of the alcohols we drink:

        Beer (4,5%) per 100ml:
        Carbs 4,1g (2g glukos, 2g maltos)
        Ethanol 3,5g
        Protein 0,4g
        Fat 0g
        Gives 43 kalorier, 39% from carbs.

        Wine (8-15%), per 100ml:
        Carbs 0,5g
        Ethanol 9g
        Protein 0,3g
        Fat 0g
        Gives 68 kalorier, 3% from carbs.

        The more “pure” the alohol you drink is, the less carbs does it contain. But yes, regular alcohol that is being consumed for dinner such as beer and wine DOES contain carbohydrates. So in every day language Alcohol (as in drink) = Carbohydrates intake.

        Jackie wrote on October 30th, 2012
  12. Wow I’ve never seen one of those insulin pods! Is it connected to you inside??

    Meagan wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • it has a small tube like IV’s and it just goes into your skin/fat you have to change them every so often (i have a minimed pump and i change mine every 72 hours)

      lockard wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Its different from pretty much all other pumps in that it is tube free and run by remote control. I tried both types of pumps when i first got it, and there was no comparison for me…so nice not to have to deal with all the tubing and everything.

      Shawn Reimes wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • That pump looks awesome! I am a t1 and I just changed to a pump this year… no comparison to MDI of course… but now I want that pump!! Mine has tubing and I don’t yet have a remote… Maybe when I’m rich… 😛

        Sarah wrote on October 27th, 2012
        • I just switched the omnipod from Minimed (after 14 years with minimed) last week. I LOVE IT! It is the best solution for me!

          Mike wrote on February 21st, 2013
  13. wow dude jealous! T1D since 15 (now 27) and primal since june (just finished a marathon so now primal fitness as well)my A1c has never been good 7.4 was the last one in July (one month as primal dropped it from 9) next one in 2 wks- we will see…congrats though keep it up

    lockard wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Keep up the good work. The more you test, the more you know and the more you care and choose primal foods, you will get there. I have been T1 for 20 years (28yo female) and practice as a private RD advocating this diet to other T1’s.

      Kelly O'Connell Schmidt wrote on October 29th, 2012
      • Hi. I’ve been T1 for 36 yrs, on a pump for 15 yrs and now also have overactive thyroid – waiting for date to have thyroid removed. Last A1c was 8.6 due to the thyroid complication. Can this diet help with the thyroid problem too? I know omitting refined carbs has massive impact on control but have fallen off the wagon due to other health issues. Needing some inspiration here!

        Claire C wrote on January 27th, 2013
  14. Love your story.
    And I love your Omnipod.
    My little boy is 5 and just started on the pod in July!
    Since going primal, his insulin needs have greatly decreased.

    Cassiusmom wrote on October 26th, 2012
  15. Wow, Shawn, you look great! Coming from a family that has been severely traumatized by the effects of T1 and T2 diabetes, this is very inspiring although *facepalm* over the advice and reaction of your doctor. So glad you were able to see through it and listen to your friend. Congratulations!

    Alison Golden wrote on October 26th, 2012
  16. Congratulations! Another great success history :-)

    alexandra wrote on October 26th, 2012
  17. God, this is absolutely fantastic.

    The proof not only that food is the medicine, but also that non-food is the poison.

    Congratulations to you, great warrior!

    Patrícia wrote on October 26th, 2012
  18. I LOVE Friday’s!!! Shawn, your story is just another testimonial as to why this way of life is so great! You look awesome and more than that, you’ve taken control of your health – in spite of the advice/instructions/directions given to you by doctors and nutritionist with their CW. When will they open their eyes and see that CW doesn’t work?? Thank you for sharing your story!!!!

    Carol wrote on October 26th, 2012
  19. Absolutely FABULOUS body!WoW :)

    Gayle wrote on October 26th, 2012
  20. That is a great story….congrats.

    PS. great looking family too!

    Mission Possible wrote on October 26th, 2012
  21. Congrats. Very inspiring story. Looking good keep it up! Love to hear the next update.

    Luke DePron wrote on October 26th, 2012
  22. I love stories like this. I love how it shows that we each need to take control of our own health. The medical community is so incredibly deficient in nutritional knowledge it’s pathetic. Great job, Shawn. You are an inspiration.

    Christina wrote on October 26th, 2012
  23. Congratulations! You look fabulous and what an adorable family you have :)

    mars wrote on October 26th, 2012
  24. WOW! Wish more of my family would get the hint by this and just tre it.

    ponymama wrote on October 26th, 2012
  25. Great testimony, Shawn and thank you for sharing it. My brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a young adult also. We have heard that viruses can trigger a response causing the the body to turn on itself, in this case the pancreas. Our family has been very concerned about our brother’s well being as it seems that he feels crummy most the time. Your story is the first account from someone with type 1 that I have heard about. It gives us hope.

    Julie wrote on October 26th, 2012
  26. Good on ya Shawn, I was exactly the same only type 2, I could not believe what they were telling me and did the same as you. Now my BG is normal, HBA1C 5.3mmol, I have lost 3.5 st in 6 months and feel better than I ever have, I go gym 3 times a week, go swimming with my boy’s, and feel fantastic and I’m 52. Keep it up and good health.

    Roy wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • 3.5 stone is about 50 pounds! Well done.

      Violet wrote on October 27th, 2012
  27. Congrats Shawn! I also have type 1 diabetes, and I have seen many of the same results as you with the Primal diet. Is that a RoadID I see on your arm? It’s my favorite accessory, which doubles as medical alert in case of an emergency. I hope you will update as time goes on :)

    Sara wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • it is a med ID bracelet, got it on ebay from a company in the UK. its rubber and not real flashy so something i thought i could wear during exercise or for going out, work, etc. After 10 months its been great, no wear showing yet..

      Shawn Reimes wrote on October 26th, 2012
  28. Shawn,
    this is a very timely story for me. My five year old daughter was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes around 6 months ago, and it has been a difficult transition, more for me than for her, I think due to her age. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of more resources to check out besides the books that’s been mentioned. We were also told that it’s no problem for your blood sugar to go up as long as it comes down again. I’d like to know more about what happens in our bodies when that happens…and if it is detrimental, are we being told that it’s ok just becuase doctors/nutritionists think that we can’t handle getting away from too many carbs? I think from a psychological point of view, it was so overwhelming to really delve into what I needed to do to help her at the beginning–I just wanted to figure out how to get by–but I am at the point now that I want her to have the best diet. I was wondering about the connection between celiac disease and TID- will it always come up with a test that she is intolerant to gluten, or is it possible that it won’t be detected, but being gluten free would still help? I guess for those that don’t ‘get’ this diet it’s nice to tell people that she’s gluten intolerant. thanks so much for sharing, and for pointing me in the direction of any other resources.

    Caroline wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Caroline – a good site to visit is the Blog of Dr. Michael Eades. Look for the articles ‘Metabolisn and Ketosis’ and ‘Getting started…’ His url is

      I found it very helpful in my understanding of what happens when I eat.

      I am a t2d and was diagnosed almost 20 years ago. At the time I weighed 225 – 230 lbs. My advice was the typical eat carbs and lose weight. Never worked! Over the years pills and a bit of eating self control kept my sugars under control. On July 4th I started PB at 220 lbs. I am now at 204. On Aug 5th I took my last pill and have had normal blood sugars since. Needless to say I am glad that I found Mark’s site but wish it had happened years ago – I’m 75.

      Chuck wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Blood sugar spikes are bad. What happens is the body’s cells – especially the nerves – get soaked in more glucose than they can tolerate, and each time it happens, they get damaged a little tiny bit. Once or twice – maybe even hundreds of times – and the nerves work fine. But there comes a point after repeated dunkings that the nerves no longer work as well as they used to. After thousands of incidents, the nerves begin to fail outright. The best scenario is where the BG doesn’t rise at all. The next best is that it rises for only a short time and stays low most of the time. The next best is that it rises for a while after meals but comes down overnight.

      I’ve been low carb (<50g/day) for about 6 years. My endocrinologist still cannot believe I've stuck with that diet. He can't hardly keep T2s on their diet at all.

      Be very conscious that most diabetics are T2, which is a very different disease than T1, although still an inability to process sugars properly. When you read articles and books, make sure you are getting advice for a T1. There are many things my T2 friends can eat which would put me in a coma.

      Also, diabetes – especially T1 – is a very individual disease. Your daughter's insulin needs will depend on her personal metabolism, her personal insulin to carb ratio, her personal exercise level and even her personal stress level. In order to fine tune her treatment, you can keep records of diet, exercise and sick days so you can see trends in how things affect her.

      I strongly recommend Dr Richard K Bernstein's book. He's a very practical man and his recommendations are easy to understand. Lots of us are doing much better on a low carb regimen than we were doing on the standard advice. It's a bonus that it turns out to be a pretty good regimen for everyone.

      Buck wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • +1 Caroline, this is very good advice.

        Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s Diabetes Book is the best I know of, plus he has a great forum full of very helpful people on his website. He is T1 himself.

        Shawn, you have a great story. I totally agree about mainstream medical advice being insufficient for diabetic health. My own doctor thinks it’s criminal. You’re so lucky you found low carb paleo early! Keeping blood sugar low at all times will greatly diminish neuropathy.

        Love your family photo, too!

        gibson girl wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • this is exactly right…ive even read that extreme blood sugar spikes can be worse than consistently high blood sugar for reasons stated above.
        Dr bernsteins book is probably the best resource..its what really initially woke me up to the side effects of uncontrolled blood sugar when i first started becoming ‘educated’. He is very strict and somewhat intense with his suggestions but it makes a world of difference even if you can just follow a few of his guidelines.

        Shawn Reimes wrote on October 26th, 2012
        • Shawn,

          I’m an highly active T1D on a pump and I’m trying to go primal, but I’m not seeing the results I expected. I’m 26 and I’ve had T1D for 4.5 years. I’ve tried to cut out all carbohydrates for the past week, but I’m wondering if I need to bolus for vegetables and protein or just adjust my basal rates and eat relatively similar meals at consistent increments. Can you tell me what and when you eat on a typical day? Also, do you bolus for vegetables, protein, or fat?

          My numbers are crazy, which is dangerous in my line of work (commercial fishing). Thanks!

          Dom wrote on March 4th, 2013
    • Good luck to your daughter, Caroline!

      There are lots of great Type 1 mom bloggers out there that you could use as resources. I found “Think Like a Pancreas” by Gary Scheiner to be great for learning the history of diabetes and some of the basics for figuring out basal/bolus rates. I, too, am on the Omnipod pump and love it. For your daughter, considering her as gluten intolerant would help in some ways. However, tons of gluten free products are on the market and aren’t necessarily low carb. They’re probably made of rice flour or bean flour or potato flour and aren’t so good on the blood sugars, either.

      Melanie wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • About 8-10% of those with T1 will test positive for celiac disease but tests are far from perfect. Also there are many more people who test negative for celiac disease but are still very gluten intolerant. Grains are eliminated in the paleo diet and in the diet Dr. Bernstein recommends. Dr. Bernstein says that grains quickly raise blood sugar in most.

      Anne wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Caroline, hoping I can provide some advice. I am a T1, have been for 20 yrs and now practice as a private RD in Chicago. The best thing you can consider is removing all gluten from your daughter’s diet. I went to a conference in 2010 with many holistic practitioners and hands down they were baffled I was T1 and eating wheat, etc. Today, I feel much better and have made the transition to full paleo. I am sorry you have been getting controversial advice, and if you need anything from a RD, please feel free to contact me.

      Kelly O'Connell Schmidt wrote on October 29th, 2012
    • @Caroline Believe me the blood sugar spikes definitely cause harm, for many years I have seen the effect of highs and lows in my 8 year old son (diagnosed type 1 at 21 months), dramatic mood swings, headaches, leg cramps, stomach aches, bad grades when he normally gets straight A’s. It affects him in school now as well. He has been on the omni pod for three years now and with semi-paleo (Grandma’s just do not understand) we are starting to really get some better numbers. I have found that cutting dairy from his diet keeps him much more consistent. I have read research that indicates that cow products contain bovine insulin which can effect our endocrine reaction. I have found this to be true with him.

      Jamie Schull wrote on November 4th, 2012
    • read “the diabetes solution” by dr. richard bernstein. i have been a T1 for over 30 years and this book answered every (almost) question i’ve had yet could never get answered from my “doctors”. this book also paved the way for me to start the primal diet. good luck and best wishes to you and your daughter.

      alexa smith wrote on November 7th, 2012
  29. Whoa I think the real test of the effectiveness of your diet and lifestyle would be a mirror, holy crap you look great.

    Nick wrote on October 26th, 2012
  30. Hi, Shawn, it’s great to read your story! I’m guessing I’m pre-diabetic based on testing my own blood sugar periodically, and have not seen a doctor for it. I’m curious as to what good blood sugar numbers are to shoot for, in your experience. Based on reading, I’ve been thinking if I stay below 120 or 140, that’s good, but in your story, you mention that you keep your blood sugar below 100 at all times. How did you come up with that goal?

    Jenny wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • A great source of lots of information on goals is: The quick answer is under 140 one hour after eating, under 120 two hours after eating. Fasting should be lower than that.

      Pamsc wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • A ‘normal’ blood sugar reading is in the low 80s, which is what most people are at 90% of the day. i try to aim for that as much as possible, with a slight increase for an hr or so after meals. CW says that 120 or under is ‘normal’, but that would equal an A1C of almost 6.0 which is far from normal or healthy.
      Its really not hard to stay under 100 if you dont eat SAD food.

      Shawn Reimes wrote on October 26th, 2012
      • Thanks for your reply–that helps to know!

        Jenny wrote on October 27th, 2012
  31. Keep up the good work Shawn! Keep away from the artificial sweeteners they are carcinogens…!

    Frank wrote on October 26th, 2012
  32. Awesome success story!! Love it!

    I have a friend with gestational diabetes. Her Dr. Told her to choose 45-60g carbs/meal (5 meals/day!) wow…really! I told her that’s twice as much as I get (I am also pregnant w/no gestational diabetes.) she just looked at me and shrugged and said her Dr. Knows best…

    Primalmontana wrote on October 26th, 2012
  33. Dude, give yourself some credit. “Faith” is just another word for resolve, determination and commitment. You did this! Not some higher power (where was he when you were getting into this mess)?

    Scott UK wrote on October 26th, 2012
  34. Shawn, I gotta ask: other than claiming you are “still in the honeymoon phase,” what else has your Medicine Man said about our diet that flies in the face of conventional wisdom?

    Phocion Timon wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Other than the whole 300+ carbs/day fiasco….
      when i first was seeing the diabetes educators, they absolutely freaked out whenever my blood sugar levels were below 140 an hr after meals, or if i was below 90 before meals. They said 150 after meals is ‘not too high'(and didnt say much about going up to 250 after meals either). maybe not too high if you dont care about getting limbs amputated, going blind, or having strokes later in life….

      Shawn Reimes wrote on October 26th, 2012
  35. Food for thought…

    Excersize is good for lowering blood sugar, we all know that, but increasing testosterone also increases insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar.

    Makes me wonder if it’s a two pronged attack. Burn glucose excersizing, and keep the insulin needs low over time by increasing testosterone… by excersizing (lifting heavy weights). And eating primal of course.

    I’ve ben primal for 6+ years. It’s how I fixed my blood sugar problem. Everyone knows that I eat primal, but nobody else is interested. So I gave up on “converting” anyone.

    Dave, RN wrote on October 26th, 2012
  36. Fantastic Story!

    Eric wrote on October 26th, 2012
  37. You know, as a personal trainer I was highly skeptical of the whole primal/paleo diet mentality. However, that was due to my ignorance of the program. But there was something in my gut telling me that our current paradigm of what constitutes healthy eating was off kilter. So I checked out “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain from my local library. After getting halfway through this book, it just intuitively makes sense. But I needed more proof. These testimonials that you have on your website are quickly changing my mind. Thank you for sharing Shawn’s story.

    Dennis Blair wrote on October 26th, 2012
  38. Bravo! Taking control HAS to feel good!

    Cathy Johnson (Kate) wrote on October 26th, 2012
  39. You are an inspiration!

    Kitty =^..^= wrote on October 26th, 2012
  40. Good for you although I agree you may technically be in the honeymoon phase you still will be able to control your BS with the diet and exercise. An A1C of less than 6 is considered not “diabetic”. I have T1 and was an RN Diabetes Educator and they didn’t even teach us to talk about glycemic index with T1’s. Craziness. I am following the autoimmune paleo diet and have lost over 30 lbs in 3 months and have cut my TTD of insulin by over 50%. As a side note I have a (non blood related) aunt with T1 for over 40 years and she just had her foot amputated this week. So, umm, yeah, controlling the spikes is really important if I want to be around for my children. One more thing, my endocrinologist is somewhat on board with the diet. He just told me he changed his diet recommendation to non HFCS! (Which is in 70% of grocery store foods he also informed me, lol!) Good luck and keep rocking the boat!

    Heather wrote on October 26th, 2012
    • Hey there! I’m a type 1 diabetic and I’ve been doing paleo for quite some time and my a1c has stayed under a 6 ever since. I LOVE this way of life, BUT I can’t seem to lose a pound. Do you think it’s because I don’t do the autoimmune version? It’s so great to communicate with other type 1’s out there who are having success with Paleo/primal. Would love your feedback!

      Susan wrote on October 26th, 2012

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