A Choice: Living With Diabetes, Seeking Remission From Diabetes

People come to me as a Dietitian with different goals with respect to type 2 diabetes. Most people who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes come to see me in my low carb division seeking to put their diabetes into remission — that is, to no longer meet the criteria for diagnosis. 

As stated throughout this web site and on my forms, I do not counsel people with type 1 diabetes, or with insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes because I am not a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). 

As explained in this earlier article, the American Diabetes Association has defined partial remission, complete remission and prolonged remission from type 2 diabetes, as follows;

    • Partial remission is having blood sugar that does not meet the classification for Type 2 Diabetes; i.e. either HbA1C < 6.5% and/or fasting blood glucose 5.5 – 6.9 mmol/l (100–125 mg/dl) for at least 1 year while not taking any medications to lower blood glucose.*

* some studies such s those from Virta Health define partial remission as a HbA1C < 6.5% and fasting blood glucose ≤ 5.5 (100 mg/dl) while taking  no medication, or only generic Metformin.

    • Complete remission is a return to normal glucose values i.e. HbA1C <6.0%, and/or fasting blood glucose < 5.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dl) for at least 1 year while not taking any medications to lower blood glucose.
    • Prolonged remission is a return to normal glucose values (i.e.
      HbA1C <6.0%, and/or fasting blood glucose < 5.6 mmol/L (100 mg/dl) for at least 5 years while not taking any medications to lower blood glucose.

Complete and prolonged remission can be achieved after bariatric surgery such as the roux-en-y procedure, and partial remission and complete remission have been documented with dietary and lifestyle changes, including a very low calorie diet and a very low-carbohydrate (ketogenic diet). To date, there is limited long-term data of 5 years or more documenting prolonged remission with dietary and lifestyle changes alone, although there are case studies.

I support people with a wide-range of goals when it comes to diabetes through my long-standing general dietetic practice, BetterByDesign Nutrition, and for those seeking remission through either that division or my low carbohydrate focussed practice, The Low Carb Healthy Fat Dietitian.  

    • Some people come to me with a diagnosis of pre-diabetes wanting to implement dietary changes to avoid getting type 2 diabetes.
    • Others come to me once they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, wanting to better control their blood sugar level through dietary changes and avoid complications.
    • Those who found me searching for a Dietitian with experience with low carbohydrate- and very low carbohydrate (ketogenic) diets most often are coming to avoid developing diabetes after a pre-diabetes diagnosis, or to have me help them put the disease into remission.

These are each valid goals.

Those who know that remission of type 2 diabetes is entirely possible find it difficult to understand that not everyone with type 2 diabetes wants to put the disease into remission.

Some people simply don’t known that this is even a possibility — believing that the disease is automatically both chronic (long-term) and progressive (getting worse with time). This type of a situation gives me the opportunity to explain to them that type 2 diabetes can be put into remission, and the different ways that I can support them in aiming to achieve that.

Other people may simply want to ‘manage’ their blood sugar levels to keep them from getting higher in order to avoid complications. They don’t want to have normal blood sugar, but want to avoid losing toes or going blind. These people have every right to choose these goals and to be supported by their healthcare team including me, in meeting them. I will make sure that they know that it is possible to achieve remission (because many don’t know), but if they don’t want to make the significant lifestyle changes required, then I will help them manage their diet to keep their blood sugar from getting higher. That said, they before they even begin services with me, they know that the Meal Plan I will design for them will not be “high carb” by any stretch of the imagination. Since type 2 diabetes is, in essence end-stage carbohydrate intolerance, the amount and type of carbohydrate on a Meal Plan that I will design for them will be limited, and specific. 

Note: Those coming to me on SGLT2 medication, such as Jardiance and Victosa or ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure will be asked to first consult with their doctor to have them monitor their dosages, as the carbohydrate content of their diet is gradually reduced.

For those coming to me to avoid having their pre-diabetes progress to type 2 diabetes or seeking to put their type 2 diabetes into remission, I will present to them the various dietary options available and explain how I am best able to support them in each. In my long-standing general dietetic practice I support three main approaches, including a very low calorie diet (including time-restricted eating), a whole-food predominately plant-based (vegetarian) diet, a modified DASH diet, a Mediterranean diet, and a very low carbohydrate / ketogenic diet. Through my low carb division, I offer a low carb and very low carbohydrate / ketogenic diet which can be tailored to someone being a vegetarian, if that is their preference. To those coming to me for support in following a carnivore diet (all meat / animal product consumption) or a vegan diet (one devoid of any animal products), I recommend they seek the support of another Dietitian with expertise in those areas.  I simply don’t feel equipped to ensure a nutritionally-adequate diet following either of those approaches.

The byline of my low carb division (The Low Carb Healthy Fat Dietitian) is “there is no one-sized-fits-all low carb or ketogenic diet” — because there isn’t.  A high-fat moderate protein ketogenic diet may be appropriate in some circumstances, whereas a higher lean protein, moderate fat approach may be better suited in others. Everyone’s medical conditions, risk factors and personal preferences are different, so I go over the different options and make my recommendations while explaining my reasons for them and let the person decide for themselves. Nothing is carved in stone.  Meal Plans can be changed or “tweaked” to best meet the individual’s needs.

The byline of my long-standing general dietetic practice is “Nutrition is BetterByDesign“. This emphasises the same conviction that Meal Plans need to be designed for the individual.  A person who doesn’t eat meat for religious, cultural or ethical considerations, for example needs to have an individual Meal Plan that helps them achieve their health goals — in the same way that someone who eats meat does. Those who choose to live with diabetes have just as much right to dietary support to meet those goals, as someone who desires to seek remission from diabetes. It doesn’t matter that remission is possible if they don’t want to achieve that, or they don’t want to make the lifestyle changes necessary to make that a possibility. They are free to make that decision. As a Dietitian, my responsibility is to support them in meeting their goals, and not to try and convince that other goals are “better”.  As long as they know that the possibility for remission exists and how that can be accomplished, I will whole-heartedly support them in their desire to live better with diabetes.

One of the reasons why I continue to maintain both my long-standing dietetic practice, BetterByDesign Nutrition (BBDNutrition), as well as my low carb division, The Low Carb Healthy Fat Dietitian is to providing people with different dietary approaches to type 2 diabetes. The other reason is that some people come to me seeking support for GI disorders or food allergies / sensitivities, or for nutritional support in pregnancy or for their children, which I do only through BBDNutrition. My two divisions give people options. People who want only low carb and ketogenic dietary support in a practice that does nothing else have that at the Low Carb Healthy Fat Dietitian.

Individuals have different goals and various needs. People are also at different stages of change when it comes to them having type 2 diabetes. Some may start with wanting to manage their symptoms — and only later arrive at a point where they want to seek remission.  If and when they do, I support them in doing that.

This is why I do, what I do, the way I do.

Please let me know if I can help.

To your good health!

Joy

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