Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
Powered by Squarespace

Entries in low carb (1)


My new low-carb life

So do you want me to write more about my health and recovery from surgery? Is that what you're telling me? I really appreciate the response I've gotten from you here and on Facebook, especially the comments to my most recent post, which provided some very useful information.

Last time around, I wrote about being diagnosed with diabetes while recovering from surgery. My wound healing was the short-term problem. Getting my blood sugar down and making some major lifestyle changes was the long-term issue. 

When I came home from the hospital, I was taking insulin — a lot of it. Keep that blood sugar down. And have stuff around in case it gets too low: fruit juice, regular pop, peanut butter crackers, glucose tablets, etc. Four times a day: prick the finger, check the blood sugar, take the shot. Pay close attention to what's on that plate: A protein, a starch, vegetables, and maybe some fruit or a cup of milk. I was actually told I needed to eat more carbohydrates than I had before to help keep my blood sugar at a safe level.

That was my routine for a couple of weeks, while I continued to recover from surgery. I was getting used to being a pincushion, though the finger-pricking was never fun. (It wasn't bad or painful. I'm just kind of a wuss.)

Checking blood sugar and taking insulin made going out to eat difficult, but maybe that was a good thing. I was probably doing that too often anyway, and maybe it was a big contributor to my condition. The one time I did go out, we had a table in the back corner of a restaurant but a waitress still saw me take a shot in the back of my arm. I can only imagine what that looked like. Maybe she thought nothing of it. I was mortified.

Overall, I thought the eating part was going well. Portion control has always been an problem for me, and watching everything carefully — with the help and support of my family, who have been amazing and indispensable — was helping with that. I wasn't losing weight, maybe a pound or two. But more importantly, I wasn't gaining as my body was adjusting to this new way of life. I was told that if everything went well, I could eventually get off insulin, and that was the goal. 


Then I saw an endocrinologist, and most of this went out the window. My sister is a Pharm. D. who works with many diabetic patients, and she advised me to reduce the amount of insulin I was taking. So I was already on that path, but the nurse practitioner I saw wanted me to push it much further.

More specifically, she wanted me to lose weight — as much as I could. And that probably wasn't going to happen with what I'd been doing for the past couple weeks, especially if I couldn't exercise while my surgical wound was still healing. 

So I was told to adopt a strict low-carb diet, inspired by Gary Taubes and Dr. Eric Westman at Duke University. OK, no problem: I knew I should cut down on bread, rice and pasta anyway. I tried to eat less of that stuff while lifting weights and attempting to get in better shape. Although I certainly had my moments of weakness with a good artisan bread or pigging out on Italian or Asian food. I love noodles, man. 

Oh, but there was so much more. This ketogenic diet called for no sugar and no starch. Say goodbye to that oatmeal I thought I was eating for a healthy breakfast. And all the fresh fruit that, again, I thought was part of my healthy diet. No fruit — period. Sweet potatoes were another thing I believed I should be part of a healthy routine. Not here. Potatoes, peas and corn were all not part of the plan. No beans (which also meant no hummus). No milk, though a little bit of cheese (and cream) was still allowed.

No carbs, no carbs, no carbs. Or very few carbs. Like less than 20 grams per day. That's a slice of bread, folks.

But I could eat all the meat I wanted, along with leafy and cruciferous vegetables. That didn't sound so bad. I do enjoy meat, and have been kind of a nut about trying to eat a lot of protein while weight training. And eggs? I could live on eggs. The most difficult part of becoming a vegetarian (or vegan) to me would be giving up eggs.

And I like vegetables. Gimme a salad or some broccoli. Or some asparagus. Cabbage? Brussel sprouts? Love 'em. Olives? Hey there. Avocados? Why, yes. I was worried tomatoes might not be kosher because of the sugar, but they are on the list. Oh, baby. I can still eat tomatoes, which means tomato sauce. And chili (with no beans, of course). 

I've even begun eating a couple of things I previously would have stayed away from because they seem unhealthy, but they have no carbs so they're allowed. Pepperoni, for example. Pork rinds have become a go-to snack (and decent bread crumb substitute in meat loaf and meatballs). Maybe not the best thing to take into a movie theater, though. (Unless it's Interstellar with BIG, LOUD SOUND.)

And sometimes, the highlight of my evening is a cup of sugar-free Jell-O with whipped cream on top. You want to hear someone yell out in surprise and delight? Tell him or her that they can squirt some whipped cream from a can (not Cool Whip) on top of sugar-free Jell-O when they've been fixating on not being able to eat anything sweet anymore. (It's one of the highlights of Dr. Westman explaining this diet to his patients.) 

I'm now into week four of this low-carb (no-carb?) regimen, and I adapt more each day. It's especially encouraging to see some rather immediate results in terms of weight loss, which is the whole reason for this in the first place. Targeting weight loss has drastically reduced my need for insulin, and I'm eager to see where I am by the end of the year. 

There are days when I feel like I would fight someone for a slice of toast with breakfast or I'm a little tired of eggs and some berries or grapefruit seem to be a nice alternative. But that's only at the beginning of the day. The rest of day is fine. I don't miss rice, pasta or starchy vegetables. 

Deep down, I know I should have been eating this way for a long time. I've wanted to, but could never really commit to it. But now I have to. I don't know how long I'll have to stick with this, but it does get easier every day. And I'm eager to see the results once I can start working out again (with much more cardio, instead of mostly lifting weights). 

And I'll keep writing about this stuff, since it seems to have gotten a nice response from friends and followers. I'm not about to become a health or fitness blogger, but hey — if I wrote about those things semi-regularly, at least that would update this blog. But I'm not going to be posting any photos of weight loss or anything like that. No one needs to see shirtless before-and-after photos of me, and I sure as hell don't want to take them. But if this yields some results I'm proud of, who knows? 

So onward and upward. (Or downward, when it comes to my weight.) Thank you again the support and feedback. Anything you choose to share in the comments is welcome.