Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!


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I’m “normal” now. But don’t worry, I’m still me!

Got the results for my blood letting last week. I’ve been making the rounds of doctors, etc. in preparation for leaving the country – also, my benefit plan from school is good until the end of this month so am getting everything done that I can.

Doctor’s comment: “Everything is excellent!” The results in no way indicate that I was diagnosed with diabetes six years ago. He tested everything and every result was in the normal range!

Of note – my fasting sugars were 4.8 and my A1c was 5.4…. that is NON-DIABETIC.
– For Fasting 3.6 -6.0 is “Normal”
– For A1c under 6.0 is “Non-Diabetic”

I’ve had these numbers since 2016 after going Low Carb for only 4 months. And completely off medication since the beginning of 2019 (after having reduced the dose myself for a year before that) – with no change in my numbers at all. I stopped taking the Metformin without consulting anyone – I was monitoring myself, and the drugs made no difference whether I took them or not at that stage. I just told the doctor I’d stopped about a year after the fact.

So… cut out the sugar and the carbs and things will improve! Diabetes does not have to be progressively debilitating if you change your habits and take away the root cause of your body’s malfunctions which in my case was CARBS. I still wish I had known this information 10 or 20 years earlier as I could have stopped the damages, and lost the weight way earlier in my life, which would have also stopped the wear and tear damage to my joints and back (osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease.)

And the really great thing is that the damage from diabetes can actually heal/improve with time in many cases! My only remaining “issue” is my eyes – unfortunately the diabetic retinopathy was so advanced when it was caught (that was how/when I was diagnosed) it is taking a long time to try to control. But I still consider myself lucky that there are treatments for it – my uncle went blind at the age of 19 – he was a Type 1 diabetic in the late 1960s when there was no treatment.

I was diagnosed as Type 2; but Type 1 also have HUGE benefits with Low Carb – I highly recommend Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s book – Diabetes Solution – this is what I followed to fix myself and still strictly follow. Most of the information is available online so you don’t even have to buy the book!

At the time of my diagnosis, which was three days before Christmas in 2015, my doctor simply said, “You’re diabetic” handed me a prescription for Metformin and the equipment (which was covered by my insurance as long as it was prescribed – was an excellent plan!) And that was it. No advice or referrals, nothing.

So I had to do my own research, which… given the state of my eyes was rather urgent. I knew carbs were not “good” for my blood sugar control. Looking at the various diabetes associations’ guidelines and diet plans I was completely disgusted. Sugar, carbs, fruits, three meals and three snacks a day – ALL CONTAINING HIGH CARBS AND REFINED SUGAR. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew that made no sense.

At first I tried to find a “plan” that would work. But if I followed a so-called diabetic meal plan my blood sugar did NOT come down. So I started removing carbs and anything with sugar, completely. I tried to keep fruit – but one bite of banana would spike me 10 points. A small slice of apple about 6 points. I tried to keep some so-called “good carbs” like oatmeal and 100% rye bread – ah, nope! Those would spike me around 8-10 points. I was doing a lot of eat it, then test every 20 minutes for a few weeks. Was interesting to see how things work.

Then I came across Dr. Bernstein’s book online and it was an epiphany! I think I heard angels singing. He has all the pertinent chapters freely available online so I was able to download the information and follow it right away. I did a series of blogs about how I got myself organized back in 2017 – You can read them HERE – that links to the first of the five-part series of “Getting Organized for a LCHF Life Style” that I wrote. They are also listed on my Food Stuff page.

Long story short I now am what is considered “normal” for bloodwork and weight range. I am 200lbs lighter than I was at my heaviest. My knees don’t hurt, I can touch and SEE my toes, and I don’t have to ask for seat belt extensions on airplanes anymore.

1998 vs 2017

I do not miss sugar. I don’t use sweeteners. I can bake cookies, breads, cakes and other desserts without either carbs or sweeteners and they are delicious. There are a multitude of options for protein and vegetables out there for low carb. Cheese is WAY more versatile than you think! And you can make awesome gravy just adding heavy cream to your pan juices or to butter and seasonings and reducing it.

I don’t get hungry all the time or have cravings. As I’m not hungry I do Intermittent Fasting (referred to as IF) which just means I eat nothing for 16-18 hours at a time, any food consumed in only done in the other 6-8 hour window. Many times I only have one meal a day (often referred to as OMAD by some people.)

I read labels – which can be challenging with my eyes not being great. I don’t buy much processed food as it is very difficult to find any without added sugars or carb based fillers (like starches such as bread crumbs) and I don’t like additives either. My goal is to be as low carb as I can possibly be. There are a few brands of sausages and cured meats that only contain meat and spices, but you really have to hunt for them.

This is one of the times where being considered NORMAL is just what I wanted and is an excellent thing to be.


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LCHF Naan-Style Flatbread

When I switched to eating LCHF I struggled a bit with carbs as I missed them.  I experimented with recipes for “substitute” items made with nut and/or coconut flour but was supremely disappointed with the results.

However, time, as they say, heals all “wounds.” After 19 months of no carbs I have now discovered that my toleration level of these replacement items has improved drastically. Sure the textures are sometimes not quite right, but I haven’t had the real thing for long enough that my taste buds are accepting them. And mentally, I have adapted too – I’m not expecting an identical replacement item.

I’ve also learned what I need to do to recipes to make them suit my tastes and expectations. There is a definite learning curve to baking with nut, coconut and seed flours but once you’ve tried a few different recipes and processes you get the hang of it.

And one very important thing – keep your nuts, flours, seeds, etc. in the fridge! I went to use my psyllium husk powder to discover it was going rancid! The mason jars I keep them in work great in the fridge or the freezer.

I saw a recipe for LCHF Flatbread – the photos looked good (but we all know those can be staged!)  As I am home today (had eye injections, again, this morning) and it is hotter than heck outside (so not mowing or gardening!) I decided to give it a shot.

I messed around with the ingredients and have to say that I am pretty impressed with how it worked out.  Coconut flour isn’t my favourite as I find the flavour too strong, but in this recipe it works.

LCHF Naan-Style Flatbread

Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Coconut Flour

2 Tbsp Psyllium Husk Powder

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Salt

Optional: Garlic powder, herbs, other flavours to suit you preference (in this batch I added a couple of shakes of garlic powder.)

1/3 Cup melted butter

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Cup BOILING water

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Directions:

  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Add the melted butter and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix until it starts sticking together – it should be starting to clump up at the very least or resemble nut butter texture at the most (I would add a bit more olive oil if it isn’t starting to bind up.)
  3. Had HALF (1/2 Cup) of the of the boiling water and mix until it forms a ball of dough. It will seem to be a good dough at this point and you may wonder if you need the rest of the water BUT YOU DO!  Remember, coconut flour is so freaking absorbent that it will end up too dry if you don’t!
  4. Add the rest of the BOILING water and mix, again, until a dough ball forms.  Work it a bit (you can use your hands if you want, but it isn’t necessary) to a smooth consistency.
  5. Divide into four portions – I just cut the ball in quarters with a knife.
  6. The dough is not sticky and you could just shape it with your hands, or you can roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper – which is what I did as I wanted them fairly thin.
  7. Dry fry in a large non-stick frying pan over med-high heat.  When placing in the pan, do it carefully so you don’t get creases or tears – the dough does hold together but using both hands and laying it down from the centre keeps it flat!
  8.  The top will start to look dry and that is the time to flip it over.  It takes around 2-3 minutes each.

I ate one warm with butter and it was really very good!  (It was my first one… which was crumpled up as I didn’t put it in the pan carefully enough.) The other three I will eat over the next day or so – I am looking forward to a wrap, and maybe a hot dip, or curry!

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The texture is spot on, the bread tears like a “normal” Naan-type flatbread, it holds spreads and dips well too.  The olive oil and the bit of garlic powder counter-acted the coconut flour flavour enough for me to not notice it.