Hi. My name is Allen, and I write.
I’m a longtime economics teacher so I sometimes write about economic issues, but not in a graphs and jargon way. I like to focus on the everyday life kind of economics.
For the 41 years I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart and best friend, Becky. We have 2 sons and a daughter. Our family has grown as each of them have married, and 6 years ago our oldest son and his wife promoted us to grandparent. We now have 2 grandsons, and they are an exhausting joy.
The Road to Diabetes
I was tall and skinny when we got married, but over the years, like a lot of people, I gained weight. Fifteen years after I graduated from high school I started college. By that time we had all three of our kids and a home mortgage, and I was determined to go to college full-time. For 3 1/2 years we lived below the poverty line and that meant we ate a lot of cheap highly processed foods.
I worked every kind of job I could get that would fit around my class days. For the better part of a year I delivered pizzas. Having continuous access to freshly baked pizzas meant I probably ate pizza 5 days a week during that time. It was cheap and often free, so I ate it without a thought of what it was doing to my health.
About halfway through my college years my Dad was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. This added stress upon stress and my weight ballooned. It sounds odd today, but in the midst of the storms of life I didn’t really realize what was happening to me. I was finally confronted with it when I had to buy work clothes for my new job teaching high school.
In 1997, at the end of my first year of teaching I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. My original Hemoglobin A1C test (a measure of long-term blood sugar) was over 13, which meant my average blood glucose level was more than 326. (For non-diabetics average glucose levels are about 70-100.)
Until this year my blood sugars were not well-controlled, even though I lost 60 pounds and was taking a variety of expensive anti-diabetic medications. Despite my weight loss I was still very overweight, and my doctors implored me to diet and exercise. They all told me diabetes was a chronic, progressive disease, and described the common endgame complications of chronic high glucose like blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and sometimes, amputations.
Over the past 23 years, I have hoped a revolutionary new drug would come out which would miraculously give me normal blood sugars while I ate any and everything I wanted. Yes, and maybe it could be delivered by unicorns.
The sad truth is I have taken a succession of “revolutionary” new drugs and they have delivered only marginal improvements in my blood glucose levels.
Hope on the Horizon
In early February of this year I went in for my regular diabetes checkup. While I adore my doctor, I have always dreaded these visits. They were like going to see your dear friend, an investment manager and hearing how the fortune you invested in Sears stock is doing.
That all changed earlier this year when my doctor recommended Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Diabetes Code. She described the book as groundbreaking, and one that was giving Type 2 diabetics good glucose control through a combination of a low carb diet combined with periods of intermittent fasting.
When she mentioned fasting, I thought the plan was a non-starter, but later that day I remembered her talking about the remarkable success she had seen from other patients who were following Fung’s plan
The next day I ordered the audio book from Audible, and by the time I was halfway through it I believed it was possible to control my blood sugar. By the time I finished the book, I had hope my Type 2 diabetes could be reversed. For the first time, I had legitimate hope to avoid the grim consequences of my disease.
I learned that the government’s dietary advice was never based on good science. What we had all been told over the years about meat, fats, sugar and grains had been wrong. Reading that book was like taking the red pill in the Matrix, and I was now being introduced to a new, real world of nutrition. It was a world where I did not have to fear red meat and saturated fats. Instead I had to avoid inflammatory fats like canola and soybean oil, glucose spiking grains and other highly processed carbs..
How could it happen that the US government, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and others could be so wrong? I had to know, so I turned to a widely lauded book, The Big Fat Surprise by investigative reporter Nina Teicholz. The evidence she lays out in the book shows how big processed food companies used their fortunes to influence the food guidelines and how political and academic hubris aided them. (Please don’t take my word for this. Read the editorial reviews of her work.)
Following the advice of Dr. Fung, (and many of his ideological kin) I have achieved the lowest blood glucose levels of my diabetic life. When I committed to the keto way of eating, my wife joined me, even though she is a non-diabetic. So far, each of us has lost at least 25 pounds and we now weigh less than we have in 25 years. Our weight loss is ongoing, but already my doctor visits have become celebrations of our success, and a motivator to keep going.
I have found the Low CarbKeto community to be caring and helpful, often motivated by nothing more than a desire to bring good health and hope to those who have little of either. This website is my attempt to give back to the community. Going forward, my primary focus will be helping people find the best values for their keto shopping dollar and to find the greatest satisfaction possible from their food choices.
Along the way I will occasionally write about our experiences on cruises and offer some advice on how to keep up your keto diet and still have a wonderful vacation at sea. From time to time I will write about teaching and share some of insights into life that I have picked up over the last six decades.
Thank you for joining me and WELCOME.