About

In 2008 Lucca started his Grade 3 year like any other little boy. We were concerned about him because our usual energetic and positive child struggled to get up the in the mornings and could not get through the day.

It was an extremely hot summer and he drank allot of water and cool drinks. Joe took the boys on a camping trip and when they came back Lucca was really tired and didn’t feel well at all. This was usual for a camping trip because they are very active and do not get much sleep. I smelt something on his breath, a sweet, sickly smell and thought he had a throat infection. That evening I read an article in a magazine about Diabetes 1. In a little tip box the symptoms were jotted down.

Constant thirst

Frequent Urination

Unexplained weight loss

Something clicked in my brain and when Lucca took a bath that evening I saw for the first time how much weight he has really lost. I suddenly knew something was seriously wrong. Joe took Lucca to the Doctor the next day for his “throat infection” and on the way out I told Joe to ask the Doctor to check his blood sugar……not really knowing what I was saying.

30 minutes later Lucca was diagnosed with Diabetes I with a blood sugar of 23 and admitted to the Intensive Care unit. Right there your life changes. In the beginning everything might seem stressful and uncertain, but you learn every day and soon it will (sadly) become second nature.

Looking back we could see that Lucca has been sick for quite some time. The Doctor asked us if anything significant happened in the past six months like a big shock, trauma or illness. The previous winter saw the outbreak of swine flu and Lucca had a bad bout of it. That was the trigger or the “last straw” as the doctor explained that prompted Lucca’s immune system to attack and destroy the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. From there on it took about 6 months for us to notice and for it to be diagnosed.

And so it begins.

While you are still reeling of shock all the medical staff in the hospital start to ply you with information and try to teach you as much as possible about taking care of your Diabetic child. It is impossible to absorb everything and understand the finer nuances of managing blood glucose levels.

Then they send you home with your child after a few measly days in ICU. I did not feel ready and was desperately hoping that we could stay in hospital a few days longer. I was terrified that we would make a mistake that could be fatal. I remember shaking so much when I had to change the insulin cartridge that I couldn’t do it successfully.

Then slowly you start to take control. You get the hang of the injections, you have systems in place and life goes on like normal (well almost…)

WHY DID WE CHANGE TO LOW CARB?

We have, from the first day, taken Lucca’s diabetes seriously. We did everything the doctors and dietician told us to do. We adapted our diet to eating only low GI foods and tested Lucca’s blood sugar diligently. Every time we went to the doctor they congratulated us on his great HbAc1 result (a form of haemoglobin that is measured primarily to identify the average plasma glucose concentration over prolonged periods of time); and said that we were doing everything possible to ensure Lucca’s health.

The doctor always said that the next step would be to control the extreme fluctuations between high spikes and lows in Lucca’s blood sugar. I could never get clear information on how we were supposed to do this, though, apart from doing what we were already doing. I always had a sense that we were not doing all we could, that we were not really getting it right, although everybody said we were doing a good job. If I saw Lucca in the grips of a hypo (episode of low blood sugar) or feeling awful when his levels were extremely high I felt like we were failing him in some way. About a year ago I met Professor Tim Noakes at the launch of his book, The Real Meal Revolution. He made a lot of sense (although I did not understand everything he said!) and I returned home a zealot. I could understand that carbohydrates were making us sick because I could see what they did to Lucca’s blood sugar on a daily basis. We significantly reduced our carbohydrate intake, but did not remove carbohydrates completely from our diet.

I did not understand how we could remove all the carbohydrates from Lucca’s diet as suggested by the LCHF (Low Carb High Fat) diet. We were taught that children needed carbohydrates for energy, growth and brain function and I also knew that Lucca needed to get insulin. If we took away the carbohydrates how would Lucca get the insulin he needed?

I still gave the children small amounts of Low GI carbs like brown rice and brown pasta with their evening meals. Lucca’s blood sugar did not improve significantly; in fact it stayed the same as on our previous diet. Looking back I would say that we were on a moderate carb diet.

Time passed and I kept on doing research but could not find conclusive information on how to implement this type of diet for diabetic children. A few months ago I made contact with a group in the USA that follows a low carb high protein diet with great success in managing steady blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetic children. This way of managing diabetes is based on a book – Dr Bernstein’s Diabetic Solution.

Dr Bernstein has been a type 1 diabetic for 69 years. In 1969 after suffering from a number of complications from diabetes he started the self-monitoring system for diabetes (the same system we are using to this day) and subsequently the low carb high protein way of eating. After reading his book and studying various other low carb websites and books we decided to change the way we eat.

Why we made the change

We did the low GI carb-counting way of treating type 1 diabetes very diligently for five years. But even through constant testing and correction, Lucca always had unstable blood sugar. Highs and lows frequented everyday life even though we were told that we were doing a good job, that it was impossible for Lucca to have lower, more stable blood sugars.

I realised that protein can be a sustainable, stable source of energy for the body because it can be converted into glucose. Because it is converted into glucose slowly you reduce the amount of spikes in the blood sugar normally caused by fast-acting carbohydrates like sugar, rice, bread, potatoes and pasta.

You can bolus (inject insulin) for protein, which means that Lucca will still be receiving the insulin that his body requires.

Whereas protein is stable, carbohydrates are extremely unpredictable and unstable. Once you cut out carbohydrates from your diet, stable and more normal blood sugar is possible. The fact is, we do not need carbohydrates, they are not essential for our wellbeing and growth.