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Re: [IP] diets through the decades (LONG)
I'm a professional historian who can't give you any references on the subject
of diets, though now that you mention it the subject intrigues me. I can
just tell you what I remember. This is a patient's perspective, not a
doctor's. I didn't necessarily get the most up-to-date medical care. There
may be others who knew things years before I did.
When I was diagnosed in 1962 one was handed a diet sheet with something
called the "exchange system." Today's weight watchers diets are quite
similar in principle. A "bread exchange" was 15 gms of CHO. Vegetables were
organized by their sugar content. "a" vegetables (greens mostly) were "free
foods" you could eat as much as you wanted. "b" vegetables required
counting. fruit exchanges and milk exchanges were also counted.
It was a very primitive system. From today's perspective it seems absurd
that I ate all these highly sugary fruit exchanges, but felt I could never
indulge in a brownie. Today I know that an orange raises my bg so quickly
there is no way I can match it with insulin. A brownie, however, is a fairly
easy food to accomodate with a bolus. The strangest thing is that we weren't
really trying to match food with insulin. With one shot a day that was
impossible. We were basically just trying not to starve to death.
>From my perspective that was pretty successful. I was diagnosed at age five
and never performed my own blood test until 15-20 years later. Yet I grew
(slowly), learned to enjoy physical exercise, did well in school, even looked
healthy during that time.
By the mid-seventies my doctor was talking to me about giving more shots to
try to replicate the physiological effects of insulin production. I had
charts about the timing of the various insulins I used and a crude notion of
matching insulin to food. Like most people, I just sort of abandoned the
exchange system out of exhaustion and found it didn't make much difference in
the way I felt. Glycosylated hemoglobin testing came along around then and
doctors began to notice there wasn't as much correlation between people's
levels and diet compliance as they might have hoped. More shots, however,
timed to go with the food, clearly offered better control.
Some people began home blood testing in the 1970s. I found the cost
prohibitive and didn't really have a doctor who encouraged it until the early
80s. Once we could actually measure the effects of foods on our blood sugars
diabetics began to create their own glycemic indices. I remember an early
80s book by Lois Javonovich and Charles Peterson called the "Diabetes
self-care method" that talked a lot about matching food to insulin.
By 1985 I was on the pump, keeping pretty sophisticated records, and counting
carbs. It took me years to learn to enjoy a brownie, but that's a separate
Hope this helps you get started on your search for information. I'd love to
hear what else you find out.
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