For athletes that train like champions…

or everyday champions like you and me

Tracy Sanders shares with us her journey from her T1D diagnosis to a healthy, fit lifestyle fueled by a low-carb diet.


The Change
I had picked up the word “Paleo” somewhere in my December holidays. The Paleo diet includes vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat while excluding foods such as dairy products, grains, sugar, legumes, processed oils, salt and alcohol. The concept made sense to me, instead of struggling with carbohydrate counting and insulin- a flaw-filled activity with endless variables influencing your ratios, why not cut the carbs? Instead of treating my broken carbohydrate metabolism with insulin I would try to remove the carbohydrates. I was exceptionally motivated to find out how to optimally control my diabetes and excited to experiment with my new chronic illness. My primary aim was to never let T1D stop me from pursuing my fullest life.

On the first day of January 2015, I cut all carbohydrates and dairy products and embarked on a sugar-free lifestyle to see how this would help my diabetes. I remember stopping at Harrismith on the way back to Johannesburg and being exceptionally unsure what to eat since my usual cappuccino and low GI sandwich were not going to cut it. I opted for an inappropriately big bag of raw almonds and munched on them, no doubt the incorrect portion size- but I didn’t have to take insulin, my sugars remained perfect and I had no doubts and concerns about my sugars and that was a liberating feeling.

The next day I went to a leading bookstore and spent a good few hours trolling the shelves for books on diabetes, paleo and low carbohydrate diets. Then, the shelves were not boasting the large variety of books on the topics that they do now, but I found a book introducing me to the basics of Paleo.

I started to reduce my insulin until I stopped insulin entirely. My long-acting and short-acting insulin sat in the fridge unused while some people asked if I was certain that I was diagnosed with T1D and that it was impossible that I wasn’t taking insulin. I was admittedly, in my honeymoon period of my type one diagnosis, which meant that I still had some pancreatic functioning, but too little to cope with carbohydrate. I didn’t touch insulin for 6 months. Gradually my honeymoon period dwindled off and I had to start taking long-acting insulin to keep my blood glucose in range.

Later I invested in Dr Bernstein’s book “Diabetes solution: The Complete Guide to Achieving Normal Blood Glucose”, which I truly believe every diabetic should read, regardless of the diet they Follow. A few other books I took an interest in were 3 books from Sarah Wilson called “I Quit Sugar”, “I Quit Sugar for Life” And “Simpilicious”. There is a proudly South African book called “The Low Carb Solution for Diabetics” by Vickie de beer and Kath Megraw, “That Sugar Book” by Damon Gameau and “The Real Meal Revolution” by Tim Noakes.

Tracy Sanders is a final year medical student graduating as a Doctor in December 2017. She was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at the age of 20, and has spent the last 3 years exploring, learning and sharing the possibilities that lie after a life-altering diagnosis. Follow her journey on Instagram via Type1Tracy


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