I was failing my patients (and myself)

Do you seriously think you can lose weight?

Really? 

Why bother!

Why bother trying to get yourself better, when changing diets just don’t work.

Don’t you get it, I was thinking. 

No-one ‘gets better’. It just doesn’t happen. 

No-one ‘reverses’ their diabetes’. Anyone who says they can is lying.

No-one loses their weight and keeps it off.

I haven’t got the answers. I am no different to any other nutritionist.

And yes, I feel like a fraud and failure because I don’t have the answers you need.

                                 
This was my typical patient scenario five years ago. These were the actual thoughts going through my head when a patient came to see me. 

I had no answers for a patient who couldn’t lose weight, or for a newly diagnosed diabetic, or a patient who had a ‘mild’ heart attack and they needed dietary advice.

And I was terrified that my patients could read my mind?

Oh God! 

You are paying me money to just come up with some ‘secret diet’ or ‘secret superfood’ that doesn’t exist?

Sure, let’s go through the routine, and then I’ll load you up on supplements, so at least you’ll feel like I am weaving some sort of magic for you.

Yep, you might feel a little better for a few weeks, lose a bit of weight but then you’ll just fail like all the rest.

You’ll fail just like I’m failing.

Here I am, Mr Nutritionist, the expert. What a joke. 

I was just so tired.

I had shocking sugar-cravings and suffered from IBS and migraine headaches. 

If only my patients knew. You fraud, I used to think. You can’t even fix yourself. What hope have you got to fix your patients?

It’s only now I can start to talk about this ‘difficult time’.

This ‘difficult time’ was me was five years ago. (I had been working as a Registered Nutritionist for 10 years prior to this).
                                          
I just didn’t understand why this was happening, and why I couldn’t get myself and my patients ‘better’.

It was so frustrating as I was following the Australian Dietary Guidelines. I knew about the positives of carbohydrates and fibre, and how eating more of it, reduced diabetes, CVD and obesity. I knew to tell my patients to ‘eat low fat’, low salt, and keep red meat to a minimum. I supported the idea of snacking as long as the foods were  ‘wholemeal’ and included fruit. I was taught to ‘reduce calories’, reduce saturated fat’ and to ‘move more’.

But all this was helping about 1 in 10 patients.

It then dawned on me that I didn’t have any magic touch. I didn’t have any magic advice or supplement or super food that would improve my patient’s health.

It was a devastating realisation. I thought I could make a difference. But, I was destined to go through the motions like all the other nutritionists before me. I was trying bloody hard, but I could barely make a dent.

Digging up and writing about this made me feel so ashamed. It made me feel so vulnerable and raw. My pulse was racing and I was sweating, even though it was a cool morning. Tears were welling in my eyes.

Can I really admit all this?

Chould I really tell my old and new patients this? What will they think?

It’s OK if I know I’m a failure, but I’m not sure if I should be telling the world that Mr Registered Nutritionist is a failure. 

Aren’t I meant to be the expert? Aren’t I meant to be the one with all the answers?

Cathartic?

That was a giant understatement. 

Admitting this was like removing a sharp pebble from both shoes, or taking a giant chip of both my shoulders.

So what changed me from failure to the success I now have as a nutritionist?

What changed, to not getting patients better, to getting them well again?
                     
What made me stop and not get that truck licence or mow lawns for a living?

What!?

Oh, I thought I had told you what I was going to do when I’d given up masquerading as a failed nutritionist?

I can laugh about it now, but I was going to drive trucks on a mine site (well that, or buy a mowing business).
                         
You see I had a patient who was earning almost $200k driving those giant trucks in Mt Isa (it was in the middle of the mining boom). He said he loved it.

Fly-in, fly-out, work bloody hard when you’ve there, but when you’re not working, there’s no stress. 

I had another patient who mowed lawns who was an ex-financial professional. He said the stress was eating him up and now he had a lucrative mowing business. I remember him saying, ‘you see the lawn, you mow the lawn’ and it simplifies such a complex world.

I was drawn to these concepts of simple, practical driving and mowing jobs! Hey, it’s better than failure, right.

                       


So what happened to my high-vis dream?

I thought I’d give it one last crack. To see if there really was a way to get people better. To really see if there was a way to help patients lose weight, put their diabetes in remission, fix their woeful digestion, and protect and rejuvenate their failing hearts, brains, livers and bones.

So I went back and started reading.

I read and I read.

I started reading about a few nutritional scientists who were actually getting their patients ‘better’. (And yes, I had to swallow my pride). 

Now you’ve got to understand that this was (and sadly still is) a radical concept.

Very few patients really ‘get better’. Some get (a bit) better, but no-one actually ‘stays better’.

No one actually keeps their weight off, no one actually stops taking all their heart, blood pressure and diabetes medicine.

But I started reading the science, the biochemistry, the physiology.


                              

And it blew me away.

It blew me away, that patients were really getting and staying better.

This research has good, very good. Sure the studies were small, but the science was solid, I mean it was very robust. And the thing I loved most, there were no smoke and mirrors.No ‘magic pill’. The biochemistry was so strong, the change in physiology was powerful. Inflammation reduced, glucose diminished, hearts got better and patients felt and stayed better.

There was only one problem.

All these patients got better by eating less carbohydrates and a higher fat, higher protein diet. They reduced their ‘life-giving’ wholegrain breads, snacks, cereals and fruit. They ate more meat! They ate more red meat and got better! This was radical stuff. The research said that saturated fat in butter, full-fat dairy and eggs weren’t the ‘clogging killers’.

The problem was the mountains of carbohydrates we were eating. It was becoming sticky glucose in our body and this acidic goo was literally clogging our pipes (arteries) and organs.

I thought this radical stuff was off-limits, but then I started finding randomised controlled trials (the gold-standard in science) and other strong studies and case studies in mainstream journals.

OK I thought, I’ll trial this way of eating on myself. I was nearing 50 and was feeling old and fragile, so what have I got to lose.

Giving up bread and oats were the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Then there was the brown rice, all the fruit, and dried fruit I had to give up. Then all those mythical ‘healthy sweeteners’ like coconut sugar, rice syrup and maple syrup.

                                  

But I did it. I dropped almost 13 kilograms and lost the cravings, lost the crippling hypoglycaemia and the creeping pre-diabetes (which is just a pleasant way of saying you have diabetes).

My migraines were gone. My bloating, that horrible gurgling gut, all gone. But do you know the best thing? Clarity. No more brain-fog, no longer did it feel like my brain was full of glue.

And energy! I had more energy now than I had in the past 20 years (and I thought it was all a sign of old age).

So it’s worked on me and for the past 5 years it has worked on my patients.

And the whole time, more and more studies have been done to show that a low-carbohydrate diet (done properly and in the ‘right order’) is the game-changer that I didn’t think ever existed.

Yes, doing things in the ‘right order’ is crucial when you transition to a lower-carbohydrate way of eating. There are also some specific foods, tests and protocols, that will check if you are on the right track, to help you not fall down the rabbit-holes that I fell down whilst changing my diet.

And the evidence keeps piling up.

This latest study compared high-quality low fat verses low- carbohydrate studies found: “This analysis does not support the long-held preference for low-fat diets as default dietary intervention for T2D. Results suggest that if it fits patients’ preferences,restriction of carbohydrates may be slightly better…”.

What it’s essentially saying, is that we have gotten things the wrong way around.

This quality evidence is out-pacing these silly ‘pasta-funded studies’ that say they will help you lose weight it you (you guessed it) eat more pasta.

                            



And there was this recent study: “our results show that dairy products and meat are beneficial for heart health and longevity, this differs from current dietary advice”.  

Yes, meat and full-fat dairy is good for your heart!



There is no such thing as a magic pill.

But there is a magic ‘instruction manual’.

I didn’t have it for the first 10 years of working as I just followed our very broken Australian Dietary Guidelines. But now, I give this ‘health roadmap’ to every single one of my patients.

If you’d like to know more, you can watch one of my presentations or just book to see me in person/via Skype/phone. 
 
                           


I am a regular on ABC Radio Brisbane if you would like to have a listen to past episodes or you can watch some short videos that may explain in a simple way, complex ideas.  

If you would like to book an individualised appointment, simply do that on-line.

Or visit my website Twitter or Facebook should you want to know a bit more about me. Instagram has a few more recipes as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.