My mother’s suffering spurred me to find keto

Christie Barnett’s keto journey:

Sitting in a nursing home with my dying mother is where it all began for me. There she was, a 71-year-old formerly dignified community college professor, stuck in a wheelchair, in a diaper.Christine Barnett, APN keto success stories

My mom’s final chapter

She had a stroke at age 70 and was diagnosed with resultant vascular dementia at age 71. The stage for all this was set at age 65 when she developed type 2 diabetes. She had a lifelong fight with obesity and it finally won. She suffered the stigmatizing shame of the fat. I blamed her. I thought, “You’re fat and sedentary, what do you expect?” when I heard about her diabetes. I’m a nurse, so I should have known better. But that’s what I was taught. Many, if not most, health care providers maintain this perspective (even the ones who are themselves fat!). It’s a mindset that is part of both our education and the societal shame process.

She died, disoriented, demented, and incontinent at age 71, having lost all the dignity that was so important to her.

Finding out I was pre-diabetic

Fast forward to my annual physical at age 53. My A1c was 5.8 which made me pre-diabetic. Oh, and despite working out 5 or more days a week and being on a “healthy” low-fat vegetarian diet, I was fat. Obese actually, weighing in at 215 pounds. I was ashamed I was so fat. Not to worry though, as my doctor, a lovely smart woman, said my A1c wasn’t so bad. “We don’t usually intervene until it reaches 6.” I apparently wasn’t pre-diabetic enough for treatment. I didn’t think that was a sound plan.

Testing what worked for me – reducing carbohydrates

Doing something to reverse my pre-diabetes seemed like a better idea. After hearing from my doctor that no intervention was recommended for me at this point, I realized I was going to have to save myself, and I did. I researched what to do because I couldn’t count on my doctor for guidance. I found that reducing my carbohydrate intake would be key to reversing my prediabetes. This is because carbohydrate is the main macronutrient which causes blood sugar to elevate. I decided to buy and use a glucometer to measure the effect of various foods on my blood glucose. Many of my “healthy” whole grains and fruits sent my blood glucose into the 150s, not an ideal level. I decided not to eat them, or any starch or sugar. Slowly I lowered carbohydrates until I reached the macro composition of a ketogenic diet.

Christie Barnett, APN – After 5+ years keto

After being on a ketogenic diet for 5+ years, my A1c is now a normal 5.1. I lost 50 pounds, without deprivation, tracking or hunger. My weight has been steady for 4 years. I now have an “off” switch with eating, something I never had before. No longer am I preoccupied with my next meal. I never get “hangry” as my body’s fuel is steady in both fed and fasted states. I don’t think I’ll develop diabetes. Hopefully, I’ll outlive my mother and help others avoid her fate and her shame. I hope I can integrate all I’ve learned into my nursing practice. Keto gave me hope.

Christie Barnett, APN

Christie is an Advanced Practice Nurse with over 35 years experience working with people in mental health care. She currently has a private, outpatient psychotherapy practice in Millburn, NJ. You can follow her on Instagram at keto.nj

2 Responses

  1. Dawna says:

    Hello, I just started the keto diet on 9/3/2019 and have not seen any weight loss as of today. I am doing it for the same reasons as you as well as for myself. My mother is a Type 3 Diabetic with multiple health problems. I am trying to be proactive and avoid going down this route. I am 53 y/o female who is also in the beginning stages of menopause. I have about 20-25 lbs to lose and am struggling. I am in the process of looking for a keto doctor/nutritionist/dietitian to assist me in my weight loss but am finding it difficult in my area in southern Massachusetts. I currently see a nutritionist at Brigham & Women’s Hospital but they are not really supportive of the keto diet. I am frustrated and confused on what my calories, fat/protein/net carbs & should start at because every keto calculator gives me a different number. I would welcome any advice/suggestions/assistance you could offer. Thanky o u.

    • Cecile Seth says:

      Thanks so much for reaching out! A number of keto providers offer telemedicine services, enabling you to work with them remotely. You’ll find them under our “Start Here” section “Resources” and Providers. The Clinicians page is growing weekly so check back.

      You also might want to sign up for our newsletter. It goes out about weekly.

      The initial fat adaptation phase can take awhile. We’ve compiled what we know in our Diet page as well as tips about combining your local healthcare team with those who have more expertise in the medical ketogenic diet and tapering of medications.

      All three dietitians and the keto coach could review what you are doing and help you troubleshoot what you are missing and coordinate with your local doctors. We wish you and your mom the very best of luck on your journey!

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