New book, Doing Diabetes Differently, helps readers get healthier by “un-normalizing” diabetes

Doing Diabetes Differently is worth a read, and I’m not saying that because its author, Chad Lewis, has become a friend, or because I’ve written several pages in it. No, I say this because from cover to cover the book offers provocative ideas and methods on how to achieve our best health.

The premise of the book is in its last paragraph, “…you don’t have to accept diabetes as a progressive condition. You don’t have to accept falling apart and dying young. It is possible to safely maintain healthy blood sugars using much less medication. It is possible to live a long and healthy life.”

The promise of the book is in the author’s contrarian thinking about what it really means to live with diabetes, and the attitude and management techniques he shares that arose from that contrarian viewpoint. 

I should first confirm Chad Lewis’s street cred. He has lived with type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years and used his own protocols to dramatically turn his eating and activity habits around to support his health, and has sustained a 40 pound weight loss for years. 

Having spent a career in higher education and the publishing industry, Chad also clearly sees how we’ve laid a foundation for disempowering people with diabetes – from our well-intentioned health professionals who know little about diabetes and less about human behavior, to “normalizing” diabetes, to standardizing treatments and goals, to an industrialized healthcare system more vested in its own interests than yours, to the coddling and medicating of people with diabetes so that they are less committed, and skillful, to do the rigorous work to be well. 

In all honesty when Chad approached me to write one of the several commentaries in the book, after reading his rough draft, I said, “You know, I don’t agree with everything you say.” I think he liked me all the more for it. I do agree, however, with many of his ideas and see their value. For example, his macro-nutrient teeter-totter, that devices should rest on an already stable foundation, and the sense-making of ‘eating to the meter’ and ‘sugar surfing’ as key steps to dynamic management.

One of Chad’s more provocative ideas is his 12-step perspective; calling out your diabetes as a recovering alcoholic would call out his condition. The point being to acknowledge its seriousness.

“Who would you rather be?,” Chad writes, “An acknowledged person with diabetes thinking … “Hi, I’m Bill, and I’m a diabetic, and eating an abnormally restricted diet to safely maintain healthy blood sugars using the minimum amount of medication possible – an approach that leads to glycemic stability, daily peace of mind, and better health. Or…a person who, thanks to the miracle of drugs and devices, can and should eat pretty much like everyone else? Even though doing so may lead to diabetes distress, devastating complications, and possibly an early death?” Actually, this paragraph reflects Chad’s basic management philosophy.

You’ll have to read the book, and my commentary, to learn what I don’t agree with.

Throughout the book is supporting research, resources and each chapter ends with questions to ask your health professionals. Notable endocrinologists Irl Hirsch and Stephen Ponder pen the Foreword and I am joined by four other diabetes patient advocates in the commentaries who add their unique insights, knowledge and lived experiences: Ginger Vieira, Dr. Jody Stanislaw, Delaine Wright and Dr. Randy Elde.

If you’re someone who’s doing diabetes just fine, you might be curious if there’s something here that can help you do even finer. If you’re struggling with your management, or feel overwhelmed by society’s pressures and judgments, I think you’ll find much to utilize here for steady improvements that can lead to a major overhaul. For $2.99 on kindle, how can you go wrong?

All sales benefit the Diabetes Daily Grind, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources and support for people with diabetes.  

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