That was Shawn’s blood sugar after dinner tonight, and it is our lowest reading ever.

Tonight I grilled some wild caught orange roughy with Penzy’s no salt spices, made a garden salad with a home made vinagrette and red pepper, avocado, mushrooms, green onions, tomatoes, artichokes, and a mix of spinach and iceberg (all the local general store had), some steamed cauliflower with a little bit of parm, and a side of cottage cheese with a little pineapple. Calorie count was about 800-1000 (which is fine because we graze during the day to keep my friends blood sugar levels stable- slice of bacon and a hard-boiled egg with an apple for breakfast, or a solid grain cereal with Stevia and almond milk, slice of hard cheese here, handful of nuts there, etc.), no flour, sugar, HFC, or chemicals, all organic or wild caught.

We have gone from 600 to 115 with diet, exercise, and meds, in under two months. Next step, keeping it stabilized for a while and then maybe scaling back on the meds.

43 replies
  1. 1
    Original Lee says:

    Yay for Shawn!

  2. 2
    Keith P says:

    FYI, my nutritionist gave me a bunch of samples of Paul Prudhomme spice blends to use on food. All herbal, no salt, bunch of different flavors. Nothing earth-shattering, and I’ve actually got a massive herb collection such that I can make them myself and then some, but for quick, easy, tasty, and healthy, they’re pretty damn good.

    Also, really nice recurring series you’re doing on this. I’m glad you found the motivation to keep up with your own diet by helping someone else; two for the price of one. And you’re right about junk food sounding gross after eating healthy for a while. I buy some every now and then (and sometimes I eat it; usually I just keep it in the freezer forever), but usually, a big bowl of vegetables with lemon juice and evoo sounds much, much tastier.

  3. 3
    JGabriel says:

    Cool. That’s pretty impressive. Kudos, Shawn & John.

  4. 4
    Joshua Norton says:

    These are the “good” numbers my Dr. said diabetics should be aiming for:

    On waking up (before breakfast) – 80 to 120
    Before meals 80 to 120
    2 hours after meals – 160 or less
    At bedtime – 100 to 140

    I take Metforman 3 times a day so I’m in the 120’s most of the time. I’ve been leveling off from highs of 190. Still have a way to go to keep it steady, but it’s do-able. What’s weird is it’s always higher in the morning after fasting all night.

  5. 5
    Arclite says:

    Dammit, man. I eat pretty healthily already being a vegetarian, but you’re shaming me into cutting out the moderate amount of crap I consume currently. I supposed it’s all for the best, the wife has been bugging me to lose 10 pounds for a couple of years.

  6. 6
    Calming Influence says:

    Awesome number! If it’s not too personal, was weight an issue for Shawn?

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    @Calming Influence: Not judging from the pics Cole posted, but they don’t always tell you the whole truth.

  8. 8
    sacrablue says:

    I got my Type 2 diagnosis this past August. I take 1000mg metformin twice a day. My glucose is rarely above 100. I’ve lost 50 lbs, but there is no suggestion that I will be permitted to get off the meds. I went from an initial HgbA1c of 9.5 to a 6 at the end of November.My doctor isn’t really that interested in any single set of glucose numbers. It is all about the HgbA1c. I have no idea what it will take to get off any of the meds that I now have to take. Maybe it is because I’m an old. Good luck Shawn, you have a bunch of us out here cheering your success.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    trollhattan says:


    With Steve clinging to him how is anybody ever going to find his weight?

  11. 11
    SG says:

    Cole, has anyone told you that you’re an exceptional friend?

    BTW, check out the Spice House’s no-salt blends. I love their Sunny Greek Islands and Parisian Bonnes Herbs blends.

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    @John Cole: I have a friend who was quite thin and in her early 30’s when she was diagnosed. She had started to get a slight bit of extra weight around her mid-section, but you’d have to look hard to see it. She just figured it was because she was no longer in her 20’s. No, it was her blood sugar issues. Changed her diet–her middle slimmed right up.

    Interestingly, one of her doctors had her checked out for it because she was popping acid reflux OTC medication. He said she was far too young to need that and acid reflux can be a sign of blood sugar problems. He was right.

  13. 13
    Violet says:

    Shawn’s keeping a food diary, right? So he can cross check what he ate and his blood sugar results.

    Interested in how the full protein breakfast works vs the grain cereal and almond milk. I can’t do cereals for breakfast at all anymore. Way too carby, even if I load with nuts. I’m hungry an hour later.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Excellent news.

    On the cutting back on meds part…only do it when Shawn’s physician approves. Still, excellent progress…115 is right in the ballpark.

  15. 15
    JoyceH says:

    You know, this series of threads on diet and food prep underscores a real pet peeve of mine. I think it’s great that John is doing this. What’s not so great is that he has to. We have this enormous industry that prepares convenient prepackaged food for us, but the conventional wisdom is ‘if you want to be healthy and live longer, don’t use that stuff’. HUH?

    Can you imagine if the entire ready-made clothing industry made clothing the wearing of which caused the wearer to die younger – what would be the response? Would the public at large say, ‘well, you should be making your own clothes – if you wear the ready-made stuff and die from it, it’s your own fault’? No! We’d make the clothing industry stop making the clothes that killed people, that’s what we’d do!

    So why the bleep don’t we do the same thing for the food industry?

  16. 16
    Calming Influence says:

    @John Cole: Thanks. This is a great story.

    You frequently post about what you’re cooking up, but I don’t think I’ve seen you post actual recipes. Do you write down what you do, or just wing it each time?

  17. 17
    WaynersT says:

    hmmmm….what exactly is Stevia? I’ve been too scared to try it – everything I know about it is from Breaking Bad.

  18. 18
    furklempt says:

    I think it’s awesome, what you’re doing for yourself and your friend–I really, really do. Which is why I hope I don’t sound epically douchey or ornery with the following, but: it isn’t your collective blood sugar, or your collective disease. It’s his. You are an excellent friend for helping him, but you will never have to deal with the effects of his diabetes. While you’re hopped up on feeling awesome thanks to your new food choices, they are just that. Choices. You have the option of eating as you are now in a way that he doesn’t and never will again–at least not without potentially serious ramifications.

    I’m bringing it up because I know it would frustrate me immensely if a friend “adopted” my disease in such a way, but if that friend were doing for me what you are doing for Shawn, I’d never ever mention it. And I just wonder if you’ve thought about that, is all.

  19. 19
    Aimai says:

    @MikeJ: a lot of shawn is probably fur. Cole should ask his vet to weigh him. ;)

  20. 20
    Svensker says:

    John, wish you would do a separate diary or link or something on the side of the blog with your menu stuff you’ve been doing with Shawn. It all sounds delicious and fun and things I would never think of cooking. Wouldn’t mind trying this diet myself.

  21. 21

    John, if I move in with you, will you take good care of me too? I need a high protein/low carb diet to lose some poundage. I can’t fix stuff around the house but I am entertaining in my own way, will do dog walkies, cat pettings and keep the woo to a minimum. When I lose the pounds, I’ll return home and you’ll have space for another chick who needs help. Deal?

    (You are such a nice guy to host and care for Shawn. Pals to the end!)

  22. 22
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Good for Shawn. Your dinner sounds mouth watering. The future Mrs. Cole is going to be a very lucky woman.

  23. 23
    Manyakitty says:

    Sounds fabulous! Do you have a Penzey’s store nearby? If not, I highly recommend checking one out. It’s overwhelming in the best possible way.

  24. 24
    big ole hound says:

    @sacrablue: My MD told me that A1C number is determined as the average “sugar” content of your red blood cells. it is a pretty good number because your red cells are replaced about every 90 days so they make a very good average sample of sugar content in the body as they go from “brand new” to “almost replaced” all in one blood sample versus when you check your meter with a drop of blood it gives you the glucose number for that exact moment.

  25. 25
    Trinity says:

    Wow. You are an inspiration John. Thank you so much for sharing the details of everything you are doing to help Shawn (and yourself!) I have picked up some great ideas.

  26. 26
    Trinity says:

    Wow. You are an inspiration John. Thank you so much for sharing the details of everything you are doing to help Shawn (and yourself!) I have picked up some great ideas.

  27. 27
    Elizabelle says:

    John: add me to those who’d love to see a post with recipes, even of the “take a handful of spinache, throw in ___” YMMV outlines of how you prepped the dinners.

    Because your menus always sound delicious, filling and appetizing, and some of us do not have as much imagination as you do, and thus end up with pasta and starches as a base for meals.

    Great news for you and Shawn. More people could use a “Brothers Keeper” who swears, rants, cooks — willingly, and has a great heart and no patience for bullsh*t.

    ETA: just learning how to make all manner of cooked and assembled salads would be helpful.

  28. 28
    currants says:

    @SG: I may be misremembering, but aren’t (or weren’t) the owners of Spice House and Penzey’s siblings? Okay, off topic, sorry.

  29. 29
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Joshua Norton: I have the same problem with it being high in the morning after a fast.

  30. 30
    Birthmarker says:

    The Chef Paul Pruhomme salmon magic seasoning is delicious! I use lemon, the seasoning , and throw it under the broiler . It is one of my better meals and is super quick and easy.

    A quick check of the label tells me the first ingredient is sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon has one gram of sugar, which isn’t too bad. I probably use that amount or slightly more per serving. (We like it well seasoned.). If you decide to try it, I season the salmon on a plate then place the fish in the pan. The seasoning scattered in the pan will burn under the broiler.

  31. 31
    Tractarian says:

    You should be a professional nutritionist/life coach. There’s big bucks in it.

  32. 32
    aimai says:

    @Tractarian: Isn’t he already a professional life coach for recovering republicans?

  33. 33
    Bob2 says:

    I know John doesn’t really read the comments often, but orange roughy is not a sustainable fish, and as such, it’s not really a good thing to be eating.


    Also he may have eaten something that was over 100 years old.

  34. 34
    Rathskeller says:

    @WaynersT: it is an artificial sweetener. Your local coffee place should have some.

  35. 35
    Bitter and Deluded Lurker says:

    @Rathskeller: Stevia is actually an herb used as a sweetener. There apparently has been some research indicating it actually helps with glucose tolerance, so I’ve bought some but to be honest I almost never use it.

  36. 36
    mzrad says:

    That’s great news, West Virginia foodie! Have you seen Food Matters on Netflix? You can sign up for their emails for updates and tips (and, obviously, products & services for sale). I’ve found the tips, lists, and proactive ideas useful.

    If you want to frickin’ fall in love with cauliflower, don’t steam it. Toss those florets with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and Roast Them Next Time. Then toss with balsamic and sprinkle with shredded parmesan. Eating Well magazine is a good source for some tasty healthy recipes.

    And, finally, if you don’t already know Thug Kitchen, I think it’s right up your alley. All vegan, all the time mthr fcker.

    Keep up the good work!

  37. 37
    Patricia Lil says:

    @Joshua Norton: The waking high reading is not at all weird. It’s called the Dawn Phenomenon. As your body prepares to wake, stored sugar and hormones are excreted to provide energy.

  38. 38
    Comrade Carter says:

    Penzy’s… Comes from right here in Wauwatosa, about a mile, maybe less, from me. Got to love them, and they’re pretty good on supporting TEACHERS in Wisconsin.

  39. 39
    Stan Gable says:

    We have gone from 600 to 115 with diet, exercise, and meds, in under two months.

    I can do that within a couple of hours – Type 2 is so different from Type 1…

  40. 40

    Nice work gents. Funny that orange roughy used to be thrown back before we overfished. Now it’s popular.

  41. 41
    Pink Snapdragon says:

    Orange Roughy is an endangered fish! I haven’t seen it in any of the grocery stores I frequent in at least the last 10 years. Try some tilapia. It is a farmed white fish that doesn’t seem to have the safety issues that farmed salmon does, for example. Orange Roughy can live to be more than 100 years old. When they are overfished it takes a very, very long time to replenish their stocks. Also on the endangered list: sea bass, halibut, atlantic cod, atlantic salmon, skate, blue tuna and a number of others.

  42. 42
    pacem appellant says:

    John, you are the best friend a diabetic could have. I did this for my wife when she was pregnant and was diagnosed with pre-gestational diabetes. Rather than medicate her and thereby bathe the growing fetus with unnecessary chemicals, we opted to treat the condition with diet. And it worked! I’m glad it’s working for Shawn as well.

  43. 43
    Ryan says:

    @JoyceH: I’d respectfully suggest that the food industry exists to make profit, not provide us with optimum nutrition.

    For anyone interested in nutrition, I highly recommend the book Gary Taubes wrote called, “Why we get fat and what to do about it.” I’ll end the suspense – it’s sugar or anything that causes an insulin response like sugar. “The Primal Blueprint” is another good one. You can get pretty much the whole thing for free on the author’s website at marksdailyapple.com.

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