Now I had discovered the truth that capitalism and profit-driven corporations were responsible for squashing alternative treatments for diabetes, I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I had been going in circles, wary of promoting the low-carb diet on a larger scale. But now I could share my secrets with my fellow diabetics without worrying about misleading them. I became an enthusiastic cheerleader.
This is such a delightful feeling. It is like the feeling you get when you finally believe the person you’re dating is worthy, and you finally feel confident introducing them to your friends. Of course, this is not you showing off. You simply want to share your good news and happiness with your friends, and with each one you tell, your happiness grows.
Along this low-carb journey, I have gained so much richness, health, experience, knowledge, and so many friends in life.It was around this time, when I had discovered the shady practices of the sugar companies, that I set up a WeChat group for diabetics.
Whenever I was asked in this group, “Can the low-carb diet really turn diabetes around?” I was able to reply without hesitation. I had accomplished this in just 3 months, an American peer had done it in a year, and there were many others who had become healthier by following this diet. It was a great feeling. But I also felt a great deal of responsibility. I was just an amateur in the field of nutrition. These questions and expectations pushed me to learn more about the topic.
The problem was, I had much more on my plate than just the questions of my fellow diabetics. My career is time-consuming as well, so I felt like I was pulled in every direction. When you are the founder of a flourishing company, there is always something odd that requires your attention. You need to make decisions, follow up on projects, and resolve problems on the spot. No one will tell you how to do it, but you need to tell others what to do. You also need to meet clients, have discussions, hold meetings with employees, and manage funds.
Moreover, since participating in the 2016 support rally for Officer Peter Liang, whenever I heard about the unfair treatment of Chinese people in North America, I was compelled to help. For example, I continued to support meteorologist Sherry Chen, raising funds for her cause, as well as volunteering to translate relevant documents for her.
So, against this background, I began to learn about the basics of health and nutrition and take online courses to teach me more about the low-carb diet. I felt like an elementary school student again, diligently focused on my homework. On top of that, I was always talking with nutrition experts and fellow diabetics. It felt like there was not enough time in my day, but I realized that as long as you needed to, you could always make time for learning. That’s what sets successful students apart.
Now, when I chat with my old high school friends, they reminisce about my attitude to my studies back then. They never saw me study and assumed that my academic success was simply due to my natural intelligence. What they didn’t see was the late-night studying I did, or how I would investigate every question I could encounter. You have to find a method of learning that works for you.
Late at night when all was quiet, after a long day of working and learning, I would stand at my window, watching the Vancouver city lights. Sometimes, I felt like I was moving back to the person I was back in China. I was light in body, full of energy, and had plenty left to explore in the future. Back then, I was in the mountain ranges of Prince Mountain, now I am 14,000 km away in North America, but my spirit has not changed. It was strange. As busy as I was, I was able to maintain an unusual peace inside me, which was a wonderful experience. I felt as if I was rediscovering myself.
After a few years of study, I finally felt that I had made some headway in my nutritional learning. If I was being less humble, I had probably earned the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree. In fact, I have received the Health Coach title certified by Dr Berg, a famous American low-carb diet expert - not an easy certification to earn. But I believe that it was my fellow diabetics who contributed the most to my learning. Let me explain.
First, mutual learning. As I mentioned, my fellow diabetics were always asking me questions, pushing me to open doors one after another into the world of nutrition. While, overall, I may be playing the part of a teacher, I can’t just tell people about my own experience. Their situation might be different, they may not have access to the resources that I have at my disposal. Therefore, I need a comprehensive understanding of nutrition so that I can take that information and apply it to each individual's circumstances. So, their questions fuelled my learning and my understanding of my own diet.
Secondly, there is a specific occasion where a fellow diabetic blessed me. In June 2017, a friend asked me out of the blue, “Since you’re so busy with your company and participating in so many social events, doesn’t it affect your blood glucose index?” Their words were a wake-up call to me. I realized that I had been so preoccupied that I hadn’t checked my blood glucose in three months. If it were not for my friend’s reminder, I do not know how much longer it would have been delayed.
The test brought some bad news – my glycated hemoglobin was 6.4. My last test three months previously only showed 6.1. Even with this increase, it was still within the normal limits. I thought that it would go back to normal again, as it had done before. However, this time it continued to climb. If it were not for my friend’s reminder, it might have started to cause harm to my body.
The reason for the sudden increase in my blood glucose this time was my negligence over carbs due to my complacency over previous glucose readings that were consistently steady. I had no time for cooking, so I often needed to eat out. No matter how cautious I was, I still ended up eating certain foods that contained hideous carbs.
After seeing the elevated reading for myself, I became more careful about what I ate. In less than three months, I watched as my glycated hemoglobin fell to below 6 again. It has no chance of climbing above 6, even today. I’m now somewhat of a broken record when it comes to reminding people to check their blood glucose regularly. It’s my way of paying it forward.
Speaking in broader terms, I fully believe that everyone should get a physical exam regularly, not only diabetics. The chances of developing diabetes are almost one in two, and the numbers are the same whether for China or elsewhere. Diabetes is a sly foe, if you let your guard down even a little, you might fall victim to it.
I had another close call in 2018. At the time, everyone in the diabetic WeChat group was discussing the keto diet. Simply put, the keto diet is a stricter diet compared to the low-carb one. Due to its stricter requirements, it is harder to manage and easier to go too far with. As I considered myself a teacher for this group, I felt I needed to draw my own conclusion about the keto diet so that I could give a persuasive account of my experience to my fellow diabetics. So, I followed an online course and started my keto lifestyle.
At first, I felt fine, perhaps because I already had over two years of experience with a low-carb diet. I did not feel as uncomfortable as some others, I did not feel any hunger pangs, and my energy and blood glucose index were both great. But after a while, I started to feel that my heart rate was not quite normal. It kept beating fiercely as if I had just been sprinting like it was going to jump out of my chest. On a few nights, I was startled awake by my heart beating furiously.
The reason for this phenomenon was the lack of potassium and magnesium in my meals. Since the keto diet is very strict on which specific foods can be eaten, it is very easy for your levels of electrolytes and macronutrients to be thrown out of balance without the proper guidance. After I started taking potassium and magnesium supplements regularly, this horrifying symptom quickly disappeared.
However, this incident made me wonder. The complaints that some people have about malnutrition caused by the keto diet could stem from something else. The fact is that, if we do not plan for precise food choices when starting a regular, standard low-carb diet, it will also create a similar lack of nutrients simply due to a change in our dietary habits from before. Furthermore, even if you’re not on a low-carb diet, you may still be lacking in certain vital nutrients. You could be deficient in potassium, magnesium, calcium, or zinc, or vitamin B or D, or something you have never thought of.
No matter what kind of diet, the most important thing is to be aware of your own nutrient intake. That heart-pounding feeling constantly reminds me to check the nutritional value of my food every day so that problems such as malnutrition never happen again.
So, although my learning has benefitted my fellow diabetics, I feel as if I have gained much more in return.
There is a Buddhist teaching that says, “Helping others helps yourself”.
In Islam, they say, “If you lead by example in doing a good deed, you will be rewarded for it. If someone imitates you in doing a good deed, you will be rewarded in part for their actions, while their reward is not diminished.”
In Christianity, we lean on Jehovah to do good and spread goodness on Earth in his name, so that we can experience his given blessings through others.
And for those with a more humanistic approach, you have the proverb, “fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.”