Diabetes expert Caroline Trapp wants you to give yourself three weeks — OK, four counting a week to prepare to do it right — to become a vegetarian. She says a low-fat, plant-based diet can be as effective as some medicines in fighting type 2 diabetes. But she didn’t discount other possible benefits such as weight control, more energy and better-looking skin.
Caroline Trapp wants you to give yourself three weeks — OK, four counting a week to prepare to do it right — to become a vegetarian.
Trapp, a nurse practitioner and director of diabetes education and care for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, offered that challenge in a series of talks sponsored by the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford and Vegetarians in Motion last week.
Her main message was that a low-fat, plant-based diet can be just as effective as some medicines in fighting type 2 diabetes. But she didn’t discount other possible benefits such as weight control, more energy and better-looking skin.
“You can do anything for three weeks,” said Trapp, referring to a kick-start support program the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine will offer at www.pcrm.org/kickstart beginning Jan. 1. “The important thing before starting kick-start is the week of preparation.”
She said that week is when “all the troublemaker foods” such as meats, dairy products, eggs and high-fat processed foods get cleaned out of the house and are replaced by fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
“I always say to my patients, ‘Don’t walk out the door of this office visit thinking ‘OK, that’s it, I’m going vegan,’ ” said Trapp, who is board certified in adult primary care, diabetes education and advanced diabetes management. “Because when you encounter ‘OK, what am I going to make for dinner,’ and you don’t have the right foods in the house, you throw up your hands and say, ‘Oh, I can’t do this.’
“If you take an academic approach, and you do a little bit of reading, you’re going to get the right foods in the house and you’re going to figure it out. People go on diets and then they get hungry and it all goes out the window. If you’ve got the wrong things around, it’s too tempting, too readily available, too easy to fall back.”
Once the troublemaker foods are out of the house, Trapp said, the idea is to be 100 percent vegan for three weeks and the kick-start program will offer 21 daily menu ideas, videos and other support to help with the motivation. The upside of the program, she said, is that it doesn’t require attention to portion control, calorie restriction or limiting carbohydrates.
“Three weeks, that’s not very much time,” Trapp said. “But it’s enough time to find that maybe your blood sugar has come down, or your weight might drop a few pounds, or you might find you have more energy.”
Trapp, who has 25 years experience in nursing, said she has seen several drugs that were touted as having the ability to revolutionize diabetes treatment come and go because of the effects they had on various body organs.
“Drugs come with side effects,” she said, “and I’m not saying all drugs are bad and that some can’t control diabetes. But we have an opportunity here with a different way of eating that can help as well as some of those drugs, and I don’t think we’re going to prescribe our way out of this diabetes epidemic.”
Mike DeDoncker can be reached at (815) 987-1382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the WebDiabetes expert Caroline Trapp also recommends these Web sites for information on diabetes and diet:
* NutritionCME.org, for health-care professionals; * NutritionMD.org, for disease-specific recommendations and a meal-planner tool; * pcrm.org/diabetes, for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s diabetes resources and message board; *and FoodForLiveTV .org, for weekly webcasts.