How to Help a Spouse with Type-1 Diabetes Follow a Low-Carb Diet

Every month or so, I’ll receive an email to this effect:

My husband (or wife) has an HgbA1C of 4 million percent. He/she’s moody, having kidney problems and nerve pain. I try to get them to eat a low-carb diet. But they keep on reaching for the mashed potatoes. No matter how many times I slap there hand! Can you help?

 Can I help? Probably not. It’s hard enough to help people with type-1 diabetes who want to be helped. Helping those who don’t want help is like keeping a goldfish in the bowl while taking a parabolic flight.

I can’t help their spouse. But maybe they can. I’ll ask if they have started following the low-carb diet they want their spouse to follow? Amusingly, 95% of the time when I ask this question, I will never receive a response back from the person.

After Nicole’s brain seizure, three years ago, I realized we had to do something very different if my wife had any hope of seeing Jonah turn 12. While I didn’t like the sound of restricting carbohydrates, it seemed like it would work. But Nicole’s doctors had convinced her that she couldn’t function without enough carbs fogging her brain and frying her nervous system.

So I edged my way onto a low-carb diet over the course of three days. I cut out the grains, the fruit, the honey. By day four, we were eating lunch together at the kidney dialysis clinic in London, Ontario. We both shared a “salad” of shredded cooked root vegetables and boiled eggs with plenty of butter. But Nicole had some bread. I had a bigger salad. It tasted a bit bland, but not a bad start.

For dinner that night, we went to a Thai restaurant. Nicole had the rice and ice cream, I had the spinach and tofu. That night her glucometer beeped 20mmol/L (360mg/dL).

The next day, or soon thereafter, she had abandoned the grains and decided to give it a go. Six months later her HgbA1C dropped from 8.3% to 4.5%.

As for me, I haven’t regretted the change in diet. I did it, initially to help Nicole. I figured a low-carb diet might save my wife’s life. To my surprise, however, many of my own health problems decreased or vanished. I gained some needed weight, a rash behind my right knee disappeared, my circulation improved, energy levels went up, joint pain became a dream, horrible digestive problems improved overnight and I found I could think clearer.

So when I hear a spouse say: “Well, why should I go on a low-carb diet? I don’t have diabetes!” Sure, you’re blood sugar control might be great (probably isn’t… but let’s pretend). But you might have some other health issue else that might improve. Why not experiment for a week or month? You might find you feel a whole lot better off the Death Carb diet. And, you just might help save your spouse’s life, too.

  • You can read more about how Nicole found her brain function improved after cutting the carbs: How Grain Shut Down My Type-1 Diabetic Brain
  • I’ve been doing some serious investigation to determine whether the Buteyko Method has actually cured type-1 diabetes or not. Next post, I’ll share the results of my research so far. Subscribe so you don’t miss out.
  • If you or your spouse (willingly) would like help normalizing their blood sugars, avoiding nerve damage and chronic crankiness, one of you can contact me about coaching.


About the Author: John C. A. Manley researches and writes about alternative treatments for type-1 diabetes and its many complications. His wife, Nicole, of 15 years has had type-1 diabetes for four decades. Together they have lowered her HgbA1c below 5.5%, regained thyroid function, increased kidney function and reversed gastroparesis. Read more about their journey out of the T1D matrix or subscribe to their Diabetic Dharma blog..