I will become 74 years old this month; I’m overweight and I have Diabetes Type II, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. My A1C has slowly and steadily crept upward, reaching 6.9 on April 12, 2011. My PCP told me I had to loose weight – or else; then he gave me a lab order to have some tests performed in early July – specifically, a Lipid Panel and a Hemoglobin A1C. If I failed to lose weight and to reduce my A1C to an acceptable level, he would have to increase my medications (which I already hate) and see me again in 90 days. On the other hand, if I met his goals, I would gain a free pass for the next six months. Some of the medications I take, especially Metformin and Simvastatin (Zocor), have annoying – and perhaps dangerous – side effects, and I certainly don’t want to have to take higher dosages of these drugs, so I decided it was really time for me to take charge of my body.
Ironically, at about that time, I watched a review of The Dukan Diet on TV. I’m not sure whether I saw it on The Doctors, or on Oprah, but I’m damned glad that I did! This diet was created by a French medical doctor with 35 years of experience in nutrition, Dr. Pierre Dukan. It is basically a high protein, low carb, low fat diet that is administered in four phases. During the first phase, one eats almost nothing but pure protein and Oat Bran (actually an Oat Bran Galette, or Patty; more about that a little later). After an initial weight loss occurs – usually from 7 to 10 pounds during the first seven to ten days – one then switches to the second phase, which includes alternating days of eating pure protein and protein with certain vegetables (the really healthy ones). Once one reaches his or her optimum or true (acceptable) weight he switches to the third phase, a Consolidation Phase. During this phase one must strive to maintain their optimum weight. I’m not there yet, but I’m close – and I know that once I reach my goal, I may begin to enjoy some of the foods that I haven’t eaten for a many weeks; primarily some fresh fruit and whole grain bread. However, according to Dr. Dukan, one must remain in the Consolidation Phase for a time equal to 5 days for every pound lost. Since my ultimate goal is to loose 25 pounds (and I only have about six more to lose), I will have to remain in the third phase for approximately 125 days. That may sound difficult; even unpleasant – and it may be. However, all I need to do is to think about how long it took me to pile those pounds of fat onto my body, or how much my blood pressure has dropped since I began this diet, and 125 days is doable. My blood pressure has dropped from about 140 – 147 over 120 -125 to a rather consistent 116/74 (I understand that 115/75 is now considered ideal). In fact, there have been days when I thought my blood pressure was too low; especially when I felt a little light-headed one afternoon and discovered that it was 90/58. I almost panicked, but instead of rushing to the hospital I went online and read that salt would help to raise one’s blood pressure, so I drank a glass of salted tomato juice (it was already a low-sodium juice) and mixed up a small dish of toasted almonds with some EVOO and sea salt which I quickly devoured and thoroughly enjoyed. It took me a few days to figure out how to prevent my blood pressure from dropping to extreme lows, but I seem to have that problem under control now. Although I have no way of knowing what my A1C is right now, my blood glucose has dropped from what was normally a morning high of about 140 to the current range of from between 96 and 107.
I do know that you are not supposed to do all of these things – the extreme dieting – without consulting with your physician; however, he is the one who told me to lose weight – or else, and I do work out. I have had a nice elliptical exercise machine gathering dust in a storage area at the back of my sunroom for quite some time, and I now work out on it for 30 minutes daily. I began “pumping away” on it about three weeks ago, and could only last for 10 minutes the first day; however, I managed to increase my workout time a little each day, until I reached 30 minutes on the sixth day, and I have kept that up for a little over two weeks now. Now I’m flabby; thinner but flabbier – especially in the abdomen and upper chest areas. I have had Gynecomastia for several years now due to having smoked for 50 years (I quit 9 years ago); due to having had Prostate Cancer (treated successfully (I hope–so far so good) with targeted radiation also 9 years ago – during which treatment I gained abut 30 pounds), due to having Diabetes II, and due to being a fairly heavy drinker for almost 60 years (I haven’t had an alcoholic drink since I began this damned diet – although I do sip a little Marsala out of the bottle when I cook with it. I have refused to wear a bathing suit in public for a couple of years now, primarily because of the Gynecomastia (also known as “Man boobs”, or “moobs” as some call them; terribly embarrassing). I finally went in the pool at my daughter’s home on Memorial Day (the water was 84°) – but I donned a T-shirt first! In addition, I recently purchased a set of 5-pound dumbbells and I am trying some “fly” exercises that might help me to reduce the fat in my upper chest.
There is a final phase, The Stabilization Phase, which I have only read about at this time. Upon completion of the Consolidation Phase, one must then make every effort to stabilize their weight. Apparently one can go back to eating whatever they want, and even have an occasional cocktail, however, they must eat pure protein on Thursday (Protein Thursdays); eat 3 tablespoons of Oat Ban everyday for the rest of your life, and “live your life as if elevators and escalators did not exist” (Dr. Dukan’s exact words)!
How Did I Begin The Dukan Diet?
After hearing about this diet on TV, I went online to see if I could find out more about it. I quickly discovered lots of information, including a sample seven-day Attack Phase menu, along with some recipes (which I later discovered were pirated and not exact Dukan recipes). While I could easily create pure protein meals (primarily lean beef, chicken, fish), I knew nothing about Oat Bran. A little more online research led me to Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oat Bran Hot Cereal, and I started out making what I though was a Pierre Dukan Oat Bran Galette using it. However, I was a little suspicious about the words “hot cereal” on the package, so I continued to search for Oat Bran and I eventually found out that I could buy it from The Barry Farm in Wapakoneta, Ohio, so I ordered 5 pounds of the stuff. The two products are very similar. While the Barry Farm Oat Bran appears to be ground just slightly finer, I think one could use either one to make the Oat Bran Patty. The recipe that I began with stated that the patty was made using 3 TBSP Oat Bran, I Egg, 2 TBSP of Greek Non-Fat Vanilla Yogurt, 1/2 tsp Cinnamon, and an optional 2 TBSP of sugar substitute, like Splenda. While I did lose 7 pounds the first week, I got stuck on a plateau and could not appear to lose more, so I went back online to see if I could determine why. Not completely satisfied with what I learned, I drove to the nearest Barnes & Noble bookstore and bought Dr. Dukan’s book. That is when I discovered that the Dukan Diet recipes I was finding on line were not actually the one’s created by the doctor, but ones that had been modified by other persons. Dr. Dukan’s recipe for his Oat Bran Galette (Patty) follows:
1 Egg White
2 TBSP Oat Bran
2 TBSP Fat-free plain Greek Yogurt
1 tsp zero-calorie sweetener
The egg white is beaten until frothy; the other ingredients are blended together, then the beaten egg white is combined with them and the “batter” is poured into a non-stick pan and cooked for about 5 minutes on each side. This patty, or pancake, is usually eaten for breakfast. Once I started making the Oat Bran Patty properly, I began to lose weight again. Having found the Oat Ban Patty to be a very bland pancake, I have since modified the recipe to suit my personal tastes:
1 Egg White (I use 3 TBSP’s of packaged Egg Whites)
2 TBSP Oat Bran
2 TBSP Fat-Free Greek Vanilla Yogurt
1/2 tsp powdered Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Splenda Brown Sugar Blend (what a wonderful find)!
A dash (about 1/16th tsp) of Ground Turmeric (I added this ingredient in August, 2011. It gives the patty a healthy yellowish tint (like maybe you used whole eggs) and it seems to enhance the flavor of the patty).
(I would actually prefer to use 1 full teaspoon of the Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, but each teaspoon of the stuff has 20 calories, so I am sticking to one-half for the time being). I have also had to add just a little spray of EVOO to my not non-stick frying pan, but I take a small piece of paper towel and wipe out any excess accumulation of the oil before I pour in the batter. NOT BAD!
While I haven’t found too many recipes that I really enjoy in Dr. Dukan’s book, I do love his Chicken Marengo. However, I have even modified that recipe. Instead of cutting a chicken breast into “chunks,” I use 1/2 of a whole chicken breast. I flatten the thick end of the breast slightly, so that the breast meat will more evenly cook; then I dust it generously with garlic powder and cayenne pepper before adding it to the pan. The first time I made this dish, I did not have any mushrooms, so I sliced up a Zucchini into about 3/4″ chunks, and added to the pan after the chicken had cooked for about 20 minutes (I also learned to flip the chicken breast over every 10 minutes so that it not only cooked thoroughly, but that that the garlic powder and cayenne pepper spread throughout the liquid. I must also admit that I used a good California Marsala in the recipe instead of just a plain dry white wine (sip, sip). I like this dish so much; I eat it at least once each week. I have also created several other recipes for the Protein+Vegetable meals; some taken from other famous diets, but all modified to suit my own personal tastes, and I have lost 19-1/2 pounds since I started this diet on May 3, 2011 (today is June 10, 2011)!!!
I think one of my biggest challenges has been in finding suitable snack foods. I do get hungry, but there’s not much packaged food (any?) on the market that is suitable for one to eat while on this diet (or ever). Most of the allegedly healthy snacks for sale are either full of chemicals (preservatives) or sugars, or carbs, or fats, and I have not been able to find a healthy high protein, low carb, low fat, low sodium snack food for my pure protein days. The closest that I could come was packaged Beef Jerky, but the sodium and preservatives was a real turn-off. Ironically, while discussing this matter with my family on the Memorial Day Holiday, my daughter remembered that they had a food dehydrator that they hadn’t used for years. I now make my own beef jerky, and I am refining the recipe to make it as healthy and tasty as possible. Once I enter the Consolidation Phase, I will also be able to make dried fruits and vegetables, too! For snacks during the Protein+Vegetable days, I eat celery sticks, radishes, and sliced, seeded, and peeled cucumbers. No problem, Mon.
I would like to remind anyone who reads this posting that even though I began this diet without consulting with my doctor (I won’t see him for about another 3 weeks), No one should begin a diet of this nature without first discussing it with his or her personal physician. I also want to make it very clear that I am not affiliated in any way with Dr. Pierre Dukan, nor am I attempting to promote his book, The Dukan Diet. I do realize that I have a long way to go; once I achieve my true or acceptable weight – which I hope will happen within the next three weeks, I will have to be watchful for almost two thirds of a year, to make sure that I do not regain the lost weight. And I will probably never again be able to enjoy the foods that I really love in the quantities that I loved; the pastas and sauces, the fried fish and shrimp, and extra-crispy fried chicken, the Pizza loaded with extra meat and cheese. And, the booze! Once I enter the Stabilization Phase, I will also be able to have an occasional alcoholic beverage. I think my first drink will be a strong Black Russian; however, I must be especially careful not to fall back into my old habit of having 2 or 3 Martinis before dinner; then having a glass or two of red wine with dinner. I have no doubt that having discontinued the heavy drinking has contributed a great deal to my current weight loss.
WHICH ME LUCK AND PERSEVERANCE, GUYS!
(P.S. – I did not know (or care) that Kate Middleton and her mother were on the Dukan Diet untilafter I was well into mine, and until a friend brought this information to my attention).
UPDATE AUGUST 07, 2011:
When I walked into my doctors office on August 1st, about 90-days after I began the Dukan Diet, I weighed 27 pounds less than I did when I last visited him on April 12th! My A1C had dropped from 6.9 to 6.1 ; my total Cholesterol had dropped from 189 to 129, and my Triglycerides had dropped from 189 to 128 – the lowest I that I can remember. My doctor called me a “Rock Star,” and I went home and had the Black Russian. I also made myself a giant Bacon Cheese Burger for dinner that night; something that I have been craving for a long, long , time. Although I did make it using a 50/50 mixture of 93/7% lean ground beef and extra lean ground turkey, I did add two whole strips of crispy thick bacon and lots of blue cheese. OMG!!!
Now the really difficult part of this diet begins. I must maintain my current weight and healthy component readings for another six (6) months! I have read that once you are diagnosed with Diabetes, you will always have the disease; however, if I can control my weight (and that is a very big “IF”) I might be able to discontinue my diabetes medication. This means that I must continue eating Oat Bran Patty’s for Breakfast (or lunch), and that I must continue to eat high protein, low fat, low sodium, low carb (low everything else) meals until January, 2012. Fortunately, I can eat anything I want one day each week; however, the penalty for doing that is that Thursdays must continue to be an “all protein day.” I have already screwed up, so I must get rid of the Heath Bar Ice Cream and Reddi Wip whipped cream quickly! I guess I had not better go back to having two Vodka Martinis before dinner, and a glass or two of wine with dinner, either (DUH)!