Women In Low Carb Series: Allison Herschede

Meet Allison, a 44-year-old Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist at diaVerge Diabetes. For the past 14 years, she has been committed to a low-carb lifestyle. Initially driven by weight loss goals, Allison soon realized the significant benefits for her blood sugar levels. Embracing Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s protocols, she successfully normalized her blood sugars despite living with type one diabetes since childhood.

Allison's journey began when a friend with type 1 diabetes introduced her to the Diabetes Warrior website by Steve Cooksey. Cooksey had successfully reversed his type 2 diabetes with a low-carb diet, inspiring Allison to reconsider her own approach. Initially skeptical, she began to question the logic behind consuming carbohydrates with type 1 diabetes, asking herself, "So why was I eating them?"

Today, Allison's diet primarily revolves around protein-rich foods and non-starchy vegetables. She occasionally includes nuts, seeds, and limited dairy in her meals. Her regimen steers clear of grains, sugars, starches, and sweet fruits. Over time, she shifted away from a high-fat Paleo/Keto meal plan, which included items like "bulletproof coffee" (coffee with butter and coconut oil) and indulgent treats like cream cheese pancakes and fat bombs. She found these options lacking in nutrition and high in calories. Instead, she embraced a higher-protein approach, leading to improved insulin sensitivity and hormonal balance.

While social situations can be tough, with people urging her to eat despite good intentions. But Allison values the freedom of her low-carb lifestyle. As she puts it, "I love how I can go hours without eating and I’m not hungry. I love that my blood sugars are controlled. I no longer deal with the carb cravings I struggled with previously."

Allison's success on a low-carb diet is remarkable. She has achieved significant health milestones, such as shedding 55 pounds, maintaining an hbA1c of less than 5%, and no longer needing 15 prescription medications. She explains, "I reversed hypertension, hyperlipidemia, depression, resting tachycardia (I reversed vagus nerve damage), and I reversed non-proliferative retinopathy and gastroparesis, acid reflux, as well as debilitating migraines." With such success it was only natural to want to share her experience. In 2014, alongside three others, she founded the TypeOneGrit community.

Allison's success in overcoming various health issues inspires hope for others in similar situations. Motivated by her own transformation, she focuses on low-carb diets and diabetes education, aiming to inspire and guide others toward better health. Her journey serves as a reminder that with dedication and knowledge, positive change is possible. As she shares, "Once I learned about the amazing benefits of low-carb and blood glucose control, I knew this was my passion; to help others like myself normalize their blood sugars and improve their overall health."

From a scientific perspective, Allison explains how low-carb diets benefit individuals with diabetes by addressing carbohydrate intolerance. “On the very base level, diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate intolerance. We cannot properly metabolize the very macronutrient we are instructed to focus our diet around. Even with the most rapid-acting insulin, we cannot predictably match the peak of rapid-acting carbohydrate to rapid-acting insulin.” She emphasizes the importance of blood sugar control in women, particularly during pregnancy and menopause. Her book, "Grit Pregnancies; How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy and Normal Blood Sugars with Type 1 Diabetes" was published in 2021. Allison specializes in type 1 diabetes in pregnancy, helping women have complication-free pregnancies, and healthy babies. "During pregnancy, it’s especially important to maintain normal blood sugars for fetal growth and development," she advises. "Carbohydrates are not required for growth, glucose is required."

Common misconceptions about low carb, such as "fat causes heart disease, high protein diets cause kidney disease, and that carbohydrates are required for the brain to function," have been debunked by numerous studies. Drawing from her own journey, Allison advises people to explore the scientific evidence and question conventional wisdom. She encourages independent research, saying, "I point my clients to the literature on these topics and urge them to research for themselves rather than blindly trusting what they’ve been taught."

When transitioning to a low-carb lifestyle, Allison's advice is simple: "Don’t cheat. Don’t even take a single bite, as the cravings will come roaring back, then you’ll be dealing with them for possibly weeks. There are so many low-carb friendly recipes and products at this point, there is an alternative for almost any high-carb food."

For maintaining proper nutrient intake while on a low-carb diet, Allison suggests visiting Marty Kendall’s Optimising Nutrition website. She highlights the richness of nutrients in low-carb foods, stating, “There is no vitamin or mineral in a high-carb food that can’t be found in a low-carb food.”

As for baking enthusiasts interested in incorporating enjoyable low-carb, and blood sugar-safe options into their diet, Allison recommends ROSETTE’S low-carb baking mixes, sharing that “they are delicious and blood sugar safe”, as well as Carolyn Ketchum’s recipes, and Maria Emmerich’s cookbooks. Allison encourages readers to try low carb for a month, confident they will notice positive changes.

As Allison continues to champion the cause of low-carb living, her partnership with diaVerge and T1Pal heralds a new era of innovation and collaboration. Through initiatives such as the Loop app—an automated insulin delivery system—she envisions a future where individuals with diabetes can thrive, liberated from the constraints of fluctuating blood sugar levels.

Allison's journey reveals the incredible impact of a low-carb lifestyle. As we embark on our own health journeys toward better health, we draw on inspiration from Allison's story–a story of hope, empowerment, and the boundless possibilities of a low-carb lifestyle. We appreciate her commitment to using her experience to educate and guide others, showing them there is a better way.

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