Personalized Nutrition


Two weeks ago I wrote about forcing mechanisms. The post was mostly talking about the professional side – but forcing mechanisms also work in your personal life. My personal forcing mechanism? My brother.

My brother is ultra-competitive. Every card game instills bravado and bragging rights like you would not believe. He still claims no one has ever beaten him at Stratego – a total lie. And, don’t even mention my nephews’ soccer games.

So, when my brother challenged me to a weight loss competition, it was most definitely on. 

We have weekly weigh-ins to make sure each week stays competitive. Because my brother cheats (his motto is “if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying”), my youngest nephew is in charge of reading the scale and reporting the result each week. My nephew called the first week, and reported his Dad had lost 8 lbs! Then, proceeded to tell me that he even took off his glasses before weighing. Of course he did.

My youngest nephew also determined the stakes of the bet. The person that loses the least amount of weight between now and Thanksgiving will have a bucket of ice water thrown over their head before the family sits down for turkey.

What makes this interesting for me is that since I was little, I have had issues with my blood sugar. I endured multiple medical tests and eventually the doctor determined that I had hypoglycemia. Essentially this meant my blood glucose levels would spike if I ate any sugar and decline quickly, sometimes to dangerously low levels. It created real issues in junior high and high school as I was an athlete and I would often be coming off the court “low”. I would have perfect strangers trying to hand me candy bars as my coach and parents would be running to get a juice, followed by protein.

These issues run deep in my family. In fact whenever my brother get’s “hangry” - especially during competitive soccer games - I’ll ask him if he needs a Snickers bar. But with my sister-in-law having issues on her side of the family as well, my middle (16 year-old) nephew has it the worst. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes and Celiac. He came to visit me for a week this summer and I got an entirely new education on the topic. 

Parker was lucky enough to get the new Dexcom 6. Now he has a continuous glucose monitor that can alert him (and his nervous aunt) if his glucose levels get out of whack. With his new insulin pump he is able to dial in the right amount of insulin, rather than self-administering shots a minimum of four times per day. I watched as he was able to navigate the ups and downs with relative ease. I am truly amazed at how he takes it all in stride.

His visit and watching the impact of his food, drink, activity on his blood glucose levels started to get me curious about the latest research and the experience of managing my own glucose levels. I began reading many of the new books out on bio-hacking and personalized nutrition. One of my new favorite’s is Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf. I will warn you not to pick up the book unless you want to be scared into never eating grain again. But, what I really love about his new book, is that he lays out some of the research about how a one size fits all approach does not work and a practical guide for how to discover your own reaction to trigger foods.

Fat is bad. Nope, fat is good. Eat more whole grain. Grains will ruin your gut. Drink a gallon of water a day. Nope, drink only when you are thirsty. Everyone needs eight hours of sleep minimum. You should sleep in accordance to your circadian rhythm. It’s my belief that none of these are right - and all of these are right. It is different for every person, hence the phrase Personalized Nutrition. For me, I know much is based on how I react to sugar and carbs. And, after watching my nephew, I messaged my doctor to see if she would prescribe a continuous glucose monitor for me.

The truth is between food trackers, fitbit, connected scales, blood tests, glucose monitors, connected strength trainers, etc., I should be able to figure this out. So, this is my new quest, to test and bio-hack my sleep, nutrition, hydration and exercise for the next 17 weeks. And, of course, beat my brother on Turkey Day.

Wish me luck!