“Lifeline of hope”: A low-carb nurse’s story

catherine-cassell-16-9British practice nurse Catherine Cassell discovered low carb last January and was amazed by the results she saw both in herself and her patients. Now, she’s been nominated for the RCNi Patients Choice Nurse of the Year Award 2018 for helping so many patients with her LCHF approach (winner to be announced in July), and she’ll be speaking in front of British Parliament at the APPG Diabetes Meeting later in June.

Nurse Catherine wrote to us to tell us the story of how she discovered low carb and describe the holistic health program she has developed for her patients. Here it is for you to read, too!

I have worked as a Practice Nurse at Preston Grove Medical Centre for 14 years. I absolutely love being a nurse and it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. One of the best parts of my job is seeing my patients with diabetes and pre-diabetes.  I have a passion for helping my patients improve their health and wellbeing, and I strive to give them a Rolls Royce service because that’s what I feel they deserve.
 

I discovered a new way of thinking last January when one of my patients with type 2 diabetes bought me Dr. Michael Mosley’s 8-week blood sugar diet book. WOW, what a life changing moment. What had I been advising my patients all these years?  There are four little words that now haunt me… “eat less, move more” – words that don’t actually have much meaning, especially when advised alongside the current UK eat well guidelines.  I always thought I was doing the right thing by advising my patients to have a third of their plate as starchy carbs, eat low fat, and consume sugary foods less often.  I now believe this advice doesn’t achieve good glucose control and doesn’t help people lose weight. 
 
So, after this realisation, a new page was turned and a fresh start on an exciting new journey began. I feel like I have a winning formula up my sleeve to help my patients and allow them to really improve their health, improve their glucose levels, lose weight and feel happier on the inside as well as the outside.  That winning formula is a low carb healthy fats (LCHF) way of eating with a huge focus on eating ‘real food’. 

I have never been more enthusiastic and motivated in my job to help my patients achieve their goals, and it really helps that many of my patients welcome my new advice and are only too grateful to try something new.  I don’t even need to ‘sell it’ to them – they only have to look at me having lost 2 stone 5 lb (33 lb) myself to know that this lifestyle works. This in itself is hugely inspiring for them.
 

I am able to really practice lifestyle medicine which means advising patients on their diet, sleep, stress and movement.  All of this combined helps patients drastically improve their health.  In years gone by, I would have started a patient newly-diagnosed with type 2 diabetes on medications at the start or within 3 months of a possible ‘failed’ try at diet first. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was already setting them up to fail by giving them advice that I thought was right.  I could have quite literally been a drugs sales rep with all the medications my patients were on as the ‘diet’ wasn’t working.  I used to say that type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease that will get worse over time, and I would tell patients that they would end up on medications and possibly insulin.  How must a patient feel hearing that? Surely they would think “What’s the point in trying then? I’m stuck with this forever and it’s only going to get worse anyway!”
 
big-fat-surpriseI now talk about getting to the root cause of the condition, rather than starting medications that only mask the problem.  I go right back to basics, talk about starchy carbs and sugar and how much is in our food and drink. I go through a typical day of eating and we count up how many sugar cubes that could equate to; this is something that always shocks patients: you can see their chins drop.  I am a very visual person and using these aids helps get the message across. My care is person-centred and individualised, taking into account the patient as a whole. I offer a LCHF approach and always focus on eating unprocessed food as much as possible.  I suggest eating like your great granny would have eaten, trying to eat whole foods that you perhaps could have picked off a tree or pulled off a bush, or that may have been running around in a field recently.  That’s always my take home message to eating real food.
 
So, you may be wondering what results I’ve had since dramatically changing my practice. Well: a lot. I have had patients who have reversed pre-diabetes and some of my patients with type 2 diabetes have been able to put this into remission.  I have had many patients lose weight and generally improve their health.  Some have lost incredible amounts: one patient has lost 9 stone 5 lb (131 lbs) in one year, reversed pre-diabetes and has never felt better.  This has been achieved with a LCHF real food lifestyle and not one medication in sight. I have been able to stop many medications/insulin or reduce doses. Many patients state that they no longer have abdominal pain or bloating, their gastric irritations have disappeared, they feel more energised than they have done in years, they can think straighter and generally feel a lot happier in themselves. 

I feel that LCHF is a lifeline for people that have been ‘dieting’ for years and have tried every one in the book.  My question to people is: why not give it a go and see how you feel?  They often come bounding back in saying how amazing they feel and that they’ve told all their family and friends because they just didn’t know how good they could actually feel.  Type 2 diabetes is no longer classed as a progressive disease as we now know there are different options to getting it into remission as seen with Professor Roy Taylors DIRECT Trial
 
I helped set up a diabetes and pre-diabetes peer support group along with our health coaches: this has gone from strength to strength.  We started with 8 people attending and at the most recent count had 30.  Our subject discussions and talks have been around mindfulness, meditation, movement and exercise and a LCHF/real food approach. I always lay out lots of food items and show how much sugar is in them and we have patient success story talks.
 

Some of my patients very kindly took the time to enter me in to the RCNi Patients Choice Nurse of the Year Award 2018 and I am now waiting to attend the awards ceremony on the 4th July.  I am over the moon that my efforts have been recognised and I feel very proud.  I really don’t think this would have happened if it hadn’t been for me discovering LCHF and changing my approach.
 
I been invited to speak at the next APPG Diabetes Meeting in Parliament on 27th June 2018.  I will be attending the meeting with David Unwin, who is a leading GP in low carb and has won an award for his low carb programme; GP Campbell Murdoch, who is passionate about improving metabolic health; and Mark Hancock, who has reversed his type 2 diabetes with low carb.  We want to spread the word that type 2 diabetes can for some people be reversed/put into remission and that there is hope for patients.  Low carb has the potential to save the NHS millions of pounds as well as many lives, but we need the funds to be able to roll out more programmes. 
 
I am excited and proud to be able to give patients the advice and support they deserve.  It’s never too late and there is always a way to improve their health. Even small changes can make a huge difference.  I feel I owe it to my patients to offer them a lifeline of hope. LCHF could improve their health and potentially put type 2 diabetes into remission.

Comments

Wow! What an inspiring woman! Thank you, Catherine, for the fantastic work you do for your patients. And good luck with the RCNi awards ceremony and your talk in front of Parliament!

More resources for healthcare practitioners

Low carb for doctors
 

Promoting low carb in health care
"After a day or two the hunger goes away"

 

How to help patients reverse type 2 diabetes
Is there any good science on type 1 diabetes and low carb?

 

The seed-planting specialities
Motivating people to change their lives

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13 comments

  1. Jennifer Douglas
    Catherine, what an excellent post in every way. Congratulations regards information shared and provided. Personally I especially valued your comments I quote

    "I now talk about getting to the root cause of the condition, rather than starting medications that only mask the problem. "

    Perhaps it would prove beneficial for many, if other nurses, medics, doctors, in the Medical Professional world, took a leaf out of your book to talk the same. I totally agree 100% the root Cause of Diabetes 2 should be focused and targeted. Great article for one to gain knowledge.

  2. Mary-anne osborne
    Fantastic. I also work in general practice and am very excited about reversing diabetes but often feel I am a bit off piste! My patients come back from structured education and dietitian and pre diabetes course completely confused and not sure who to believe! Well done to you and good luck convincing them !
  3. CW
    Well done Catherine. Hopefully times are truly changing. And that those of making a difference can make this mainstream. This is wonderful and makes me so frustrated at the same time. I too am a practice nurse and i am now a qualified nutritionist. I have been silenced at work from talking nutrition, wholefood, reducing carbohydrates and increasing good fat as apparently it's too out there. But it's ok because their dietitian promotes low fat?????
    So proud to have started my own nutrition practice where i can now empower others to change and educate why this way of life is so important. I healed myself from pre diabetes, depression, chronic pain from going 100% wholefood which is LCHF.
    Reply: #7
  4. Roger Ellis
    It's all true! I can vouch for this from personal experience. After many years of being pre-diabetic I finally lapsed into diabetes and was referred to Catherine in March. After seeing her once, 3 months later my HbA1c has fallen from 54 to 49mmol/mol, serum trigycerides from 2.3 to 1.5 mol/l and I have lost 6 kg and 2 cm from my waist. I did not think that I had a high sugar diet, but I did not realise how much carbohydrate as starches I was eating. I now eat very little bread, oats or potatoes and avoid pasta, rice and fruit juice. I eat more fish, cheese, full fat low sugar yoghurt, butter and eggs and snack on nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Simple. Easy. Painless. Effective. Counter-intuitive too when it comes to no longer avoiding fats like I used to do. I quickly found that I was not feeling hungry, but my weight was going down. No doubt I could fine tune by measuring quantites and being more selective, but I have not needed to, which has made it so easy and simple to do. Reading Dr. Michael Mosley’s "8-week blood sugar diet" has confirmed everything that Catherine told me. Thank you so much Catherine and good luck at the APPG Diabetes Meeting and for the RCNi Patients Choice Nurse of the Year Award, but most of all in spreading the LCHF gospel, dispelling the entrenched mythology and helping people regain their lives.
  5. Maggie
    Excellent news Catherine well done ...I was suffering from Metabolic Syndrome, Non Alcoholica Fatty Liver Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, High Triglycerides etc etc...then I luckily was seen by UK GP Dr Angarhad Powell, who is an avid believer in LCHF way of eating...she diagnosed me with Metabolic Syndrome and said that she would get me off my medications if I went into a LCHF diet ...that was 10 months ago...I am medication free and I have lost over 2 stone in weight, my husband said he would join me in the new eating plan and he has lost over 4 stone in weight..we both feel healthier, have no more bloated tummy,s and are enjoying our new way of life. We do not do strict Keto but eat moderate amount of carbs upto 50 carbs a day ...and it is working ...all the best Catherine, spread the word in Parliament and hope that you win your award . The LCHF word is spreading in the uk . dr Angarhad Powell is now taking her Masters in the health benefits of LCHF way of eating . Bless you all , my dream is that one day the uk will be treating patients with diet first and not medications.
  6. Linda
    What a wonderful story. What a shame there are not more LCHF believers in the NHS. Think of the money that would be saved for other things.

    I hope you will let us know how Catherine gets on with the Nurse of the Year Award and her Parliament visit.

  7. Patrice
    Is there a list of UK nutritionist specializing in LCHF?
  8. Sylvia
    This brings so much hope for people with diabetes. Thank you.
    Is it possible, with the LCHF way of eating, to reverse type 2 after having it for 14 years?
    Here in New Zealand I am having to do this LCHF diet alone. It is not encouraged by my GP, who has increased my medication four fold recently, although I am only taking double medication so far.
    I am hopeful that some significant changes to my blood sugars will happen soon and I have lost 5 kilos to date.
  9. Tony
    Sylvia I would find a doctor who’s not still living in the dark ages. There are good dietitians and forward thinking doctors around. Try Karyn Zinn in New Zealand. Not sure as to whether I have spelt her name correctly.
    Reply: #12
  10. Tony
    Sylvia, you could also point your doctor in the direction of drs Steve Phinney, Jeff Volek , susan Hallberg, who have done research in this area. The science shows it works.
  11. Steve paul
    Good on you for doing it your way Catherine especially after your results.
    Lchf and keto both seem to reduce the symptoms of type 2 and other markers.
    I had been diabetic for 12yrs , plus asthma,plus reflux after being on this way of eating for 2yrs and losing 20kg of weight l have gone off all the medications for the problems i had and are a lot fitter my age is seventy .
    My doctor is amazed at the transformation and sayes i am the only one in his practice to achieve this to date.
    So the word really does need to spread good luck with your meeting.
  12. Sylvia
    Thank you Tony for that information.
    Today my post prandial x 2 b.s. were in the non diabetic range - yes!!. Onwards and upwards.
    I am so grateful to have found some support, via this site. It is appreciated greatly.
  13. Susie Conroy
    well done everyone. Catherine you are an inspiration and I hope your contribution, has been recognised.
    surely its time to shake up the current dietary guidelines once and for all. people have a right to a healthy life.

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