What if a diet could make you lose weight without feeling hungry all the time? What if the diet could also lower your blood pressure, control your blood sugar, and decrease your risk for a heart attack?
A local couple in their 60s decided to find out last October. At the time, they were clinically obese and taking daily medications for cholesterol. The husband was also on medicine for high blood pressure. Nine months later, their transformation is amazing.
“[People] who hadn’t seen me in a year were shocked!” says the husband. “They were amazed,” the wife agrees. Together, the couple has lost a total of 134 pounds. More importantly, their blood sugars, blood pressures, and cholesterol profiles are better, lowering their risk for heart attacks, strokes, and more. “Our bloodwork was better than it’s ever been!” says the wife. “They took my husband off his blood pressure medication.” “Didn’t need it anymore,” the husband explains.
The Walton County Health Department’s free DOHC program, short for “Diabetes, Overweight, Hypertension, and Cardiac Disease Prevention”, is a new approach to combatting these diseases. Collectively known as “metabolic syndrome,” the “DOHC” conditions affect more than half adults in the U.S. And numbers are rising.
While traditional diets tell patients to eat fewer calories and especially less fat, the DOHC program is different. “It’s a ketogenic diet,” explains Lorri Tanner, the health department’s nurse manager. “Patients cut out all carbohydrates, meaning sugars and starches, but they eat as much fat as they want. Their bodies stop craving sugars, and they adapt to burning fat for energy.” While this may sound counter-intuitive to weight loss and heart health, the approach is based on cutting-edge medical science.
“Being fat isn’t a willpower issue. It’s a symptom of a larger disease process that’s causing the epidemic of diabetes and heart disease we see every day,” says Lorri. “The root cause is too much carbohydrate in the diet. The solution is cut out the carbs.”
The ketogenic diet is not without controversy. “A lot of people are scared to do it,” acknowledges the wife. “They say it’s dangerous, blah blah blah.” But the diet works for many patients where other approaches failed. “Patients who stick to it control diabetes and blood pressure, and most lose weight,” Lorri explains.
The best part? “I don’t feel lousy all the time on this diet,” says another patient in his 30s. He started the program almost three months ago and has lost 45 pounds. “When I counted calories, I was tired and hungry constantly. I lost weight, but I felt bad.” And now? “I feel great. I miss rice, but it’s worth it.”