Meet Neil and learn of a person who not only wants to challenge themselves but who doesn't want Type 1 Diabetes to inhibit his life, life performance or attitude in anyway! Recently Neil took to the roads of our vast country Australia, in the name of raising awareness and funds for the Telethon Type 1 Diabetes Clinic in WA. Throughout his journey, we at Nutrition for Life followed his updates and were super impressed in Neil's reflections around the physical and mental toll this trek had on him but also the stories he shared and documented in relation to low carb eating along the way...over to you Neil...
My name is Neil McLagan. I'm a 37 year old father from Perth WA. I am also an ultra endurance cyclist, with a passion for sports and keeping active. I am also passionate about advocating for better management of type 1 diabetes (which I live with) through nutritional and lifestyle practices. Maintaining a low carbohydrate dietary approach not only helps me better manage my type 1 diabetes, but helps me to remain active and enjoy overall health and well being.
Perspective - gratitude and mindset
Life with an autoimmune disease has helped me to develop an entirely different perspective on life. One where I am not deterred by the challenges, but perhaps encouraged by them in an effort to discover what I'm truly capable of. It's important for me, especially in the context of living with such a challenging condition to practise gratefulness. I often feel that being resilient, comes from being grateful. There were many times during my ride from Perth to Sydney, where simply practising gratefulness, such as being grateful simply for the morning sunrise, would lift my spirits and help me push on through the most immensely challenging moments.
Neil's "no limitation" policy
It's a common perception that type 1 diabetes is limitation. It can be in certain circumstances. But I wanted to prove to myself and to others that in this particular circumstance, type 1 diabetes posed no barriers to achieving my dream, which was to see Australia on a bike and to complete an ultra endurance feat such as this. I wanted to use this experience to inspire others, especially young people who are affected by type 1 diabetes.
Knowledge = power over your health
To have invested the time in gaining knowledge and using that knowledge to understand my body to the best of my ability, is one of the greatest health management practices I have learnt. Listening to what my body needs and in particular, understanding the true power and potential of good nutrition, has been an asset to my type 1 diabetes management and my overall health.
The role nutrition plays in Neil's health
For 15 years, I followed and trusted the advice I received from my health care team. That advice was tailored to suit the mainstream guidelines and recommendations and perhaps not tailored to best suit me. I lived the subsequent roller-coaster that is common place for many who live with type 1 diabetes. I was regularly active and felt as though I was doing all the right things, but no matter how hard I tried, never managed to reduce my HbA1c below 6.8%, a number I considered normal then, but a number I consider above range now and leaving me at much higher risk of diabetes complications later in life. In 2013 I was introduced to Dr Phinney and Dr Voleks books and literature, as well as the famous Dr Bernstein's book, The Diabetes Solution. After reading all of this material, I could not refute the evidence that appeared clear to me that this was the only way forward. I transitioned to a low carbohydrate lifestyle and my overall health outcomes, including my type 1, improved dramatically, reducing my HbA1c from 6.8% (a 15 year low) down to 5.5% within months and now resting in the high 4's to low 5's. Since then, I have never looked back
(Examples of Neil's nutrition choices whilst on his recent cycling journey across Australia)
Typical Nutrition for Neil
Most people ask me when speaking of my diet what I 'can't' eat, but in simple terms, it's much easier for me to describe what I 'can'. It consists of sustainable sourced whole foods. My plate consisting of a moderate amount of protein, healthy fats and very low carbohydrate foods. Protein sources include beef, lamb, chicken, pork, offal and eggs. Fat sources usually come with the protein, but also include avocados, macadamia nuts, olives, seeds and cheese. Very low carbohydrate foods are often green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, fried or lightly steamed, or as a salad.
A typical meal example for me would be a grass fed scotch fillet, with steamed broccoli and kale, sauteed in garlic butter and macadamias with plenty of salt and perhaps some avocado or cheese.
What is next for Neil?
Who knows, but one thing is certain, it will be a life without living at the mercy of type 1 diabetes. I have a few new endeavours to focus on, so hopefully you will hear plenty more as I continue to share my journey and my message.
Learn more about Neil and his quest to raise awareness and funds for Type 1 Diabetes;
His website, blogs, cause and donation link can be found here
If you have a question or comment please feel welcome to use the contact form below and we will get in touch with you.