Welcome to Diabeticsavvy.com, the home, for what I hope will be a source of information, resources and inspiration for you and the diabetic community.
The website, including the podcast, YouTube channel with our recipe videos, shop page and the blog are the culmination of a desire to give back to the community that I’m incredibly proud to be a part of: The diabetic community.
This post is simply meant to introduce myself to you and share what my vision is for this site and the community that is being created around it. Also candidly: why I am doing all this.
Late summer 2018 was a crazy time for me. I was at the peak of my career in foodservice leading regional operations for a team of professional chefs, cooks and nutritionists supporting and caring for some of the best retirement communities in the Midwest with great food and dining experiences.
In mid August, driving home at night after a long day, my eyes felt tired and strained. I wasn’t overly concerned because I had just purchased new glasses and my prescription had changed. I was about 45 minutes from my home when my vision began to blur severely. The best way I could describe it is like walking through a fog. It got so bad at one point I had to pull off the road to figure out what was wrong.
While I could make out light and dark, I struggled to make out the details of road signs and my depth perception was really off. I was not scared at this point as much as confused. I thought my glasses prescription was faulty. After closing my eyes for 30 minutes or so, my vision was good enough to drive home. Not a great idea I know, but at the time it seemed like the right thing to do.
The next morning, I woke up and my vision wasn’t any better. I cancelled my appointments and decided to rest. I also called my eye doctor, and made an appointment to have my glasses checked. Thanks to Siri and muscle memory for being able to complete basic tasks like dialing the phone.
My vision didn’t improve for another day and half. Now I was really concerned.
When I met with my optometrist, he ran some tests on my glasses and without flinching asked me if I had diabetes. I was shocked and stunned. “No,” I replied.
“Well, I am not doing anything for you until you see your doctor, it is not your glasses,” he said.
I left not knowing what to think. After a lifetime of near perfect health, and no known history of diabetes in my family, it had to be a mistake.
Now, what I am about to say I would not recommend to anyone, but I said nothing to wife and family, nothing. I am a very independent person, and I am one who needs to process things for myself before I talk about things with anyone, even my closest family. Again, not advising it, but that is how I do things.
After a few more days, my eye sight was better but not normal. It was like my eyeballs were being squished in a vice grip.
I met with my doctor a couple weeks later, blood tests were run and the news was not good. My blood sugar was off the charts and I was diagnosed with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes.
“Nope! Not me, this had to be a mistake,” I thought.
My doctor then proceeded to rattle off multiple medications I would take immediately and I stopped him dead in his tracks.
“That’s not happening today…” I said.
I needed time to understand my diagnosis, and I also wanted to try and improve the results on my own and use medications as a last resort. My doctor was not happy with my statement: predicting that I would not succeed and that less 1% of people can manage diabetes on their own. After a short debate, we agreed to a 90 day test, and I would use a CGM and a low dose Lipitor pill.
Leaving the doctor, I had no idea what to do. I was upset, scared, confused and worried.
This was not just personal, it was also professional. I am professional chef by trade, and while I had experience with menus and specialized diets for diabetes amongst other needs; this was now fundamentally life changing. The center of my whole world was food, the traditions it inspires and the joy it creates.
The center of my whole world was food, the traditions it inspires and the joy it creates.
The next 3 months was an all out massive overhaul. I read more than 20 books on diabetes and diet, watched Youtube videos and sought out as much information as I could find. During this time, I also experimented with my diet, made changes and learned what was triggering my blood sugar spikes.
To be honest, I was frustrated at the lack of consistent information available about how to eat, and there was nothing video related. The best I could find at the time was a 3 year old abandoned YouTube channel that was not educational or entertaining. Most other sources of information was like reading a medical journal, which is fine, important and needed, but hard to read and no matter how many studies you read, there’s always at least one to refute it.
Another point was that if I was struggling as a trained chef, then others must be struggling even more at home. Something had to be done to address this hole in the community and especially, for those newly diagnosed.
Just over 3 months to the day, I was back at the doctor, waiting for my results, and ready to discuss the next steps regarding my treatment.
I will never forget this as long as I live. My doctor opened the door and shook his head.
“… I don’t know what to say, all your blood work is normal…, what are you doing? I have never seen this before.” I had lost almost 60 pounds, lowered my blood glucose averages to 110, my A1C was 5.6 from 10.7 and all without any medication.
I was thrilled! I did it! There’s something awesome about surprising people with success.
It was then that I decided to support the community through food, share my culinary skill and desire to teach; so that those needing support behind me had access to information, resources and community that I found hard to find during my journey.
I want to close this post with a few points:
Don’t fall for the notion that diabetes can be cured. It can be managed, period. Like repairing a dent in car, the original metal is never the same. Learning to accept yourself with your condition can be empowering.
Diabetes has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I got into shape, lost weight, started a new company that genuinely helps people and I still have a great relationship with food. Its not the same, but still great. Just like I am not the same person I was in my twenties. I choose to look at my condition as a new part of myself that will challenge me to grow and be the best I can be for others.
I hope this post will help you and share this if anyone you know might benefit form my story.
I thought it would be really important to include my first YouTube video as part of this post for context and additional background about my motivation for this project.
Feel free to reach out to me via email or leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.