How Living With Diabetes Can Still Be Sweet

We are what we eat. Eat smart, not cheap. Eat fresh, not processed.

I learned, at age 12, I had a chronic and very serious disease that I would have to live with for the rest of my life. My diabetes does not consume me—it has helped mold me as a person. I am who I am today because of diabetes, and frankly, I would not want to have it any other way.

An uncle had the disease, so I was familiar with diabetes, but absorbing the full impact of "chronic" or "lifetime" doesn't come easy—if at all. What I did understand was that my mother couldn't hold back her tears the whole time the doctor was talking to us.

Then my mother dried her tears and announced we were going to Friendly's, where I proceeded to down a half dozen ice cream sundaes, one favorite combination of flavors after another, because, as my Mom said, "this is the last time you can do this."

After that day, the door to that particular kind of sweetness—the hot-fudge-whipped-cream-every-flavor-of-ice-cream-imaginable kind—pretty much slammed shut. But, as the saying goes, another door opened. Lots of other doors.

Of course, I would love to find a cure for diabetes. But until that day arrives, I will continue to put my best foot forward and keep moving ahead. Living with diabetes is a constant for me and millions of other people. My main goal is to make it easier for others living with diabetes to understand that they too can live a rich and fulfilling life.

I’m lucky to have a beautiful kitchen where I can research and play with the food components that make up my day-to-day diet. I enjoy finding new ways to make diabetic food more accessible, approachable, and less intimidating. I want to demystify the lifestyle changes one must make when they are diagnosed with diabetes. And for those already living with diabetes, I want to share my insights and knowledge so they can also indulge in the sweet life.

I believe the struggle between food and diabetes begins and ends with children and their caretakers. It is important to teach how easy it is to live the healthiest and most vibrant life possible by eating wholesome foods and seasonally grown fruits and vegetables. We all know that, how could we not? The message—that food and diabetes are intrinsically synced—is everywhere.

It's plastered on newspapers, blogs, books, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and through national campaigns like "Let's Move" from First Lady Michelle Obama and my personal project, The Lunch Pail, which focuses on diabetes education for kids of all ages, races, and demographics who are dealing with the disease and those who look after them, whether that's an older sibling, grandma, aunt, mom or dad.

While kids are part of the solution, it is the adults who really have to go the extra mile and make changes at home.

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