Can There Be a Positive Side of Diabetes?

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Ward Alper is a type 2 diabetic and chef who lives and eats decadently in Portland, Maine. Since his diagnosis more than five years ago, he has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health.

Because I am so positive about managing my diabetes, I am sometimes accused of having rose-colored glasses. That may be so. As a chef, I also like a glass that is half full rather than half empty.

At the end of my last visit with Dr. Dan, he turned to me and said, “I know you might find this strange, but it seems as though diabetes has made your life better.” Some of you will find this odd, but he is right!

How Diabetes Has Improved My Life

Since my diagnosis five years ago, I am healthier than I have been since I was a kid. My blood pressure is that of a 20-year-old athlete. Eating a low-carb diet has helped me lower my cholesterol levels to normal levels. By diet and exercise, I look better than I have in years. Most important, my brain, or my soul, or whatever you might want to call it, is more energized.

Living with diabetes has taught me to be not only healthy but also more creative. Sharing my experiences and recipes with you has made me feel like I contribute to the world in a positive way.
I go to online forums all the time. So many people with diabetes seem so unhappy. Even more seem so discouraged. For example, a post I did about living well with diabetes got this comment from a lady named Debbie: “Healthier… yes. Happier… no!”

The Plus-Side of Having Diabetes

The other day I was conversing online (do I ever talk on the phone anymore?) with my friend, Lissa. This is what she had to say about the plus side of her diabetes:

“Oh, Ward. I am one of the few that you will ever meet that is not unhappy. It most likely saved my life. And given other diseases I could have... I have rediscovered biking, swimming and cooking for myself. No more fast food. It truly changed the course of my life. Smiles.”

I asked Lissa what other pluses she had found to being a person with diabetes.

“Many pluses: I get to choose the restaurant!!! I have made so many new friends. I ride the Tour De Cure in June. I found I am tougher than I knew. I appreciate myself more, and the people around me. Diabetes may take me someday, but not today!!!!”

Boy, am I glad I am not alone. What got me was the bit about the restaurant. I mean, who would have thunk? But it is true. When I go out to eat with friends, they are happy to let me choose the restaurant. Now you may be saying: “Sure they do; you are a chef.” Maybe, maybe not. I think they care enough about our friendship that they want me to be comfortable and able to control what I eat.

For Debbie, who is healthier if not happier, I hope she will stay healthy and get happy. Lissa and I have found that possible.

And like Lissa, I have made a lot of new friends – like all of you! And you have made me a better man!

Enjoy, be happy, be Healthy, BE DECADENT!

Click here for Ward's Low-Carb Pizza recipe!

Get more nutrition tips and recipe ideas from Ward Alper, the Decadent Diabetic, on his website.