What Motivates a Diabetic? Lust, Ego, Money, Fear and the Whole Nine Yards

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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 four years ago, he has refocused his recipes and eating to support his diabetic health. In this article, Ward shares what keeps him motivated to stick with a restricted diet.

What motivates a person to take better care of her/his health? When Carl Reiner asked Mel Brooks (posing as the 10,000-year-old man) what was the major means of transportation in the old days, the 10,000-year-old man replied: ”Fear! You saw a big lion and you took out of there like a shot. You did not stay around for lunch.”

Before My Diabetes Diagnosis

I come from a household where food is love. Eating proves that you love the cook. Not eating shows that you don’t love the cook. In my case this was my grandmother, whom I loved very much. For people of my grandmother’s time, slim (skinny) meant you were sickly. Fat babies and kids were happy and healthy. The result was that I was one pudgy kid. This was despite the fact that she made some “old country” dishes that I could not get past my lips.

In my late 20s, I got the flu. I went to a new doctor (my old doctor was my cousin, George, and he was morbidly obese). This doctor said that he would treat me for my symptoms, but I was not to come back to him afterward unless I took off some weight. He scared the crap out of me, so I started to lose weight. I liked what I saw and continued on until I was slim. It got me noticed in every way: job promotions, praise about how good I looked (not from my family). For the first time in my life, I looked hot? Holy crap!

I had been a smoker for many years. I ignored every package label, every study on the bad effects of smoking. I ignored common sense. There was a period when money was tight and I managed to stop for a few months. When my financial status changed, I was right back at it again. It was not until I got that my smoking might be hurting the one I loved that I finally was able to quit and stay quit! There was never a complaint about my smoking. I poo-pooed everything I heard about second-hand smoke until I got that it might be true. But also, cigarettes were getting more expensive (in those days nearing in on $2.50 a pack). I must admit that I still wonder where all the money I have saved has gone.

After My Diabetes Diagnosis

Fast-forward to four-and-a-half years ago when Dr. Dan told me I was diabetic. My father, brother and sister were all type 2 diabetics. By that time my brother and father were both dead from complications of their diabetes. Was I afraid that I might die? I don’t think that is it. I know we are all going to die sometime. Am I afraid that I will be crippled by one or more of the effects of not taking care of myself? Certainly! Am I concerned that I will be a burden to others? Yes, somewhat. Why am I taking such good care of myself? Ego!

I had to prove to myself that I was better than my brother and my father. Ego! I wanted to prove to Dr. Dan that I could do it. Ego! I liked the way I looked and felt after the first four months of lower carbohydrate eating. Ego! Old friends kept telling me how good I looked (I must have been a wreck before). Lust! I want to be around with the one I love for as long as I can. I want to relish in our relationship and it not be less than it is now.

What I have found and want to share with any of you who are interested is this: The way I stick with my restricted diet is by making it taste so good to me, my family, and my guests that I get compliments all around. I guess that is ego too.

So, like everything in life, it is fear, lust, money, pain and ego that motivate me – and probably you. I just like to add a little flavor to the mix.

Speaking of flavor, here is a recipe for a salad dressing that is quick and easy. It is also amazing on fish and chicken.

Enjoy, be happy, be healthy, BE DECADENT!

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