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A lifelong veggie avoider shifts into a healthier gear

As a police officer working night shifts, Rob ate fast food regularly and spent hours in the car. He knew it wasn't an ideal formula for good health. When his wife, Connie, noticed that minor cuts weren't healing as quickly as they should, Rob saw his doctor and learned that he had type 2 diabetes.

Tell us a little bit about your diet before you found out you had diabetes.
I was a police officer for over 30 years, so I was always working shifts. That's really hard on your body, and especially the way you eat. I just grabbed fast food whenever I had a few minutes free. I also preferred working overnight patrols, but that meant drinking a lot of pop to stay awake, and snacking on whatever was open at 3 a.m.

How did that change when you were diagnosed?

I'm retired now, but I was still working when I first got diagnosed. That was hard. I started bringing my own meals to work and trying to eat more salads. Connie was great about packing healthier, pre-measured snacks with 15 or 30 grams of carbohydrates. She also put notes on them—reminders of when to eat. So I'd have a snack between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m., before I'd get really hungry and hit a drive-through.

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You make it sound easy.

Not really...how can I say this? I don't get excited about vegetables. But when I was diagnosed, my blood sugar was high, my cholesterol was high. I knew I couldn't keep eating like that forever.

What about eating at home? Was that easier?

We used to eat a lot of pasta. It's just easy. So Connie started making spaghetti squash with a red sauce instead. It's not the same—of course you can tell the difference—but we like it. We backed way off on fat to help my body use its own insulin better. These changes had a big effect on my numbers, so it was easier to stick with them.

How did your numbers change?

I was diagnosed pretty early, and my A1C was 7.8%. After really making an effort with food and taking my medication, I got it down to 6.4%. Sometimes it creeps back up, but I know what I need to do.

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