My journey into the horrible world of type 2 diabetes started when I was a little child. As far back as I can remember, my family seemed to generally follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. We ate three meals per day, and our parents always urged us to eat our vegetables. Growing up I had no reason to believe that the food I was eating wasn’t good for me.
Breakfast was typically a bowl of cereal with 2% fat milk and a glass of orange juice. My mother always tried to buy the “healthier” versions of cereal like Cheerios, Corn Flakes, or Special K. Being that kids love sugar, I used to put spoonfuls of sugar in the bowl to help make the cardboard they call “Corn Flakes” resemble actual food.
I would have to say that my parents did what they knew best based on the information that they had been spoon-fed by doctors and the news media. What else were they supposed to do? They both had full-time jobs, and it’s not like we had the internet back in the 80s.
One thing I can remember about being a child was that health was never of any importance to me. It was all about the taste of food, and how it made me feel physically and emotionally. Just like riding on a roller coaster, as a child I was looking for the “ups and downs”, something that I was able to find in food.
If you are a parent, take special note of what I am saying here. Children, in general, are not concerned with their health, for them, it’s all about the moment. They have short attention spans, their focus is on the right here, right now. They are not thinking of tomorrow, next week, or the next ten years. For them, it’s that immediate rush they get in their brain when they eat that cookie, potato chip, or bowl of cereal.
This is why children will ask their parents for snacks, even while they are in the process of preparing a meal. It doesn’t matter that dinner is going to be served in 20 minutes, I want potato chips now because I just saw a commercial on television.
This was the same exact application I took as a child and into my adulthood.
In my early years, I attended public school, where I was forced to choke down what I remember to be the most disgusting processed food of all. The food was so disgusting that I used to try to hide some of it under my tray or in my pockets.
Usually, hiding food was unsuccessful, as our famous lunch lady Mrs. Dorsey would patrol the lunchroom, forcing children to eat all of their “nutritious” food. Of course, there was always the regimented snacking throughout the day, which is commonly pushed by the school system.
After school, I would come home and suck down snacks like jalapeno poppers, pizza bagels, tater tots, potato chips, cookies, or whatever snack foods my mom had purchased from the grocery store that week. I would then wash it all down with high sugar drinks like soda or iced tea.
For dinner, we typically ate things like Hamburger Helper or anything else out of a box with plenty of potatoes and vegetables. Once in a while, I would get lucky and my mom would make things like meatloaf or a casserole, but for the most part, our dinners came out of a box. Typically, dinner was followed by a “reasonably sized” bowl of iced cream.
All in all, my diet consisted of:
Gym class was the worst for me, I didn’t want to run or jump, the only thing I had an interest in was finding the nearest seat and somehow getting out of having to run laps. Any physical activity gave me a splitting headache and made me feel irritable.
In class, I had a hard time focusing and keeping up with the rest. I found myself constantly getting into trouble when I would arrive to school without last night’s homework completed. No matter what, it was like I couldn’t get my brain to just focus on one thing, it was always going in multiple directions.
As the years went by of bingeing in front of the television as a teenager, I became more addicted.
Going into my 20s I moved out of my parent’s house and got my first apartment. Having my first apartment meant a whole new level of freedom, it was finally time to be an adult and do whatever I want. Vegetables were completely tossed aside and exchanged for things like pizza, cheesesteaks, cheeseburgers, and all other kinds of junk food.
Keep in mind that I live in New Jersey, where we have the best pizzarias and old school diners. You can literally walk outside your door and throw a stone in any direction and find something delicious and unhealthy to eat. I frequently visited Gaetano’s King of Steaks to grab a large cheesesteak multiple times a week.
If you’re not from NJ then you probably are not aware that Gaetano’s makes a large cheesesteak that is 17″ long and almost as big around as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bicep.
The funny thing is, during this time I didn’t really gain too much weight. I was fairly thin for many years and accepted this as confirmation that I was healthy.
I never went to doctors, didn’t do check-ups, didn’t take any medications, and to the best of my knowledge, I didn’t have any health problems. I maintained what I considered to be an average physique and didn’t find any reason to believe that I had any health problems. I drank my Coca Cola with full confidence that I was in fact, invincible.
Little did I know that there was a ticking time bomb inside of my body, ready to go off. They say “it sneaks up on you”, and they are right!
The biggest problem I had during my 20s was the severe lack of personal responsibility. I never took a single thought about my health at any time.
When I got sick with a cold or the flu, let’s just say that I really got sick! Just the common cold would render me completely incapacitated, it was virtually guaranteed that I would call out of work.
I don’t think there was a single job that I worked back then where I wasn’t reprimanded for taking too much time off of work. My bosses simply would not believe me and thought I was just playing hooky. Unfortunately for many, being in poor health can get you in trouble at work.
Into my 30s I became more of a “responsible” man, which is code for “I’m 30 now”. My lifestyle evened out a bit, I began cooking more than eating out. Sadly, I ended up just giving up one unhealthy lifestyle while adopting another.
After putting on more weight than I was comfortable with, I started to lean my diet more towards the conventional, or so I thought. I adopted a diet that highly resembled what I was fed as a child. I went to the grocery store and bought Hamburger Helper, lean meat, margarine, cooking oil, microwave dinners, ice cream, pasta, bread, etc.
To my dismay, the dietary changes I made did not help me to lose any weight but instead became a bigger part of my problem. With every drink of soda and bite of pasta, my body became more and more addicted to sugar. This addiction, in turn, made me drink more soda and desire more carbohydrates.
During the last days before getting diabetes, I was drinking on average, 1-2 two liters of soda per day by myself. It was an addiction so strong that I ended up turning to the “crack” of soda, I ditched the Coca Cola and started buying the Walmart store brands.
Seeing that I also loved to drink Dr. Pepper, I typically drank Walmart’s copycat brand Dr. Thunder. That’s when you know it’s really getting bad, when you have to seek out cheaper alternatives to your soda consumption.
The whole time this was taking place, I kept getting stern warnings from my best friend Craig about what I was doing to my body.
You see, Craig has type 2 diabetes himself, and at the time I met him he was already on his journey to learning everything he could learn about the disease, and how to reverse it. He kept telling me “you need to completely stop drinking soda or this is going to happen to you”. Of course, I was indestructible, or so I thought.
I didn’t heed his warnings, and therefore got exactly what I deserved. The ride was soon to be over.
One fateful day things changed in a very serious way, it was as if God himself had just about enough of me and my gross negligence regarding my health. I remember being at a party at a friend’s house and being ridiculously thirsty. I mean really, really thirsty. I have never felt so thirsty in all of my life!
As soon as I arrived, I found the closest bottle of iced tea and started sucking it down.
No matter how much I drank, I just got more thirsty. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, I just figured I really wanted to drink iced tea. My friend who was hosting the party had one of my favorite iced teas loaded up in a tabletop dispenser, my assumption is that I just really love this iced tea.
The next morning something was different, something frightening. Despite having a full night’s sleep, I felt like I hadn’t slept a wink. I was overly tired and incredibly thirsty. I couldn’t believe just how thirsty I was, I never felt anything like it.
I remember going into the bathroom that morning and while urinating I smelled a very strong sweet smell wafting up from the toilet. I cannot even describe how strong the smell was, it was overwhelming. I knew right then and there that something was wrong, for the first time in my life I was utterly frightened.
I also noticed that I was having serious problems with my muscles. If I tried to lift anything heavy, I would get a quick, sharp pain that would shoot into whatever muscles I was using. I found myself randomly dropping things due to this. It’s like there was a limit placed on the amount of strength I had in my body. In my opinion, it felt like a very quick electric shock.
I currently have and have always had perfect eyesight. Even as I have gotten older, I have never felt like my eyesight has lost any quality. Despite my success in that area, I was clearly having an issue with my eyesight due to diabetes.
My vision was blurry and sometimes spotty, almost as if I had something in my eyes. In error, I actually ended up purchasing moisturizing eye drops thinking that I was just having some sort of a dryness issue. As I did more research, later on, I realized that poor vision is another symptom of type 2 diabetes.
Being a lifetime computer nerd I immediately went to Google and searched for the symptoms. The results were clear, I had type 2 diabetes.
I was in denial and continued to search more and more, looking for an alternative answer. Every single resource I found on type 2 diabetes listed every single symptom I had without exception. There was no denying it, the consequences of my lifestyle had caught up to me.
I spent a few more hours doing more research, trying so desperately to find a reason why I was wrong. “Maybe I really don’t have diabetes,” I thought, as I continued to read more and more.
My heart was filled with a level of fear that I have never experienced in my entire life. I felt the fear of death coming over me. To make matters worse, I didn’t have that much money, no health insurance, and no way out. Or so I thought.
Getting work done was impossible, I immediately started falling behind on my deadlines. I was working an at-home job as a software coder, I worked in my home office by myself, with no other employees or a boss watching over me. I actually remember multiple times just passing out at the keyboard, only to wake up hours later realizing I just wasted almost a half of a day sleeping at the computer.
I was in serious trouble! With no health insurance and no direction, I had to do something fast.
Who would ever think that a single phone call could change the entire course of someone’s life? Yet for me on that day, this was the one phone call that did it all.
I picked up the phone and called my friend Craig, the very person who kept warning of what was about to happen to me.
He immediately started giving me advice, the type of advice that at the time I thought was completely off the wall. He told me things that were completely the opposite of what we have been taught to believe.
I didn’t question any of it, I just listened and took notes. I did something stupid, I got myself into a mess, I’m not going to make it worse by arguing with someone. Now was the time to start listening.
I was always told, keep your fat low, drink 2% milk, eat plenty of grains, eat cereal for breakfast, be sure to snack throughout the day to curb your appetite. Not one single piece of that nonsense came out of Craig’s mouth.
Of course, the first thing he told me was “you need to throw your soda away”, in which I immediately complied. Instead, he told me to drink nothing but water. He gave me a list of things to get rid of, in which I immediately scanned my kitchen and started tossing things into the trash. It didn’t matter that I had spent money on all of those groceries, they went right into the trash can.
Then he gave me more advice, and he turned me onto some great resources to get me started on my new journey to peak health, which I will get into in my next article.
Along with some basic dietary advice, my friend Craig turned me onto one of the best scientific resources I could find known as The People’s Chemist.
Shane Ellison MS, also known as “The People’s Chemist” is an organic chemist and author of Over The Counter Natural Cures, 3 Worst Meds, and The Stop Eating So F#@%ing Much Diet. He holds a master’s degree in organic chemistry as well as a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry.
Ellison’s concept is primarily focused on gaining control of your weight and health by restoring proper hormone function through natural means and without the help of prescription medications.
He uses his education as a biologist and pharmaceutical chemist to publish books, articles, and videos that inform the general public on things like diet, supplementation, and exercise.
My very first purchase was the book “Over the Counter Natural Cures”. I learned about many different ways to deal with typical ailments through nutrition and supplementation. The book was laid out almost like a technical manual for the body, with each chapter aimed at a particular subject.
As a software engineer, I already had a basic knowledge of how to recognize sound science. Ellison’s book maintained a constant burden of proof with a list of verifiable scientific references documented on the last 18 pages of the book.
I started to develop a “scientific eye” on the things around me, learning how to do research on my own by reading peer-reviewed articles in online medical journals as well as decipher the results of clinical trials.
Don’t think I ever trusted The People’s Chemist with my eyes closed, from day one I was busy on my computer doing tons of research on anything before I made a single move. My rule has always been, when someone makes any sort of a claim, I research it myself and verify whether or not it’s true. After you learn how to do that, then you can really protect yourself from just about anything the food, pharmaceutical companies, or internet charlatans throw at you.
I decided early on that if I’m going to take my health into my own hands, I better be really sure of things on a scientifically factual level before making a move. Not to mention the fact that I have seen friend after friend fall for the strangest of fads that were selling the answers to everyone’s problems without a single shred of scientific evidence.
Hint: You can typically tell if a site is being run by a charlatan based on how many times his picture is slapped up on a page, post, header, or sidebar. When you say to yourself “wow, 36 different photos all over, not one single scientific reference” it’s time to move on.
To date, I have never seen anything questionable that could not be verified scientifically through already established research through The People’s Chemist website, books, or YouTube channel. For those who are seeking to gain further control of their health, that’s a good thing. It’s always a good idea to have as many highly educated people that you can utilize one way or the other.
Throughout my battle with diabetes, I had a lot of successes and failures. Hopefully, others will read this blog and learn from my experiences. Take a look at my next article about The Atkins Diet, what it did for me, how it failed me, and my learning experiences from it.