Diabetes runs in my family -- everybody has it on my father's side -- so it didn't really come as a big surprise when I was diagnosed in 2000. I was 30 years old and pregnant with my first child. My baby was born at almost 11 pounds, which is typical of a mother with diabetes.
With that first pregnancy I gained only 20 pounds, but during my second one I gained about 45 pounds. Throughout both pregnancies, I had to give myself insulin injections numerous times a day. After pregnancy, I took pills to control my diabetes.
Sam Talbot, runner-up and fan favorite from season two of Bravo's "Top Chef," is former executive chef of Imperial No. Nine in New York's Mondrian SoHo hotel and the Surf Lodge in Montauk, N.Y. Talbot, 34, also lives with type 1 diabetes. In his cookbook The Sweet Life, published last year, he shares his personal health and wellness philosophy, as well as some of his favorite diabetes-friendly recipes. Here he dishes even more about how he stays healthy.
What's your approach to cooking and food?
All my life, I've struggled with my weight. I was heavy as a child, teenager, and adult, and took after my father's side of the family, where everyone is overweight. I'd lose weight and gain more back, thinking I could eat the same as I did before. It was a vicious cycle. No matter how much I tried to diet, I never seemed to get my weight or diabetes under control.
In 2014, I learned about a surgery called the gastric sleeve. I thought, "How wonderful. They make your stomach smaller, and you can control your diabetes." Surgery isn't the answer for everyone. For me, it was a tool to help me eat smaller and healthier portions of food. I decided with my doctor it was worth a try. I had to go through a series of tests to see if I qualified, and I did because of the diabetes.
I came home a couple of days after the surgery and had a sugar low because I was still taking medication. My doctor told me, "Don't take it anymore." Ever since then, I've never taken another pill. More than a year later, I've lost 75 pounds and I'm a lot healthier. I don't have diabetes anymore.
The thing that scares me today is that my older son, Ozzy, is borderline diabetic, just as I assume I was when I was a kid. Since having the surgery, I don't bring any sweets in the house. I encourage him to eat real food instead of junk food. We all eat more fruit, vegetables, and lean meat.
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