When Ernest Quansah was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he got serious about changing his habits and living healthier. Here's his story.
I'm a chef and pastry chef by trade. I would bake desserts, cookies, and cakes and eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Overworked and stressed, I didn't have time to take proper care of myself.
All of a sudden, I noticed I was having an intense craving for sugar. I'd buy massive jugs of lemonade and drink it all day long. I began to lose weight very rapidly. In one month, I lost about 20 pounds. I noticed a sticky, whitish substance covering my tongue and the corners of my eyes each morning.
In a panic, I went to my doctor. He said, "We need to get a blood test right now, because I suspect you have diabetes." The test results showed my blood sugar was 394. (For most people without diabetes, blood sugar levels before meals hover around 70 to 80 mg/dL.) My doctor said, "Do you realize you're steps away from going into cardiac arrest?"
Finally, after 2 years of struggling, I asked my doctor, "Can my diabetes be cured?" He asked me if it ran in my family. I said no. He then said, "Yes. The best way to cure it is by using several approaches all working together."
I put together a diet and exercise program with my doctor. Basically, I ate no simple carbohydrates. I'd make my favorite soup -- tofu and cabbage with lots of vegetables. Or I'd cut up raw vegetables and eat them with hummus. For breakfast, I'd make steel-cut oats with a little cream and egg whites. I stopped drinking anything sweet.
Every morning, I'd go to the gym and exercise properly. When I first started, I couldn't lift very much and was only able to do 7 minutes of cardio. Then slowly, I was able to stay on the machine for 10 minutes, then 15, and then up to 45. My doctor started reducing my medication.
At nighttime, I went back to the gym and did only cardio. I worked out 7 days a week. I began to feel a surge of energy. Further tests showed that I was healed. "Congratulations! You no longer have diabetes. Your blood pressure is perfect and your cholesterol level is down," my doctor said.
That was 4 years ago. Today, I'm full of energy. I'm still a chef, and occasionally I'll have something sweet on the weekend -- ice cream or a cookie. But eating healthy and exercising -- that's the secret.
Ernest's Life Lessons
- "Take up exercise. Start with 5 minutes and build up slowly. Your energy will come back."
- "Take control of your diet. You don't have to be a chef to eat healthy, delicious meals."
- "One of the simplest meals is to cut up vegetables, toss with greens and a little dressing, and put a can of water-packed tuna on top. That's a complete meal."