By Catie Flatley
Five years ago I took a trip to my doctor’s office after mysteriously collapsing in the middle of a high school lacrosse game. I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which meant I had a high fasting blood sugar and was on the edge of becoming a full-time diabetic. Discovering that I had this was a complete shock to me. I had always been an athlete and I rarely ate junk food or drank soda.
With all of this not making any sense to me, I chose not to rely immediately on medications. I did some reading and tried taking a few supplements like chromium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and a lot of cinnamon. These helped somewhat, but didn’t lower my A1C (an average blood glucose level over three months) at the rate I had hoped it would.
I still believed that I could beat diabetes without the help of a doctor’s prescription, so I did some more research and found that the fats in animal products prevent the body from fully utilizing the insulin it produces. I chose to change my diet— I eliminated all animal products and became a vegan. It was a hard transition, but it worked. On a typical day before this diet, my fasting blood sugar would sit around 150. Today, it doesn’t go above 100, which is a normal, healthy place to be at.
I was able to make the most of my surprising diagnosis. I learned so much about this different lifestyle and myself just by making a few changes. At first, finding alternatives for protein, milk and eggs was difficult, but I was able to improvise and came across other foods that can take their places. I was eating more kale, lentils, nut milks, and chia seeds than what my body was used to, but I was feeling much better.
The discovery of my health problem led me to a path I didn’t expect to go down. I chose to do some simple research before going on a medication that posed the possibility of giving me more health issues. Following a vegan diet is not for everyone, but it can be an alternative way for others to get back on their feet and to lead a healthy life.