Living Your Best Life with No Meds Needed! Ann’s Story

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published September 20, 2022

When Ann was diagnosed with Type 1.5 Diabetes in March 2018, nearly every doctor she could find told her that the future would be paved with copious bottles of medication. But Ann knew that she could manage her condition with exercise and diet alone, and despite some stumbling blocks along the way, she has proved herself right!

Her secrets were having a supportive family and endocrinologist, a strong determination, and of course the Mastering Diabetes Method!

Facing Diabetes Head On

Ann had known she was diabetic since August 2017, but the assumption for a woman of her age was that it was type 2 diabetes. Even so, the doctors were suspicious when she said she’d face the condition with exercise and diet. 

Fortunately, after a brush with hyperthyroidism a few years earlier, Ann had a good relationship with her endocrinologist, who trusted her, knew Ann was disciplined, and encouraged her to go for it. 

Some Stumbling Blocks Along the Way

Ann studied her numbers along the way, getting reports every few months, and at first she was seeing decent, but not perfect results. Her highest A1c was 8.7%, and usually hung in the 7-8% range, which wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t where she wanted to be. 

Fortunately, after nearly a year of this process, her endocrinologist realized that Ann wasn’t fitting the profile of a person with type 2 diabetes anymore, and ordered some antibody tests, revealing that Ann actually had Type 1.5 diabetes. 

Ann started to learn how to time and administer insulin, but it was actually almost a year later when her daughter – then a med student, now an MD – clued her into the world of plant-based nutrition through the work of Dr. Neal Barnard. 

Ann began to transition, but felt that she wanted a more in-depth prescription of lifestyle guidelines for living with type 1.5 diabetes. 

“I needed the specifics, the quantities, and I could follow it. When I’m cooking I follow the recipe perfectly. I don’t want to fudge anything. So I was really looking for a super-detailed guide there.”

A New Way Forward

So it was a godsend when she discovered a Mastering Diabetes podcast that offered a much more detailed perspective on her particular situation. She ordered the Mastering Diabetes book, began to read, and had her eureka moment after a discussion where Cyrus referenced his CGM as a “random number generator.” 

As an analytical mind herself, Ann immediately thought ‘these guys get me’, and began to realize all of her own experience falling into place. She had resorted to lean meats and low-fat vegetables, following what was considered ‘common knowledge’ at the time, and had walked away from the fruits she loved (and very much wanted to eat again). 

The Mastering Diabetes method gave her a new path, one that would change everything!

Making Progress with the Mastering Diabetes Method

Following what Robby and Cyrus recommended, Ann started with breakfast, which she already kept mostly plant based. However, she did cut back on the mountains of peanuts and peanut butter she loved to eat. 

Even still eating a ‘normal’ lunch and dinner, Ann lost 8 pounds in just a few weeks (which she jokingly attributes to the peanut butter), and while she did feel some cravings for her old favorites, she loved having so much energy. 

Ann takes her role as a mother and grandmother seriously, and wanted to make sure she was there for her kids, her grandkids, and their spouses. Avoiding all of the horrible complications of diabetes, and being there for her family was what became her “Why”, and when she had gotten that clear, it was simply academic to stick to the Mastering Diabetes lifestyle.

What Is Life Like Now?

Looking back, it took Ann a long time to find the right method for her, but once she did, she stuck with it. Today, she points out a few favorites that have been hard to cut back on – peanut butter, chocolate – and admits that she does have a bite her or there as a special occasion. 

“You do pay the price, and when you check you can see that, yep, the numbers aren’t looking great after your ‘cheat’ foods. But if you’re consistent with healthy habits, they come back down. Life is short, so I don’t want to completely deprive myself of anything, so I treat treats like a special occasion.”

For the vast majority of the time, though, Ann feels great, has great numbers, and hears from friends that she is looking thin, healthy, and young. She certainly doesn’t feel old, she explains, and has found comfort in making diabetes a part of her life. 

Ann found a private coach who lived with type 1 diabetes and got along with tem swimmingly, thrilled to have a person who she could commiserate with and understood her unique challenges.

“I’m really thankful for Robby and Cyrus, two young men who have faced incredible challenges and shared what they discovered for other people. I’m thankful I had the opportunity to change things.”

And the results are tangible!

The Incredible Results 

From an A1c in the high 8s, Ann’s A1c dropped down to between 5-6%, even worrying her doctor at points that she had gone too low with her blood glucose. Fortunately, Ann keeps a close eye on her numbers, and maintains an excellent time in range throughout the day. 

It wasn’t just her blood glucose that improved. Her cholesterol dropped from 170 to 154 and is still dropping. Her HDL, LDL, and triglycerides are all within normal ranges, and in the two years she’s been following this strategy, she’s lost about 20 lbs. 

And as Ann explains, she eats quite a bit, reaching 500g+ of carbs a day, sometimes more, for upwards of 2400 calories. She’s not big on counting calories, because she knows she’s doing well, but she points to it as yet another example of how successful this method has been for her. 

They’re also a great source of inspiration to stick to her plan. Ann walks about 4 miles whenever she can, or rides her bike throughout town, or swims 30-45 minutes a day, and has the energy to keep going and socialize afterward. 

Speaking of sociability, she often gets wide-eyed gazes from family, exclaiming ‘how can you eat that much salad?!’ or ‘how is that much fresh fruit not going to go bad?’

But the salad and the fruits are eaten, it doesn’t get thrown away, and Ann has enough energy to keep up with her 2-year-old grandson. You can learn more about some of the specifics of Ann’s diet (and some personal favorites of hers) in the video above!

From Ann to You

To those thinking about trying Mastering Diabetes, Ann exclaims that you have nothing to lose! Ann can point to moments she worried about – ordering differently at restaurants, or having to bring a side dish – and has actually had nothing but positive experience, like the time a waiter’s sister had type 1 diabetes, and Ann was happy to spread the word. 

“I’ve sort of become an ambassador. For people who have type 2 diabetes, I always say ‘you don’t have to have it, it’s reversible!’, and even though I don’t have a financial stake in this, I just really believe it works and I want to share the success I’ve had. 

This isn’t hocus pocus, it’s based off of hundreds of years of research, and it works.”

Thanks so much to Ann for sharing her inspiring story with us!

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.