How to Find a Plant-Based Diabetes Doctor

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published October 2, 2018

Podcast Transcript

Laurie Marbas, MD: I think people think they’ll actually have to learn how to cook differently. No, you're just cooking different foods. And actually, I, my food choices have broadened tremendously. I mean, I never had jicama, and I never tried all these different flavors, and cooked with the Indians, and lentils, and Dahls, and there's so much flavor and so much good food. It's not that difficult. Actually, it's a really wonderful journey that you can do.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Welcome to the Mastering Diabetes Audio Experience, where we teach you how to sit in the driver's seat of your diabetes health for the rest of your life. We’ll teach you how to reverse insulin resistance, achieve your ideal body weight, gain energy and get your best A1c following more than 85 years of evidence-based research in the Mastering Diabetes Program.

Robby Barbaro: Our program teaches you how to reverse prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, and how to simplify your life with type 1 diabetes by maximizing your insulin sensitivity, using food as medicine.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: We're on a bold mission to reverse insulin resistance in 1 million people. We're glad to have you joining us.

Robby Barbaro: Welcome to the Mastering Diabetes Audio Experience. Thank you for taking the time to tune in. Today’s is a really important episode. So, we have great information from the physician Dr. Laurie Marbas, that we're interviewing today. But even more exciting than the information today's show is that, many of you who are listening to this, can actually have Laurie Marbas be your physician.

You could set up an appointment with Dr. Marbas without ever leaving your home. And this can be done through a very innovative platform called Doctors on Demand. And this is a great website where people actually go and they find a doctor, literally within minutes. So, that's the way of the platform is designed. It's sort of an online urgent care, where you go, you register, you sign up and you will find a diabetes doctor to talk to immediately 24/7. But the way we're suggesting you can use it is, not so much for emergencies, but you can sort of “hack the system”, and you go there, you register, and then you look for Laurie Marbas, if you're in one of the 12 states where she is covered. And then you can set up an appointment, and you get to have Laurie be your physician.

And there's a process where you enter your insurance information. Some of you may get the appointment covered. But at the time of this recording, even if it is not covered by your insurance, it costs $75 for a 15 minute appointment. And even more importantly is, as you register for the appointment, you fill out all your health information. You provide the medications, you say what you're struggling with, what your questions are. Laurie will review that, and she'll be ready to go, to be very efficient during your appointment. So it's just the future of medicine. It's very exciting. And I know a lot of people out there are looking for a diabetes doctor who understands this diet, and nobody understands it better than Dr. Laurie Marbas.

So, if you want a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food physician, I highly suggest seeking her out. So the states that she's covered in right now are Florida, Texas, Washington State, California, Kentucky, Georgia, New York, Ohio, Arkansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Colorado, and I believe she's adding a few more. You can always find her on her website, I believe it's howtohealth.com, and we’ll also link that up below. You can just google her name Laurie Marbas, you'll find her. She is up to some amazing work. We were just hanging out with her at the International Plant-Based Nutrition Health Care Conference. And she is just a true gem. So I'm really excited for today's episode.

This is an interview from our Online Summit. And if you have not checked that out, please, please do it's a free event. Go to www.masteringdiabetes.org, click Summit in the navigation bar, and you'll see all the amazing speakers there. Enter your email and you will get access to all the interviews over a seven day period. And it's really life changing information.

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Click on the button below to download the transcript of this podcast episode to reference in the comfort of your home.

So this is one sample interview from that event. And you're going to hear Dr. Marbas talk about how she got into lifestyle medicine herself. We asked her directly how she treats patients with diabetes, and she goes through her thought process, and what she does. She provides really good tips for communicating with your diabetes doctor. So, a lot of people run into challenges there, and their diabetes doctor is asking them to do a low carbohydrate diet. She helps give tips for navigating that situation.

She also gives really good tips for eating healthy on a budget. She has a family, she has so much experience feeding a family, and preparing large amounts of food, and buying a lot of food, I think you're going to find that helpful. And she also provides some tips for saving time in the kitchen. So it's a really, really good episode. Hope you guys enjoy it. And as always, if you're liking the podcast, please share it with others. And we would love a review on iTunes. All right.

Before we get into the episode, I just wanted to make one clarification. The website to find Laurie at is healthyhumanrevolution.com, we will link that up in the show notes. And just to be clear about the Doctor on Demand situation. If you don't live in any of those 12 states, then she cannot be your physician. So, she can't practice medicine in any other states other than the 12 I just listed.

So, if you don't live in one of those 12 states, and you go to doctorsondemand.com, and you try, you register, then you look for the list of physician, she's not going to be listed there, because she's not covered to practice medicine in any of those other states.

So, same issue would happen if you tried to go to her website, and set up an appointment, you know, somehow through there. I don't know if she does that or not, but I'm just saying. Even if you tried to “hack the system”, and try and talk to her without going through Doctors on Demand. It's a legal issue that she can't practice medicine unless you live in one of those 12 states. So, I hope that's clear. I hope that makes sense. And I hope some of you living in those 12 states do take advantage of this opportunity, because she really is one of the best physicians out there. All right now on to the show.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Alright. We are very pleased to be here today with Dr. Laurie Marbas. Dr. Marbas is a board-certified family medicine physician, and a board-certified physician in lifestyle medicine. She utilizes a whole-food, plant-based approach with her patients for the past six years. She's been doing that in rural Colorado, and, she's the former medical director of Dr. Fuhrman's Health Oasis in Boca Raton, Florida. Dr. Marbas is the host of the podcast called “How to Health,” and a website that has online self-guided classes for individuals who want to make a transition to a whole food, plant-based diet, and also offers many resources for parents to help their kids eat healthier, as well.

She's also working with Chef Martin Oswald on a new project, too, called Doc and Chef: Bringing Flavor to Health. She's spoken at the Plantrician Project at Cultra, Golden Vegfest in Colorado, and other venues, teaching about the value of a whole-food, plant-based diet. She's also written seven books while she was in medical school. Six of which were in series called Visual Mnemonics, using cartoons to memorize vast amounts of information, because she was also a mom at the same time she was a medical student. She is a USAF veteran, and having served at both in the Middle East and in South America. She's also a wife, a mother of three grown children, and an avid runner. So, thank you so much for being here with us today, Dr. Marbas.

Laurie Marbas, MD: Thank you for having me, I'm excited to be here.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Here’s the first question for you: Can you give us a little intro into your personal story, as to how you first got involved with plant-based nutrition?

Laurie Marbas, MD: Absolutely. So, this started back in 2012. I was in a little town called Rifle, Colorado. I always like to joke, there was a lot of hunters and no gathers. But at that time, I actually had a patient come in who was morbidly obese. She was young, thirty-seven, and she just happened to mention to me, “You know, Dr. Marbas, meat and dairy upset my stomach.” I said, “Well, stop eating meat and dairy.” And she did, and I knew she was actually going to be okay. I knew intuitively she'd be alright, but it didn't register with me that that was actually a plant-based diet.

I just noted in her chart, she came back in thirty days, I didn't really think much about it. But when she came back, her daughter had gone on the diet with her. Her daughter, at that time, was sixteen, and during that thirty days her daughter pulled herself off two attention deficit disorder medications. She actually brought her daughter back to the appointment, because she couldn't understand how a change in her diet, just with removing meat and dairy, would actually allow her to pull herself off those medications. She was, “Dr. Marbas, why was she able to do that?” And I was like, “I don't know, but that's the coolest thing I've ever seen.”

And I was trying to figure this out in my brain. You're going back through years of medical education, post to high school, it's eleven years. And, so, I was struggling, and I started asking her, I just said, “Really, what were you eating?” I was like, at the end of it, she was like, I was eating plants. And the first thing I googled, of course, thank goodness for Google, I found the China Study. I got the China Study, I downloaded an electronic format, and I read it in two days. So thankful for Dr. Campbell. And I'm sitting here going, “I have to relearn medicine, because this is not how I was taught.” I mean, I know how to diagnose, I know how to treat with prescriptions, I know how to do certain procedures, refer for procedures, but I was never understood the value of the nutrition. It was such a simple concept, that's so revolutionary at the same time. It was really hard for my brain to wrap around.

And so, what happened is I said, “I really want to try this on one more person.” because at that time my kids were 13, 15, and 18, and a husband. I was like, “Before I even begin to use this with patients, I have to do it myself.” So, I had a lupus patient come in two weeks later, and I was like, “You know, I'm going to try this on one more patient.” And we did. She was willing to do it. And within five months, she lost 50 pounds. Her lupus nephritis had resolved. She was off 7 to 12 meds, including methotrexate, which is a chemo drug, high doses of prednisone.

And during that time, when we had transitioned her, we had measured her inflammatory markers, and she had remarkable improvement in a period of two weeks. And so, after that two weeks, I went home and I said, “You know what? That's it.” I literally walked in the door, threw down my purse, gathered everything in the refrigerator, meat, dairy, eggs, you name it, all gone. Milk, cheese, out the door. Threw it out. My kids were like, “Oh, what just happened to Mom?” My husband's just like, “Are you still cooking?” I was like, “Whatever. I’ll eat anything.” Thank goodness, we had raised them not to be picky.

I went to medical school with three little kids, “You'll eat what there is, otherwise you're going to be hungry in the morning, I guess.” That served us well in this transition. I also had a quarter of a grass-fed beef, because I thought I was trying to be healthy, in my garage in the freezer, and I was trying to figure out what to do with that, because that’s just not something you just go throw in a garbage can. You know, we lived in rural Colorado. There's bears, and there's things that roam around that are large creatures, and I didn't want any part of that. I was like, “Maybe I'll donate it to the animal shelter.” I just didn't know I wasn't going to give to a human, because I felt like I was killing someone.

And 48 hours later, I’m not kidding you, we had left and went came back, my freezer had broken, and sure enough, that meat, and the smell, and the stench and that was such a vivid memory for me. I would, my husband's like, “If you had not been with us, I would have sworn you had unplugged it.” And I was like, “I think that's a divine intervention. God was speaking, ‘Laurie, you are done.’” And I never looked back. And that was almost six years ago now.

Robby Barbaro: Wow. That’s amazing. So, as you made this transition in your own life, what happened to your practice? How did you practice change?

Laurie Marbas, MD: This is really interesting. It was quite an evolution, because I was searching everywhere. It’s like, where can I go to learn how to do this as a diabetes doctor? And I couldn't find anything. I thought, I was literally, like, the lone voice in the forest. You know, I had no one to turn to. So, luckily, I found Dr. McDougall’s information, and I began to find PCRM. And I found Dr. Esselstyn. I was devouring the books. I went to the Cleveland Clinic, and went to hang out with Dr. Esselstyn, to learn even more. I went to PCRM and got their “Food for Life” training, because, for me, I couldn't refer to the local dietician. She thought I was crazy.

So, what I had to do, over the course of the year, as I worked with my patients, I was presenting it at every opportunity I could. And as we were learning, and I was learning, okay, this wasn't working, this was working. I was typing this all up. And I eventually came up with, in about nine months, a thirty-page handout. So, what I would do in the mornings was go through my 22’s of my patients, and just say, “Okay, that's a diabetic. They're coming in for HI, but they're still getting my hand-out.” Maybe have eight or nine patients that I knew that I was going to actually present this information to. I had a highlighter in hand, it was already printed, so I walked in the door, the first moment I could, actually beginning that conversation, was how it started.

And the handout was monumental as far as making the transitions easier, because I had a step-by-step how to do it, resources, what to buy. We had a Walmart, a City Market. I said, “This is where you'll go, down this aisle. Check this out.” And, that's how it all began. We started having some really amazing results.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: This is phenomenal. So, this Summit, basically, is about how people with living with all forms of diabetes, whether it's type 1, type 1.5, prediabetes, or type 2 diabetes, can transition to a low-fat plant-based, whole food diet for ultimate success. So, in your practice, do you interact with people who have either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes? And if so, can you give us some advice as to how you specifically coach them through a transition towards a plant-based diet?

Laurie Marbas, MD: Yeah, absolutely. That's, see, that’s the other thing. They don't teach you how to stop medications. So, this was something else I had to kind of gather what I could, bits and pieces, from Dr. McDougall and, you know, Dr. Fuhrman's books, and different things. And so, basically, absolutely. I have, I would say, a third of my patients a day are either prediabetic or diabetic, typically type 2. I do have some type 1s. We've had some good success with type 1s, you know, controlling the blood sugars.

And, what we do, basically, is, I talk to them if they're on insulin, or a certain types of oral medications, we have to be very careful. So, when we start full force, they usually cut their insulin dose in half the first day. Just because I'm so worried about them getting too low. We can deal with the higher blood sugars, but those low blood sugars are what worried me. Especially if you're in rural Colorado, if I have someone living by themselves, a lot of times they lived in the outskirts of town, like the only house for miles. So, we had to be very careful. Then also with hypertension meds, we had to be very careful. And so, the way I would coach it was, I was like, “Now, let's look at your medications. One, let's see the cost.” A lot of them were, you know, self-paid. They didn't have, necessarily, insurance for medications. We talked about the cost. We talked about the inconvenience.

You know, if you have insulin and having to inject yourself. If you're type 2. I tell them, “This is a disease of choice as a type 2.” And then, we talked about the foods, and I would draw out, it takes, it takes about five minutes to draw out insulin resistance. We talk about what you're eating. We talk about the insulin receptors, and the insulin resistance from the saturated fats. Then we talked about the liver, and all these things, and how they interact. I can draw it out in a diagram, and then they understand. Because I feel like I'm very visual. And if I can draw it out as I'm talking, they can understand. And a lot of times, I'll quiz them along the way, and they're getting it. And that works really, really well.

Robby Barbaro: It would be amazing if you could be everybody's diabetes doctor. I mean, the handout you give people, it’s a lot like our online course, where we teach people step-by-step what to do. It's amazing. So, something we run into a lot with our clients is the fact that they don't have people like you as their diabetes doctor. And they're always learning how, or curious to learn more, about how they can talk to their diabetes doctors. Do you have tips for how somebody could just learn about this lifestyle? They want to make the change, but they also want to be safe, and talk to their diabetes doctor. How can they do that?

Laurie Marbas, MD: So, I think it depends on your relationship with the doctor, and how open you think the diabetes doctor will be. Some diabetes doctors, you can be, “Hey, I'm going to do this plant-based, you know, lifestyle. I want to get off medications.” And they'll be open arm, let's try it. They'll be excited for you, like I would have been. But there are going to be others that maybe a little bit more resistant. And I think the patient would probably know how that is. If that's the case, I don't say, “Go in there and tell them you're doing a plant-based, you know, diet, and this is how you're going to do it.” You just say, “I'm going to really start eating healthy. I want to start exercising. And I'm going to need some help with my medications. Will you make sure that I'm doing this safely?” And that's how I approach it. That way, they're not building that resistance right in the beginning.

And, honestly, if you're not sure, just start with the ladder. Just say, “Hey, I'm going to start really eating well. I'm cutting out my processed foods.” And they don't have to mention anything about plant-based diet.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: That's actually really good, because, what you're saying is, that they don't have to bring up the words “plant-based diet,” “vegan,” “vegetarian,” none of that. You just say, “I'm trying to eat a healthier diet.” And then, you know, which physician is going to say no to that?

Laurie Marbas, MD: Exactly. And everyone knows vegetables, and fruits, and grains, and beans, are healthy for you. So, they're not going to argue with it. They're not even going to probably question it, because they don't know enough about nutrition to start questioning it. It makes diabetes doctors very uncomfortable if they don't have it to start saying, “Well, what exactly are you going to be eating there?” They're going to be saying, “You should be go seeing your dietitian” or something like that. But really, all you have to do is say, “I'm just going to eat a healthier diet. I'm just trying to get healthier.” They're gonna go, “Oh, cool!”

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Right. OK, so, on that tip, though, so, one of the pieces of feedback that we get from a lot of people that join our coaching program, is that they get frustrated when their diabetes doctors, of course their doctor wants them to eat a healthier diet, but sometimes what their physician thinks is healthy is a low carbohydrate diet. And so, you know, full disclosure, we love working with doctors, and we partner with doctors, and we don't, we don’t want to come across as though we're trying to shun the medical community by any respect. But we do see a lot of people who get frustrated with their physician when the message is low carbohydrate, Paleo, keto, you know, South Beach, Zone diet, Atkins diet, something of that, of that nature. So, do you have any advice, suppose you had a patient, or you had a friend, who had a diabetes doctor, you know, who was giving him that advice? What could you do if you were in that situation?

Laurie Marbas, MD: There's a few things you can do. Number one, you can ask your diabetes doctor for scientific evidence of why they are suggesting this. Was this just because they had a friend who did it? Or, maybe they saw a commercial about the Atkins diet or something? I don't know. I would ask for, what is your evidence? What is your long-term evidence to prove that this will actually be of benefit to me? I know what I want to do. I would like to try this other diet. Here's the evidence. Boom. You can present any of the books. Dr. Greger’s book, you could present Dr. Fuhrman's book, Dr. Barnard’s book, Dr. Esselstyn’s book, The China Study. You can go to them and say, “They have long-term evidence that this works really well for type 2 diabetics, to reverse my diabetes. I don't want to eat a lot of meat and dairy.” Or you could say this: “I have ethical reasons not to eat that. I can't eat a high-protein meat diet, because honestly, I don't feel that animals should be eaten.” And that alone would probably cut it in there.

So, there's a few, I mean, it may not be a true, but there's a few options there. Asking for the evidence, and then, I don’t want, but then again, you have to be a little careful, because you don't want to cloud the water. Someone needs to be really comfortable with the science of the plant-based diet when they do approach the diabetes doctor, maybe doing it that way. But, however, honestly, you would just say, “I'm not going to be doing that, because I don't feel that's the healthiest way, and I know this will actually work.” And sometimes you have to maybe get a different diabetes doctor, too. That's always an option.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Yeah. Actually, I never thought about handing them a book. Being like, “This is Dr. Barnard's book. This is The China Study.” But that's actually a really compelling, you know, sell, and diabetes doctors may or may not read that information, but at least they're being presented with the information that they may not know, in the first place.

Laurie Marbas, MD: Right. Absolutely. And they can even probably find a study. You know, google “plant-based diet for diabetes,” and they can maybe even pull up a PubMed, or something, and present that to their doctor. At least get those wheels going, because the diabetes doctor, if they're worth their salt, they're going to at least look at it. You know, I've had patients bring me all sorts of books. I at least look at this information, so I know what my patient’s doing, because I need to understand where they're coming from for me to actually have that relationship as a primary care doctor. I need to understand, not only their medical problems, I need to understand what kind of relationships are going on in their life. What is, are they stressed from their job? Or, are they depressed because they just lost their mother? Or, there's a lot of different things that are going on, and that's what a primary care doctor is supposed to do anyway.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: It's a great call. It’s a great call. Slight change of subject here. We've seen that you have created some really good content about how to eat healthy while on a budget. You know, using food as, you know, buying food at places like Walmart or Aldi, as an example. This is particularly helpful for, you know, people that live in areas where it's either a food desert, or where the only places they can go are actually these really large, sort of strip-mall type stores. There's also a common misconception that, in order to eat a plant-based, whole-food diet that you have to shop at Whole Foods, or other sort of like gourmet grocery stores. And therefore, it's going to become more expensive. Can you give our listeners some tips for how to make eating a plant-based diet actually very affordable?

Laurie Marbas, MD: Absolutely. So, first of all, two of my three kids are boys, and then I have a husband. So, and my husband lost sixty-five pounds, by the way, doing this.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Nice.

Laurie Marbas, MD: Yeah. So, I don't know if anyone's ever fed teenage boys, but they eat a lot of food. I mean, I always see you guys eating. So, these are young men, you guys eat a lot of food, you're growing, you're active. So, I was always thinking, I thought it would be more expensive.

But my bill, my grocery bill, in Western Colorado, where there's only one Whole Foods, by the way, on the entire western slope of Colorado, which was a 2 and half hour drive, which I didn't have time to go by yet. Nor did I want to spend my entire paycheck there. My grocery bill dropped $400 a month. I mean, it was incredible to me. And I shopped at Walmart. I shopped at City Market, and I shopped at another store, about an hour away, called Sprouts. And we had a variety of food. We had great food, because, trust me, but it, as we moved into this, and the kids saw this was not going to reverse, they're like, “We need some other flavors, Mom. We can't just have beans out of a can and, you know, potatoes every night.” So, I was just trying to figure out how to, how to get going.

So, the key is: one, you want to look, start shopping, obviously, in the produce section, but buy in season. Buy things that are local, those are going to be cheaper. If you have a farmer’s market, or if you have a farmer as a neighbor, you know, do something like that. We did a ton of sharing in the gardens. There is a ton of garden things that will grow. Kale grows amazingly well in Western Colorado. I had so much kale that we’d bring it in, other people would bring in zucchinis, someone else would bring me tomatoes. So, there's all those type of things you can do. Shopping with coupons. I love signing up for, like the City Market card that we get.

Oh, this is one more thing, you should sign up for the grocery discount. A lot of them will have that, because they want to bring you in with coupons, and at least what City Market or Kroger do. I would stop getting all the junk. You know how you would always get coupons printed for you, for some junk, processed meals. I get coupons, $20 off for produce, because that's all I bought. They're like, “Well, we're going to have to send her a coupon for produce, and get this person in.” And that's what worked, and that works great. So, I did that. That was fantastic. And, I think batch cooking at home makes it easier. If, you know, don't go out to eat, but cook at home, then that's going to be cheaper. If you try to go out to eat all the time, even this way, just eating out in general, it’s going to be more expensive. But, trust me, I, we eat on a very minimal budget. And I've even done this on less than $50 a week for myself when I was here in Florida by myself, when my family was transitioning, easily less than $50 a week.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: So, so, what you're saying is then, because you were buying produce, the grocery store started sending you coupons for more produce, because they knew that was your shopping habits?

Laurie Marbas, MD: Yep, that’s, and almond milk, and Ezekiel bread, you know, all those things, canned beans, dried beans. I was getting just, I would show people my coupons, and they were like, “Well, I don't get that. I get things for, like, ice cream and pizzas.” Well, that's what you're buying.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: That’s brilliant.

Laurie Marbas, MD: Works really well.

Robby Barbaro: OK, so, those are terrific tips for saving money, but another thing people are sometimes concerned about is saving time, how much time it takes to adopt this lifestyle. So, do you have any tips for making it more doable, in regards to time?

Laurie Marbas, MD: First of all, I love people bringing me problems. So, that's kind of how we started with the “How to Health,” was because we'd like to obliterate the obstacles. First of all, I was driving an hour to work one way, raising three children, doing the plant-based diet. There was nowhere for us to go out to eat in my little town of 2,500 people. So, yes, you can do this in a time crunch.

What we do is, we would batch cook, for example, if I didn't want to chop all the veggies, maybe I'd buy the baby kale and spinach, and put it all in one big bowl. It was in there, I’d have the chopped veggies ready to go. Right now, like for example, I will cook a lot of soups. My 21-year-old eats a lot of food, though. He eats so, so much. I would think, “I have three-day’s worth.” And it’s, it's gone in a day and a half. I'm trying, but that's what we do. We batch cook. Tonight, I'm going to make a butternut squash soup. And that will, you know, batch cook. And then, if you need to do like a Sunday-Wednesday, you can do that. Or you can freeze some from Sunday. You can use your Instant Pot. It’s amazing, apparently. I gave mine to my daughter, so she can continue eating plant-based. So that worked out well. The Vitamix is a great thing. So, those little bit of investments for those tools are really important, I think, as well. Don’t be afraid to try new things, you know. Try new recipes. But, really, batch cooking is the key.

Robby Barbaro: That’s excellent. I love how you like breaking down the barriers. That’s, that’s terrific. What do you see, what do you see as the number one challenge that people face when it comes to changing their lifestyle, and how do you help them overcome that?

Laurie Marbas, MD: That really depends, but oftentimes, I think people, it's going out to eat. So, they, that was a big component of American lifestyle now, is well, “I would always go out to eat at this restaurant” and “I always go out to eat that.” Part of my classes that I would teach, is we’d actually, I'm like, “Give me every single restaurant that you guys want to eat at. I don't care if it's Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Show me which one. We'll write it down, and we'll pull up their menus online, and we'll go through, and say, ‘this is what you can eat. This is what you should order.’” And then, tell people, “It's okay, you know, to eat ahead a little bit if you're worried that you're going to be going somewhere and you don't have a choice, then eat ahead, or bring your own food.”

Those are the things there, and the other issue is, sometimes the family. If I have a wife that wants to do it, or husband that wants to do it, and they don't get along, and they don't meet, so that's when I say, “Bring them into the appointment. Bring them to me. Let's talk how we can figure out how to help you.” If they won't come, I say, “Well, fix your meal, and they can fix theirs.” If they don't want to fix it, then you can fix whatever a little bit is to make them happy, meat or whatever. But you fix your plant-based meal. They can eat that along with that addition. So, there's a lot of traditional, like moms in the kitchen cooking, and they're working, and they're stressed, and now they're trying to be healthy, and then the husband's like, “I want my meat and potatoes.” Well, meat, and cheese, and whatever, but you've got to set down some barriers. But you can still cook those healthy meals and just provide a little bit. And they're going to get healthier, and then maybe they'll come along.

So, I think those are the different things, and the kids. Parents, it's okay to parent. Okay. It's okay to go home and say, “This is what we're eating.” You don't have to adjust your meals. You don't have to cook three different meals for three different kids. That is absolutely ludicrous. Or, if I hear someone say, “Oh, my kids will only eat McDonalds nuggets.” “How old are they?” “They're six.” Well you buy them if they throw a fit, guess what, they'll quit throwing a fit eventually. I promise, they really will. And you'll be better for them. If you're trying to eat healthier, don't you want your children eat healthier? It's okay to take control of the kitchen, bring them into the kitchen. I have a thing, “57 Tips: How to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables.” There's so many things you can do. But, parents are afraid to parent, and like, no, just do it, what you got to do.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: You know, one thing that I actually hear a lot from parents is that now they say, “My kids not going to eat that food, by the way.” And I say, the same thing as you, “Have you put it in front of them, and have you enforced it?” But secondarily, a lot of parents believe, you know, that: “My kid needs, and it's a need, has to eat milk, has to eat cheese, has to eat eggs, for brain development and neurological development.” And I'm just like, “That is just straight folklore.” Right? Have you heard that before? And what are you saying those situations?

Laurie Marbas, MD: Yes, absolutely. And I've even had pediatricians come up to me and say, “Why are you telling“, you know, maybe I saw their patient, “why are you telling my patients they don't need milk, or they shouldn't be consuming dairy?” I’m like, first of all, if all the cows disappeared off the face of the earth today, our health will go, will skyrocket, I promise. There is absolutely no reason, as a human, we need milk from another species, to consume it to be healthy, to get calcium, to get whatever. I said, “If anything, we're causing risk factors.” There is a concern that, hypothetical concern, about type 1 diabetes, about allergies, about asthma, about IBS. There's lactose intolerance. Why would you want to put your kid through that? And also, very common, very, very common, is that you'll get small children who are drinking milk after age one. They’re drinking milk out of a bottle, they become anemic. Because they know that the milk actually causes slight bleeding in the intestines.

So, then what the pediatrician will do is they'll put them on an iron supplement, instead of saying, “Let’s stop your milk. Move to something else.” They'll put them on an iron supplement. That kills me. So, no, absolutely, you don't need dairy to survive. Actually, you're going to feel so much better without it. It's incredible.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: Yeah. This has been awesome. I think, one of the things I love most about you is that you're very practical in your approach, right. You have the science, you understand exactly, you know, what does the evidence say? What does the short-term evidence say? What does the long-term evidence say? And what do we really know as physicians, so that you can actually guide your patients towards better health. So, that's one thing. Then, from just a straight practical perspective, you get it. Why, because you've had to learn it yourself. Right? It's not just theory for you. You're raising kids, you have a husband, you're feeding yourself, right, you have a job. So, it’s like, because all of these obstacles have been put in front of you, you're basically saying, like, “Alright, I'm just going to figure this out, and I'm just going to nail it.”

So, thank you for, you know, like providing these tips for our audience, because I know a lot of people get caught up, and they, they sort of can either, it can stop their progress, or they can kind of like use it as an excuse to not continue on a plant-based diet. And I think your approach is actually just like very straightforward, and it doesn’t, it's not complicated at all. It’s just like, “Do it the way that I suggest, and watch as your life gets very simple.”

Laurie Marbas, MD: Yeah, absolutely. And I think people think they’ll actually have to learn how to cook differently. No, you're just cooking different foods. And actually, I, my food choices have broadened tremendously. I mean, I never had jicama, and I never tried all these different flavors, and cooked Indian, and lentils, and Dahls, and there's so much flavor and so much good food. It's not that difficult. Actually, it's a really wonderful journey that you can do.

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD: We hope you enjoyed this episode, and can apply some of these principles to your personal life. Now, we have an Online Group Coaching Program that has helped thousands of people living with all forms of diabetes, reverse insulin resistance, drop their A1c, lose weight, and gain tons of energy. And also reduce their need for oral medication and insulin using, their food as medicine.

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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.