Diabetic Neuropathy Pain Gone Forever – David’s Story

Article written and reviewed by Tara Kemp
Published June 13, 2018

​​Just 6 months ago, David was living with debilitating pain from diabetic neuropathy and progressively deteriorating macular degeneration. Today, he can do barefoot jumping jacks, and his vision is improving.

In the same time, David has also lost 20 pounds and was finally able to break through an A1c plateau of 7.0%. His current A1c is 6.2%.

What changed?

It’s simple. David adopted a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet.

Before the Switch

David was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 40 years ago.

He lived the majority of those years paying little attention to diabetes, apart from checking his blood glucose a couple of times per day and dosing insulin accordingly.

Sure, he was told to count his carbohydrates, but for the most part he ate the Standard American Diet (SAD) with no nutrition plan or approach catered to controlling diabetes.

At a routine check-up appointment a few years ago, his physician informed him that his A1c had climbed to over 12.0%, indicating that his blood glucose control was dangerously erratic.

David began using more insulin, and started using an insulin pump. But despite using the best technology available at the time, the lowest he was able to drop his A1c was around 7.0%.

Even with his more meticulous diabetes management, David’s health continued to decline. He was experiencing painful diabetic neuropathy in his feet and lower legs, and despite his eye doctor’s best efforts, his macular degeneration was not improving.

David learned that, “If I didn’t have my health, I didn’t have anything else.”

When he met Jessica, another member of the Mastering Diabetes coaching program and fellow person with type 1 diabetes, he learned about her tremendous success and was curious to give the Mastering Diabetes program a try for himself.

The Power of Food

As David began to learn about the underlying cellular mechanisms of insulin resistance (and how to reverse it), he felt confident in his dietary changes and began adding more fruits and vegetables while removing meat, dairy, oils, and processed foods.

He found that not only was it easy for him to do, he actually enjoyed eating plants even more than ever!

David noticed that his taste buds adapted to new foods, allowing him to enjoy food with a whole new sense of gratitude and excitement.

As expected, David’s insulin needs dropped quickly and dramatically. Within days of transitioning to a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food lifestyle, he was taking significantly less insulin than ever –– all while eating more carbohydrates.

Before starting the Mastering Diabetes program, David had been eating about 150 grams of carbohydrate per day while taking between 40-50 units of insulin per day. Today, David eats over 400 grams of carbohydrate per day, while taking only 26 units of insulin.


October 2017

February 2018


165 lb

140 lb




Carbohydrates p/day

155 g

>400 g

Total Insulin p/day

45 units

26 units

24 hr Insulin Sensitivity (g/u)



David also found that when he stopped using his insulin pump and instead began injecting insulin on his own, he was able to exercise much greater control over his blood glucose. He now uses a Dexcom CGM as well, which has enabled him to track his blood glucose with precision throughout the day.

For the first time in 40 years of living with type 1 diabetes, David was able to bring his A1c below 7.0%, dropping to 6.2% at his most recent appointment.

Quality of Life

Beyond improvements in blood glucose, David was especially thrilled to reverse diabetic neuropathy, something that he didn’t think was possible.

For years, David was unable to walk around his home barefoot because of intense pain from diabetic neuropathy. Plainly stated, diabetic neuropathy used to control David’s life.

Today, David has finally found freedom from the diabetic neuropathy that had plagued his life for years. He can not only walk without wearing socks or shoes, he can do jumping jacks without feeling any pain at all.

Macular degeneration was another unfortunate side effect of decades of poorly managed blood glucose. For the past 3 years, David’s physicians had tried everything they could think of to help improve his eyesight, but nothing worked.

Only 3 months after switching to a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet, both inflammation and bleeding in his eyes had gone down significantly.

His eye doctor was amazed at the improvement in the condition of his eyes, and told him, “Whatever you are doing, keep doing it!”

It’s Never Too Late To Start

On the edge of his 66th birthday, David feels a new sense of vitality.

He is 20 pounds lighter, has a new sense of joy for the food that he eats, is living free from the pain of diabetic neuropathy, and has better control of his blood glucose than he has ever had.

Working amongst “hyperactive” millennials, David is able to keep up with his younger coworkers. His brain fog has lifted and he has the energy to stay on top of projects in the workplace despite being surrounded by people 40 years younger than him.

He and his wife are looking forward to enjoying an active retirement full of exciting adventures and activities, including spending lots of time with their children and grandchildren.

"My life is awesome," he says. "I see a new life and a new hope out there in front of me."

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About the author 

Tara Kemp

Tara Kemp is the Director of Nutrition Education at Mastering Diabetes. She has been active in the field of health and nutrition for many years, including working with Forks Over Knives, Engine 2, and Dr. Neal Barnard and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Tara has a bachelor's degree in Education from Bucknell University, a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell, and is a Certified Food For Life Instructor through the Physicians Committee.