From Prediabetic Junk Food Vegan to Marathon Runner

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published March 25, 2019

Podcast Transcript

David Sutton: At the end of the day it's all about me being able to run faster. How do I run faster? By losing weight. How am I going to lose weight? By keeping my blood sugar under control. If I could accomplish those three things, I will meet my goal.

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 so much for taking the time to tune in today. We have a great testimonial. This is the story of David Sutton, and he saw a big transformation on a lot of levels. I think the biggest aspect here, beyond just the physical changes and his diabetes health is his mental health. He could stop using depression medications, he feels like a more positive person, you'll hear him talk about that today. I think it's just a really, really big deal.

So, I hope a lot of you guys are inspired by this, and when he talks about eating junk vegan food and that not working out for him, I hope if you're listening to this and maybe sometimes you're easing up a little bit and not being as disciplined as you know you could be, maybe this show is inspiring to get right back on track, and eat more of the green light foods. That's a big focus of the Mastering Diabetes method, eating lots of green light foods, and if you don't know what those are, I’ll give you a quick summary.

Green Light foods are fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, intact whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, greens, herbs and spices, and mushrooms. That's the green light category.

If you want to learn more about our traffic light system, you can just Google “Mastering Diabetes traffic light guidelines”, and you'll get a bunch of details there.

But I just think it's great how David saw such an amazing transformation when starting to focus on whole plant foods rather than packaged, and processed vegan food that's out there today.

So, I just wanted to highlight that. I hope you guys enjoy this interview. If you know anybody who is struggling with some of the same things that David was struggling with, it'd be awesome if you could share this episode with them.

We are just a small little company here, trying to spread the message of low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition reversing insulin resistance and helping people maximize your insulin sensitivity. So any amount of support you can throw our way to share this with others, or give a rating on the show is super helpful, so we appreciate it. Alright, onto the show.

David Sutton: When I was first diagnosed my manager came up to me, looked at me, and said, “Are you okay?”, and I went, “Not really. Why?” And he goes, “Look, you know I love you like a brother, but you look like you're going to die.” And then when I said, “Why?” He said, “Your face is very pale. Are you sure you're okay?” And I went “No, I'm really not.”

I'm in the bathroom all night, and I called up my doctor doctor, “Doc, these are my symptoms.” They said, “Come in right now.” And they said, “Where are you?” I said, “About an hour and a half away.” They said, “We will wait for you, get over here now.” I went, “Is that serious?” She said, “It doesn't sound good. Get over here now.”

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I didn’t believe her. I made her check my sugar three different times, she goes, “Your blood sugar is off the charts.” She goes, “We can't even measure it, because you are topped out.” And then my doctor called me up the next day and said, “Get to the hospital right now.” I said, “Why?” And he said, “Your blood sugar level when you came in was 575”, and I went, “No, no. It's 350 now.” And he went, “How do you know it?” I said, “I went to Walgreens, I bought a blood sugar tester.” And he goes, “And how did you drop it so quickly.” I said, “I'm running twice. I even joined the gym.”

I was sick of pills. I was on antibiotics for years, I was on an antidepressant, several kinds of them, which several of them made me loony. I was on Adderall almost my entire life. They were about to put me on high blood pressure, because my blood pressure was around 150 over 90, 95. I was pushing high blood pressure. And I just felt awful.

I felt like I was in this dark world. I felt alone. Nobody could help me. And here I have this cyst, I couldn't walk at the time. It was horrible.

Then, over the years, I just let a little bit slip by. I’ve not been as good as I should have been. My A1c rose to 6.7%, which my doctor wasn't happy about. All the running and all the exercising I do, and all these marathon races I do, help me get down to 6.2%. At that point, I already started running, and I was doing better, I was losing weight, and my symptoms were getting better but they were not completely reversed.

And then I asked a friend of mine whose husband is an Ultramarathon runner and a fruitarian. I mean, this guy runs hundreds upon hundreds of miles. I couldn't believe how the guy could eat entire cases of oranges and run 100 miles, and then win the 26 marathon mile the next day. I didn't understand it. And she goes, “I'm telling you, if you eat a lot of fruit, and eat a lot of vegetables, you will reverse your condition.”

Alright. And then simultaneously my friend told me about a book, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and I was like, “Oh my god, I gotta read the book.” And I read the book, I didn’t even tell my wife, and one day I come up to her, I say, “I think I gotta turn vegan for six weeks.” And she goes, “The only way you're going to do this is if we do this together, and I need to understand what you’re going through.” So, having that support was key, and I do believe that diabetes was a gift.

I've been fighting diabetes for about 5 years, but ever since then, I don't get any more cysts. I haven't gotten a cyst in 5 years. Even though I had a lot of the information, and I knew exactly what to do, I knew exactly how to eat in order to get there, but I wasn't strict enough prior to me joining Mastering Diabetes, because I wasn't as engaged.

Over the years, I've been fighting diabetes for 5 years, but over the years I got very lax. Slowly added vegan ice cream back into my… Yeah, it's vegan, but doesn't mean it's healthy. It's still loaded with sugar, it's loaded with fat and coconut milk. And you know, I used to love vegan ice cream last year, and all these vegan foods, and all these vegan restaurants have been over the years killing me.

I ran the New York City Marathon twice, but I never really ran it the right way, I did this walk-run thing, and I wanted to really… I really wanted to get the runner's body that I wanted. I wanted to run faster. I wanted to keep up with my friends I can't keep up with, and the only way for me to do it was to lose 30 pounds, or 40 pounds even, or whatever.

I mean, right now, I lost 25 pounds… 26 now. People are already starting to tell me, “Oh my god. I can't believe how much weight you lost. How did you do it, again?” And I really owe it all to this program that really kept me very focused, and then after being on this program for 3 months, I got it down to 6.0%.

I never knew sweet potatoes were so good for me. And I never knew… Like, “Yeah, okay, I can eat sweet potatoes”, but I never realized how much of it I could eat, and that I could eat unlimited amounts.

At the end of the day it's all about me being able to run faster. How do I run faster? By losing weight. How am I going to lose weight? By keeping my blood sugar under control. Diabetes is a food related disease and diabetes needs to be controlled from the source, and that source is your fork, that source is your mouth. So, the only way you’re going to beat it, you have to want it. It doesn't happen in a day, it doesn’t happen in a week.

When my mom called me up saying, screaming, crying, “You don't know what this could do to you”, I said, “I was there when uncle Marvin died.” I said, “I do know what it's going to happen, and you're going to see, this is going to be the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I'm gonna lose weight, and this is going to be the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I'm going to reverse it. You're going to see.”

When you eat healthy, and you eat these positive foods, you become a positive person, and I've never had that, and it's so nice, because for so many years I suffered with cysts, with depression, not being confident.

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.

We like to call ourselves the world's most robust, and ridiculously affordable, Online Coaching Program for people with diabetes. And we've helped people living with type 1 diabetes, type 1.5 diabetes, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes living all around the world.

Now we provide you with three tools that are specifically designed to put you in the driver's seat of your diabetes health. The first is an Online Course that gives you step by step instructions on how to change your diet. Starting with breakfast, then lunch, then dinner.

We teach you exactly which foods to increase, which foods to limit, and which foods to avoid entirely. The course is designed with you in mind. We provide you with relevant information, and we do our best to reduce overwhelm, because we know just how confusing the internet can be these days, when searching for simple ways to improve your blood glucose control.

The second tool is even better than the first. We provide you with access to our online community, with thousands of people that are going through this process with you. You'll be able to interact with our team of coaches, including Kylie Buckner, a Registered Nurse who is brilliant. She also happens to be my wife, and is one of the most kind and compassionate human beings that I've ever met. Adam Sud. He reversed type 2 diabetes. He lost more than 160 pounds and he de-addicted himself from both food and prescription medication at the same time.

You'll also get to interact with Mark Ramirez, who lost more than 50 pounds, reversed type 2 diabetes, and is a certified Food For Life Instructor, through the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. You'll also get the ability to interact with both Robby and myself in the online community. And we guarantee that we’ll answer your question within 24 hours to help you solve problems in real time.

The third tool is a twice monthly Q&A video conference, where you can ask our team of coaches any question that you have about your personal program, and meet others that are going through this process with you. Now, we're proud to say that our coaching program is very popular, and because of that, we've instituted a waiting list to join. The reason we created the waiting list in the first place is because we have more than 2000 active members in our program and want to provide excellent service to our existing members. You can still join the program, but in order to do so you have to put yourself on the waiting list and you'll be notified of when we open next. When we do, we'll send you a personal invitation to join.

To join the waiting list simply go to www.masteringdiabetes.org and click on Coaching in the navigation bar at the top of the screen, or click the link below in the show notes. We can't wait to help you transform your diabetes health from the inside out. We hope to see you on the inside.

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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.