Going from 14% to 5.6% A1c with Type 1 Diabetes — Aimee’s Story

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published April 26, 2022

As is the story with so many people, Aimee learned that she had type 1 diabetes as a complete surprise. In fact, Aimee didn’t even notice any symptoms at first – just that her fasting blood glucose came back at 362 mg/dL on a routine blood screening at work. And that her A1c was at 14.0%. 

And as is also the case for so many people, even though Aimee knew that something had gone wrong and that she needed to make a change, she had no idea what to do first. People weren’t supposed to get diagnosed at 29 years old, she thought.

Even after seeing a doctor and starting insulin, Aimee didn’t feel hopeful. In fact, she thought “my life is over. It’s time to give up everything I’ve loved for the rest of my life, and just suffer through the misery.” Scary thoughts that can sound all too familiar.

Taking Action, But Finding Little Success

Even worse was that Aimee had always thought of herself as relatively healthy. She loved fruits and vegetables, and even though she didn’t have any specific diet she followed – and would eat the occasional set of sweets or burger – she felt that she’d made healthy choices. 

So when her doctor said “do what you want, we’ll give you as much insulin as you need and in the meantime you can go wild on food,” Aimee was puzzled, but took the advice in stride. It didn’t sound quite right, but Aimee wanted to believe that she could continue her old life. 

Finding the Truth

But a chance conversation with a friend – who didn’t even have diabetes, but had chosen a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food lifestyle to improve her own health – led her to the Mastering Diabetes Method, and Aimee’s life was flipped on its head. 

She’d started doing some research on the common ways to improve your diabetes health, and none of them agreed. And now, she was referred to a dietary strategy that didn’t require crazy portion control or carb counting? 

Like her doctor’s advice, it was tempting to believe it was true. Aimee had wanted to be plant based for a while due to ethical and personal reasons, but had never been able to make it stick. 

Still, she got the book, read it quickly, and started attending webinars. She was all in, and with an emphatic push, she began making massive changes to her life. 

That didn’t work out. At least, not at first

Taking it Step By Step

As Aimee explains, her first massive push to transform every aspect of her life was biting off a bit more than she could chew. She wasn’t quite getting enough of the right foods, was working out a little too much, and life got in the way. Soon, she’d fallen back into her old habits. 

However, that fall back into old habits actually served as Aimee’s inspiration to pick the program back up again. When she’d been eating and living the Mastering Diabetes Method, she’d felt energized, and noticed her health improving. 

And when she went back to old habits, she noticed that she was tired, exhausted after simple activities. Her blood glucose was spiking and bottoming, and she felt like it was out of control. It hadn’t been like that on the Mastering Diabetes Method. 

So Aimee stepped back in, gave herself permission to make a mistake, and took gradual steps. She started making small changes, and gave herself time to settle into each adjustment. 

And the results were incredible!

A Journey of Many Steps

After just 5 months, Aimee had a fasting blood glucose of around 85 mg/dL, and an A1c of 5.6%. That’s a non-diabetic A1c value, and it was so shocking that Aimee sent back the results, saying that there was no way they could be hers. 

But in fact they were, and Aimee was ecstatic. Her hard work had paid off. She was healthier than ever before, and she was doing it with a lifestyle that she loved. 

In her early days, she’d been told to eliminate carbs (down to less than 100 grams a day), and instead ate almost exclusively fats and protein. It was hard, and she was actually scared to eat food.

But after the Mastering Diabetes Method, she ate more than 300 grams of carbohydrates, and was up to 30 carbohydrates per unit of insulin, compared to her previous ratio of 5 to 1. 

Her weight changed as well. Like happens with many people with type 1 diabetes, Aimee was actually drastically underweight, but that changed with a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet. She gained back healthy weight, and now finds it incredibly easy to maintain a healthy weight, even eating as many green light foods as she wants. 

Aimee Today

Today, Aimee starts with a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, and has a huge salad for lunch, one packed with beans, lentils, and legumes. She’s cut out pasta in favor of zucchini and butternut squash noodles, and loves fruits and veggies. 

The flavors taste so much richer, she explains. It’s like her taste buds have changed, and she can appreciate fruit and vegetables more deeply. 

Aimee also has much more energy. Before, she would be exhausted from a flight of stairs, but now she’s running again, rock climbing, lifting weights – activities that she couldn’t even think of or fathom before. 

It took time. She had to change one meal at a time, and give herself time to adjust. She had to learn how to manage her blood glucose during exercise with the right snacks. And she had to learn to find joy in her new diet. 

But what Aimee most credits with her success is having the grace to accept setbacks. She let herself realize that no one will be perfect in such a big learning process, and approached it with steady determination. 

That grace, and the Mastering Diabetes Method. 

“It’s not just a great way to keep your blood glucose and A1c down,” she says. “It’s a lifestyle change that can improve your health whether you have diabetes or not, and it’s something I want to bring to my family.”

Today, Aimee’s life feels bursting with possibilities, and her meals are still a huge part of her life. And even though she chooses some foods over others, that’s not a problem. 

“There’s just so many possibilities to eat and enjoy! It honestly feels like there are more now than there used to be!”

Following Aimee’s Footsteps

Just like Aimee realized, making changes can be difficult, but with steady progress and small steps, those changes become attainable. And the results are powerful.

If you’d like to follow Aimee’s process exactly, you can download the New York Times Bestseller Mastering Diabetes, or get a hard copy.  

And if you’re looking to take the next step, master the method, and live your best possible life, the Mastering Diabetes Coaching program is there for you. 

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.