Overcoming the Scary Challenges of Type 1 Diabetes! Richard’s Story

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published February 14, 2023

Richard, a resident of Vancouver, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March 2019. At the time of his diagnosis, his A1c was 15.2% and he was in diabetic ketoacidosis, which required a hospital stay for a few days. The experience was frightening and overwhelming, and he felt scared about what to eat and how to manage his condition.

Having a Rough Time At First

At first, Richard ate chaotically and followed a typical Western diet of hot dogs, pizza, and soda. However, his interest in medicine and desire to improve his health led him to research alternative approaches. He discovered the benefits of a plant-based diet and started to consume 200g of carbs per day.

The results were impressive. Richard's most recent A1c was 5.7%, and he lost a few extra pounds without even trying. He now starts his day with a bowl of oatmeal, berries, bananas, strawberries, cinnamon, and unsweetened cocoa. He enjoys lunch and dinner, interchanging salads inspired by Robby's posts on Instagram, and he loves mango with arugula. He sometimes prepares fruit and pasta dishes with beans, mushrooms, and tomato, and Buddha bowls with rice and quinoa.

Staying Fit Too!

Richard was initially concerned about his ability to perform at the gym and add muscle, but he soon realized it was not an issue, and managed to maintain his favorite activities despite his dietary changes. Now, he consumes anywhere from 500g to more or less of carbs, depending on his activity levels. He used to have frequent daily injections and a carb to insulin ratio of 10-1 or 15-1, but now has a carb to insulin ratio closer to 50-1, and uses an insulin pump with a basal range of 10-20 units.

Hard Cultural Changes

Richard's cultural background is Romanian, where meat is a big part of the diet, which made it hard to transition to a plant-based diet. However, he was determined to find a better way to manage his diabetes after watching documentaries from FON and discovering Mastering Diabetes. He started the program the next day and saw huge results immediately, with better control and very rare lows.

But Successful in the End!

Richard is now a student studying biomedical physiology and is motivated by his endocrinologist, who is also a type 1 diabetic. He wants to help other people with diabetes and wishes that more people would discover the benefits of a low-fat, plant-based diet.

Richard's journey with type 1 diabetes shows that persistence and a willingness to try new approaches can lead to better control and improved health. He encourages others to give Mastering Diabetes a try and see how it impacts their diabetes management.

“You’ve just gotta be persistent, and give it a try. After that, it’s pretty obvious that you’ve made the right decision. Would I ever go back? No way.”

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.