When Smith was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008, he took the news as a wake-up call. Soon after, he began working with his doctor to develop a treatment plan that was right for him. He also made changes to his diet to include more fresh vegetables and started exercising five days a week, which led him to eventually lose 120 pounds.
Smith is now working with Merck on the Taking Diabetes to Heart program to share his personal story and to teach people with type 2 diabetes that small, but important changes in their lifestyle, including food choices, can help them better manage the disease.
'As a chef living with type 2 diabetes, I know that managing the way you eat can be challenging,' says Smith. 'That's why I've started cooking up delicious, diabetes-friendly dishes that the whole family can enjoy. I want to show people that having type 2 diabetes doesn't mean you have to make separate meals or feel alone at meal time.'
There's no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to diabetes-management. Just as he did himself, Smith is encouraging patients to work with their healthcare provider to set individualized goals and develop a plan that's right for them, including diet, exercise, and, if appropriate, medication.
'My doctor told me that people with type 2 diabetes can help reduce their risk of serious complications by setting individual goals to manage the ABCs of diabetes - that's A for A1C, also known as blood sugar, B for blood pressure and C for cholesterol,' says Smith.
In addition to eating healthier, Smith sticks to a consistent eating schedule to help manage his blood sugar. While most people with diabetes are aware of the importance of managing high blood sugar, Smith learned that for individuals on certain diabetes medications, it is important to manage low blood sugar as well. Low blood sugar can make patients feel shaky, dizzy, sweaty, or hungry, and sometimes, faint, so it's important to ask a health care provider to explain the causes, signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar to you and let him or her know if you are experiencing any of those symptoms.
To help others living with type 2 diabetes commit to a diabetes-friendly lifestyle, Smith is encouraging patients to visit www.TakingDiabetesToHeart.com for more of his diabetes-friendly recipes, questions to ask health care providers, and additional resources for patients and their families.
Recipe: Farmer's Cheese Pancakes with Jam
Farmer's cheese is a cross between ricotta and cottage cheese but with all the liquid pressed out of it. It has a mild taste and moist texture and is usually found next to the cream cheese area of the supermarket. Low in fat, lactose and carbohydrates it makes a wonderful addition to your breakfast regimen but watch the sodium. These little pancakes are Russian in origin and are dressed up with any kind of sugar free jams and fruit spreads or even apple slices and strawberries.
For the pancakes:
16 ounces farmer's cheese
2 large eggs
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
For the garnish:
4 tablespoons sugar-free fruit spread or jam.
8 strawberries, quartered
Put the farmer's cheese into a large mixing bowl.
Add the eggs and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.
Add the flour and mix gently to combine.
Heat a non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet on medium high until hot.
Spray the pan with cooking spray and drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the pan to form a little pancake.
Reduce the heat to medium so they don't burn and cook approximately two minutes.
Flip the pancake over and cook for two minutes more until both sides are golden brown.
Divide the pancakes between four plates and top with sugar-free fruit spread and strawberries
Per serving: 285 calories, 12 g fat, 7 g sat fat, 130 mg cholesterol, 185 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 18 g protein