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Learning  to live with   diabetes

Chef Art Smith his restaurant Table Fifty Two Chicago Thursday afterno11-7-13. KevTanaka/For Sun-Times Media

Chef Art Smith at his restaurant, Table Fifty Two in Chicago Thursday afternoon 11-7-13. Kevin Tanaka/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 14, 2014 4:48PM

When Chicago chef Art Smith of “Top Chef Masters” fame learned in 2008 he had diabetes, he set out to change his life. He worked with his doctor, hit the gym and lost 100 pounds. Now, he wants to serve up how he made food changes in his own life as he partners with Merck on its Taking Diabetes to Heart program and shares his diabetes-friendly recipes on its website (

Living with denial

“The truth was I wasn’t feeling great. I was tired and emotional. Something wasn’t right. I did push aside the warning signs because my partner had his own health challenges with cancer at the time. I was more concerned about him.” (He’s in remission now).

Losing weight as a chef

“My doctor gave me medicine but told me the most important thing was to lose weight,” the Table fifty-two chef says.

“That’s hard when you’re a chef and have so much food around you. I’m always tasting everything. I had to really pay attention. Write down everything you eat.”

Healthy breakfast = healthy day

“I always feel if you start out eating healthy in the morning, you will continue that way throughout the day.

“Oatmeal costs pennies and it’s healthy. I eat steelcut oatmeal, never flavored, and add some frozen berries and a little Greek yogurt. You can even eat some egg whites with it for protein.”

Cut out diet soda

“It’s so addictive. You have to fall in love with drinking water again. I try to drink as much water as possible.”

Mind over chocolate matter

“I’m a chef who loves food. If I can lose weight, so can you. Trust me, I know now that a piece of chocolate will make me happy, but being healthy makes me happier.”

What works for Smith might not work for everyone, so if diagnosed with diabetes, work with medical professionals to develop your plan. Smith urges diabetics get the A1C test to see what their average blood sugar numbers are.

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