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Sherri Shepherd explains how a diabetes diagnosis saved her

Sherri Shepherd

Sherri Shepherd

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Updated: April 25, 2013 10:04AM

I am a Type 2 diabetic. Before you start feeling that wave of sympathy and start praying that God take the diabetes away from me … hold on. I actually want to say thank you to diabetes. Diabetes could’ve killed me, but it saved my life.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2007, right before I was offered the co-host position on “The View.” My years of stuffing my face with whatever fried, floured or sugared foods I could eat had finally caught up to me. I spent years not thinking about the risk of diabetes at all, despite it running rampant in my family — even after it took my mother’s life at the age of 41.

See, diabetes and I go way, way back. Almost everyone in my family had it. Except they didn’t call it diabetes, they called it “the sugar” — how dangerous could diabetes possibly be with such a cute name? It sounded quite harmless. But we were clearly not making the connection between the disease and its consequences: the amputations, the loss of sight, the heart disease. Even when I started having all of the obvious symptoms, I was still in denial about diabetes.

I remember one day, after eating a plate full of pancakes dripping with butter and syrup alongside bacon AND sausage, and then going home to make a bowl full of my favorite pesto pasta, I suddenly got an image of my 4-year-old son Jeffrey in his room, crying. He was trying to figure out where heaven was, because that’s where everyone said Mommy was.

That was a wakeup call for me. I knew then that I needed to open my eyes and take responsibility for the choices I was making. I had to find a way to control my diabetes.

Fast forward six years later. I’m now in the best shape of my life because I made a commitment to change. I started challenging myself to look at eating a different way. I knew I had to make eating work for me. Instead of sugary juices, I opted for seltzer water spruced up with fruit. Instead of cheeseburger and fries, I now go with a huge kale salad laced with feta cheese, mango slices and a homemade dressing. Giving up my beloved pancakes and syrup was hard, but knowing that oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts gave me continuous energy to run around with Jeffrey was a big consolation.

I am now sticking to a daily regimen of healthy eating and exercise that makes me feel great. And it will help me protect my health for the long haul. My son is now 8 years old, and doesn’t have to worry about Mommy being in heaven.

Thanks, diabetes.

Sherri Shepherd will be speaking at the University of Chicago Medicine Kovler Diabetes Center’s 7th Annual “Living Well with Diabetes” event on April 27 about the April 30 release of her book, Plan D: How to Lose Weight and Beat Diabetes (Even if You Don’t Have It).

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