By Karen Donaghy
Apr 4, 2020,
Given the enormous attention focused on flattening the curve of COVID-19 infections worldwide, you have likely heard that the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes (T2D), are most at risk for serious complications or death due to the virus. It’s not that having type 2 diabetes makes you more likely to get the virus than any other person, it’s that living with type 2 diabetes, or any other chronic illness for that matter, makes it harder for the body to fight a new illness.
In this post about type 2 diabetes and A1C values (a measure of blood glucose over time), I mention that there are a lot of people who have no idea they are living with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes simply because of the noticeable effects of uncontrolled type 2 diabetes can take years to develop. In the context of COVID-19, this means that these people, who may think they are relatively healthy, are actually in the group of people who have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill should they contract the virus. And they have no idea.
A while back, Molly asked Meal Plan subscribers to reach out to us if they had successfully lowered their A1C value after following our Plant Fueled Meal Plans. The many replies we received led to a series of chats that she is sharing with our greater community to bring awareness that consistently following a whole food plant based diet is a viable way to slow or even reverse the trajectory of type 2 diabetes.
Jamie Gerken has been able to drastically lower her A1C by changing how she eats and following our Meal Plans. Jamie talks to Molly about her family history of diabetes and her first inkling that she was at risk of developing T2D after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Experiencing gestational diabetes greatly increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes down the road.
If eating a diet filled with whole plant foods can help reduce the A1C value, the major indicator of metabolic dysfunction in type 2 diabetes, back to a normal range and essentially reverse type 2 diabetes, this means that a diet filled with whole plant foods can also help give your immune system its best shot when the time comes to fight.
Please note: if you are taking medication(s) and decide that you want to try a WFPB dietary pattern, it’s important to let your doctor know up-front what you are doing. Changing what you eat can have an immediate impact on your metabolism and your medications may require adjustment quickly. Keeping your doctor informed so they can guide you on making medication adjustments will help you navigate this change safely.
Here’s an update from Jamie (April 3, 2020):
I’m happy to say that I’m still going strong on the Clean Food Dirty Girl (CFDG) Meal Plans. I’m off all of my diabetes medications and I continue to control my diabetes by eating a whole food plant based diet (WFPB).
I love that the meal plans make it easier for me to maintain this lifestyle. An added bonus to the meal plans is that I’ve learned to cook with a number of ingredients and spices that I rarely, if ever, used in the past. So, even when I’m making something not on the meal plan, I now have the knowledge to make delicious WFPB food with whatever I have on hand. As I’ve learned the likes and dislikes of my family, I’ve been using the portions feature in the classroom to scale back meals that I know my kids won’t eat (any type of soup) and then plan a simple WFPB meal for them that I know they will like.
I made the decision to go WFPB for both my physical and mental health. My diabetes was not well controlled, even on medication, and my mental health was suffering. As my mental health declined my physical health got worse as well. Like many out there I have suffered from depression and anxiety to varying degrees for most of my life.
I learned as an adult that I am a premutation carrier of Fragile X Syndrome (a genetic mutation that caused developmental delay and autism) and as a carrier, I will likely struggle with depression and anxiety for the rest of my life. Add to that three children, two with Fragile X Syndrome, a full-time job, and other commitments, and I’ve learned to be very conscious of my mental health and how it affects my physical health.
I need to be the best me that I can be for my family, and I truly believe that moving to a WFPB way of eating has allowed me to do that. Thankfully, I stumbled across Clean Food Dirty GIrl when I was first exploring WFPB. I decided to jump into the CFDG meal plans, and I can honestly say that it has been life-changing for me and my family. Thank you #TeamDirty for all that you do!
Jamie, we are unbelievably happy for you and your family. What a gift.
Thank you for talking with me and sharing your story. You inspire us, and I know you will inspire many others. I am so dang proud of you!!
Check out our Plant Fueled Meal Plans here packed with thousands of whole food plant based recipes.
It’s also worth mentioning that Jamie is a paying subscriber and we did not pay her to do this interview or write her follow-up.
Have you been able to lower your A1C with diet and lifestyle changes? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (about 20 turns)
- 1 cup diced red onion (130 g)
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper (150 g)
- 1 1/2 cups canned tomato puree
- 1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes (including juice)
- 1 1/2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup canned diced green chiles
- 1 cup water (235 ml)
- 1/2 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
- hot sauce (optional)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 4 teaspoons cilantro, chopped
- In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika and black pepper. Set aside for now.
- Heat a large stockpot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and green bell pepper and saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a splash of water if they start to stick.
- Stir in the spice mixture you set aside earlier and cook for 1 additional minute, stirring continuously.
- Add the tomato puree, diced tomatoes (with the juice), both types of beans, green chilies, water, Worcestershire sauce and vinegar and stir well. Bring the Chili to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and place a lid on the pot at an angle. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Fill your bowl with steaming Chili and add a little hot sauce if you want to kick it up a notch. Then squeeze some lime juice on top and sprinkle with cilantro. Dig in, you gorgeous Dirty, you!
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with protecting yourself.
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Have you done this in Instant Pot? How long would you cook it? Love your recipes! And your spirit!
Hi Lu, This recipe has not been tested in an Instant Pot because it uses pre-cooked beans. You could probably use an IP for a short period of time (maybe 5 minutes or less) but, given the time to come to pressure and depressurize, it likely won’t save much time over the base 20 minute cook time of the recipe. ~Karen
I do WFPB chili with pre-cooked (canned) beans frequently in the instant pot. I haven’t followed this exact recipe, but I just throw my beans, peppers, spices, diced tomatoes and seasonings into the IP (along with some frozen corn) and set it for 7 minutes.
Thanks for sharing, Laureen!
I love your blog and interviews. Always uplifting! I too was thinking about what various forms of “fresh hell” my parents lived through during their lifetimes. They were born in 1910&1914 and were young adults during the depression and also lived through WW II. Both were times when people hunkered down and worked together for the greater good. Their experiences made them who they were. And now I have more respect for them than ever after a few short weeks of isolation. They are both long gone and I’ll never have a chance to tell them so. So I do believe there are many silver linings to find from this experience. Thanks so much to you and the whole CFDG and Lighten Up teams for being here.
Love to you all,
Mary Ann Scanlon
Hi Mary Ann,
I’m so glad you enjoyed last Saturday’s email.
This is the perfect time to reflect and connect to our ancestors, that’s for sure!
I am so happy to have you in our community.
Thanks for this useful informative blog to sharing step by step.
You’re very welcome! xo
I just cooked this, and made a few modifications. I added a banana pepper, a jalapeño pepper and an Anaheim pepper. Didn’t have any kidney beans, so I used a can of pinto beans, and used two cans of the black beans. Also added a couple teaspoons of raw sugar and agave syrup. The end result was pretty damn good, with a little heat and a little sweet. Thanks.
Awesome, Earl! Way to make it your own!