Like many people with type 2 diabetes, it started when I was first diagnosed with prediabetes in 2012. My doctor told me some general information about what that meant and recommended that I cut some carbs out of my diet. I did just that, only to be read the riot act by my nutritionist. She told me that low-carb diets are dangerous and unhealthy, so I went back to eating according to the food pyramid: heavy on carbs and grains, and easy on the fat.
That was fine by me, with one exception: I had to limit my portions to starvation levels. I tried this for some time, but I could never eat enough to feel satisfied. Naturally, I gave up after a few months. Who wants to live their lives feeling hungry all the time?
After giving up on starving myself to health, I took a different approach for the next several years, what I call the “ostrich-with-his-head-in-the-sand” method. I pretended like nothing was wrong. I ate whatever I wanted and didn’t think twice about my blood sugar. I eventually started having some symptoms that I would only later connect to type 2 diabetes, such as failing eyesight and a slight tingling in my feet and toes. For the most part, though, I think I just got used to having high blood sugar and didn’t know what I would do about it anyway.
Eventually, in 2018, I developed an infection from a small cut on my neck that just would not heal on its own. I went to see the doctor, expecting to receive antibiotics and be sent on my way. Instead, I discovered that my blood sugars sat around 300 mg/dL. The doctor told me that the reason my infection lingered was because of high blood sugar, which had progressed from a prediabetes level to type 2 diabetes.
I started taking 500 mg of metformin twice a day, which didn’t really change anything, so I had to add an additional 5 mg of glipizide. Together, these medications brought my blood sugar down to around 180 mg/dL, still well above where it should be. But the meds were just treating the symptoms of high blood sugar, not the underlying cause. I knew they weren’t actually treating the diabetes itself. I knew that eventually, the diabetes would progress, this list of meds would grow, and I didn’t know how to keep that from happening.
Right around this time, I received an email from my employer announcing a new benefit they were offering to a limited number of employees. This benefit was a type 2 diabetes reversal treatment called Virta. Virta claimed that it could help me reverse type 2 diabetes just by changing the food I eat. It felt like a breath of fresh air. Finally, I thought, something that sounded practical, with easy-to-understand guidelines around what I should do. In all the years I’ve struggled with high blood sugar, I had yet to see such a clear path forward.
I signed up in October of 2019, and since then, I have seen so many improvements in my overall health. For one thing, my A1c, which was 8.9% at the start of Virta, most recently dropped to 6.0%, meaning it is no longer in the range for type 2 diabetes. This has made a believer out of my primary care physician, who was initially skeptical of low-carb lifestyles, just like the nutritionist I had seen years ago. When I told him I was starting Virta, he scheduled a 3-month follow-up, convinced he would see side effects or that I would have quit. At that follow-up, the doctor walked into the room gawking at my amazing lab results and said, “You’re beating diabetes–how are you doing that?”
I’m doing it because of Virta. Living this way is so much more sustainable than anything else I’ve tried. In the past, I was told to cut back on food and calories in general, which made me hungry all the time. On Virta, I cut down on carbs, not calories, so I’m free from feeling constant hunger. Now I can eat a number of different foods that are very satisfying and help me control my blood sugar. I never have to go hungry, and I even get to have Virta-friendly desserts, an entire category of food which I previously thought was forbidden. My wife had made me a special low-carb cheesecake for my grandson’s birthday party the other week, and it was fantastic.
My energy has also increased, which my family has noticed. My wife commented that I used to come home in the afternoons, needing to take a nap, whereas now, I power through my day with energy to spare. I’ve also cut my glipizide dosage in half, and I’m eager to get off medications completely with more help from Virta. I know this is possible because Virta makes it so easy to understand. Instead of being given vague suggestions like “cut back a little on portions” or “don’t eat so much sugar," I now have clear, actionable steps I can take to beat my diabetes, each and every day. I have my list of Virta-friendly foods, and I stick to them. When I have questions, I work with my Virta health coach, who gives me personalized support and sound advice.
In other words, Virta is simple. I won’t say that it’s always easy, as there are temptations everywhere, but the guidelines are clear, and my Virta health coach helps me adjust my lifestyle so that Virta fits into it. Though how Virta has improved my health might seem magical, even to me, I know that it is not magic. Instead, it is simple, logical ways for those with diabetes to get control of their blood sugar.
I just know that my life will be so much better now, and longer, because of Virta. I’ve seen too many relatives struggle with type 2 diabetes and ultimately pass away too young because of it. I no longer worry about this fate for myself anymore. I am very grateful to Virta for the support, and to my employer for making Virta a free treatment option for me. To everyone who is struggling with type 2 diabetes and unsure about how to reverse it, and to those wondering if reversal is even possible, you should give Virta a shot. It truly is a breath of fresh air.