By: Brenda Neugent
In 2009, when Bruce Share started drinking five glasses of iced tea before dinner and dropped 15 pounds from his already lean frame, he immediately knew that he had diabetes. In the preceding four years, he had learned a great deal about the disease as a member of the board of Defeat Diabetes. Now, he knew that it was his personal battle as well. A visit to his physician proved his intuition right. His A1C was 13%, and his blood sugar registered at 390. Eight months earlier, it had been perfect.
As an athlete since the age of four, in great health, and with no family history of diabetes, Share did not expect type 2 diabetes. “It was stunning,” he says. “It hit me like I ran into a brick wall, even knowing what the results would be. When you actually hear the words, it really goes right to your gut.”
But Share and his family rallied immediately, determined to help him work through his diagnosis. “My family, my wife, is incredible,” says Share, a former bank executive who works at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. His wife, Judi, immediately purged the kitchen of food that had suddenly become off-limits and charted the sugar, fiber, and carb content of what remained. “It was amazing,” says Share. “Right after I was diagnosed, my nutritionist said, ‘You’re a team. She has to know as much as you do as to what foods you should and shouldn’t eat.'”
The Shares completely changed the way they eat, eliminating most processed foods and red meat, along with anything with added sugar. “It’s really important to be proactive in nutrition and exercise,” says Share. “What’s important is that it’s not an end-all of your life. I’ve got an incurable disease, but it is completely manageable. It just takes some changing of some old habits.”
“The hardest thing I had to do was to go to three moderate meals and not take that extra portion,” adds Share, who used to love serving himself seconds of his favorite meals. Now, he eats light and makes sure to pack a variety of snacks like fruit and string cheese for morning and afternoon pick-me-ups.
Share has the toughest time at restaurants, where very few items are diabetes-friendly. When going out to eat-especially for the occasional prime rib that was once a favorite-he splits his portions, packing up half to take home. At dessert, he eats fruit. He even abstains when birthday cake is served at the office, a move that prompted a coworker to suggest that all of them start eating as if they had diabetes.
Share’s wife was not the only family member to get involved in his fight. His daughter-in-law, a pastry chef, started working to create luscious sugar-free desserts, and his sons, including Dave, a drummer, and Bill, a graphic designer, began raising funds for diabetes awareness programs with concerts that Dave’s band played and for which Bill designed posters.
Because his family members have invested so much in his health, Share focuses on them when he’s tempted to skip a workout or sneak a slice of office birthday cake. “It’s not just my life,” he says. “It’s my wife’s life and it’s my kids’ lives that are going to be thrown into turmoil if I’m too stupid to do the right thing.”
Thanks to his diabetes diagnosis, Share is now healthier than he’s ever been. “It’s one of the best things that ever happened to me,” he says. “My doctor said that if he were a new doctor looking at my records, he would have no idea that I was diabetic.”