“It takes a revolution to make a solution” is not just the tagline of the new magazine Reversed by celebrity chef and diabetes advocate Charles Mattocks but also his mantra for fighting the current diabetes epidemic around the world. Diagnosed two years ago, Mattocks immediately took on the disease not just to save his life but for the lives of over 300 million people worldwide who are also diabetic.
But like so many, having diabetes type 2 is not something he expected to hear as he moved through his career as a recording artist to an Emmy-nominated actor and celebrity chef. Coined “The Poor Chef,” the single father has now made it his mission to reach and educate as many people as possible about diabetes and options for co-existing with the disease but in a much healthier way with a focus on healthy eating. His tour, The Diabetic You, in partnership with Shire Regenerative Medicine and HealTogether is planned to head back out starting with a stop in South Carolina on January 13 before traveling up the east coast. Each stop will entail a fun day of interactive activities related to the management and treatment of complications of diabetes as well as a cooking demonstration by Mattocks. Attendees can ask leading experts questions and also receive a free year-long subscription to the magazine Diabetic Living, one of the largest publications about diabetes health. Together, their goal is to test 500,000 people over two years.
When looking back at his lifestyle prior to his diagnosis, he says, “I was so called eating healthy, but I wasn’t eating healthy. For whatever reason, I thought ginger ale was better than Cocoa-Cola. I don’t know why I told myself that. I used to work out but I would lift weights and never do any cardio. And then also my sleeping habits. I was staying up late and you know what you do when you stay up late. If you are up to one o’clock in the morning, you’re going to get hungry and you’re going to make yourself a sandwich with some cookies and some chips or something like that. I think between the odd sleeping hours and the stress of work, especially when you work for yourself, and then also what I was eating between the carbs and the starches and the sugars, I think it all led to the elevated blood sugar.”
The Brooklyn born, self-taught chef who is the nephew of the late, great Bob Marley grew up around good cooks and good food. Having to depart a little from his favorite native dishes of Jamaica, today he says since being diagnosed he eats a vegetable diet with some lean proteins and is so committed that he allows a few cheat days here and there.
“I’ve never taken medication. I made it my goal and I said I am going to beat this thing and I am going to figure out how to beat it and what I need to take to beat it.” As the Poor Chef, he uses his platform to reach people with very practical and budget-conscious approaches to eating well. Everyone who is diabetic may not be able to forego taking medication, but Mattocks wants to make sure they know what options are available and most importantly how a well-balanced, healthy diet contributes to beating the disease.
“What I did was went home and started studying and I think him [the doctor] wanting to put me on medication was the tipping point that allowed me to say wait a minute, let me look at this because had I taken the medication that is all I would have known right now. And how many other people came in there who may not have needed medication right away or may have been able to change their diet or lose some weight or change the way they exercise and not have to deal with medication. I really wanted to kind of investigate that.”
In his new magazine due out in 2014 with cousin Rohan Marley on the cover, readers can expect to see real stories, expert advice and resources and of course recipes that everyone will love. “I want somebody from the hotels who want to take this home back to the States or Europe but I also want the person in the ghetto to be able to sit and read this on the bus,” says Mattocks. Reversed will offer something for everyone with a special emphasis on reaching West Indian and Latin communities. He is also working on a TV show of the same name with Dr. Robin Smith who appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
In addition, Mattocks is wrapping up his film, “The Diabetic You,” that will tell the story of his life living with diabetes as well as others diagnosed with the disease. A cookbook with the American Diabetes Association is also on the horizon with an April release date.
The revolution to changing the lives of those living with diabetes is well on its way. Knowing that he can’t do it alone, Mattocks will continue to do everything he can to raise awareness so that others will be inspired to get involved. “If you are not reaching the people, who are you really reaching?” he says about being on the frontline and the passion behind doing what he does every day.