Editor’s Note: This article came out in one of the previous issues of our magazines and the information has not been updated.
Celebrity chef Charles Mattocks has offered tireless efforts in educating and inspiring others to help spread diabetes awareness and raise funds for research. A determined advocate for diabetes, Blue Ribbon champion, and spokesperson and writer for the America Diabetes Association cookbook, he is passionate about working to find a cure to diabetes all around the world. His documentary “The Diabetic You” helps many understand the disease and what steps to take. Charles Mattocks travels around the country, to other islands, and countries to create programs to implement serious change around the world. He developed a RV Testing Tour that appears in sporting events, malls, fairs, and many other venues. He traveled to India and helped with diabetes for thousands. Charles Mattocks continues to inspire, educate, and care for all diabetics everywhere.
ON THE ROAD FOR DIABETES
It’s only been a week into my RV Tour for Diabetes, and some of you may wonder what a diabetes RV tour is. Many of you may know me from my appearances on TV as a celebrity chef, being featured on such shows as Dr. Oz, The Today Show, CNN , The Talk and many other nationwide shows. I made my name as “The Poor Chef”, and became known for making healthy meals that cost $7. I really thought I was eating healthy – I was going to the gym and working out. Suddenly the world as I knew it was turned upside down. After a weekend spent mainly in the bathroom, I went to see my doctor who delivered me the unwelcome news that I had type 2 diabetes. To be honest, I was shocked. Here we have a guy who was putting his face all over the TV telling you how you should eat, and I had to stop everything and take a good hard look at my own health! That was no easy thing to do.
That was three years ago now, and I am excited to say that what was a bad moment in my life has turned into one of the most positive experiences. As soon as I got home that day I got online right away and started to figure out what this ‘diabetes thing’ is. There was no way that I wanted to end up on medication – I had to be responsible and accountable for all you people out there. I didn’t want to just become a number, a statistic. I began to chronicle my days with this disease, the highs and the lows. I even began shooting my own documentary about diabetes, a film that has taken me around the world from India to the islands, sharing stories of those people who are suffering from both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Even our children are being diagnosed as diabetics at a young age today with a disease that was seen for the most part as the domain of the adult generation. Being a father, that touched my heart on an even deeper level. I met people that really didn’t know what good habits to adopt to make sure their kids didn’t end up the same way as them, and this inspired my recent cookbook “Diabetes and Healthy Eating”. It is aimed at talking directly to children, helping to show them that it does matter what you eat and that we can break the pattern. Even though there are a few healthy and fun recipes in that book for kids to make, I had begun the transition from the chef that started out making cheap, healthy meals to an informed advocate for diabetics and pre-diabetics. If I, being a so-called ‘healthy’ chef knew nothing about diabetes, how informed could others really be? For those that know me, you will realize that I’m a passionate kind of guy. You will know that I just had to find a way to reach out to these people.
And that is how the Diabetes RV Tour was born. So far it has been very rewarding that people have come out to see us, sat down with us and spent time talking over their struggles – in turn, we have been able to offer hope, inspiration and strategies that can help to manage the challenges they face, from managing diet, to healing wounds and coping with depression. Many of us don’t have a face or someone to talk to, and what is equally a big problem is that many don’t have their own doctors that they can truly get time with. Me, I like to face things head on, get straight to the heart of the matter.
When I see people that need serious help and they aren’t finding solutions that are working for them, it hurts me. I know I can make a difference to these people. Just the other day I met a lady on the tour who said she was pre-diabetic, so I asked her what her numbers were. Her reply was 274!
If you are familiar with those readings, you will know that those numbers are telling you are way past pre-diabetic. In fact she told us that her kidneys have already been damaged. Her case was similar to many others I see. With no insurance, she was resigned to treating herself. Unfortunately the way she was managing things was not working, but thankfully her auntie heard about the tour and brought her down to meet me. By the time she left she was feeling great, and took with her hope, a smile and some great suggestions and literature that we pass out on the tour. And I know when she left she was feeling great, and took with her some great suggestions and information we pass out on the tour.
It’s funny the positions you find yourself in through life. I don’t consider myself a celebrity chef in any form or manner. I’m a regular guy with a family and a home that I love to spend time in, but I truly love people and they don’t need to be suffering as much as they are. Diabetes is a condition that last year took almost five million lives worldwide. Someone has to confront this situation and be a voice for these people, and I guess maybe I have decided to take on that responsibility. And it’s no easy challenge, but it is one that I welcome. I try to make myself available for each email, each tweet, and each phone call. Whatever I have to do to try and change one person’s life, I will do my best.
The idea for the tour came after seeing The Big Red Bus, the one that collects blood, and I thought, “Why don’t we have one for diabetes”. So I reached out to some great people from Shire and Heal Together and suggested we team up and hit the road. Heal Together focuses on wounds, and so many have no idea the severity of wounds and diabetes and how they can be avoided and treated, so we are now going across the country to touch as many as we can. One of my hopes that that some of these multi-million dollar companies can work hand in hand with me to reach out to the people, identify those at risk and get them the help they need and teach them better management skills. We can reach out to schools so we can reach kids at a younger age by going into elementary schools and just talking to them kids for thirty minutes. Maybe if I had been better educated on how you get diabetes, I may not be sitting here telling you this entire story.
My goal is to inspire and help those that want the help, and if we have to do that one person at a time, that’s what I am prepared to do. I’m not out for recognition or to get exposure for a product or brand, I want to talk to the husbands who have brought their wives down to see me because they want to keep their wives around, the person in the wheelchair that came down to say thank you for the hope of a better quality of life, the mother that learned something she didn’t know before she came and maybe will look at the food she gives her kids in a different way now. We need to work together to stop these numbers spiraling out of control, and more importantly realize that these are not just numbers – they are real people, someone’s mother or father, brother or sister, our children and their future.
The response we have got from this tour has just reinforced that this is so worth it. This won’t be the last tour, it is just the beginning. I have some great things at planning stage, and we will be hitting colleges and stadiums, testing and educating people on diabetes. I have some big names that will join me on the next and the next after that, we will hit colleges and stadiums testing and education people on diabetes. So don’t let your loved one become a number – come and see me and join the ride!
For more info, visit http://charlesmattocks.com.