Celebrity chef Michael Moore underestimated the risks of diabetes until he had a stroke. Five years ago he was lying in a hospital bed willing to give anything for just one more walk along the beach with his wife and kids.
At age 45 Moore (pictured above with his family) had suffered a stroke while enjoying a laid-back dinner with his family. Thankfully, however, Moore got his wish and described the walk he took with his family on the day of his release from hospital as “the best day of my life”.
It also set Moore on a mission. The successful chef and restaurateur who, over his career, has cooked for celebrities including Madonna, Elton John, Sean Connery and Mick Jagger, admits he was scared for the first time in his life, although it wasn’t the first time he had been given a health warning.
Ten years earlier, at 35, Moore had been diagnosed as diabetic after blood sugar tests showed a reading of a whopping 29 (when normal is about 4). That, too, was a shock and he made some changes to his lifestyle, cutting out sweet foods, exercising more and taking medication but he continued to live his busy life and trips to his specialist started to wane.
Even when he became insulin dependent Moore says he was still unaware of just how serious the health risks of diabetes were.
“When I was diagnosed with diabetes I was shocked, I was very fit and healthy and I couldn’t understand how it had happened,” he says. But it was the shock of the stroke that really changed his life. He studied up on his illness and began to rethink all the food he had been eating to manage his diabetes and keep his health on track. Now he’s sharing his knowledge, and his recipes, with others.
Moore is the author of two cookbooks of diabetic-friendly recipes, Blood Sugar, published in 2011 and the follow-up, Blood Sugar The Family, released last month, which includes more than 70 recipes developed with the whole family in mind.
Moore also shared his story and the importance of nutrition and a healthy diet with the public in Brisbane at Discount Drug Stores’ city store, where people could also test for their own risk of diabetes and find out about effective management.
“Diabetes is not something that gets talked about enough, it’s not a sexy subject,” he says. “But we need to talk about it, there needs to be education about it and it needs to be talked about in our schools. That’s why I enjoy touring with the book and meeting the people who read it. I’m always happy to answer questions and become involved in the conversations because they need to be had.”
Moore’s own children, Eloise, 13, and Charlie, 11, can vouch for their dad’s new book being especially child-friendly – they helped with the recipes – and it’s often used as a guide for Moore family dinners. “There are recipes for chicken nuggets and a Not-So-Naughty Chocolate Cake. The dessert section of a diabetes cookbook is always very popular,” he says.
“In fact my daughter loves cooking so much and was so helpful with this book that she said she can do the next one,” he says, laughing.
Moore says he chose to focus this cookbook on food ideas the whole family can enjoy and drew on his desire to spend a long healthy life with his loved ones. “When you’re cooking for a family where one member has diabetes it can be difficult to come up with ideas that everybody can enjoy,” he says. “I think it’s important to eat together as a family and share the same foods.
“It’s possible for people with diabetes to live a full and happy life and for everybody in the family to be educated about the food they eat.”
Blood Sugar The Family, published by New Holland, is out now.