THE BLOG

Ben Vereen on Life After Diabetes Diagnosis

05/31/2013 05:16 pm ET | Updated Jul 31, 2013

We are all part of a mutual admiration society when comes to the Tony award-winning actor Ben Vereen.

Through comedy, drama, song, or dance on the screen or on the stage Ben has entertained us on every emotional level.

Today, he assumes the real life role of the man who inspires, informs and educates.

When Ben, 66, was diagnosed with diabetes, he was just like anyone else -- he had no idea what the next step in his life was going to be.

We all know it to be a debilitating disease. In a recent conversation with the legendary actor, he was good enough to share his words of wisdom and remind us that it doesn't have to be life changing.

"The first thing is don't fight, because when you fight you put up a wall around you," Ben said. "Dissolve in the process is what I found I had to do. As I was resisting it became a challenge, it became a suffering, and it became all of the things that people say that it is. However, when I accepted it for what it is and I got the tools that I needed and I was told to exercise more. I had gotten my insulin and after accepting everything, it then became very easy. Exercising was easy because I'm a very active person."

Ben continues to perform on the stage and screen, often with no breaks between productions. It's always been very much a passion for him, and will continue to be.

"I started to exercise more, I changed my eating habits and I took my medicine. I didn't fight against it, I dissolved into it. It works and that's why I'm talking to people about this because it works," he said. "The idea is to gather more recruits; we need a large army to get the word out there. When I was diagnosed, there were three million people with diabetes -- there are now 26 million people with diabetes."

It was in December of 2007 when Ben was first diagnosed with type II diabetes. "It's not our fault, it's just that people are not informed enough to know what to do or how to talk to their doctors, or what questions to ask -- I didn't know myself," Ben said. "I called Sanofi and told them that I wanted to help do something about this. We developed a movement and created a website called 'Take Control of Your Diabetes.'"

"What we ask people to do is to take a pledge, and that pledge is to yourself," he continued. "Just something to put on the wall or where ever you need to put it to remind you to walk a little longer, check your blood sugar, and tell yourself that today you're going to do something to be conscious of your body, your temple, your sacred ground, and you're going to do something good for it because it does well for you."

There has been a lot of talk around low-carb lifestyle changes. In fact, many have stated that low-carb eating habits have reduced the need for insulin by as much as 50 percent. Jorge Cruise heavily promotes this lifestyle in his book The Belly Fat Cure. The question is does it work, and if it does, is it an easy thing to stick to?

"My response to that is every person is different. That's why they call us individuals. What's good for the goose isn't always good for the gander. Here's what I do, it's called moderation," said Ben.

"When a person is told that they have diabetes, they have no idea what to do. You start looking at the labels on everything in the grocery store -- everything is loaded with so much sugar, you start asking yourself 'What am I going to eat?' Moderation. You can have that cake, you just don't have to have the whole cake, just have a small slice if it works for you," he said.

Join Ben in raising awareness of this important matter. Visit the site here, learn more, be active, be healthy, and make your personal pledge to yourself.