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After temporarily losing his vision to Type 2 diabetes, Eric Adams turned over a new leaf — kale and spinach, to be exact.
In 2016, the New York City mayoral candidate ditched his beloved burgers and went fully vegan. The dramatic diet change followed years of gorging on junk food, which doctors said contributed to an alarming host of health problems, from weight gain to vision loss.
Now, he wants residents of the Big Apple to eat their way to better health, too.
“I want to empower people,” Adams, 60, told The Post. “I want people to know that they can take their health in their own hands.”
If elected the overseer of the city, he plans to launch lifestyle-medicine clinics all throughout the five boroughs in order to give New Yorkers a nutritious alternative to the lifelong effects of carnivorous dieting.
When he adopted a vegan diet, his own health was in dire straits: “I lost sight in my left eye,” Adams said of the impacts of his Type 2 diabetes.
In his 2020 nutritional tome “Healthy At Last,” the retired officer of the New York Police Department recalled waking up one morning and not being able to see the alarm clock on a nightstand beside his bed.
At the time, despite his bout with diabetes, he regularly dined out on sugar-frosted doughnuts, fried meats and his favorite “Dollar Menu” delicacies at fast-food restaurants.
But Adams told The Post going blind wasn’t the only byproduct of his unhealthy food-induced illness.
“I had permanent nerve damage in my hands and feet that the doctors stated would lead to amputation,” the Brownsville native explained, noting that five medical experts said his health complications were hereditary and irreversible. “I [also] had high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”
Devastated by the doctor’s prognosis, Adams hit the information superhighway for help.
“I went to Google and Googled ‘reversing diabetes,’ ” he said.
And the answer he found was simpler than he thought: eat plants.
“I met some amazing doctors who told me how food impacts us,” Adams said. “I saw a doctor in Ohio at the Cleveland Clinic, and he told me I could reverse my condition if I would change what I was eating.”
In fact, a 2017 study on Type 2 diabetes prevention and treatment found that adults over 60 years old reduced their risk of developing the chronic disorder by embracing eating practices that eliminate meat and emphasize legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Three weeks after converting to a herbivorous diet, Adams regained his vision. Three months later, the nerve damage to his extremities disappeared and his diabetes went into remission. He’s since lost 35 pounds, lowered his cholesterol by 30 points and has gained more energy and clarity of mind. Most significantly, he reversed the adverse affects of his Type 2 diabetes.
But giving up fatty chow and creme-filled treats was no cakewalk for the since-reformed pastry popper.
“That first week was tough,” Adams admitted.
“I was weaning myself off of food that I thought was part of my culture,” he said, noting the deep-fried and fattening dishes traditionally enjoyed within the African American community — a population highly affected by cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But once he finally kicked his high-fat, high-sugar habit, the plant-powered political figure found that fruits and vegetables were the key ingredients of his success.
His campaigning efforts launched a $400,000 clinic at New York’s Bellevue Hospital in 2018. The Plant-Based Lifestyle Medicine Program — the first of its kind in the county — uses whole-food, plant-based diets to treat patients suffering from heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
Within the clinic, vegan doctors, registered dietitians and wellness coaches aid ailing New Yorkers in reversing their debilitating health conditions through green eating.
The experts offer patients individual appointments and weekly group counseling sessions centered around transitioning to a diet of fruits and vegetables, incorporating physical activity, reducing stress and enhancing sleep patterns.
“We’re showing people how to reverse their chronic disease — heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure,” said Adams. “And we can do this without medicine for the most part.”
And now, even while he’s campaigning to take over the reigns of the city from Bill de Blasio, Adams’ whole life is centered around eating green. He spends most Sundays chopping up and storing away veggies and mixed fruits to munch on during his next seven-day stretch. “Meal prep is so important and I do it once a week,” Adams said.
He starts each day drinking a spinach or kale green smoothie with some blueberries and cacao powder.
For lunch and dinner, the Brooklynite often enjoys bean-based spaghetti with homemade sauce and tofu meatballs or a hearty stew with lentils and other fresh herbs. He snacks on overnight oatmeal, sweet potato cornbread, chickpeas or nuts in between meals.
And as a night cap, he savors the sweet flavors of his three-ingredient ice cream — made of frozen bananas, fresh-made peanut butter and cacao powder — that the father of one claims will make even the most devout banana-split lover abandon ship.
And while he encourages his fellow New Yorkers to join him in the green pastures of vegan living, Adams realizes giving up certain foods is hard.
“Do it slowly. Don’t try to go cold turkey. It’s a lifestyle change,” he said. “You can eat a healthy meal without denying yourself.”
“Food has to look good, it has to taste good and it has to be good for you.”
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