Tom Hanks Shares How Eating Poorly Led to His Diabetes

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Whether you have diabetes or not, changing your daily diet and routine can be tough — just ask Tom Hanks.

The “Toy Story 4” actor, who recently visited AdventHealth for Children in Orlando, accepts much of the responsibility for the food choices earlier in life that led to his type 2 diabetes.

“I’m part of the lazy American generation that has blindly kept dancing through the party. I was heavy,” Hanks, 62, told the British magazine Radio Times in 2016. “I was a total idiot. I thought I could avoid it by removing the buns from my cheeseburgers.”

He has one defense, though, that most of us don’t. In preparation for his role as a baseball coach in “A League of Their Own,” Hanks gained 30 pounds. The next year, he had to lose it to play an attorney with AIDS in “Philadelphia.” Later, he dropped 55 pounds to play a man stranded on an island in “Cast Away.”

“The gaining and the losing of weight may have had something to do with developing diabetes because you eat so much bad food and you don’t take any exercise when you’re heavy,” Hanks said at a London press conference to promote his 2013 film, “Captain Phillips.”

Controlling Unhealthy Weight Fluctuation

Even if most of us don’t diet to fit a Hollywood role, the story of gaining and losing weight may be familiar. We might overhaul our eating, but find it doesn’t last as we watch the number on the scale climb back up.

When we’re too heavy, our bodies can have a more difficult time moving sugar from our blood to our cells. But having high blood sugar levels can cause trouble in the long term. This is called diabetes.

Our everyday eating choices are at the center of preventing, managing and even reversing diabetes.

As Hanks explains, “my doctor says if I can hit a target weight, I will not have type 2 diabetes anymore.”

A Resource for Eating Well

As you’ve probably learned, it’s not easy. To help people eat right and enjoy their food, we’ve written a cookbook and guide for people with diabetes. It’s called, “Simply Healthy: The Art of Eating Well, Diabetes Edition,” and it’s available on Amazon.

It’s filled with healthy, tasty recipes along with eating tips. Here’s a sampling of some of those tips:

  • Eat at least three meals every day. Do not skip meals — especially breakfast. This spreads your calories through the day and controls the amount of sugar going into your blood. It also helps prevent you from becoming too hungry, which can lead to overeating at meals.
  • Avoid fasting for more than 12 hours. “Fasting” means going without calories from food or drinks. Skipping meals and snacks causes low blood sugar levels.
  • Control your food portion sizes at each meal. Eating about the same amount of carbs every day helps keep blood glucose levels stable.

Using simple, easy-to-understand language, the book also walks readers through the nutrition facts that matter to them, like the types of carbs.

The book also strives to make eating right an enjoyable experience. For example, it gives you the tips and strategies to eat out without taking a detour from your eating plan.

Your Diabetes Support Team at AdventHealth

For his part, Hanks says he’s done gaining weight for a role, telling reporters the practice is “more or less a young man’s game.”

“I'm 57 and I don't think I'm going to take on any job — or even go on any vacation again — and see to it that I can gain 30 pounds," he said.

If you have diabetes, we want to be your partner in making the eating and exercise changes that let you continue to lead the life you want. Our book is another way we help you take that vision of whole health from the hospital to your home.

To download five free recipes from the book, visit our website.

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