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‘Diabetes Is A Killer. But I Killed It Before It Did Me!’: Gozitan Pharmacist Speaks About His Road To Health

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Simon Grech, a 51-year old pharmacist from Gozo, suffered from type-2 diabetes for nineteen years. But it all ended after he took matters into his own hands.

Type-2 diabetes is a debilitating condition that could cut one’s life dramatically short. It affects the better part of the western world, and Malta currently ‘boasts’ the third-highest prevalence in Europe.

The disease has been a part of our world for the better part of the last few generations. Though strangely enough, advice on how to overcome the disease still remains conflicting. A situation that proved true for Simon after having found little to no support in his road to recovery.

“Diabetes is a killer. But I killed it before it did me!'” Simon told Lovin Malta.

Like many, he initially saw this as a permanent condition that would only get worse as time went by. For nineteen years, he suffered the ill effects of high sugar surges; sometimes up to four times higher than normal. Issues that had him admitted into hospital more often than not.

Blurred vision, brain fog, joint pains, poor sleep, frequent fainting, unquenchable thirst, countless medications… you think it, he lived it.

Grech restored his blood sugars and lost 40 kg in the process with a few, simple lifestyle changes. This, without ever seeking advice from a medical professional.

How? By adopting what he likes to call his ‘Three Pillars.”

“I was fighting a monster,” he said.

The turning point of Simon’s journey came with the tragic passing of his mother, from the very same condition. It was the day he made his ailment his nemesis.

“I saw diabetes as an enemy to be overcome,” he said, “it ‘murdered’ my mother, but I swore it wouldn’t do the same to me. That my mother died from it… it made me want to triumph over the disease more out of the sake of revenge, than for health.”

Simon entered a rabbit hole of extensive research which led him to conceive his ‘Three Pillars’ of health. A philosophy to turn back the clock and reach a state of health he thought impossible. 

And what are they?

1. Intermittent Fasting

Simon practices intermittent fasting every, single day. He does this by keeping a 16-hour window completely devoid of all food, and an eight-hour window wherein food is allowed.

“I’d have my first meal at around 12:00, and my last by no later than 20:00. Two big meals with nothing in between.”

That’s not all, once a week, he would even skip the first meal altogether and go for a full 24-hour fast, only to enjoy one glorious feast at the end of a busy working day.

What constitutes a feast? Anything from large portions of his usual foods to a homemade pizza made with almond flour or cauliflower base. And for dessert? He wouldn’t exclude a low-carb alternative to modern desserts.

“It’s not something I’d expect everyone to just get into,” he chuckled, “I myself didn’t believe it was possible because I love eating! But with time your body adapts. Start slowly and let your body guide you, you’d be surprised where the journey could lead.”

Simon’s longest fast was 26 hours.

2. Low carb dieting

“Carbohydrates caused surges in my blood sugar. Even fruit, unfortunately. As a result, I had to cut back on all carbohydrates drastically. On most days, to ketogenic levels. That being said, nowadays I don’t track what I eat. I don’t even know how many calories I consume. I’m just used to it.”

Simon’s diet revolves around natural whole foods high in healthy fats and lean proteins, like chicken breast and meat, with plenty of vegetables. The latter of which, he maintains, are important owing to their fibre and anti-oxidant content.

As far as vegetables go, cruciferous vegetables occupy the bulk. More specifically, cauliflower and cabbage. Not only are these foods low in carbs and calories, but their nutrient profile has been scientifically proven to combat the free radical damage associated with chronic disease.

Different vegetables target different diseases, so a nice variety is key. They also bear the additional benefit of helping you feel full and thus, less likely to snack.

3. Very light exercise

The exercise Simon promotes does not come from intense, high-level gymming. In fact, working as a pharmacist normally means that he’s at rest for the better part of the day.

Yet, a concerted effort to get those daily steps became an aspect of his life that was non-negotiable.

“Exercise is important, but not the way we’re meant to believe. I get my exercise through daily steps and monitor my activity with a smartwatch. I would cover six thousand steps per day at least. But the more, the better.”

On other days, he would burn off those calories with a leisurely swim in the open waters, even in the colder months.

4. The take-home message

Life in Malta today often means great food, great drink, and lots of merriment. Like many among us, Simon was no stranger to either.

His diagnosis, which came at the tender age of 32, served as the platform which saw him change his life and regain his health. To go from having a body reliant on medication, to being completely diabetes-free.

“Today we’re absolutely surrounded by low-quality foods. They’re all around us. Our environment almost invites us to be sick. By having my life governed by three pillars, I had the means to drown this ‘monster’. Others can too, should they want.”


A devout catholic, Simon is a firm believer that his spirituality played a role in his recovery, having stated that faith gifted him the fortitude he needed to overcome this monster. 

Without question, his journey could potentially be a beacon to many who wish to reclaim their health. Simon’s journey teaches us that it’s never too late to do so.

By walking more, snacking less, and consuming natural whole foods, one begins to turn small actions into habits. Such habits, in turn, will generate the momentum required to turn a habit into success.

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