We are excited to introduce you to our friend Robby Barbaro. We first met Robby at a conference and were drawn to his kindness, positivity, wit, and…. his humongous plate of fruit! Robby has Type 1 Diabetes and manages it with a fruit-based diet. He is the Operations Manager at Forks Over Knives, and Founder of Mindful Diabetic. We asked Robby for his best advice for eating WFPB, what he eats in a typical day, and for a favorite recipe!
Interview with Robby Barbaro, the Mindful Diabetic
Location/hometown: Santa Monica, CA
How long have you been eating a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet and what motivates you to do so?
RB: I started eating a WFPB diet in December of 2006. Long story short, my initial motivation was to eat the cleanest diet I could possibly eat so I could allow my body to heal itself from Type 1 Diabetes. I’ve built the habits of eating very, very clean and that’s basically what I know. So, I stick with it because it makes sense to me and I feel great doing it. I still have Type 1 Diabetes, but believe healing is possible.
What do you think is the hardest part about eating WFPB, and what is your best advice for making a WFPB diet a lifetime change?
RB: After 9 years of living this way, it’s quite easy and just a way of life. I think the hardest part for most people is the social aspect. If the majority of one’s friends and family were eating healthy, they would too. My best advice is to make a list of why you’re choosing to make changes and refer to it in tough situations. Then, when you’re with family and friends you can emphasize why you are following this diet and most people will then empathize and support you.
You might say that your approach to WFPB is a little unconventional- describe what a typical day of eating looks like for you?
RB: My fruit-based approach is definitely a bit unconventional. In general, I eat fruit for breakfast and lunch. Then I eat more fruit and a large salad for dinner.
A typical day of eating right now is:
Breakfast: 2 raw plantains and 7 medium haychiya persimmons mashed into a thick, sweet pudding
Lunch: 1 medium Maradol papaya, chopped
Snack: 4 golden kiwis, 1 pint tomatoes, 2 sweet bell peppers and arugula
Dinner: 1.5 cups orange juice, and a salad of 1 head romaine lettuce, 1/2 bunch arugula, 1 diced mango, 3 heirloom tomatoes and 1 carton raspberries
Describe why you eat predominantly fruit and how it has changed your diabetes?
RB: I predominately eat fruit because I love the way it tastes. Before I learned about the fruit-based approach, I was scared of fruit, just like the majority of diabetics. I would have small amounts, but that’s it. Now, I know that carbohydrates and sugar are not a problem for type 1 or type 2 diabetics. I think the foods we are told not to eat actually reverse type 2 diabetes and make type 1 significantly easier to manage.
James and I see a glimmer of hope among millennials and younger generations, who are increasingly embracing a WFPB diet. Do you agree?
RB: I agree 100%! There is a lot of hope and I think this message is resonating a lot with the younger generations. Thanks to websites like this, the movement is growing and we just need to get this information in more people’s hands.
Why do you think it is important for young people to eat a WFPB diet and how do you hope our generation will impact the current food culture in the U.S.?
RB: I think it’s important for a lot of reasons. In order to contribute to the world, we gotta be happy and healthy. So eating a diet that gives you the most amount of energy and vitality is key for a high quality of living. It’s the key to be able to contribute. I’m a big follower of a book called Non-Violent Communication by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. He teaches that our #1 need is to contribute, and I believe eating a WFPB diet is a powerful way to do good in the world.
I think the environment and ethics need to be considered as well. We have a large water shortage in California right now. 55% of the water consumed in the US is for animal agriculture. It’s just not a good use of resources and these foods make us sick. I can’t recommend Cowspiracy enough. It’s a documentary that shows how animal agriculture is the most destructive industry facing the planet today, especially with respect to water use.
On the ethics side, to quote Paul McCartney,
If slaughter houses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.
Animal industries are so cruel and unnecessary when a plant based diet can not only be absolutely delicious but also extremely healthy. I can’t recommend Earthlings enough to learn more about all the ways humans use animals for economic purposes.
Any favorite recipes you’d like to share?
RB: Yes. This is a super, super simple recipe and it’s crazy good.
2 frozen bananas
2 tablespoons of carob powder
1. Place the bananas in the blender. Make sure they are spotted and super ripe
2. Place the frozen bananas in the blender. Make sure they were super ripe when they were frozen!!!
3. Add desired amount of water. Start with 1/2 cup and add more if you need it
4. Place carbo powder in the blender
5. Blend on high until it reaches your desired consistency.
Robby Barbaro is the Operations Manager at at Forks Over Knives, and Founder of Mindful Diabetic. He has managed his Type 1 Diabetes with fruit-based nutrition for 8+ years. Robby wants to share what he’s learned with every diabetic on the planet. Learn more about Robby at the Mindful Diabetic, and check out his popular YouTube channel.