COOK OF THE WEEK: Diabetes prompts NMMC employee to revamp eating habits

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Diabetes was Kevin Ball’s wake-up call. The 384-pound Ecru resident was already taking medicines for high blood pressure and cholesterol when he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2009. The next year, he began taking medicine to control his sugar.
“I had health issues in my family,” said Ball, 35, a professional recruiter for Employment Services at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. “My uncle and both my grandparents were all amputees from diabetes.”
Ball knew he needed to do something quickly to regain control of his health.
“I’d been thinking about bariatric surgery for two or three years,” he said. “As soon as I was diagnosed with diabetes, my doctor said, ‘Have the surgery now.’”
In May 2011, Ball had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. To date, he has lost 174 pounds, and totally changed the way he cooks and eats.
“I eat when I want but I have to eat it in moderation,” he said. “Portion control is so important. My mother still cooks old school, and when she makes chicken and dumplings, I may eat some, but for me, a serving is a half-cup. With the surgery, you’re still faced with regular food and you can still eat regular food. I just don’t eat much of it.”
Ball calls his new way of eating a lifestyle change, not a diet.
“My tastes have changed,” he said. “Things I used to eat don’t even appeal to me anymore. It has to have a good flavor now for me to eat it.”
Ball laughed when he recalled a salad he ordered from Chili’s recently. He ate part of it in the restaurant and took the rest home. He shared two portions of it with his parents, Louis Wayne and Ruth Ball, who live across the street from him, and still had enough left for two more meals.
“I really got my money’s worth out of that salad,” he said.
Ball has given up the deep-fat fryer, and instead pan sautés or oven fries his chicken, fish and pork chops. He’s also learned to oven-fry okra and green tomatoes.
“I’m a texture person,” he said. “I’ve got to have that crunch.”
Just because Ball has changed his way of eating doesn’t mean others around him have. So, he’s still more than happy to make decadent cakes to share with family, co-workers or his church congregation. He may even have a bite or two, but he’s more likely to reach for lean protein first.
“The best part about all of this is, the month after I had my surgery, I had an appointment with my doctor,” Ball said. “All my problems were completely resolved. I no longer have high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.”
Do you know a good cook? Send your nominations to Ginna Parsons, Cook of the Week, P.O. Box 909, Tupelo, MS 38802. Or you can fax them to (662) 842-2233 or email them to

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