For many guests, the anticipation of a trip to Juicy Oasis, Jason Vale’s Portuguese retreat, can be a nerve-wracking experience – ‘Will I be hungry on juice alone?’; ‘What do I need to pack?’; ‘What will we do during the day?’ But for Colette Marlow, who had booked a seven-day stay in March 2019, these everyday questions were magnified by the fact that for 27 years she has lived with Type 1 diabetes, specifically a brittle form which had become a daily challenge to control with conventional carb counting and insulin use.

“I was diagnosed at 33, out of the blue,” says Colette. “I was 122lbs, very healthy and was a director designing toys for a company, which involved extensive travel to the Far East. I had just got married and it was a stressful period with the pressures of work. Six months after our wedding, I became pregnant but I sadly miscarried. I felt so unwell and was losing weight, going to the toilet frequently and my eyesight began to be affected. I went to the doctor and they immediately threw me onto insulin, and although I was needle phobic, I had to learn to inject the drug using an orange to practise.

“Although there is some Type 2 ageonset diabetes in my family, Type 1 diabetes is completely different and the diagnosis was a real bolt out of the blue. I felt really upset, and kept thinking, ‘Why me?’ We desperately wanted to start a family but I was told I couldn’t try for a baby until I was established on insulin, and it was a constant battle to balance my blood sugar levels. Eventually I got pregnant but had to inject every day and had hypoglycaemic attacks when my levels dropped. I had my first child and the diabetes stopped while I was breastfeeding, but it was a brief honeymoon period and later I had a few more miscarriages, followed by a difficult second pregnancy.

“I started to research alternative therapies and, in between my second and third pregnancies, an iridologist looked at my eyes and told me I wasn’t diabetic but had a thyroid problem. I saw a specialist but they concluded I had myxedema as my thyroid had been depleted. I was put on thyroxine and although I was hardly eating anything, I was forced to eat carbs balanced with insulin to keep my blood sugars stable.”

A constant juggling act, although Colette has always been diligent about monitoring her illness, her health suffered over the years with a number of autoimmune conditions
and complications.

Six years ago, Colette took the decision to try an insulin pump, which reduced the amount she needs to around 24-28 units a day. “It acts like my pancreas,” says Colette. “The pump controls my diabetes by drip-feeding insulin when I eat. I need to release more insulin during mealtimes and use a Freestyle Libra to help me track what is happening to my blood sugars.

“One side effect of the diabetes has been gastroparesis and I have also had complications with my lymphatic system which led to fluid retention. I wore compression tights for six years and although aloe vera juice helped me to lose 21lbs, I still relied heavily on carbs to control my insulin intake. The harder I tried to control my diabetes, the more weight I gained and by November 2018 I hit my lowest point, frustrated with my body.

“One day I was talking to a friend who had been to Juicy Oasis and she said, ‘Why don’t you try juicing?’ I wondered whether it was something I could do and started to research it, which is when I discovered Juice Master Jason Vale. I watched his Juice Tube videos on YouTube and his health documentary, Super Juice Me! – it featured people who had chronic illnesses and I was intrigued by what juicing could do for my own health.

“I ordered a juicer in January and took a very big leap by booking a stay at Juicy Oasis,” says Colette. “I’ve been to retreats all over the world with mixed experiences, but when I realised there would be no food at Juicy Oasis, I admit that I panicked slightly. In fact, I packed a supply of carbbased snacks as I have always been told by medical professionals that it was the way to manage my insulin levels, and I couldn’t imagine how I was going to survive on just juice for seven whole days. I must have driven the Juice Master Retreats team mad with all my questions in the run-up to my trip, but they were so patient and helpful.”

Arriving at Juicy Oasis, Colette’s blood sugars initially spiked but by the time she left they had plateaued with her insulin units dropping from 28 to 8/9 a day, after just seven days of Jason’s detox programme. “I absolutely loved it,” says Colette. “I did yoga three times a day and enjoyed treatments at the spa which helped me to relax. I learnt so much about nutrition – one of the biggest discoveries was that I could give up bread and chocolate and manage my blood sugar levels without carbs. I wasn’t hungry and I lost my appetite, whereas before I was always hungry. I’ve lost 25lbs since January and am nearly back to my prediagnosis weight, which is incredible.”

While the physical results of juicing are evident, an added bonus has been the effect on Colette’s confidence, boosted by a chance encounter when she sat next to Juice Master Jason Vale on a flight from Marbella, a few weeks later. Colette had the opportunity to tell Jason her story first-hand and explain the impact that juicing and his retreat had achieved in such a short period of time. “It was wonderful to chat with Jason,” she says. “He asked if I had a blog, which was amazing as five years ago I visited a psychic life adviser and they told me my voice would be my story. I had toyed with writing about my journey with diabetes and although previously I lacked confidence, when Jason suggested I tell my story I decided to publish my blog. I’ve also created an Instagram account (@alternativediabetic), which I hope will offer inspiration to people with
Type 1 diabetes. Since my return, I have been juicing daily, tweaking recipes to suit a diabetic diet. Health guidelines say fruit is full of fructose, but it contains fibre and carbs, plus most have a low glycaemic index. Thinking is changing and the advice for diabetics is to eat clean and pure. Everyone is different, but for me a detox was the perfect way to kick-start my health and meeting Jason created real magic for me.”