NOKOMIS – Talk about a growth market:
More than 400 million Earthlings suffer from diabetes. America has an estimated 34.2 million diabetics or around 10 percent of the population. Only a fraction of it has the innate version of suffering. The rest, like Jayne Jones, live with type 2 diabetes acquired through diet and lifestyle.
But there is only one Jayne Jones and – like so many others who have found an unexpected opportunity amid COVID-19 – the woman who lives in Nokomis is well on her way to becoming a rock star in that demographic.
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On this particular morning, Jones has already completed an interview with the BBC, and her emerging niche has rated profiles in the US with WGN from Chicago and Associated Press. You don’t have to be diabetic to grasp the appeal of their presentation: the first thing you notice when you step into the kitchen is a neat pile of their off-the-shelf cookbooks, plus a fresh platter of homemade peanut butter chocolate chip biscuits.
Chances are you’ve heard her name before. Jones, who recently moved to Florida from her hometown of Minnesota, is a public order wonk whose experience collaborated with former Senator Norm Coleman on a 2013 novel, Capitol Hell, co-authored with former Beltway cohort Alicia Long was written, became decisive.
In addition to writing half a dozen children’s books, Jones is the founder of a government grant company and nonprofit that provides escort services to people with learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities.
But last year, the one-time Tater Tots, Mom’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Graham Crackers and Diet Cokes (8-10 cans daily) enthusiast emerged from a terrible onslaught of diabetes and became the No Sugar Baker, the name of her Facebook page and a website.
With a nudge from daughter Emily, who came home from college due to coronavirus lockdown in 2020, Jones began releasing the ingredients for her impromptu concoctions – brownies with avocados, banana bread without bananas – to support their sobering new reality and revitalize. As a result, No Sugar Baker is approaching 100,000 Facebook followers in less than a year. And no wonder, with irresistible hooks like these:
“When I say Dairy Queen Peanut Buster Parfait, do you know what I’m talking about? Well friends, this No Sugar Baker caramel cake reminded me of that and more! “Which of course refers to a workaround recipe.
Recently, Jones has added videos to their sugar-free formulas that invite fans into their kitchen. While “Hubs” – Chris Beehler – hits the links, Jones spends her Saturdays scouring the flea market for bargains, looking at kitchen utensils. She then publishes videos that show her route and that she reviews with neighborly, relaxed and sociable ease.
However, what is most likely responsible for her growing popularity is her refusal to paint the details of her sudden confrontation with diabetes, which hit her like a sledgehammer in August 2019. On her 45th birthday, she and Hubs followed up dinner by playing a play at the Florida Studio Theater. She could hardly keep her eyes open.
“I scraped the cream cheese off a store-bought carrot cake,” Jones writes in her new Healthy Living Without Regret cookbook, which will be the subject of a book signing on Saturday afternoon in Nokomis. “It was just me, the knife and the cake. I puked afterwards and couldn’t stay awake for my life. I told myself tomorrow was a new day. But I kept my bad habits. “
This is just the beginning of a litany of ruthless detail amidst the denial and realization that follows.
“From that night on,” Jones continues, “I struggled to eat without massive diarrhea. I’m not talking about a newborn’s diaper poop. I’m talking about intestinal pain, tearful diarrhea. About half the time, I ran to the bathroom, hoping to make it in time – and undid my pants as I waddled to the bathroom. “
The bottom line was that Jones ended up in the emergency room at Sarasota Doctors Hospital, where her 285/175 blood pressure was life-threatening and her diabetes verdict became official. At home she woke up practically blind one morning and couldn’t even read a computer screen without scaling the text to the proportions of the headings.
Jones was informed that she was only days from two detached retinas and a doctor told her that she would have “four years to live if you didn’t change your lifestyle.” That was more than a year and a half ago, and although she has told this story many times before, new tears roll down Jones’ cheeks as she reconsiders that moment.
Her eye doctor gave her an injection of medication in each eye – $ 4,000 each, insured – and within 30 days what she describes as “a miracle” happened: Jones saw 20/20 again. She had planned a 12 month regimen, but she didn’t need it.
Today Jones is quickly releasing the highly technical before and after results of her eyes, which are back to normal. She is equally eager to inform followers that her sugar-free diet has resulted in a 60 pound loss, a four size drop in clothes, and healthy blood sugar levels.
This kind of openness has encouraged other diabetic patients to share stories about their own trials, with gratitude for discovering new nutritional options. Sometimes Jones even publishes guest recipes. Becoming a public figure, however, can be a mixed thing.
“Every now and then,” she says, “you hear from an idiot who says,” Honey, you get your sugar from somewhere because you’re still plump. “I told my husband and my best friend to ignore it. It shows that you make a difference because people start attacking you for such things.”
Exactly how big the No Sugar Baker can get remains to be seen, but Jayne Jones says she is just getting started and a second recipe book is on the way.
“I want my employees to know that this is a team effort. That’s why I share my A1C (blood sugar level test) numbers with a group of strangers, ”she says. “It’s like, ‘Oh yeah! We made it!’ and they feel part of my life. “
Jones’ spontaneity in the kitchen develops so quickly that you won’t even find the recipe for the latest biscuits designed for her guests in her book.
“The peanut butter and chocolate chips are in there,” says Jones, who relies heavily on Swerve sweetener to make it work. “I just added the bacon.”
Jayne Jones will be signing copies of her Healthy Living Cookbook on Saturday from 4pm to 6pm at the Royal Coachman RV Resort, 1070 Laurel Road, Nokomis. Please visit nosugarbaker.com for more information.