Despite the hardships that come with diabetes, many professional athletes have made it all of the way to the National Football League.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2008, while he was playing with the Denver Broncos. Cutler said at that age (24), he ate whatever he liked and lived however he wanted. But as he got older, he realized the huge role diet plays in one's life.

"It's a little overwhelming to get that news and realize you're going to have to completely change your life," Cutler told

Diet Changes

Cutler has since changed his diet over the years to help him cope with the disease, cutting out carbohydrates and sweets and trying to stick to things like protein and fruits.

"Diabetes is all about insulin levels and sugar levels and what you put in your body," he said on "The Jay Cutler Show" on ESPN 1000. "The more you put in your body the more you have to regulate it with insulin. So later kickoffs you're talking about breakfast, lunch and a pregame meal, so that's more food you've got to be aware of and what you put in your body. A noon game, light breakfast, a little fruit and some insulin and I'm good to go."

The quarterback explained how diabetes isn't something you can shake off like a slow defense. The blood glucose disease is there when you go to sleep at night and wake up in the morning, making proper glucose monitoring key.

In 2007, the 6-foot-3-inch Cutler started the season at 235 pounds and played his last game at 202 pounds - he just couldn't keep weight on. But that didn't stop him from having a quality season, throwing 3,497 yards for 20 touchdowns and maintaining an 88.1 passer rating.

He said he never worried about his career being in jeopardy.

"That's the first thing they said to me: 'It's going to affect your lifestyle a little bit, but you'll be able to continue to play football,'" Cutler told the source. "I'm not the first athlete to get diabetes and I won't be the last."

Other professional athletes who dealt with diabetes and had successful careers include NFL quarterback Wade Wilson; Olympic athletes swimmer Gary Hall Jr. and Skier Kris Freemam, tennis stars Billie Jean King and Arthur Ashe; NHL player Bobby Clarke, baseball Hall of Famer Ty Cobb and boxing legends Joe Frazier and Sugar Ray Robinson.

Just like individuals off the field have a diabetic consultant, Cutler leaned on both his NFL coaches, football and diabetic team for support. As long as he continued to manage his disease through exercise, medication and diet, there would be no medical reason why he'd have to give up the game he loves.

Despite your football allegiances - whether you're a rivaling raving Green Bay Packers or Minnesota Vikings fan - one can respect the effort it takes to manage Type 1 diabetes while performing at a professional level on the gridiron.


To learn more about celebrities who have diabetes:

Celebrities Who Live with Diabetes
Roger Moore Gives up Martinis Due to Diabetes
Celebrity Chef is Taking His Diabetes to Heart