National Diabetes Day... Can you take control?

Before I go any further with this post, I want to make it really clear that this is not a post with medical information regarding how to handle diabetes and if you suspect that you may be diabetic, or if you've been diagnosed with diabetes it is absolutely essential that you contact a healthcare professional.

Rather, this is a revisit of a post last year where I recounted my dad's experience with diabetes.

I know many people who've received a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes recently, all of whom are in their late 50s/early 60s. It's the silent disease that's been creeping up on us for a while as, over the past 30 years, our diets have included more and more processed foods and our lifestyles have included less and less exercise.

My dad (Mark) is one of those people. However, rather than accepting this intruder, he made a decision to upheave his lifestyle and nutrition, to educate himself about the disease and his body, and to eradicate the markers of metabolic damage from his body. Within weeks he had overhauled his nutrition and exercise; within months he had established habits which, so long as he sticks with them, will keep the diabetes at bay for rest of his life. It will always be there, sneaking around in the background and he will always need to be conscious of it, but like many people he's learnt how to control it.

With it being National Diabetes Day today, I thought it perhaps pertinent to share his experience with you again.

It really doesn't have to be something you 'just accept' and, if you are concerned you may be at risk there is something you can do to reverse the effects today. Don't play roulette with your health or leave it to chance, when a few small changes to your eating and behavioural habits can make a big difference. Above all, if you do suspect you may be at risk, make an appointment with your doctor now so you can take control yourself!

Here's Mark's experience:

I'm diabetic and in some ways I have been enabled by the condition. I'll try to explain what on earth could be enabling about diabetes!

The first enabler was the provision of a glucose meter. You may have seen people use them and anyone that knows me knows I'm a bit of an instrument geek. So when I first got my meter I would take a reading just before eating and two hours after eating. I then logged the results into a spreadsheet with notes regarding the food I had eaten. It did not take long for the following observations to be made:

  1. Meat and Egg products from fast food restaurants cause my sugars to spike up to a dangerous level.

  2. Some foods caused my blood sugars to go lower over the two hours between eating and testing. Foods such as bananas, apple and oranges. That seems counter intuitive does it not? They contain sugars don't they? They do but the body has to work hard to convert them.

  3. Bread, potato, and rice are just plain bad! Well, thats a bit over the top so I'll explain. Most starchy foods have been over processed and they simply convert to sugar in a very short time once you eat them consequently loading my blood stream up with sugars. However, starches such as black rice, wild rice, sweet potatoes and full grain bread take longer to break down slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and consequently lowering my glucose reading 2 hours after a meal.

These days I do not eat at fast food chains but prefer to prepare and cook my food from original ingredients. I also read the labels! You can be surprised what some so-called healthy foods contain. I also steer clear of any food product that states it's low in fat which equals high in sugar. If I eat out, I choose restaurants that prepare their dishes from original products.

It is not difficult, just make your choices based on your goals which in my case is reducing the long-term damage that diabetes causes.

I can also absolutely verify that now he has taken control of his diabetes, my dad doesn't really miss out on much either. He was definitely drinking beer the last time he visited!!

Of course, you don't have to be diagnosed with a life-changing condition to improve your health. My dad's story reveals 3 simple steps to start:

  1. Understand what your goal is and arm yourself with the knowledge required to achieve it.
  2. Listen to your body - Eat when you're hungry and stop before you're full.
  3. Expect to be in this for the long-haul - fast fixes are never long-term fixes.