My diabetes is known as Adult onset, Type 2, and has become more and more prevalent in the UK and western world as we’ve generally got more overweight, and our diet has become more and more processed.
When I decided that I was going to kick this insulin thing the doctor made it very clear to me that I had to look long and hard at my fitness, my weight and my lifestyle. And it wasn’t going to be easy. In fact he was pretty insistent that I wouldn’t achieve insulin independence at all. I have to admit that regular exercise wasn’t on my agenda – and at 90kgs was definitely overweight. But telling me I would not achieve something, well that just made me determined to prove him wrong.
So I started doing some research, starting with diet.
It’s not just about low carbs, I learned, it’s about good carbs. And the same is true of fats – stick to the good ones, and lose weight. More importantly – lose weight in a healthy way that will help the diabetes – not cause more problems.
Traditional low fat, high carb diets have become full of highly processed products, containing virtually no fibres and nutrients – and this is the root of the problem.
If I had picked up the warning signs earlier I could have saved myself a lot of trials and tribulations! Putting on weight in middle age – especially around my middle – was an indication of:
High ratio of bad cholesterol to good
High blood pressure
In other words – onset of, or as it is known, prediabetes.
But hindsight is a wonderful thing!
So, back to the diet. Apparently a surprisingly high percentage of us is genetically pre-disposed to adult-onset diabetes – and the biggest trigger is, you’ve guessed it, diet. We can’t control our genes of course, but we can control what we eat – and the amount of exercise we take (more of that later).
In my form of diabetes my pancreas is fully functional, but creating too much insulin. Carrying extra body fat makes it hard for insulin to do its job which in turn means that blood sugar levels don’t lower as quickly as they should. So the pancreas tries harder – and pumps out even more insulin. Finally it overdoes it, and blood sugar goes down. And in come the hunger pangs, and that’s when I would eat more, especially carbohydrates.
OK, that’s the technical bit, but how was I to get out of that vicious circle?
Ignore some of the advice being given out about “low fat high carb diet” and get fibre back into the diet, kick the processed foods, get the balance of good carbohydrates and fats back where it should be. That’s when I discovered that I was attempting to reinvent the wheel – a guy called Dr Arthur Agatston from Florida had done the spadework for me – and compiled what he called “The South Beach Diet”.
And the rest, as they say, is history. I bought the book (probably the best £10.99 I ever spent) and started to follow the suggested diet. No, it wasn’t easy, it meant turning a lot of my long-time habits on their head. But I did learn that if it was going to do any good, I had to go for it 100%.
And it got easier! and I lost weight – and I felt better. Now, three years down the line I’ve lost 22 kgs and with the help of exercise too – have kicked the insulin!
Disclaimer: Everything I describe on this website has worked for me. I have no financial or other links with the South Beach Diet or other diabetic organisations. I just want to share my experiences with other diabetes sufferers in the hope that they too can live a better - and longer - life. Always consult your doctor or medical practitioner before undertaking any diet or exercise program.