So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I had my NHS ‘Well Woman’ health check last year that included being weighed and measured, a blood pressure check and a fasting blood test to check my cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Next thing I know, I’ve received a letter to say that I was at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Luckily, they invited me to join a prevention and management programme run by X-PERT Health on behalf of the NHS.
Long story short, I started last September and we’ve been having weekly classes for the last few months. We were given a brilliant reference book to teach us about how our bodies process what we eat and drink and how we can avoid developing Type 2 by managing our weight, our carbohydrate intake, exercise, stress management and so on. We were equipped with the tools to understand why we needed to make changes and information on all the different dietary approaches with their relative pros and cons such as Low Fat, Mediterranean, Low Carb and Intermittent Fasting but it was up to us to create our own plan that suited our own circumstances to make it a viable and effective reality. This is how I’ve gone about it and it’s definitely working for me.
The first thing I did was to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks and then review it to see where I might be going wrong. No one meal I had would appear to be ‘unhealthy’ by current standards but I quickly realised I ate a lot of carbohydrate at virtually every meal during the week. Overnight oats with yoghurt, fruit and nuts for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch at work, an evening meal that usually included either potatoes, rice, couscous, bulgur wheat, pasta, bread or pastry at its core. I wasn’t eating much animal protein as I’d been cutting down on meat – a message we’re hearing almost every day in the media that’s ‘a good thing’ – so most of my diet was coming from a lot of grains, some fruit and vegetables and a little bit of animal protein and dairy.
Hmmm. Once I started measuring the amount of carbohydrate I was eating, it became very obvious that I couldn’t possibly use that much glucose swimming about in my bloodstream. We’re only supposed to have between 5-7g (1 teaspoon) in our blood at any given time and it was plain to see why mine would be too high. It’s not like I’m in training for a marathon after all! We had a whole class on carbohydrate awareness and I’ll cover that in another post but back to next steps…
So, once I knew what my current diet looked like, I could start to tweak it and see how that felt. Then, I started to educate myself about the carbohydrate content of all the foods I normally ate. I’ll be writing another post on how I did that later. It was pretty enlightening to see how different foods compared and even how different brands of the same foods compared per 100g.
Now I’m a food label ninja and shop deliberately for particular brands, I make sure that I eat a low amount of carbs every day (less than 50g) with more protein, vegetables and good fats, evenly spaced throughout the day. I also adapt my recipes and meal plans to swap high carb foods for low to no carb alternatives e.g. cauliflower mash instead of potato mash, lactose-free milk instead of standard milk etc. You’ll start to see that come through in all my new #TheFridayRecipes and I’ll try to alter some of the archive recipes when I get time. It hasn’t been a chore once my new routines were established and my partner is enjoying it too. It’s hard when you are cooking for a family but, trust me, they either won’t notice or they will actively embrace the changes.
I also made sure to replace the battery in my weighing scales and I weigh myself at the same time every day so see how the choices I’m making are impacting my weight. I’ve lost 8kg since the start of the programme and, impressively, no gain or pain over Xmas. Phew!
To make sure that I’m not being slapdash about the weight of any foods that I really need to portion control, I also use my electronic weighing scales in the kitchen. I can measure by eye usually once I’ve established the weight of something and fixed that image in my mind. I don’t count calories because I find I don’t need to, just controlling the carb intake is enough to make sure I’m not hungry, I’ve got plenty of energy and the weight is coming off.
Anyway, more posts to come on this healthy eating programme that I hope you’ll find interesting and useful and of course lots more #TheFridayRecipes that taste amazing.
Have a good week!
You can hear more about the programme here if you’re interested.
NB: Always consult an appropriately qualified health professional before adopting a dramatic lifestyle change – we’re all different, what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone.
My #Eattobeatdiabetes articles