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The Healthy Eating HubDiabetes is very prevalent these days. We hear about it all the time and yet sometimes it still isn’t entirely clear what it is and what we can do about it.

If you’re curious about what is going on in the body, for an individual with diabetes, we’re got a summary of it here, De-mystifying diabetes.

There are actually three different types of diabetes, but unless you are pregnant, you won’t need to worry about gestational diabetes. The two other types are;

  • Type 1: which is not lifestyle related and you are born with it and,
  • Type 2: which is related to lifestyle and you have control over slowing the onset or even preventing it.

There are significantly more people with type 2 than type 1. And so, for the rest of this article, we’ll only talk about type 2.


Risk factors:

So, what does it mean to be at risk?

Diabetes is one of those slow-developing, didn't see it coming kind of diseases. Having a close family member diagnosed is often a time when people start reflecting on their own lifestyle choices and think: “Could I be at risk?” “Will I be next?” or “I want to avoid that please!”

Well, you’re in luck because now is a great time to be thinking about making small changes, becoming aware of your risk factors and learning what you can do about it all. There are some risk factors that you can’t change like age, genetics and some metabolic or hormonal conditions. The factors that you can change are your weight, diet and activity levels.

Developing diabetes doesn't just happen overnight. As stated before, it's slow-progressing (giving you time to intervene, which is a good thing!). The development can be divided into stages.

  1. Insulin resistance. Your blood sugar levels are fine at this stage, but insulin is having a hard time connecting to cells and this results in you creating excessive insulin. Check out this article, insulin resistance: don't let type 2 diabetes take you by surprise, to get a better understanding. You can slow or even prevent the development of diabetes at this stage.
  2. Pre diabetic. This is that middle ground where your blood sugar levels are starting to get a bit high, but not at the point of being diagnosed with diabetes. You can still significantly slow the onset or prevent diabetes at this stage. 
  3. Type 2 diabetes. The amount of sugar in your blood has become too much for effective healthy functioning of your cells. Without proper management you could develop other health complications.

If you think you might be at risk, first thing you can do is think about the risk factors and how many of those boxes you might be ticking. Then, get your blood sugar levels checked by your GP.

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What to do about it all?

If you suspect that you’re at risk of developing type 2 diabetes or you’ve been recently diagnosed, here are some tips that are relevant to you no matter what stage you are in;

  • Learn about your diet: There are some essential components of your diet that play a really big part in prevention and management of diabetes. Carbohydrates are super important and there are many things to think about such as the type of carbohydrate, when and how much you are eating. Have a read about healthy snacking for diabetes and making recipes insulin resistance friendly for some quick guidance on eating carbohydrates.

  • Weight management: This is not about only eating chicken and broccoli and being grumpy all the time (although sadly, we have all been there). There are some easy concepts that are sometimes overlooked when we get caught up in fad diets and quick weight-loss crazes. At the end of the day, regardless of the dietary approach you take, in order to achieve weight loss, you need to create a negative energy balance. This means that energy in needs to be less than energy out. A good weight loss plan, however, not only helps you create this energy deficit but also ensures you’re still getting plenty of nutrients. This article on energy balance explains this more.

  • Exercise: An important concept in energy balance is, you guessed it, exercise. It doesn’t have to be intense CrossFit style or wild moves. Incorporating a little movement into your day is a perfect way to start increasing the energy out. Research also shows that regular physical activity improves insulin resistance. Win win!

This is the advice we hear all the time, right? That's because it's the most effective, cheapest and easiest for you in the long run! The team of dietitians at The Healthy Eating Hub provide you with personalised advice on diet and how to create long term healthy eating habits so you can feel confident in your food choices.


Article by: Camille Struzina, Intern at The Healthy Eating Hub