Type 2 Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which the body does not produce enough of or make proper use of insulin, a hormone needed to control the conversion of starchy food into energy in the form of glucose. This results in dangerously high levels of glucose in the blood which, if left uncontrolled can have serious long-term health complications such as blindness, limb amputations, kidney failure and an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks.

Contrary to popular belief, diabetes is not caused by consuming too much sugar. Rather, there are a number of factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing diabetes, including being overweight, getting older, having a family history of diabetes,  or in women, having a history of diabetes in pregnancy. Symptoms that could point towards the presence of undiagnosed (or poorly controlled diabetes) include: excessive thirst, extreme tiredness and lack of energy, weight loss, blurred vision, frequent infections and frequently passing large amounts of urine.

Taking Control

Though a serious condition, diabetes can be treated and controlled. A healthy diet and lifestyle is a major cornerstone in managing diabetes and can sometimes be enough to control it. However, in many cases this is usually in conjunction with tablets or insulin. Given the high incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in the West African community, here are our 5 top tips to help you take control: 

  1. Eat more starchy-based carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates. Aim for 3 regular meals based on foods like pasta, rice, plantain, sweet potatoes and yam everyday while cutting down on sugary foods and drinks. Limit sugary drinks like Supermalt and Malta Guinness to half a bottle or can occasionally and have them with a meal to prevent blood glucose levels from rising too quickly.
  2. Eat more fruit and vegetables, aiming for at least 3 portions of fruit and 2 portions of vegetables daily. Spread your fruit intake out over the day and have only one portion of fruit at a time. Also, limit pure unsweetened fruit juice to one small glass (150ml or 5 fluid ounces) a day with a meal.
  3. Cut down on fat, especially saturated fat found in fatty meats, butter, coconut oil and palm oil. Choose unsaturated fats, preferably monounsaturated fats like avocado, olive or rapeseed oil which are sources of omega-3 fats found also in African giant snails and tropical periwinkles. Also, choose lower fat dairy products and use fat-free cooking methods.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight and lose some weight if required. The heavier you are, the harder it is for your body to use insulin and control blood glucose levels. Studies show that modest weight loss can improve blood glucose control.
  5. Keep active everyday. An active lifestyle with frequent exercise is known to make your body use insulin better and help in controlling blood sugar levels.

To better understand your nutritional requirements and whether your nutrition and lifestyle choices are working for or against in managing your diabetes, why not book a one-to-one virtual consultation with our expert registered dietitian and lifestyle coach? You can also attend our online diabetes education course which covers

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