Diabetes Awareness Month

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious condition that occurs blood glucose level is too high. There are two types, Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1

Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot properly use glucose for energy. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body has stopped producing insulin. It’s got nothing to do with diet or lifestyle, it just happens. 

In Type 1 diabetes, the insulin has to be replaced either by daily injections or with insulin pump therapy. The aim of these insulin treatments is to have the best possible glucose control around your current lifestyle and daily activities.

Type 1 Diabetes should be managed under qualified healthcare professionals and seek advice from a Dietician. You’ll also need to check glucose levels to ensure they are not too low or too high by using a blood glucose testing device several times a day. When you start taking insulin, you’ll begin to feel better and your blood glucose levels will go down.

This is important because over a long period of time, high glucose levels in your blood can seriously damage you heart, your eyes, your feet and your kidneys.  With the right care and treatment Type 1 Diabetes can be managed.

Type 2

Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood is too high because your body cannot use it properly. In Type 2 diabetes this happens because your pancreas doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin (that helps glucose enter body cells) and/or the insulin that is produced does not work correctly (insulin resistance).

If you are overweight, weight loss is the most important thing you can do to help control your blood glucose levels by allowing the insulin to work more effectively and reducing insulin resistance.

Lifestyle Tips for Type 2 Diabetes

Reduce your portion sizes to help you reduce and maintain a healthy weight. A portion is:

  • a fist size of potatoes, bread, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates
  • two handfuls of vegetables or salad
  • a cupped-handful of fruit
  • top of your thumb size of oil or fat spread.

5-a-day – you can have any fruit, vegetables or salad you enjoy (however, it pays to be careful with dried fruit and juices);

Aim for at least 5-a-day and try to have a variety;

Carbohydrates are used for energy so include some in your diet each day. Opt for wholegrain options, fruits and vegetables, beans, pulses. Controlling or limiting portions can help reduce weight and improve diabetes control;

Swap meat for beans, pulses and lentils. This reduces fat and increases the fibre of your meals. Fibre helps to reduce cholesterol and prevent certain cancers. Try adding to soups, casseroles and stews;

Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day;

Get Active;

Being active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and helps:

  • control blood glucose by helping your insulin to work more effectively.
  • reduce heart and circulation related risk e.g. heart attacks and strokes.
  • manage weight.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. ‘Moderate’ means breathing more deeply and feeling warmer. Focus on spending less time sitting still!

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