“I’ve just been told I’m diabetic and I don’t know where to start!”

I had a new client this week who had a routine blood test and was told on a telephone consultation that she was pre-diabetic.  On this call, she was given no guidance at all.  On a later call, she was told to eat fewer carbs and take more exercise, which was a start but there was no suggestion on how to do this.  This has prompted me to write this Blog on where to start with diabetes.

First of all, the word pre-diabetes is a new thing, when I was working as a Diabetic Nurse in the 80s you were either diabetic or you weren’t!  Pre-diabetes just means that your blood sugar is just above the normal range. That is over 6% or 40 mmol.

So where do you start? 

Here are a few simple suggestions that you can follow, just take one at a time.  Maybe introduce one for a week and then, if you’re doing well with that, only then start with the next one. 

I find that if you try to do too much all at once you are far less likely to stick to it.

First and my favourite for everyone is:

1. Eat Protein

  • Protein keeps you fuller for longer which means you are less likely to reach for snacks
  • Protein has less effect on your blood sugar
  • Protein helps the body repair
  • Protein is meat, fish, cheese, beans, peas, lentils and more.

2. Swap out the classic carbs

  • Week 1 – start by having just a fistful of carbs with your meal, that means bread, potatoes, pasta or rice.  Just one fistful.  One baked potato can be like having 10 teaspoons of sugar!
  • Week 2 – reduce that to only eating carbs at 2 meals in the day
  • Week 3 – now reduce it to just one meal
  • When you start reducing the bread, potatoes, pasta and rice have something else instead.  Eat other root veg like sweet potatoes, squash, beetroot, carrots, celeriac or pulses to keep you full.  Yes, they still have carbs in them but fewer of them and more fibre. 

3. Eat your veg up

  • Vegetables keep us fuller for longer and make us less likely to want sweet treats.
  • Dark leafy greens bring us lots of lovely vitamins and minerals
  • Bitter foods like rocket, chicory and radishes help our digestion
  • Make sure at least a third of your plate is veg, preferably half.

4. Eat healthy fats

  • Fats are good for you, in moderation
  • Go for grass-fed butter rather than any kind of spread.  Spread is hydrogenated and not good for the health of our cells.
  • Use Olive oil or Coconut oil to cook with.  Olive oil is OK up to 180°C then it starts to degrade.
  • Eat nuts and seeds and avocados to help you stay full.

5. Drink plenty of water

  • Have a glass of water when you wake up in the morning
  • Put a glass next to the kettle and drink a full glass every time you make tea or coffee (even herbal tea)
  • Have a water bottle with you at all times and remember to drink from it.

Yes, this might seem a lot, that is why is suggest you start by focussing on just one of these to get you going.  Establish one before you move on to the next.  Good luck and if you’d like to know more please take a look at my eBook to help you on your way.