The Sweetener!

The Sweetener!

In the seventh blog of our series with Alex Hurt, she explores the topic of diet, diabetes awareness and embracing a healthier lifestyle, plus being honest with yourself about your daily habits.

So.. curl up with your favourite wellness tea, light a candle and read Alex’s musings to put a smile on your face and some goodness into your day. 


Oh how the summer has arrived, and today with strong gusts and sunny skies with my washing on the line, it’s blowing away all the metaphorical cobwebs. Windy weather always makes me think the world’s gone topsy turvy for a while; and I rather like it. This week we’re diving straight into diabetes and the ironic sweetener here is if it’s type 2, you can do something about it. It’s simply about making better choices. 

Our friends over at diabetes.org.uk tell the story in facts and figures, so, by educating yourself you can completely prevent type 2 diabetes, lessen the stress and strain on both your body and that NHS you were clapping so hard for every Thursday.

Facts and Figures

  • 4.7 Million people in the UK have diabetes in the UK, that’s roughly 1 in 15 people.  
  • 90% of people have type 2 diabetes, 8% have type 1 diabetes and 2% have a rare kind of diabetes. 
  • It can take 5-6 years before a type 2 diagnoses and 6 in 10 of those diagnoses have zero symptoms. 
  • Obesity is responsible for 80-85% of type 2 diabetes, but the good news is more than half the people diagnosed with type 2 could have either been prevented or delayed.

Type 1 diabetes is more commonly diagnosed in childhood or your more formative years. Your body’s immune system fights off viruses and bacteria, however in people with type 1 the body attacks its own healthy cells, along with the insulin producing cells in the pancreas and the body is unable to produce insulin.  Insulin levels then need to be monitored and insulin injected.

Type 2 diabetes means that the body has an insulin resistance. The body produces the insulin but can’t use it effectively. This means your pancreas will try to compensate by producing more insulin and the glucose then accumulates in your bloodstream. Type 2 can be treated by diet and exercise only, and medication. Type 2 is lifestyle dependent and therefore it can be delayed or entirely prevented in many people.

‘Wellness’ is the word that people are spouting off as often as you hear ‘down facing dog’ these days. Wellness and not illness, is the POINT! Your mental and physical health come hand in hand, and to be well will put less strain on your life, finances and our beloved health system. It’s not rocket science that if you eat more than you burn off, you’ll pile on the pounds.  Eating less and moving more is the general rule of thumb. That said, for those of us with varying conditions, illnesses or lifestyles unsympathetic to this… then Houston, we have a problem! Wellness is about everyday wellbeing. It’s about making the right choices and being kind to yourself.  Finding hobbies that you enjoy that get you active, educating yourself on different foods that are more nutrient rich, but taste good.

About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with pre diabetes. I was living a fast-paced life in Dubai. Eating out, drinking more than I should, working long hours. I was stressed out, bloated and had high blood pressure because of the strain I put my body under. My food choices were not healthy, they were quick. Whilst I enjoyed food, I never took my time, rather wolfed lunches down in front of a laptop, ate dinner in front of the tv and this was often a takeaway. I did very little exercise because it was so damned hot and I worked most of the time. I’ve always been cushioned! This time of my life I resembled more of a pillow! The shock I had, being in my early thirties and discovering that if I didn’t make changes pretty fast, I’m going to have a chronic illness for the rest of my life made me schedule an appointment with a nutritionist STAT!

The painful process of being poked, prodded, weighed, measured and the shame of listing what you ate – and actually telling the truth! Well, it’s all worth it now because I’m absolutely A-OK. But then? I felt terrible, like I had betrayed my own body. I enrolled in a scheme where I had all my meals prepared for me, and this taught me all about making the right choices and portion control. I believe within about 4 months I had reversed the pre diabetes and reduced my weight significantly. What an achievement. It was at that time I realised I wasn’t invincible. Although my choices in food dramatically improved, I was still stressed, still smoking and still liked my martinis! My doctor scared me to death and recommended I go on medication to reduce my blood pressure. Looking back, I wish he had more of a holistic approach with me. My BP was high because I was stressed. It only peaked when my anxiety was heightened, but my anxiety disorder didn’t get diagnosed until last year! Alas my doctor put me on meds and sent me on my merry way.

The proof that a healthier mindset creates a healthier body is writing this blog for you to read. I am still indeed cushioned, I would love to be svelte but I am going to work with what I have. I’m a walker; I did try running, and whilst I hated actually running (more of a light jog tbh) the feeling of achievement was off the charts. However, my knees didn’t agree with it. I eat fish, chicken and ALOT of veg, I don’t drink very often (perhaps once a month if that), and my biggest achievement is that I no longer smoke. I was hypnotised and haven’t touched one since I quit, and I’m no quitter! I no longer have high blood pressure, or pre diabetes and I am a healthier version of me because I made better choices. In fact, I honestly believe that all along, if someone had sat me down and explained to me how I could change my life to reduce my anxiety a long time ago, I could have avoided this chapter of my life entirely.

Here’s a checklist for you.

  • Do you have enough time to make the right choices? If not, how can you find a way to give yourself more time now, to add time onto your quality of life later?
  • Do you enjoy your food, or do you simply wolf it down?
  • Does stress affect your eating? Either over or under eating?
  • Are you overweight and is it preventing you from doing the things in life you would like to?
  • Are you stressed out all the time?
  • Do you know how to make better food and lifestyle choices?

Whether lockdown has been the ideal time to get to grips with your healthy eating, or you’ve piled on the pounds through boredom or indeed stress – it’s ok. Firstly, let’s not punish ourselves. Being kind however does not begin with a jam donut, I wish it did, but it doesn’t. Wellness is simply living life in a ‘well way’. Being aware of what makes you overeat; this could be stress, lack of sleep or a bottle too many of wine. Think about what you have at home in the cupboards and in the fridge. You don’t have to visit a nutritionist or have your meals delivered, although if that’s a financial option then I can tell you it’s a convenient one!

Shopping list

  • More fruit – yes it has sugar, but a different kind.
  • More veg – not just potatoes.
  • More wholemeal – less white starch.
  • More lean meat, fish rich in the good kind of fatty acids but easy on the shellfish (cholesterol).
  • Less dairy…. try switching to a milk alternative, I drink oat milk and love it.
  • Less sauces/condiments or make your own – and check out how much oil is in mayonnaise, that will put you off!
  • Camellia’s tea – drink more good quality tea, try cleansing teas such as Green Mint Tea is full of anti-oxidants and helps reduce the bad type of cholesterol, plus mint is a great palate cleanser and great for digestion. Drinking any type of tea, but especially green tea and wellness teas, are a great way to increase hydration and support the reversal of diabetes. 
diabetes awareness
Green Mint Tea

Methods

  • Take a packed lunch and snacks to work.
  • Eat less sugar in general, but don’t fall down the saccharine tunnel.  Your body can’t process it, and it’s not good for you. 
  • Reduce your caffeine intake for a better sleep and therefore a better choice of food so you aren’t always tired. Try Sleep Well Tea at bedtime for the perfect slumber cup and low natural fruit-based sugar teas such as Very Berry Fruit Tea if you need natural sweetness. 
  • Consume slow burning carbs. 
  • Exercise – walk, run, work in the garden and try listening to a podcast.
  • Meditate and if you’re feeling stressed or sad then speak to someone you are comfortable with.
diabetes awareness
Very Berry Fruit Tea

In Corona times we have all learned how precious life is. Let’s learn the lesson. Let’s recognise some common symptoms that come with diabetes and if you think you may have it, then visit your GP. If you have type 2, chances are you can reverse or delay it and that’s the sweetener. 

  1. An unquenchable thirst
  2. A tingling in your hands or feet
  3. Frequent urination
  4. Feeling very hungry
  5. Fatigue
  6. Blurry vision
  7. Cuts or sores that don’t heal properly

People with diabetes are twice as likely to have a stroke, 2.5 times more likely of cardiovascular disease and heart failure! On average 1 in 6 people in hospital are in there with a diabetes complication. 

Like mental health, diabetes awareness is key here. Diabetes is so much more than overeating and belly fat! If you take your own holistic approach to your own wellness, you are taking charge of the rest of your life. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for the people that love you. If you know someone that needs to read this, then simply forward it on with love, it could save someone’s life. 

A spritzer when the pubs open perhaps? Until next time… make better choices. 

Continue your Wellness journey with Alex’s eight blog Meditation and Mindfulness – Essential Tools & Simple Tips To Keep The Calm In Your Daily Lifestyle.

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