Monthly Archives: October 2015

Healthy Halloween?

Halloween treat 1I love Halloween. Not least because it’s my wedding anniversary!

But I get that this can be a difficult day for people with diabetes. Take a look online and you’ll find conflicting advice – from don’t let your diabetic child indulge in candy at all, to the oft-heard rhetoric that eating candy didn’t cause diabetes so what’s the problem here? Confusion abounds.

My opinion is that it IS a problem. We are becoming increasingly aware that sugar is a big threat to health. Whether you already have diabetes or not, sugar is simply not a healthy diet choice. And if it isn’t a healthy choice for the general population, I totally fail to see that it can be an appropriate choice for a child whose little body cannot process sugar.

It isn’t OK to eat Halloween treat 4the candy, count the carbs and calculate the insulin dose, and here’s why: diet may not have caused diabetes, but it sure as anything is a central part of diabetes management. (That said, that explanation is for another blog another day.)

That’s where it can be really tricky – because no-one, least of all the kids themselves, want to be left out. Well I’ve been digging around to find attractive healthy options for Halloween treats. I found it really difficult: most of the  supposed healthy options are based on fruit or starchy vegetables.
Halloween treat 2

Better than sugar, and fine if you can limit the amounts your child chomps on but still too high GI really to let the kids overindulge.

Dotted around this post are some that tick low-GI boxes for treats. I didn’t devise these, I just found them. So kudos to all the creative folks, whoever you are, for devising these devilishly good snacks!

Halloween treat 5

This Halloween avoid the tricks and enjoy the real treats! #standtogether for #diabetes awareness

Halloween treat 3

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I met a nice man last night…and I need YOUR help!

We chatted on twitter until well after midnight (my time) – I have no idea what time it was for him in Chicago.

Goes to show that we see something someone writes on social media, and we form a conclusion about someone (in my case that this man was worth speaking with until the small wee hours) without knowing some pretty fundamental basics about their circumstances. In this case I literally didn’t even know the time of day!

So to start this morning’s blog I need to warn you that I’m going to air what might be a touchy subject.

I’m sitting quietly and comfortably with a nice cup of green tea (my morning treat) while I write, with the sole intention to help people with diabetes. People with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. And the way I help is by offering nutritional advice.

I’m not diabetic. Nonetheless I’m on a mission to help people who are. Most of the time that seems to be OK. But at others I am apparently viewed as worse than the very devil himself. In the eyes of some. Mainly – well OK then, ALWAYS – in the eyes of someone with Type 1 diabetes. And I reckon at the start of our chat, the nice man himself probably had a Halloweenesque mental image of me with red eyes and carrying a trident!

So our conversation started like this:

HIM: “Ok. Do you know the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

ME: “Yup

And it went from there. The gist was why is it so often assumed that when someone offers help some Type 1 folks spring into defense mode and need to ask that question (or worse)? Luckily I’m not easily put off, and I usually try to engage in a reasonable conversation. Most of the time that goes well.

Last night it went well and we both learned some of those missing fundamental basics about the other. So our chat ended like this:

HIM: “I think you’re doing a great job. I’ve seen so many scams and bad initiatives out there but you seem to be good. Keep it up! 🙂

ME: Bathing in the warm glow of a pat on the back.

Happy ending? Pretty good in this case. But back to some of those missing fundamentals…

In the spirit of #standtogether for diabetes awareness can I make a plea? Can we all understand that whilst there are “scams and bad initiatives out there” some of us are genuinely helping.

In my work I encounter people with Type 1 who at best have been taught to count carbs and calculate insulin doses. People who are not aware of something called the glycaemic index, let alone what low-GI means. People who haven’t a clue that good diet can make a difference with Type 1. These people are not stupid people. They simply haven’t encountered good information. Take a look at the letter I’m sharing below:

001

THIS is a great example of why I will continue to offer help to people with Type 1. OK so maybe the person I can help isn’t YOU. Maybe the person I can help isn’t as informed as you, hasn’t had the good information you’ve already received, and maybe hasn’t got their act as sorted as you. You not needing my help doesn’t make me a scam merchant. It doesn’t make mine a bad initiative. You not needing my help simply means you don’t need my help. And that’s fine by me, I couldn’t be happier to know you’re doing OK.

But I DO need YOUR help please. I need you to advise how I can offer help into the wider Type 1 community without making you feel prickly? Some of the stuff I share on social media might not always be to your personal tastes, and I will still share it because it probably meets the needs of someone else.

I never say I can cure diabetes (of either type), I never say I can reverse diabetes (of either type), I never even say I treat diabetes (of either type). I only accurately reflect what I do, which is to give nutritional and lifestyle advice to people living with diabetes. I don’t differentiate which type because I genuinely work with people living with both types.

I occasionally share some of the great results my clients get through their own efforts to change their diets and lifestyle. And I post a wide range of stuff that I find interesting, and hope others might too. I’m inviting you to let me know how I can make it OK to do all that without offending you. I’d love to hear from you.

As for the nice man last night? His answer started: “Hmm…Tricky!

Come on folks, help fill in more of the basic fundamentals I’m needing here. Let’s #standtogether for diabetes awareness.

#standtogether for International #Diabetes Awareness Month?

logoOK so this morning it would be true to say I am saddened. For months it’s been my morning habit to look at twitter on my phone even before I get out of bed. I search “diabetes” to see what’s “trending right now” – get me using the lingo, and at my age too!

This morning I woke up in a good mood. I didn’t get out of bed in a good mood. Negativity! That’s what was trending at 6:00am this morning. I reckon I can’t be the only twitter user that finds negativity a big turn off, can I?

Two main twitter threads struck me. The first tweet thread was about the language associated with diabetes, and second was castigation of an American politician. Personally I have no strong views about the language used around diabetes. I have no strong views about what a politician may or may not have said about diabetes – probably because I didn’t hear the debate. But what I did feel strongly was that reading some really quite nasty comments at 6:00am didn’t warm me towards the tweeters making them.

My point is this: as we approach the start of Diabetes Awareness Month what face does the diabetes community want to present to the rest of the world? Are the big issues really about language, or about what a politician says in a debate? If in November awareness for diabetes gets raised – my use of the word “if” is deliberate and I will explain – are these the issues we would like the world to fix? Homestly? I think there are more beneficial issues to be resolved.

cement logoHere’s my observation: few people are even aware there is a World Diabetes Awareness Month or a World Diabetes Day looming. The blue circle logo is not instantly recognised. How do I know? Because I’ve been asking people. I’ve asked people for whom diabetes is not a current concern. I’ve asked people already concerned or whose lives are affected by diabetes – Type 1 or Type 2. Yesterday I asked a room full of business owners what did a blue circle mean to them. Most looked blank and shook their heads. The builder in the group said confidently, “it’s a brand of cement!” He’s right. In the UK, at least, Blue Circle is a brand of cement and it has pretty much the same logo some of us associate with diabetes awareness!

A couple of days ago, there I was sitting on the loo in a motorway services on the M62 – please don’t let that image traumatise you! Right there on the door of my cubicle was an awareness poster for McMillan Cancer Trust. And it struck me there and then that there is a yawning gap to be bridged between the level of awareness the public has, and embraces, about cancer, and the level of awareness that currently exists about diabetes. The same people who didn’t know about the blue circle could tell me all about pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness, and they knew about coffee mornings for McMillan!

Here’s my personal plan for Diabetes Awareness Month: I am going to do my very very best to bring diabetes to the attention of as many people as I can – at home and abroad. I’m going to do that as positively as I can, but without shying away from issues that some might find difficult. I know that you’ll probably like some of the stuff I share over the next few weeks, and there may be some stuff you’ll be not so keen on. That’s OK. I’m going to join in with as many positive initiatives as I can – thunderclap here we come – and I’m going to hope that people will embrace some of my offerings too. With open minds and open hearts and a willingness to work collaboratively, collectively and collegiately we CAN make the world at large aware that there is a diabetes awareness month. That WDD exists. At the very least!

I don’t care if you are Type 1, Type 2, at risk of diabetes, have relatives coping with diabetes, are just looking to avoid diabetes. If you are one of the people who is moved by diabetes in any way may I ask please will you be a bit more positively vocal and visible this November? Please will you share stuff you like, celebrate success stories, and stay positive to help raise awareness? If (I said I would come back to “if”) we manage to raise a meaningful level of awareness, a level to equal cancer awareness, how about we present ourselves in a way that will attract the public to get behind the cause for diabetes? For the good of everyone affected by diabetes.

#standtogether is for us!

Why you really need to think twice about bariatric surgery

imagesAre you still seeing reports that tell you gastric bands and bypasses are THE answer to obesity and Type 2 diabetes? OK so let’s talk about what the usual reports don’t tell you…

Already longer term problems are becoming known – and it’s a mystery why these things are ignored when the supposed benefits are heralded in the press and media.

Gastric surgery is far from being the life-long solution it is promised to be. Here are my top three reasons to think twice before diving onto the operating table:

The weight loss doesn’t last.

For at least a decade it’s been known that weight loss may be temporary. Bariatric Surgery Source – a comprehensive weight loss surgery resource – says:

“Weight gain after gastric bypass surgery is not guaranteed, but there’s a good chance that it will occur to some extent.” 

That “extent” was quantified in a press article a full 3 years ago – “a third of gastric surgery patients put ALL the weight back on” it was reported.

It is linked with greater risk of suicide.

The let-down of this reality has serious emotional impact. It has recently emerged that people who have had gastric surgery are more likely to go on to commit suicide – significantly after the initial weight loss period wains. Thankfully, this vital information WAS widely reported:

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/852616

http://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/20151007/suicide-risk-may-rise-for-some-after-weight-loss-surgery?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23297762

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3263730/The-dark-weight-loss-surgery-People-operation-4-times-likely-commit-suicide-twice-likely-self-harm.html

You WILL have to manage life-long nutritional deficiencies.

What I have never seen reported is that ALL bariatric surgeries lead to nutritional deficiencies. Some procedures have worse effects than others, but it is the case that patients require nutritional supplements for life.

If you’re thinking that’s a small price to pay, please think again. I’ve shared often before in my various posts that supplementation isn’t the best way to nourish your body. For a start, nutrients are more bioavailable from food compared to pills and potions – that means your body will take up nutrients from food so much more readily than from a supplement. Then there’s the fact that high potency supplements have been shown in clinical trials to be harmful – sometimes the harm clearly outweighs benefit. The full extent of this risk was highlighted last week in a shocking report revealing that thousands of medical emergencies in the US are directly caused by nutritional supplements.

How can it be then that on the one-hand the medical profession bemoan the dangers of nutritional supplements, calling for tighter controls, but on the other hand happily hail a type of surgery that means life-long supplementation is inevitable? I don’t get it. And I’m sure Hippocrates wouldn’t have got it either.

The RebalanceDiabetes approach stands head and shoulders above the others – food first! Food before surgery. Food before supplementation. It doesn’t rely meal replacement shakes, bars and pills. And it never will!

To find out more visit www.rebalancediabetes.com

Cereal killers?

Sipping my green tea in Waitrose’s cafe on Saturday, and browsing the weekend supplements, I came across an article about a cereal bar, Cereality, recently installed in Texas Fort Worth airport. The pictures of what might typically pass for breakfast or a snack were nothing if not disturbing.

Cartons of cereals, already sugary enough to be considered to be confectionery in their own right, mixed with chocolates, sweeties,
cookies, and dripping in syrups and sweet sauces. Food? Really? Have we so lost our marbles? Lost sight of what constitutes food, let alone healthy food? Or even an appropriate portion size of sugar?

A mere 20 minutes later, queuing at the checkout, my senses were further assaulted by the prominent display of breakfast cereals of the worst kind. Displayed in the most prominent position in the store.

Sugar laden, refined carbs in a box masquerading as food! IMG_20151003_172234

The kind that kids will nag their parents to buy. For the jolly cartoon images on the boxes. For the free junk toys inside. For the sugar on which the breakfast cereal industry is gleefully getting them hooked.And it struck me that breakfast cereal manufacturers and those peddling them are having a huge, and profitable, laugh in the face of ever rising rates of obesity and diabetes. And it’s simply not good enough!

Here’s why…

In 2009 Which? magazine investigated breakfast cereals, and, as reported in the press at the time, concluded that a mere 8% of tested brands would meet Food Standards Agency criteria for acceptable levels of sugar. In 2012 Which? revisited breakfast cereals and again concluded that few products would provide for a healthy breakfast.

In the intervening 3 years things have gone from bad to worse. Kelloggs and Nestle and chums have continued unabated to peddle their sugar-laden wares, and to add insult to injury have introduced ever more damaging options. Nestle even have the audacity to package some of the worst products, in my opinion, in “green top” boxes, devised to fool consumers that there is something healthy in the packet. There mostly isn’t!
Back to cereal cafes: as ever, what happens in the US eventually appears in the UK. Cereal cafes are no exception. Cereality in the States at least has a fluffy friendly name. But here in the UK it seems we’re prepared to openly embrace the darkest, most cynical side of this new trend.

Cereal Killer Cafe is aptly named indeed. Almost every conceivable brand of tooth-rotting, blood-sugar-disrupting breakfast carb is available. Alongside a piece of cake obviously!

Similar nutritionally-bankrupt concoctions – they call them cocktails – can be found at the unattractively-named Black Milk Cereal Dives popping up around the UK. Already-too-sugary cereal
products topped with Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Topped with Oreo cookies and chocolate sauce? Topped with Tootsie Rolls?

There simply has to be enough information out there about the dangers of sugar and refined carbs now for the owners of these questionable establishments to be fully aware of the health implications of their sugar bowls. Doesn’t there?

I pray the “food” industry never sinks lower than this. It’s hard to imagine that it could!

In the meantime I’m going to cry real tears and pray for a food industry in which sanity and ethics make a come-back! And I’m going to continue to eat, and recommend, eggs for breakfast!

The light at the end of this tunnel is the news that eggs are making a comeback – enjoying some well-deserved redemption. Once more for old times sake – “Go to Work on an Egg!”