Diabetes affects a shocking 4.9 million people in the UK and around 13.6 million are at risk of type 2 diabetes. According to the leading charity, Diabetes UK, around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 – the type that can be avoided.
A healthy diet and exercise are pivotal in preventing, and also potentially reversing, type 2 diabetes. At hasta, we know it’s best to turn to experts when it comes to nutrition, which is why we are exceptionally lucky to have some great partners on hand to provide industry-leading advice. In line with Diabetes and Healthy Eating Week, Sophie Medlin, renowned dietician, and Meghan Foulsham from Fresh Fitness Food, the UK’s leading meal delivery service, are both here to shed some light on diabetes.
It’s not just having a propensity for sugar that is a warning sign for diabetes; there are other symptoms to look out for too. ‘There are two types of diabetes,’ notes Sophie Medlin, hasta’s resident dietician and chair of the British Dietetic Association for London. ‘Type 1 – which comes on suddenly with much more severe symptoms – and the more common, type 2 diabetes. Type 2 usually first presents with hunger and tiredness, increased thirst and the need to pass urine. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can come on slowly and people may ignore them at first. You may also notice dry mouth, itchy skin and blurred vision.’
With nearly 15 years of experience in nutrition and dietetics, Sophie Medlin is an expert in healthy eating. She explains: ‘Eating a healthy balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise reduces our chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Focus on getting plenty of fibre in your diet from fruit, vegetables, and whole grains and try to reduce refined sugars and processed food where you can.’
Research shows that if you follow a nutritionally balanced diet, you can actually put your type 2 diabetes into remission. Making healthy choices doesn’t come as naturally to some as it does to others. Whilst education around nutrition, label reading, and exercise is key, finding the time to do all this can prove challenging among the stresses of modern life. Services like hasta partner, Fresh Fitness Food, provide bespoke nutrition plans and meals to people with a range of dietary requirements.
Meghan Foulsham, a nutrition executive at Fresh Fitness Food echoes Sophie’s advice: ‘A diet rich in whole foods, such as brown rice, nuts, and lentils and low in processed sugar, is a sure-fire way to reduce your risk of diabetes. As such, counting carbohydrates can be useful and, at Fresh Fitness Food, we provide breakdowns on all our meals to ensure they suit the customer’s needs. We appreciate the difficulty consumers may experience with portion control which is why we have found the breakdown tool very useful.’
‘There are some great data on how a reduced carbohydrate diet can be used in pre-diabetes and in type 2 diabetes management,’ adds Sophie Medlin, ‘but this needs to always be done alongside a specialist dietician or GP.’
It is an inescapable fact that the last 18 months have taken a toll on our health. Spending more time at home has had a positive and negative effect on many. ‘We have seen a massive increase in sales over the course of the pandemic. Some consumers have started to reassess their diet and correct themselves after going down a somewhat indulgent path,’ explains Meghan at Fresh Fitness Food. ‘We’ve also been speaking to people who have felt that they never actually stepped away from work as they were always at home, meaning their free time dramatically reduced.’ This is where trusted nutritional plans come into play.
‘A healthy diet is vital for productivity and could even boost it by 20%,’ observes Meghan. When you streamline your day and increase overall efficiency, ultimately you finish earlier, reduce your stress levels, are less lethargic, and improve your well-being. This Diabetes and Eating Healthy Week, take the time to do a nutritional audit of your meals and habits and identify any areas for improvement. Experiencing the benefits of healthy eating and appropriate portions this week will encourage you to make long-term changes.
If you think you’re suffering from or do have diabetes, please consult with your GP and ensure that any changes in your diet are done so alongside a specialist dietician.