How old were you when you were diagnosed with Diabetes?
I have had Diabetes for the past 30 years and I was ten years old when I was diagnosed. I remember not wanting to eat food and I had a very big craving for Sparletta Pine Nut. I would dream about going to the shop and downing a 2lt on the spot.
What was the telling sign that you had Diabetes?
Thirst. Every time I walked past a swimming pool, I felt that I could drink the contents of the pool. With this came frequent visits to the toilet. Sometimes even 5 times during the night. I did lose some weight and wasn’t very hungry but I could drink anything and everything for the A-team.
What type of Diabetes do you have?
I have the type of diabetes where you have to monitor your blood sugar at least 4 times per day and inject with insulin also a minimum of four times per day. My pancreas does not produce any insulin – This is referred to as Type 1 Diabetes.
Type I Diabetes: Insulin deficient – The body does not produce any of its own insulin. You therefore need to inject it. This is a genetic condition.
Type II Diabetes: Insulin Resistant – Your body produces its own insulin but the cells are resistant to the insulin and the body will produce more insulin and eventually deplete the pancreas reserves over time. This is linked to unhealthy lifestyle.
How is your diabetes different from the other type of Diabetes?
The other type of diabetes is called Non-Insulin Dependant Diabetes Type 2 and you take tablets for this type of diabetes. As the disease progresses you may eventually need insulin injections. The difference is that with Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas produces insulin but the cells cannot use the sugar properly. This is called insulin resistance. Eventually the pancreas has to work harder to make more insulin to get the blood sugar into the cells and eventually the pancreas burns out and loses function. This type of diabetes is linked to bad eating habits and being overweight.
Were you overweight and eating badly as a child?
Quite the opposite. I was a National swimmer and swam at least four hours per day. We ate very healthily. We have auto-immune disease in our family and these genes were passed over to me. It is thought that a virus triggers the genes and then you present with diabetes.
Why did you study diet and become a dietitian?
I have always believed that diabetic diets were impractical and not lifetime sustaining. And of course chocolate would always have to form part of my eating plan. Acquiring the correct knowledge would help me to change viewpoints and impractical eating plans for my peer diabetics. The personal experience with food, insulin and exercise can give me more practical insight as to why people may struggle to get their glucose levels under control.