BEST OF HEALTH: Right choices key to wellness
It is not always easy to eat healthily and there are several reasons for this.
These include the price, availability, but most of all the taste, of the food we eat. Who really wants to eat food cooked with too little salt? It is too bland. On the other hand, chocolate, ice cream and cake are delectable and hard to resist.
Today, however, we have the real life stories of how two people, one diabetic and one hypertensive, have coped with adjusting their diets to suit their medical conditions.
Cemon Drayton has been a diabetic for more than 26 years and recalls the struggle she faced to maintain an acceptable blood sugar level. Over time, she has learnt that moderation is key and that there is no food that people with diabetes should never eat.
“I know there is no need to cut out all sugar but eat only small amounts of foods that are high in sugar and fat,” she said. “An occasional treat like cake or biscuits once in a blue moon can be part of a balanced and healthy diet.”
The lover of fried foods recalled how much she missed eating some of her favourite dishes but kept at the back of her mind what her doctor told her.
“Diabetics must eat lots of fruits and vegetables to get fibre because these types of food lower the requirement for insulin as they release energy into the body cells slowly. Fruits have become a friend and an enemy. I have grown to love the taste of most fruits. I eat them, juice them, but use them in moderation.”
Cemon’s daily meals start with fruits.?She loves apples, citrus fruits and pomegranate juice which is high in fructose (fruit sugar) and will not cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly.
Her journey was by no means an easy one.
“I had my ups and downs.?When the blood sugar level went up, I would stock up on vegetables, fish, fruits and all the healthy stuff, but when it came back down would revert back to the fried chicken, macaroni pie and anything with cheese.”Unfortunately, Cemon lost a toe in 2008 and then nine months later lost her left foot.
Sticking to diet
“That was a slap of reality that I had to deal with fast. Now, I stick to my diet and I am up and active again controlling my diet and life. I drink plenty of water, at least eight to ten glasses per day, and avoid anything that contains preservatives and too much salt.”
Ground provisions, green leafy vegetables and fish are now staples in Cemon’s diet; she still has the occasional macaroni pie and fried chicken but uses olive oil, low fat cheeses, and ensures that every meal has a full serving of vegetables.
In addition to diet, medication is sometimes necessary to maintaining health in people with hypertension and diabetes.
In the case of R Smith, who has been hypertensive for 20 plus years, he incorporates healthy eating with exercise and medication to keep his condition under control.
Smith explains that hypertension does not run in the family.?While he was working, despite the medication, his blood pressure was still very high, but since he has retired the levels have come down and the medication has been cut in half.
Though he does not stick to a rigid diet he eats everything in moderation. A diet high in ground provisions, and fish but low in red meat seems to do the trick.
“I definitely do not eat certain things because you do not always know what foods have in salt and how much, so it is difficult when choosing foods.”
Eating out at restaurants and food outlets has also presented its challenges.
“I avoid eating out as you do not know how the food is prepared and then there are no distinctions on how the food is prepared.
Everything is just laid out there, when it would be better if there was a section prepared with salt and a ‘no salt’ section as well,” he said.
In addition to eating well,?Smith includes exercise in his healthy maintenance programme.