My Food-Health #2: Critical moments – my risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

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Having focussed for 40 years on my father’s premature death from a stroke and dietary patterns to prevent heart disease, it struck me I should begin to pay attention to being my mother’s daughter and my risk for developing Type 2 diabetes (T2D). My mother was a third generation Type 2 diabetic, following on after my grand-mother and great-grandmother. She was diagnosed in her early 60s, although may have been an un-diagnosed diabetic years before that.

There are differing opinions now on the best treatment for T2D, and whether diet and lifestyle changes can reverse the disease. This was not the case when my mother was diagnosed in the late 1980s, when it was considered a manageable yet progressive disease and not reversible. My mother followed medical advice of medications to control blood sugar levels and following a regimented eating plan. She became dismayed at her diagnosis to begin with, yet soon accepted her condition and carrying on with life. She survived the disease well, losing some weight initially on the recommended diet and she lived over twenty five years after her diagnosis. She did not suffer any marked degree of diabetic complications. She was staunchly independent so it wasn’t until her late 80s, when an unrelated illness necessitated my siblings and I to care for her, that I became fully aware of the impact diabetes had on her life. Her days were structured around  measurement of blood glucose, medications, medical appointments, and her regimented eating plan. However, she worked around this and was able to go about her life as she previously had. She was a very active member of the local community – to the very end. Nevertheless, having seen the effects of living with Type 2 diabetes had on my mother’s life, I resolved I would try and prevent that disease in myself.

My Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

I began focussing on learning about what the risk factors for T2D were. Late in 2014, I did an online risk assessment. (1) I was dismayed I had a one in three chance of developing the disease within five years. In the blink of an eye, the extra weight I was carrying became a health problem. T2D has a higher prevalence in those overweight/  obese especially those who retain weight around their abdomen. Other risks factors are being sedentary, age, gender (males have a higher risk), having high blood pressure, and having a first-degree relative with Type 2 diabetes. (2) It also associated with high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.(2)

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

When I went looking for information on reducing my risks, surprisingly I found less information on prevention than treatment options. Most easily accessible information about T2D is aimed at people once they are diagnosed with either diabetes or pre-diabetes. (2) It was almost as if no-one goes looking for help until either they receive the diagnosis or have a close scare. Information that did exist was mostly aimed at losing weight, becoming more active, and eating patterns of portion-control for carbohydrate.

There did not seem to be any easily found information relevant to me, a non-diabetic except general advice. Nevertheless, whilst I could not change the contributing factors of my family history or my age, I could reduce my risk by losing weight, reducing my waist circumference, and becoming more active. That became my aim in late 2014 as the New Year 2015 approached – to lose weight and reduce my risk profile for developing Type 2 diabetes. I also began to explore the medical literature on Type 2 diabetes.

But how was I going to achieve this goal? I had been struggling with my weight for some time … and nothing seemed to work.


To be continued …


Following my series My Food History – this is a series on Food-Health.

# 1. A return to the heart of the matter
# 2. My risk of Type 2 Diabetes


Disclaimer: Nothing in this article or on this website should be taken as medical or dietary advice. Anyone reading any information provided within should seek advice from their own medical practitioner for any issue, disease, illness or health-related problem they may have. Always seek your own advice from a medical practitioner or dietitian before changing your own diet.


(1) Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Australia. Retrieved 21 Nov, 2018.

(2) Diabetes. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 21 Nov, 2018.


My food history # 12: Critical events and life catastrophes …

In the 1980s and 1990s, life was skipping along …

Then came the dark events – life catastrophes

As well as significant milestones and some major disruptions, over fifteen years from 1998 to 2013,  I lived through several crises and some distressing catastrophes. A crisis, whilst painful, tends to be a temporary situation or turning point (1), whereas a catastrophe is a complete upheaval (2). Both are demanding and stressful. Continue reading “My food history # 12: Critical events and life catastrophes …”

My food history # 10 – 1990s – combining ‘friendly’ food with ‘healthy’ food makes a bland basic (yet healthy) diet

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Bread, rice, pasta, oats, potatoes, rolled/puffed wholegrain cereals become the base foods of meals in my longer-term diet. Photo by Leonie Elizabeth 01 March 2018.

Following my nutrition studies and some sideline research, I made changes to my diet: Continue reading “My food history # 10 – 1990s – combining ‘friendly’ food with ‘healthy’ food makes a bland basic (yet healthy) diet”

Living through history. Our changing food environments. 1950s – 1970s.


fridge (2)

While I was growing up and in the years as a young adult, as my own family mainly consumed home-prepared foods, garden-grown vegetables and eggs from our back-yard hens; swirling all around me were economic improvements and major shifts in social norms, a prelude to the storm that was to become a complete restructure of our food environments within a generation.

Working and walking

In my parents youth, in the 1930s and 1940s, times were tough with the depression, World War 2, and food rationing. The 1950s through to the 1970s were decades of relative improved prosperity. My father worked full-time. Initially he rode a bicycle to work. In the 1950s only 10% of families had cars. (2) Gradually we became a one-car and in the 1960s a two-car family. My mother was a homemaker, as the majority of women were in the 1950s. There were no modern appliances. Housework took many hours with washing, ironing, sweeping, cleaning, and chopping wood. The evening meal was cooked over many hours. In the 1950s, women averaged 77 hours per week housework. (2) As children we walked to and from school, except on rainy days when we caught the bus. After school we rode bikes around the neighbourhood or played in the back yard. Continue reading “Living through history. Our changing food environments. 1950s – 1970s.”

My food history # 3. Late 1960s – times are a-changing.



In 1966 it was my first year at high school. The biggest difference for me, in regards to food, was that snack foods could be purchased from the school canteen: confectionery, chocolates, chips, crisps, nuts, pies, and sausage rolls. In primary school only sandwiches and fruit were available, except once a week on Mondays. Needless to say, I revelled in this new-found freedom of being able to purchase lollies. Every. Single. Day. Continue reading “My food history # 3. Late 1960s – times are a-changing.”