Beating diabetes through diet

minute read
November 4, 2022
Bundles of freshly harvested carrots.
Note: Image for illustration only. It does not show the author of this story.

My name is Lubna Mushtaq and I’m a 45-year-old housewife. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during COVID. I felt exhausted all the time and was often thirsty, but it was my daughter who really first noticed my symptoms.

I visited my doctor, who referred me for an HbA1c test and random blood glucose level check. My HbA1c was 6.7%, and my blood glucose was 230mg/ul, indicating I had diabetes.

This didn’t come as a surprise; my father had also been a type 2 diabetic. On top of that, I liked bread and had the biggest sweet tooth – Otherwise, I thought I ate well (but later learned I had some misunderstandings about nutrition and diet).

The doctor prescribed medication (which I took), but I also knew it was possible to manage type 2 diabetes with some lifestyle adjustments.

Adjusting my diet

My first step was to go shopping and buy a blood glucose meter (this quickly became my closest friend).

Next was to focus on my diet. I decided to follow an extremely low-carb, high-fat diet and consulted a dietitian on how to manage my diabetes through diet and exercise.

The dietitian provided me with a diet plan based on the glycemic index and glycemic load of foods and recommended I eat at regular, set intervals. She also suggested I keep a food diary, observing everything I ate.

Determined to manage my diabetes through diet, I followed her recommendations exactly. I was fully committed to adopting healthy eating habits and increasing my physical activity so I could shed weight and manage my blood sugar level.

I limited my daily carb intake to 35g and recorded every meal.

I stopped eating all red meat, processed foods, fast food, fried food, and anything heavy in sugar or fat.

I instead concentrate my diet on nut butter, unsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, herbs, and a targeted combination of dietary supplements.

And before and after each meal, I monitored my blood sugar level.

I actually found it quite amusing – The diet and fitness regimen I was pursuing was a healthy option for anyone, not just diabetics!

Reaping the rewards

During the first 6 months of my healthy new lifestyle, I lost 11kg in weight and dropped 3 clothing sizes. As the kilos continued to drop off, I grew more and more motivated.

Once my blood glucose level had improved and stabilised, I went back to see my doctor. They agreed that based on my level I could reduce my medication to just one pill a day.

Keeping up the work

I was thrilled with my progress but knew it couldn’t stop there. If I wanted to successfully manage my diabetes I had more work to do, and I’d need to keep it up.

I arranged with my dietitian to provide a progress update on the 30th of every month, uploading and sharing my diet and blood glucose test results.

My dietitian was really impressed. She said I was doing “phenomenally well” with my diabetes control. My HbA1c had dropped to 6.3%, and my cholesterol had decreased from 4.5 to 3.5.

3 months later, I agreed with my dietitian to try completely stopping my medication. When I did, my blood glucose level remained stable.

My advice for other diabetics

I have a few guidelines I’d recommend to other diabetics:

  • Buy a superb blood glucose meter, that’s portable and accurate.
  • Get active.
  • Eat only whole foods and prepare your own meals.

I also like to bake cakes, and by using almond flour and sweeteners I feel like I’m consuming banned food items, but with little to no effect on my blood sugar level.

If you have the right diagnosis and supplies, you can control diabetes – If I’d had the simple blood test sooner rather than later, it would have changed how I handled everything, helping me control my diabetes sooner.

And when you treat food as medicine, you’ll be amazed at how much more life has to offer. You feel better, require less sleep, have more energy, and are less prone to illness.

Vegetables should be at the top of your diet list, and you should concentrate on natural, unadulterated meals.

After you make these adjustments, your body will get addicted to how much better you feel!

Graphic of a female profile picture.
Lubna Mushtaq
Editor's note: The opinions and experiences reflected in stories from the diabetic community belong to the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InDiabetes.

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