One of the first questions anyone newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes will ask is “what can I eat?”, says the charity Diabetes Ireland. Confusion over what can and can’t be consumed is a key worry and given that there are an estimated 225,000 people living with diabetes in Ireland (with up to one million suspected of being in a pre-diabetes state), that’s an awful lot of worried – and probably pretty hungry – people.
That concern may well have been compounded by being given a whole raft of healthy living advice in one sitting: stop smoking, get active, check blood glucose levels, take medication. Not to mention the fact that, for many, a love of food might have been a contributing element. Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor in developing the illness. No wonder diagnosis can be a bit overwhelming.
Even more confusing can be a basic lack of understanding of what diabetes is. Most of us know that it centres around insulin – a hormone released by the pancreas that helps move glucose (the sugar produced when our bodies digest carbohydrates) into our cells, where it is used as fuel for energy.