“I’ve learnt to be kind to myself.”
Rachel Davies, 40, type 2 diabetes
When Rachel Davies was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 18, life as she knew it would never be the same.
“I was shocked and really depressed by it, fearful of what it meant for my future quality of life,” Rachel says of her diagnosis. “But I was determined to tackle it head on. I lost 25kg within a year of first being diagnosed.”
Participating in Diabetes WA’s topic-specific Smarts workshops, as well as the popular type 2 self-management education workshops, DESMOND, helped Rachel get a better grasp of diabetes management, from food choices to carbohydrate intake and monitoring blood glucose levels.
“I’ve found them all immensely helpful, both in terms of a reminder of the things I have within my control to be able to manage diabetes, and also for the reassurance and comfort of being in a group of people who understand what life with diabetes is like,” she says.
“I’ve found just as much benefit to my mental health as there was to my physical health.”
Admittedly, one of Rachel’s biggest challenges since her diagnosis is making better food choices, particularly when dining out at restaurants.
“Food is such an integral part of who I am as a person, I come from a long line of passionate cooks and food-oriented family members who use food in every cultural and social way imaginable, we use it to celebrate and to commiserate, we use it to love each other,” she explains.
“So the biggest challenge for me was to find a way to consolidate who I am as a food-lover, with my health needs as a person with diabetes. It’s taken me many years and I still struggle with it sometimes, but I’ve learnt to be kind to myself, and not to beat myself up about letting myself enjoy indulgent foods sometimes.”
Since being diagnosed 22 years ago, Rachel has developed some key lifestyle habits that help her keep on top of her diabetes.
“I stay conscious of what I eat and try to make smart food choices, I eat at regular meal times with snacks in between and most days follow a pretty consistent food routine,” she says.
“I only test my BGLs a few times a week and tend to mix up the time of day when I do it just to make sure I’m aware of what my levels are looking like. I also try to get out for a brisk walk whenever I get the chance.”
Living with diabetes has also prompted Rachel to add regular exercise to her weekly routine.
“I’ve learnt that exercise is the key to being able to enjoy food while still keeping my BGLs under control,” she says.
“I used to hate exercise, but now I see it as a means to an end, a way to give me more freedom with food, which makes me happy.”
To mark 100 years since the discovery of insulin, Diabetes WA is sharing 100 stories from West Aussies living with diabetes. If you would like to #DWAjointhefight and share your story, complete these questions.
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