Food Series Part 1 – Healthy Eating: Getting the balance right

My name is Jo Hanna and I am one of the Diabetes Dietitians working at Poole Hospital but also a huge exercise enthusiast! I’ve been a Dietitian for 8 years now and working in diabetes for 5. Secretly I always wanted to be a Sports Dietitian working for Manchester United! I grew up playing football and most of my childhood was spent as the token girl in the team, even playing for Dorset under 12s. Football was my true passion but sadly for me at the time football was still considered a ‘boys sport’ and once I reached the age of 12 I was told by my school I could no longer play football with the boys. I was devastated by this at the time and although I got back into football at University it was too late for me so I ended up running instead. I have pushed myself in this area, winning 6 of the Dorset Road League races last year in addition to my greatest achievement, a sub 3 hour London marathon.

Exercise for me, as I’m sure it is for many of you is my stress release and plays a huge part in my self-esteem and social life. It therefore really saddens me that 36% of people living with type 1 diabetes view exercising to be a challenge. To be honest I’m surprised it’s not higher! I decided along with our consultant Mike Masding that it was worth trying to target this group in a specific exercise clinic to allow tailored advice around nutrition and insulin adjustment, to enable those struggling to enjoy their exercise and de-stress rather than the opposite. Training as I well know is challenging enough without throwing diabetes into the mix! I’m keen to ‘even the playing field’ in any way I can.

I decided I wanted to write for the TDFC to see if I can help advise the wider sporting community and given my passion for football in particular I thought this would be the perfect place. It’s inspiring to see the UK’s first all Diabetic Futsal team (Click for Players’ Blog) competing this summer as well as the results they achieved. I work with children and teenagers with diabetes too and feel these players are a great role model.

My aim is to write a different blog every few weeks with a few tips and hints to help you get your fueling right both pre, during and after. Often we tend to base our advice around timing and quantity of carbohydrates but as I have come to understand the quality of the carbohydrates and protein and fluid intake are also key components I would like to cover. I’m keen to help and advise in any way I can so please if you have any particular topics you would like covered just let me know.

Firstly today let’s consider your overall daily intake as it’s always best to review this whether you have diabetes or not if you’re serious about your sport. Often I’m finding overall carbohydrate intakes are inadequate as the focus tends to be around the actual activity itself. Football is a classic example of a sport that can actually result in quite stable readings at the time due to the fact there is a mixture of slower jogging and sprints. The bigger risk here is hypos after the game or training due to depleted glycogen and increased metabolism, this is a really important aspect to consider when avoiding the dreaded nocturnal hypos. To help avoid this ideally if you’re training regularly you need 50% of your intake to come from carbohydrates (including fruit).Protein should contribute approximately 25% of your diet (timing is key with this) and the other 25% should come from your vegetables and salad. Fat is likely to come alongside your carbs and protein intake but can also be a useful tool in helping to alter the timing of peak absorption of glucose from any carbohydrate. Don’t forget your fluid either as even if you have your glucose levels perfect if you’re dehydrated, even by 2% this will impair your performance.

Over my next blogs we can look at;

  • Carbohydrates-type and quantity pre, during and post (this might be a few blogs).

  • Protein -why it’s important and timing of this.

  • Fruit and vegetables-why these are important too

  • Fluid-getting this right

Feel free to contact me at Joanna.hanna@poole.nhs.uk

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