• Rita Pinto with one of her sons. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
Rita Pinto, spent decades believing that one day she would develop type 2 diabetes because it ran in her family. As the 48-year-old nurse tells SBS, understanding the truth about the condition empowered her to prevent it.
By
Rita Pinto, Presented by
Yasmin Noone

29 Sep 2021 - 3:55 PM  UPDATED 12 Oct 2021 - 9:52 AM

--- The new landmark series Australia's Health Revolution with Dr Michael Mosley premieres Wednesday 13 October at 7.30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand. Join the conversation #AusHealthRevolution ---

 

My mum was only 35-years-old when she passed away due to renal failure.

At that time, she was living in India. Now, looking back, I see that renal failure may have been a possible complication that arose from living with diabetic kidney disease. I don’t know for sure because she passed away so long ago. But I’m guessing she knew she had type 2 diabetes and ignored it, carrying on with her lifestyle, until the disease eventually took her life.

For the many years that followed her death, I lived with the impression that type 2 diabetes was a hereditary disease - so no matter what I ate or did, I would get it. Both my sisters developed type 2 diabetes and I had gestational diabetes during both of my pregnancies so that all fed into my belief.  I really believed a diagnosis was inevitable.

In my mind, it was only a matter of time before I received the news that I had type 2 diabetes. I really believed a diagnosis was inevitable.

Before I went on the SBS series, Australia’s Health Revolution with Dr Michael Mosley, I was living with pre-diabetes. My blood sugar level was on the high side of normal and it had been that way for a long time. Every year, the level seemed to go up a notch – from 5.1 to 5.2, then 5.2 to 5.3 mmol/L and so on. 

Dr Michael Mosley believes you can reverse type 2 diabetes. Here’s how
Trusted journalist and weight loss expert Dr Michael Mosley returns to SBS screens in October with a new message of hope for Australians with type 2 diabetes.

My job was a wake-up call

I currently work as a clinical nurse in a hospital in WA and occasionally get called into the vascular theatre. That’s where we do amputations [related to diabetes]. It’s very confronting when you see an amputation and have a family history of type 2 diabetes.

When I used to assist in the amputation of a limb, I’d think ‘this may be me one day if I don’t take care of myself’.

I’d always whine and cry to the surgeon saying ‘I am going to die when I get type 2 diabetes. I will have my toes cut off from gangrene’. He would say, ‘no you won’t: you've got to just live a healthy lifestyle, stop eating carbs and exercise more’.

One day, he told me that Dr Michael Mosley was coming to Perth and encouraged me to apply to be on his show. I did and was accepted to be one of the participants. Soon thereafter, I began to diet and make lifestyle changes, with professional support and supervision.   

The meal plan I was given included recipes featuring fresh, unprocessed foods. Each day, I aimed to reduce my calories and limit my carbohydrate intake to help reduce my blood sugar levels. I was also reminded how important protein was in our diet; protein would help to reduce the loss of muscle mass while also enabling me to feel full after eating.

You have to want to change and have the willpower to follow through. If you’ve got that power, you can achieve anything you want in life.

I changed my mind to change my health

The biggest change I made was not about food or exercise, it was the change I made to the way I thought. I realised that even though I was living with pre-diabetes, I could prevent getting type 2 diabetes by managing my weight.

I discovered that if I wanted a healthy life, I could get it. But I had to act quickly and do the right things. I realised that I could no longer just sit back and say ‘it's going to hit me someday, so let it hit me when it has to’.

To initiate that change, I learned to overcome food temptations, as I’ve always craved sweets. Before I went on this diet, I’d say ‘I want to eat it because I'm stressed, tired or hungry’. But now, I ask myself: ‘do I really need this? Do I really want to eat it?’ Even if I do cave into temptation occasionally, I don’t eat sweets in the same quantity as I used to.

Avoid mangoes and incorporate eggplants? What to eat (and avoid) if you have type 2 diabetes
“Keep in mind, lots of foods are fine if you’re healthy, but not great if you have raised blood sugars or type 2 diabetes," says Dr Michael Mosley.

I have also started cooking my own food, as my husband used to cook for me (he loves cooking and I love eating!), So that was a huge step forward.

I now find a tasty recipe that I like and cook it twice a week. I enjoy making lemon coriander chicken, chilli and garlic prawns, beef marinated in yoghurt, and stir-fries packed with lots of vegetables. I prep all my meals beforehand and bring breakfast, lunch and dinner with me to work to avoid the temptation to buy food or eat cakes from the hospital’s tearoom.

These days, I am still eating healthily and exercising. I recently did a finger prick test with a blood glucose monitor. The reading was 4.7, which is within the normal, recommended range. I was so happy to see that number. I am now no longer living with pre-diabetes.

The truth is that you can prevent type 2 diabetes if you take action, stick to eating better and move more.

Most of us know what we have to do to live a healthy lifestyle. But we want to continue living in our own little bubble. We think that if we stay there, type 2 diabetes is not going to touch us. Then one day something happens and we realise we can’t escape reality – even if we are still living in a bubble of denial.

The truth is that you can prevent type 2 diabetes if you take action, stick to eating better and move more. To get healthy, you've got to have the right mindset and seek out support.

 

This story contains general information only. Consult your doctor or medical professional for advice that is suited to your circumstances. If you need assistance with your diet or for dietary advice, always consult a GP, endocrinologist, diabetes educator or Accredited Practising Dietitian. 

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @yasmin_noone.


 

Watch the series trailer.

Five Indian food tips to help tackle type 2 diabetes
If you're of Indian heritage, you may be genetically susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that you can reduce your risk with food. Dietitian Raji Jayadev's shares her top tips to alter Indian meals for better health.
So you don't eat meat. Here's how to adapt recipes when fasting
Dr Michael Mosley's famous Fast 800 diet is all about dropping the kilos, quickly. Here's how to adapt the diet to maximise its nutritional content and suit your vegetarian tastes.
The CSIRO’s new low-carb diet is all about tackling diabetes
The new low-carb diet from Australia’s national science agency isn’t just about carbohydrates – it’s also about the other foods you should be pairing with carbs to better manage your blood sugar and weight.
Diabetes took my love of food away, but going vegan brought it back
Type 1 diabetes didn't just affect Lucas Verhelst's body, it damaged his relationship with food - the substance that caused his blood sugar levels to soar. That all changed wh the 51-year-old became a vegan.
You may have to do more than eat well to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
It's time to separate myth from fact and talk home truths about the practical things you can do to lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
The war against sugar and type 2 diabetes
Australian of the year, Dr James Muecke explains why we need to cut back on sugar.
Is Dr Michael Mosley's new fast diet the ultimate crash diet?
The Fast 800 diet from Dr Michael Mosley promises to be the crash diet to end all diets. A new recipe cookbook details how to follow it, step-by-step and meal-by-meal.
Dr Michael Mosley's Reset: Why our bodies, minds and guts are what we eat
A new three-part series on SBS, Dr Michael Mosley's Reset, explores how dietary changes can holistically turn your life around to lose weight, battle depression and improve our guts.
Does Dr Michael Mosley practise the health lessons he preaches?
When Dr Michael Mosley speaks about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, intermittent fasting and good guts, the world listens. But how far does the doctor go to take his own health advice?