"It was around my 18th birthday that I started to feel really unwell. I was lethargic, I had no energy and I felt like I was always sleeping. As someone who’d been a really active, sporty kid who was always bouncing around and played basketball every day after school, it was not only really hard to take, I just couldn’t work out what was going on."
“I was also putting on weight, which I just put down to my body changing due to being in my late teens. But when my period stopped I finally went to see a doctor. “After a few tests, I was diagnosed with PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, and was put on the Pill to help manage the symptoms. The trouble was, I didn’t really feel any better.
“I saw a number of other doctors who couldn’t work out what was wrong with me, until finally I found a really lovely GP who ran all the right tests and worked out that I was right on the borderline of having type 2 diabetes.
“Looking back, I guess because I wasn’t particularly overweight and I was quite young, no one had suspected diabetes up until then. Plus, the focus was very much on my PCOS at the time.
“Learning I had prediabetes was a big surprise, but it was also a relief to have an answer to why I was feeling so unwell.”
“My doctor made it very clear that if I didn’t take action by making some lifestyle changes, it wouldn’t be long before I’d need to start taking medication to manage my blood sugar levels. But to be honest, at the time I didn’t really know much about type 2 or what the consequences would be for me, if I did go down that path.
“As soon as I was diagnosed though, my doctor referred me to a dietitian called Kate Save and she helped me realise that everything I thought I knew about nutrition was wrong! I’d been eating far too many carbohydrates, thinking they’d help when I was lacking energy, and not nearly enough protein. In hindsight, it was one of the worst things I could have done for my blood sugar levels, but I didn’t know any better. And, because my heritage is Italian, I’d grown up eating all the carbs, like a big pasta dish with garlic bread on the side. That way of eating was such a big part of my family’s culture.
“With Kate’s help, I lost about 10kg and my blood sugar fell below the pre-diabetes range. I did get gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my son, who’s now four, and needed medication then, but now, whenever I have my levels checked, everything is stable.
“I know though, that I’m in this for the long haul and prediabetes is something that will always be in the background for me. The only way I’ll stay on top of it is by living a healthy lifestyle and eating a healthy diet, which for me means getting that balance between carbohydrates and protein right. It’s something I’ll have to be aware of and manage for the rest of my life.”
“As well as having a full-time job in public relations, my husband and I also own a CrossFit gym, which we run together, and I train there five days a week, too. Life is busy and to be honest, finding time to prepare and eat healthy, nutritious meals can be difficult sometimes.
“So when Kate launched Be Fit Food, it was a game changer for me. I make sure I always have a few Be Fit Food frozen meals stored in the freezer so when I’m doing really long hours at work, I know I’ve got a quick and convenient dinner at home that ticks all the nutritional boxes, already sorted. I love the snack options that are available, too. It just makes life easy.
“I’m proud of the fact that I’ve gotten hold of my health. That feels so good and it’s not something I’ll ever take for granted. I know the future could have looked quite different for me but now, I’m genuinely excited to get older! I know how to look after my body and my health now, and feel like I’ve got all the right tools and help around me to make that happen. So yes, I’m really excited and looking forward to what’s to come.”
- Natalie Rixon, for Diabetic Living