We are sharing success stories to find out why people decide to see a dietitian, what happens on the journey, what the hardest part of that journey is and what results are achieved. This week we chat to Julie Greensmith, who started seeing Registered Dietitian Nathalie Mat after she was diagnosed with Diabetes. Here is her story ….
Tell us about your journey with your dietitian
I changed doctors. I have always been a shut up and get on with it person. After a battery of blood tests to create a profile for my new doctor, she phoned me and asked “Did you know you were a diabetic?” I had no idea and the shock was mixed with the relief of understanding why I had been only half alive for a very long time. I had absolutely no energy, some days I could hardly get up, walking was becoming more and more painful. I even gained weight if I ate a lettuce leaf and seemed to be permanently swollen. Shoes were impossibly difficult. In my volunteer work I am communicating with people all the time and frequently having to stand up and address groups. My concentration was disappearing, I could not think and kept just losing words. It was very scary, I felt out of control and my world was shrinking. All this time I had thought well this is what getting old is all about (I am 72 or to look at it another way I have been 37 twice).
On hearing the word Diabetes my husband immediately went out and bought the Banting book and we went strictly onto the Banting diet. Although I lost 6 kilos I plunged into depression and being no stranger to depression I knew what was happening but just could not get control of it. One really bad day my husband just said enough is enough and made me a piece of rye toast with apricot jam. Within twenty minutes I felt absolutely fine again. A colleague from Lifeline suggested I should see Nathalie Mat, a registered dietitian – which proved to be the best thing ever that could happen for me and a turning point in my recovery.
I was greeted with kindness, consideration and understanding. My fear at being in unknown territory was fully understood and allayed. I felt so supported. My preferences were discussed and incorporated as far as possible and I never felt judged. She was very happy to discuss recipes and wine with my husband (my chef and food policeman) and look for ways of adapting and fitting them into my programme. She also has a great collection of tasty recipes. Not only is Nathalie highly qualified with a huge depth of knowledge, she is so willing to share it finding simple ways of explaining absolutely everything. I understand and trust the importance of all the steps we have taken which makes it so easy to trust the process and feel fully committed to it. It is one thing to have the knowledge but being so enthusiastic and prepared to share is a great gift. It makes me feel like a respected equal and I have felt that partnership thought our journey.
She has understood my fears and celebrated my triumphs, however small. I have felt heard, supported and understood through the whole process.
Perhaps best of all when I don’t stray at all from my diet I never feel as hungry as I did in the past.
Tell us about your results
So far I have lost 20 kilos. I used to be sick all the time with gastro and flu. That hasn’t happened for 18 months now. When I wake up early in the morning I get up with energy. All my blood tests register within the recommended parameters.
My mind is firing on all cylinders again and all thoughts of giving up my work have flown out of the window. I am able to be creative and busy. My movement is far better and my legs and feet are no longer swollen and far less painful. Between the Podiatrist and Biokinetisist I am very mobile and my balance is coming back. Nathalie and my Biokinetisist have worked together to design a programme that addresses both their needs to get the best results they can with my limitations. I have a life back and, let’s face it, is important, my dress size has gone down 3 times which my credit card and sewing machine are busy rectifying.
What was the hardest part of the journey
This is a difficult one to answer. Any hurdles I have had to overcome have been self-imposed. Of course certain deprivations can suddenly get the better of me and I fall off the path now and then. When that happens I see the results on the scales and the rise in my feelings of hunger and those realisations spur me on back into the disciplines of my eating plan. I am so supported by my relationship with Nathalie, my new doctor, and by my husband who is joining me in treating our older age years as a team effort.
I have struggled with the exercise and fighting with my damaged foot and the pain and a certain degree of laziness!
What are the top three tips you can share
Sometimes it is not good to shut up and get on with it. Getting the right help can change your life.
Communicate. Talk about the difficulties you are experiencing with your dietitian and be one hundred percent honest so that you can work out a plan together and trust the process. Leave your ego outside the door.
Patience. Be patient and don’t beat yourself up and set impossible targets that are bound to disappoint, dishearten and even sabotage you.
Trust. Trust the process and embrace it fully.
What dietitian Nathalie Mat says
When I first met Julie, she had not felt well for a long time. Poor blood sugar control was affecting her nervous system and her immunity. She was ready to make changes, but really needed assistance finding the right fit for her body. Diabetes is a scary diagnosis that does not have a simple cure. I wanted Julie to know that she had a partner in understanding her body and the limitations of her blood sugar control. Her eating along with close monitoring by her GP helped stabilize her blood sugar levels and Julie even learnt how she could incorporate less healthy options into her lifestyle without affecting her health.
Julie has amazing support in the form of her husband. He noticed that Julie was regularly having energy dips. I recommended we use a new device which continuously monitors blood sugar levels and we discovered that Julie was spending much of her day with low blood sugar. Julie’s doctor has since dropped Julie’s diabetes medication by half!
Julie has made incredible changes to her health. Her support from her husband as well as her consistent efforts have played a pivotal role in her success. I have so enjoyed being part of her journey to health and look forward to celebrating ongoing successes.
To find a registered dietitian in your area visit http://www.adsa.org.za