Education on Diabetes

Metabolic syndrome 101!

This week I am raising awareness about what metabolic syndrome is, and most importantly what we can do to prevent it!

Metabolic syndrome affects around 1 in 3 adults over the age of 50 (UK statistics), and cases in younger people are increasing. This calls for greater education on the topic, and most importantly, how we can improve our health to live a happier life.

What is it?

blood pressure for metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is the term used when an individual has a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Having metabolic syndrome puts individuals at a much higher risk of getting cardiovascular disease, having strokes as well as several other serious health conditions.

This is because diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity can cause damage to blood vessels. This can vary, sometimes blood vessels become stiff, and sometimes blood vessel walls become weak, both of which can cause health complications.

How is it diagnosed?

The NHS criteria includes:

  • Being overweight or having a lot of fat around the waist.
  • Having high LDL cholesterol and/or high triglycerides.
  • Having a blood pressure of 140/90mmHg or higher
  • The inability to control blood sugar levels (also referred to as insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes).

If you are concerned about your health, or any of the points above, make an appointment with your doctor now!

Prevention and action is key!

Most importantly metabolic syndrome can indeed be prevented and reversed! So if you have been diagnosed, it is time to take action for your health!

Here are some ways you can help yourself:

table salt - metabolic syndrome
  • Losing weight
  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes everyday – try to complete a variety of cardio, weight lifting and yoga based training for the maximum benefits.
  • Eat a rainbow diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables
  • Limit your packaged and processed food intake – opt for fresh food
  • Stop adding sugar and table salt to your food
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit your alcohol consumption
  • Increase your water intake to around 2.5L a day

I know for some people this is very simplified, but to change your lifestyle, it has to be achievable!

Thank you for reading Metabolic disorder 101! I hope you found this interesting and useful. Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Here’s what to do! and What is the deal with cooking oils

Diet, Education on Diabetes

Is ‘diabetic’ chocolate really healthier?

While the concept of ‘diabetic’ chocolate is thoughtful, it can actually do more harm than good.

When I was younger I mainly got given ‘diabetic’ chocolate, particularly at Christmas and Easter time and all I can remember is feeling left out and that it tastes horrible!

So from my own experience and research, lets look into why ‘diabetic’ or sugar free chocolate is not any better for you than normal chocolate.

What is ‘diabetic ‘ chocolate?

what is diabetic chocolate

This is essentially when a product has very little carbohydrate or sugar in it, which makes it ‘appropriate’ for those living with diabetes.

These products were created to help people manage diabetes while allowing some room for chocolate and treats. However, research soon exposed the loop wholes in these products, including inaccurate health promises.

In fact, labelling a product as ‘diabetic’ is now against the law. This is because research has shown absolutely no benefit in consuming diabetic chocolate over normal chocolate, and showing it can actually cause more damage to the body.

Why is it detrimental?

why is diabetic chocolate not great

Diabetic chocolate may be low in sugar, but it is still high in fat, calories and additives. Sugar is replaced with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, which can have some nasty effects in the body.

The artificial sweeteners and additives can cause severe stomach upset, including bloating, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Furthermore, additives can still actually cause blood sugar spikes and increase insulin resistance. The theory behind this states that artificial sweeteners closely resemble glucose, which confuses the body into thinking blood glucose is high, when in fact it is not. This process is linked to worsening insulin resistance.

Finally, it just doesn’t taste the same and can cause people living with diabetes to feel left out.

Opt for this instead

My simple advise is to just have normal chocolate and treats when you fancy them. Of course have chocolate on the occasion and use carb counting to keep your levels in range.

All products have the carb and sugar content listed on the packaging, so use it! Also have your treats while staying active. I like to go for a nice post-meal walk with family and friends to keep my levels balanced. It is possible to eat ‘like a normal person’ while living with diabetes, it just takes some extra time and planning.

Never let living with diabetes stop you from having fun, just be mindful and learn about your body. Tell the people around you what you need, whether thats asking them to walk with you, or simply educating them about what diabetics can eat (which is anything with the correct prep!).

Lastly, tell your family members to get you normal chocolate on special occasions. I am sure they would much rather get you something you like! 🙂

person writing on brown printer paper

Thank you for reading Is ‘diabetic chocolate’ really healthier? I hope you found this useful and informative! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to handle a hypo mid-workout! and 5 Minute Healthy Chocolate Dessert!

Uncategorized

What is the deal with cooking oils

People often get confused about what oils to use when cooking. So here is my simple guide explaining which oils you should use when!

Plant oils should not be used for cooking

cooking oils

Plant oils become unstable when they are heated to high temperatures. This causes oxidation of the oil, which in simple terms means ‘damaged oil’.

When we consume oxidised oils on a regular basis it can be harmful to our health. Oxidised oils essentially ‘clog up’ blood vessels causing them to narrow. Narrowing causes decreased blood flow to areas of the body.

This process is linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis and much more.

Oils to cook with

coconut oil - cooking oils

The following oils remain more stable at higher cooking temperatures, therefore they are preferable to use.

This includes:

  • Coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil

Also opt for oils that are cold pressed as this minimises any damage to the oil during processing.

Oils to use in cold recipes

Pretty much all plant oils are perfect to use in cold recipes or as a garnish. The following oils are very sensitive to heat and light and can be damaged very easily.

Keeping these oils in dark bottles in the fridge will minimise oxidation.

  • Sunflower oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Walnut oil

In my opinion, 1 calorie oil sprays should also be avoided. These are often cheap plant oils and they are prone to oxidation. Rather than focusing on calories, focus on nutrients. Coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil have so many benefits to our health, please don’t avoid them because they are high in calories – this alone does not make them ‘bad’.

Cooking methods

frying - cooking oils

Frying is a convenient way of cooking, but unfortunately it is one of the most damaging. This is because food is heated to a high temperature very quickly. Therefore, I advise avoiding frying foods and opting for baking at lower temperatures, lightly steaming and boiling.

If you want to make something like a stir-fry, cook the veggies down in water, let them cool down, and then add in your oil of choice. This tastes amazing and allows the oil to remain stable, giving you many health benefits!

Thank you for reading What is the deal with cooking oils. I hope this was useful and helps you to adapt your cooking! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to lower your cholesterol! and 5 foods diabetics should be eating!

Recipes

Halloween pumpkin soup recipe!

Here is my delicious pumpkin soup to make with your carving scraps! This soup is warming, sweet and perfect for the colder months.

I decided to leave this as a chunky soup to add more texture, but feel free to blend it up if that is how you like it. If you do decide to blend it, I recommend adding 2 tbsp yogurt to add more creaminess.

Serves 6-8

Macros:

Calories: 174
Carbohydrates: 34g
of which sugars: 7.5g
Fat: 4g
Protein: 6g
Fibre: 9.5g

Ingredients:

pumpkin soup ingredients

0.5 tbsp olive oil
6-7 tbsp pumpkin flesh
Large leek
3 cloves garlic
Large carrot
Small bulb fennel
3 sticks celery
3 tbsp peas
1 red pepper
1 large parsnip
2 pints vegetable stock
3 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp turmeric
3 tsp oregano
1 carton passata
Handful chopped coriander
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp pumpkin seeds
2 tsp parmesan

Method:

1. Prepare all of the vegetables: peel and chop the carrot, parsnip, leek, red pepper, fennel, celery and pumpkin flesh.

pumpkin flesh - pumpkin soup

2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and prepare the stock. Once the oil is hot, fry off the leek and garlic until soft.

3. Next, add in the rest of the veg (apart from the peas), add the seasonings and fry for around 5-10 minutes.

add the veg - pumpkin soup

4. Once the veg is soft, add the stock, passata, peas and coriander. Let this simmer for around 10 minutes.

5. If you decide to blend the soup, do that now and stir in the yogurt afterwards.

6. Serve up the soup, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and parmesan.

7. Next, enjoy! 🙂

Pumpkin soup

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Healthy Halloween Rocky Road Recipe! and Banana Loaf Recipe!

Recipes

Turkey Burger recipe

Here is my delicious Turkey burger recipe that has the perfect balance of spice and freshness and is great for a Friday night!

I don’t eat red meat and poultry is much lower in saturated fat which is why I go for turkey mince. The burger recipe is great because it has so much flavour and it retains the moisture in the meat, I think you will love it!

I serve my burgers with asian slaw (this recipe is also below) and fries.

Serves 4

Macros: (Including bun, excluding chips)

  • Calories: 321
  • Carbohydrates: 34g
  • of which sugars: 10g
  • Fibre: 13g
  • Protein: 32g
  • Fat:

Ingredients:

Burger:

  • 400g turkey breast mince
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Parsley
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
asian slaw with turkey burgers

Asian Slaw:

  • 1/2 red cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 handfuls kale
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce

Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 170.

2. Put the onion, garlic, chilli, parsley and olive oil in a blender and blend until finely chopped. Now place this into a glass bowl.

turkey burger ingredients

3. Next, put all the seasonings, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and turkey mince in the glass bowl. Use your hands to combine all of the ingredients.

4. Now shape the mince mix into burger patties and place them on a oven tray. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil to help retain moisture. If you have time, put the burgers in the fridge for 10-15 minutes as this will prevent them from falling apart once cooked.

turkey burger patties

5. Cook the burgers for 20-25 minutes, the time depends of their size, so check them before eating!

6. While the burgers are cooking, chop up the cabbage, carrot, yellow pepper and place them in a salad bowl. Add the kale, along with the dressing ingredients. Toss until combined.

7. Once your burgers are cooked, assemble your burger and serve up with chips and slaw!

8. Next, enjoy! 🙂

turkey burger

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out The best healthy chicken satay recipe! and Gluten – what is the big deal?

Recipes, Top Tips

Delicious alcohol-free drinks!

Here are some delicious alcohol-free drink ideas for people out there looking to cut down on alcohol consumption! I personally love to have a drink, but on the occasions I don’t fancy it, I never want to sit and just drink water!

This post is designed to hopefully give you some cool alternatives, so you can always enjoy a drink, whether it is alcoholic or not!

Alcohol-free spirits

Gordon’s (gin) – This is a plain, zero sugar and alcohol free alternative. It is pretty cheap and can be found in any supermarket across to UK.

Caleaño (gin) – If you like flavoured gins definitely go for Caleaño! It is infused with inca and juniper berries and is absolutely delicious! This is available on Amazon.

Clean R by Clean co (Rum) – This is a low alcohol alternative, 1.2% vol. I like to use this in cocktails and it tastes just like normal rum! This is also available in any supermarket.

Feragaia (Whiskey) – This is a Scottish alcohol free whiskey, and it is probably the best whiskey alternative I have tried! Available on Amazon, or use the official Feragaia website for a discount off your first order!

Mocktail recipes

mocktails - alcohol-free drinks
  • Mojito – a shot of alcohol free rum over ice, followed by the juice of 1 lime, a handful of mint leaves (chop slightly for more flavour) 1/2 tsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger and top up with soda water.
  • Strawberry old fashioned – a shot of alcohol free whiskey over ice, 2 crushed strawberries, rind of 1 orange, 1/2 tsp brown sugar and 2 drops of bitters.
  • Pornstar Martini – I like to buy a bottle of Funkin Passion Fruit Martini Cocktail Mixer and add alcohol free vodka to the recipe. It’s super easy and delicious!
  • Moscow Mule – A shot of alcohol free vodka or rum over ice, juice of 1/2 lime, some mint leaves and top up with ginger beer. This is one of my favourites!

Other drink alternatives

Remedy - alcohol-free drinks
  • Remedy- This brand offers alcohol-free kombucha and kefir drinks in lots of different flavours (coconut kefir and blood orange switchel are my favourites!). Wetherspoon’s now stock Remedy so make sure you check them out!

Check Remedy out here!

  • CleanCO – This brand makes both alcohol free and low alcohol alternatives. The clean G&T and clean Rum and cola are delicious and are 0.5% vol.

Check CleanCo out here!

Thank you for reading my delicious alcohol-free drink ideas! I hope you give some of these a try, and let me know how it goes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Top tips on alcohol consumption and diabetes control! and my Sun-dried tomato and chicken pasta dish!

Diet

How to remove gluten from your diet

Last week I talked about what circumstances someone might want to stop eating gluten in Gluten – what is the big deal?

So I thought it would be helpful to provide guidance on what you need to think about if you have decided to see if gluten is causing symptoms you are experiencing.

The process:

Remove all sources of gluten for up to 6 weeks, and then reintroduce different sources of gluten week by week to see if any symptoms reappear. For example, the 7th week you eat only gluten bread and record your symptoms. Week 8, you stop eating bread and start eating gluten pasta. Repeat until necessary.

Sometimes certain foods can cause symptoms while others do not, so it is important to see what foods specifically cause you discomfort.

Learn what contains gluten

remove gluten

Grains that contain gluten include:

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Malt
  • Wheat starch

Foods that contain gluten:

  • Beer and ale
  • Bread
  • Bulgar wheat
  • Cakes
  • Cereal
  • Cookies/biscuits
  • Crackers
  • Flour
  • Gravy
  • Pastry
  • Soy sauce
  • Most packaged snack bars, crisps etc

Make sure you check ingredients lists for sources of gluten. I would recommend checking all sauces, spreads and packaged foods as gluten containing ingredients are often in these products.

Focus on what you can have

gluten free foods - remove gluten

Rather than dwelling on what you can’t have, focus on what you can have. Remember this is temporary to see if symptoms improve. And if your symptoms do improve, you are gaining so much more than you think you are ‘losing’.

Here are grains that are gluten free:

  • Rice
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth
  • Corn
  • Lentils
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes

Gluten free flour – here is a little tip of mine, if you are living with diabetes and want to stick to brown flours that digest slower, opt for brown rice flour, amaranth flour, or simply put some oats in a blender to make your own. The gluten free four alternatives from free-from isles will be white flour and could contribute towards sugar spikes. So sticking to brown rice, oats and amaranth may help to keep your sugar levels more stable!

Get organised

Write a shopping list: Write a shopping list or save online shops to make sure there are always meal and snack options. There is nothing worse than being hungry and having nothing available. This also makes it more likely you will give up and consume something that contains gluten!

get organised - removing gluten

Find the free-from isle: In every supermarket there will be an isle that has all of the free-from products. There will be an alternative for pretty much anything here, so make sure you know where it is to make your life easier!

Keep track: I’m going to be completely honest, some gluten free products are horrible! But with that in mind, it is really important to keep a list of the free-from products that are delicious (they do exist I promise!).

Find some awesome recipes: Or swap ingredients from your old recipes! For example, I always use brown rice flour for cakes, pastry and sauces, and red lentil pasta.

I also recommend purchasing the cook book ‘How to make anything gluten free’ by Becky Excell. This will help with both gluten free cooking and baking 🙂

Thank you for reading how to remove gluten from your diet! I hope you found this useful and if you decide to give gluten free a go, good luck! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out My Type 1 diabetes diagnosis story! and Apple and Blackberry Crumble

Recipes

Firecracker chicken salad recipe!

Here is my delicious firecracker chicken salad recipe! It is perfect for lunch or a quick post-gym snack! The chicken is also delicious in a sandwich or with pasta!

This recipe is packed with vegetables, fibre and protein. It is low in carbohydrates, so adding a carb source might be important you are making this as a main meal.

Serves 2

Macros:

Calories: 274
Carbohydrates: 20g
of which sugars: 9g
Fat: 13g
Protein: 23g
Fibre: 5g

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

firecracker chicken salad ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 small red chilli
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp crushed chilli
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tsp wochestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1 tbsp light Mayo
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 handful coriander
  • 1 tsp honey
firecracker chicken ingredients

For the salad:

  • 200g iceberg lettuce
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 100g cucumber
  • 2 tsp sweet corn
  • 4 radish
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp flaxseeds or sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • Handful of coriander for garnish

Method:

1.Cut the chicken into strips, add all of the seasonings, garlic, lime and chilli and leave to marinate. (You can cook straight away or leave it for as long as you like).

2. Heat up the griddle pan with 1 tsp olive oil and cook the chicken.

3. Chop up all of your salad ingredients and mix with the chicken in a bowl.

4. For the sauce, place the mayo in a bowl with chopped spring onion, coriander and the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.

5. Finally, add the sauce into the salad and toss to combine. Garish with coriander.

6. Next, enjoy 🙂

firecracker chicken salad

Thank you for reading my firecracker chicken salad recipe! Make sure you try it, and let me know how it goes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Sun-dried tomato and chicken pasta dish! and How to keep your eyes healthy with diabetes

Recipes

Sun-dried tomato and chicken pasta dish!

Here is an absolutely delicious sun-dried tomato and chicken pasta dish that is a perfect, quick dinner or lunch. I use red lentil pasta as a gluten free alternative, it tastes amazing and the macros are great!

The macros and carb content is listed below. There is dish is fairly carb heavy, but it is also high in protein and fibre to slow glucose release.

Serves 2

Macros (Per portion):

Calories: 577
Carbohydrates: 70g
of which sugars: 14g
Fat: 14g
Protein: 42g
Fibre: 16g

Ingredients:

garlic - sun-dried tomato pasta
  • 125g dry red lentil pasta (gluten free option)
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 0.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato
  • 15g pine nuts
  • 200g spinach
  • 100g broccoli
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 pint chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Firstly, prepare all of the veg and the stock.

2. Next, cut the chicken breasts into cubes and fry in a large cooking pot. Add all seasonings, as well as the onion and garlic.

chicken - pasta

3. After 5 minutes or so, add all of your veg as well as the chicken stock and white wine.

veg and chicken - sun-dried tomato pasta

4. Allow this to simmer for around 10-15 minutes while you cook the pasta.

5. Once your pasta is cooked, drain and throw it in the cooking pot with the sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Stir everything together to get the pasta fully coated.

6. Next, serve up, garnish with your herb of choice and enjoy :)

sun-dried tomato pasta

Thank you for checking out my sun-dried tomato and chicken pasta dish! Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Sausage Casserole Recipe! and Jack Iredale on managing type 1, while playing professional football!

Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

How to lower your cholesterol!

Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is vital for your wellbeing and for disease prevention. Having high cholesterol puts us at an increased risk of getting cardiovascular disease, strokes and many other health issues.

Keep reading for my top tips!

1. Find out what your cholesterol is

blood test - cholesterol levels

The first place to start is to chat with your doctor and ask for a cholesterol test. If you have diabetes, cholesterol should be checked at least twice a year alongside your HbA1c.

It really is important to keep track of your cholesterol results as well as your HbA1c as high cholesterol can have the same long-term consequences as high glucose.

When cholesterol is high, it can damage the lining of blood vessels leading plaque build up.

This also allows you to set goals with your doctor to better your health.

These are the following cholesterol blood test goals:

  • Total cholesterol: Under 5mmol/L
  • High-density lipids (HDL): below 4 mmol/L
  • Low-density lipids (LDL): Below 3mmol/L
  • Serum triglycerides: below 2.3 mmol/L

2. Limit processed foods

Firstly it is really important to understand that there are different types of fat, some of which are not great for your health, and others that are fundamental for your body and health.

Processed foods tend to be packed with what people call ‘bad fats’. This is known as saturated fat and trans fats. Essentially, you want to consuming as little of these fat types as possible.

This is because ‘bad fats’ cause the health problems associated with having high cholesterol.

The best way to avoid processed foods is to make your meals and snacks from scratch. Also think about limiting red meat sources as they are high in saturated fats.

I also want to make it clear that consuming what many call ‘bad fats’ occasionally is absolutely fine. Please remember that every food group has a place in the diet, it is just about making food that promotes health the bulk of your diet.

3. Increase ‘good fats’

good fats to lower cholesterol

‘Good fats’ are vital for health because they help to lower ‘bad fats’ in the blood. Good fats are known as HDL and bad as LDL.

Include some of the following in your daily diet:

  • Avocado
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Nuts and seeds (walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds etc)
  • Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna etc)
  • Eggs
  • Dark chocolate
  • Yogurt

Please do not be afraid to include the above foods in your diet! I have personally increased the amount of oily fish in my diet and I have seen many benefits. Food is your friend, never the enemy!

4. Support your liver

The liver is actually the main organ that controls the amount of cholesterol in the blood. HDL’s are released from the liver when LDL’s are too high in the blood. HDL’s then attach to LDL’s and move them back into storage in the liver.

This process is absolutely vital, but can become compromised when the liver is under pressure.

To support your liver try to do the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Eat the rainbow
  • Eat sour foods (lemon juice, rocket, artichoke, watercress etc)
  • Don’t smoke
  • Hydrate!

5. Live an active life

exercise to lower cholesterol

Having an increased body weight and sedentary lifestyle puts us at a higher risk of having elevated cholesterol.

Therefore, it is vital to make movement and exercise a part of your daily routine.

Try to complete at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, but try to do more! If you only have time to do 20-30 minutes, opt for high intensity types to get more out of the time.

Most importantly, choose exercise you enjoy because this makes it easier to stick to a routine long-term!

Thank you so much for reading how to lower you cholesterol! I hope you found this post useful and you learnt something new today! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to keep your kidneys healthy with diabetes and How to read food labelling effectively!