..........Or Rebel with a Cause!
In which Kate explores the benefits of a real food diet with Dr Trudi Deakin, Registered dietitian and diabetes expert and CEO of X-PERT Health, a registered charity in the UK. X-PERT Health provides education for obesity and diabetes prevention and management throughout the UK.
Real Food Rocks
Last summer, we took our real food stall on a road trip up to Ambleside to sell real food at the Real Food Rocks Festival at Brathay Hall. It was an amazing festival - full of like -minded individuals, all of whom had switched onto the power of real food and were keen to show how eating an unprocessed, real-food diet with less sugar and more healthy fats can help with weight loss, improve HbA1c and even put Type 2 diabetes into remission.
We met and listened to many fascinating people including Dr Trudi Deakin a pioneer in the field of education and empowerment in diabetes and obesity and we made lots of new Primal Cut friends including Ally at the Paleo Canteen, Amy and Jeff from Hunter and Gather and Dr Bridgette Hamilton author of Break the Crave. We were fortunate to catch up recently with Trudi Deakin, and sit down for a real good chat about using real food for obesity and diabetes management management and empowering though dietary change. Here are some of the highlights below!
Q. How did your interest in Diabetes start?
A. Around 1993 I was working in the NHS, specialising in work with diabetes patients. I saw patients from every walk of life from children with Type 1 diabetes at school to old folks in care homes and people used to say to me - I don't eat sugar so why is my blood sugar level so high? And I thought, people really don't understand that they can also get glucose and sugar from other sources and that this has to change.
Education seemed to me to be key but at that time, group sessions were an unknown quantity and we were only able to advise in accordance with government guidelines in a clinical setting and a one to one session. I ran focus groups to discover what could help diabetic patients manage their condition and how they would like the learning to be delivered. And the overwhelming response was that people did not want to be told by a health care professional what they could and could not eat. They wanted to understand their body and how food and drink affected their blood glucose levels.
Despite my best efforts, it seemed that group sessions remained an unknown quantity and my work was knocked back. It took time, I had my son, I worked on research modules for the effective delivery of relevant content and applied for grants and in 2000, I registered for a doctorate at Leeds University. We started to run clinical trials to test out the effectiveness of the programmes and what we found was simple: that education in a group setting was a highly effective means of helping individuals manage their diabetes, their health and their life.
My work was published and after national recognition through the receipt of several national awards, other health care professionals began to contact me and ask for the programme to deliver in their area. X-PERT Health began - based in Hebden Bridge - and has developed and grown to the point where the programme and all materials are easily available to any health care professional looking to purchase and deliver a six week programme to assist all diabetic patients in learning to self-manage their condition. The programme is also available digitally to purchase here which has been a great addition particularly during lock down when all group work has been suspended.
You know I was always guided by an old proverb that says " I hear, I forget, I see, I remember, I do , I understand" - and for me the answer is simple: empower each patient with the tools and knowledge to make a change for themselves - educate not medicate!
Q. Why do you think we have such a challenge with obesity and Type 2 Diabetes in the UK?
A. Ultra-processed food is everywhere from take outs to convenience meals at supermarkets, lunch meal deals: we eat breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack to the point where we overeat every day. The food choices we are given do not satisfy and the salt and sugar content make us crave more. I do think too that being overweight is becoming more socially acceptable. Combine these challenges with our sedentary lifestyles, longer working hours and lack of sleep and we can see a pattern of unhealthy lifestyles developing but like a lot of folk say, it comes down to this: you can't outrun a bad diet.
Q. Do you believe that nutrition has the power to change lives?
A. Yes, I do - and what is so exciting is being able to see people put their type 2 diabetes into remission. When I started working with diabetic patients, we were taught that once people had this diagnosis, they had it for life and that was that. Now, when patients are really motivated to do something about the diagnosis, we have evidence that people can change their lifestyle, mainly through diet and can push Type 2 diabetes into remission – not a cure – as if you go back to your old way of life it will come back - but definitely into remission.
This offers hope.
It is exciting because receiving that diagnosis is for a potential long term condition with long term implications for your health. Now we can say that if you want to change your lifestyle and put that diagnosis into remission we can and here is how to do it. However, one size does not fit all and we really don’t believe in telling people what they should or should not do. The reason for this is simple - I am and have always been a rebel! If someone told me what to do, I would always do the opposite. I resist being told what to do and I saw this time and again in my patients! People often tell you what they think you want to hear. I was taught to set goals for people by rote but when we met again in a clinical setting, people would often fabricate answers and be lenient with the truth and I thought look, this is an insane waste of yours and my time.
But I came across a book "The Art of Empowerment" by Dr Robert Anderson. He became my mentor and he taught me that it is not possible for me to empower an individual – they can only empower themselves – and to do that, they require knowledge, understanding and confidence. Knowledge - to make informed decisions, understanding to see the impact that making knowledgeable decisions has on their lives - and confidence – if people don’t have the self belief that they can make the change then they are not going to make the change.
At X-PERT Health, the last few minutes of every session are about goal setting. We ask, having heard all the information today what are you going to try out over the week? We set our own SMART goals and ask on a scale of 1 to 10 how confident are you that you can achieve these goals and we ask patients to write these down and we work on empowerment
We don’t want over reliance – we want people to make the change for themselves - and they do!
Q. Do you have one piece of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed by their own weight challenge and wanting to make a difference? - What would you say to them?
A. Eat Real Food and cut the junk!! Real food is packed full of nutrients and so will help people feel fuller faster and for longer. If you eat real food your diet will satisfy your hunger and your cravings will disappear. You will be nourished and feel nourished and you will be able to tell that you are full and no longer hungry. Just. Eat. Real. Food.
Q. What are your favourite health related books and who do you follow?
A. I have learned so much from Professor Tim Noakes in South Africa
Jason Fung on Intermittent Fasting
I love love love the podcasts from the Fat Emperor – Ivor Cummins – absolutely fantastic
I recommend The Salt Fix by Dr James DiNicolantonio
Drs Michael and Clare Mosley are amazing
Dr Aseem Malhotra is brilliant - especially when he provokes the politicians - he rubs a lot of folk up the wrong way but is so brave in the way he is shaking things up!
Q. Finally, do you have a great motivational quote we can stick on the fridge to inspire us?
A. Well I have two – the first is really the dedication for X-PERT Health "Educate not medicate"
The second is by Maya Angelou also with the emphasis on empowerment and is a great place to end:
Useful links to find out more from X-PERT Health:
Online forum (you will need to register first)
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