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'Diabetes didn't get us down'

Diabetes is a condition that can affect just about anybody – rich and poor, young and old. But being diagnosed with the condition doesn’t mean you need to put your life on hold. Friday highlights people from the world of film, music and sport who have not allowed diabetes to take over their life. If they can do it, so can you!

Image Credit: Supplied picture
From left: Nick Jonas, Sonam Kapoor, Wasim Akram and Halle Berry.

Nick Jonas, 20
Condition: type 1 diabetes
Nick, one of the Jonas Brothers, a pop-rock band he formed with his brothers Joe and Kevin, was diagnosed in 2005 at the age of 13 when he was on tour. He was displaying all the symptoms – losing weight, suffering from mood swings and feeling thirsty constantly. A test confirmed his condition. He now wears an insulin pump that monitors the insulin level in his blood and automatically pumps in the required amounts of insulin as and when required. His is not an inherited condition.

Achievements: Teen heart-throb, singer, songwriter, actor and musician.

His beat-diabetes plan: Have a healthy breakfast. Avoid all direct sugars, soda, cokes, waffles, syrup, etc. He mointors his insulin levels at least 12 times a day and has his meals only after checking his blood sugar levels.

His diabetes mantra: “It’s been a part of my life that has turned out to be a blessing in some way. I’d be lying if I told you that there weren’t days that I wasn’t frustrated with being a diabetic. It’s definitely not something you ask for. There are moments when I think life would be a lot easier without it. But, then again, it’s part of my DNA at this point, and it’s given me an outlook on life that I think is very rare. When I was diagnosed, if we had waited two days, I could’ve been in a coma. A week later, and I could’ve died, so I’m very thankful that I’ve lived to see all of this.”

Sonam Kapoor, 27
Condition: Insulin-resistant (which is a pre-diabetic condition in which cells are unable to absorb glucose, amino acids and fatty acids).
Sonam, who was diagnosed with the condition in 2008, takes regular medication.

Achievements: Fashionista and successful Bollywood heroine who dropped from 90kgs and a size 16, to 65kg and a size 2, in one year after she realised her weight was one of the major problems preventing her from combating the condition.

Her beat-diabetes plan: Sonam follows a rigorous exercise and diet regimen. She has six small low-carb, high-protein meals a day. For breakfast, she typically eats porridge and fruit before going for her workout. Post workout she has brown bread with egg whites, followed by a protein shake. For lunch she eats lentils, vegetables, one chapati made of ragi (finger millet) and salad. She has a piece of grilled chicken or fish for dinner and has cut out all chocolates, ice creams, fried foods and sweets.

Her diabetes mantra: “You become hyper-sensitive. Everything that anybody says affects you because you already have a complex about who you are and what you are. When you’re constantly fighting something, you’re not easy; relationships become harder. I am trying to be in a happy place.”

Wasim Akram, 46
Condition: type 1 diabetes
Wasim was diagnosed at 29 at the height of his cricketing career, after he complained of unusual exhaustion and severe thirst. On the advice of his father he went for a blood check, and his condition was diagnosed. He did not inherit the condition from his family.

Achievements: One of the best fast bowlers in history, he is the former captain of the Pakistan Cricket team.

His beat-diabetes plan: Once diagnosed with diabetes, Wasim revamped his lifestyle. His first stop was his diet; he eliminated everything that was unhealthy, oily and spicy. So out went biryanis, rich mutton curries and sweets. Instead he introduced oil-free, low-carb and sugar-free foods into his diet. Being type 1 and insulin dependent, Wasim began monitoring his blood sugar several times a day and administering insulin according to the kind of food he was eating. He included lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and grilled and lean meats in his diet. He says, “It was a shock when first confronted with a life of so many ‘dos and don’ts’, but then I realised that it’s only a matter of adjusting to a healthier lifestyle.” Besides diet, exercise was essential. Being a cricketer, Wasim was already following a fitness regime. He decided to continue with it in a balanced way, without going overboard. It includes a mix of cardiovascular exercises and weight-training. He goes to the gym every morning and runs a couple of kilometres in the evening, six days a week.

His diabetes mantra: “Accept the condition and you will be able to work wonders. I played international cricket and took 250 wickets – a lot of them after I was diagnosed with diabetes. If you accept the condition as a challenge, you can fight it best with the right spirit.”

Halle Berry, 46
Diabetes Type II.
Halle was diagnosed with the condition in 1989 when she collapsed in a diabetic coma on the sets of the Living Doll, a television show she was starring in. She was subsequently diagnosed as having Type II diabetes which is not insulin dependent. Her condition is not inherited and no one in her family has any history of diabetes.

Achievements: Hollywood icon, model and one of the highest paid actresses. Academy award winner for best actress role in Monster’s Ball, she has starred in X-men, Catwoman, Die Another Day.

Her ‘beat diabetes’ plan: Once she was diagnosed with the diabetes, the first thing Halle did was to change her diet to a low-fat one. Even though she is superfit and lean she junked processed carbohydrates and sugar and included plenty of fresh vegetables, lean chicken, fresh fish and wholemeal pasta into her meals. She used to love combining sugar and salted savouries. Her favourite food was butter pecan ice-cream and salt and vinegar crisps. But now if she does experience a craving for sweets, she uses low-calorie sweetners or honey. She largely follows the ‘Five factor diet’ where one does not strictly count calories or measure the carbohydrate content or get into vigorous exercising everyday. The 5 Factor Diet is all about fives - 5 Meals per day, 5 days a week of exercise made up of 5 phases each 5 minutes long, each meal has 5 criteria (a lean protein, low-GI carbohydrate, adequate fibre, “good fats”, and a sugar-free beverage) and 5 cheat days allowed in 5 weeks. (more details at Her favourite these days is grilled tuna with garlic and mashed potato, something she feels is high on taste and healthy as well. She avoids frozen, canned or processed foods and relies largely on fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats. She combines these light meals with a low intensity workouts, and also supplements her meal with required vitamins. She keeps a check on her sugar levels by measuring it at least twice in a day. Her personal trainer puts her through her paces four times a week. On top of this she enjoys daily sessions of yoga and loves to rollerblade near her Hollywood home.

Her diabetes mantra: “Diabetes turned out to be a gift. It gave me strength and toughness because I had to face reality, no matter how uncomfortable or painful it was.”