When Richard Lawrence managed a swag of hotel resorts in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, his life was a rollercoaster of stress, long hours, rich food and drinks - and no exercise.
His blood pressure increased as sharply as his clothing size, and he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes before long.
Fast forward many decades, and the 75-year-old resident at one of Uniting AgeWell's Melbourne aged care facilities has his diabetes under control and goes for an hour-long walk each day.
Processed foods and lollies offer limited nutritional value - opt for oats, whole-grained foods, nutritional basics, just like Grandma did back in her day.- Philippa Spence, dietician, Uniting AgeWell
During National Diabetes Week from July 10-16, it's time to showcase people like Richard who are living well with the condition of too much sugar in the blood, affecting 1.7 million Australians, many of whom are older.
Richard attributes this to a controlled diet and regimen of exercise, medication and health services he receives. "The food here is good- and trust me, I've eaten enough hotel food to be able to judge," he said.
However, not all diabetics enjoy dietician-approved meals like Richard. An increasing number of older people are living well longer at home - and while some opt to get nutritional meals sent in, others do their own cooking.
When it comes to diabetes, many of today's new generation of feisty, go-get-'em older people don't always get things right.
Uniting AgeWell dietician Philippa Spence suggests they return to the back-to-basics diet that their grandmothers' advocated.
"Think homespun common-sense served with lean meats, fruit and veggies, and good fats like nuts, olive oil and avocados," Philippa said.
"Processed foods and lollies offer limited nutritional value - opt for oats, whole-grained foods, nutritional basics, just like Grandma did back in her day."
She cautioned people with diabetes against too much sugar or carbohydrates and said when you do have carbs, opt for wholegrain bread. "It's important to enjoy food, too," Philippa said. "After all, a lovely meal is one of life's great joys."
There are, however, other parts of the puzzle for people with diabetes, including exercise and specialist health care.
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