Can you really eat to beat diabetes?

The Good Life Letter 

24th June 2016

  • The strange world where GP advice is better than medicines...
  • ...but they get into even more trouble for telling anyone about it!
  • A simple way to actually enjoy lentils, celery and artichoke - really
It’s a funny old world that would want to stop a health professional passing on best advice, and an even crazier one that would threaten a doctor because they weren’t prescribing enough medicines...

...but that is the sad reality I must offer you today.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday last week, campaigning GP Dr Michael Mosley highlighted these two bizarre scenarios in an article about healthy eating.

He cited a Stockport GP who has published studies showing that patients who follow his low-carbohydrate, full fat diet have not only lost weight but kept it off.

Sadly rather than his peers grabbing this insight into effective control over obesity and conditions such as diabetes they have actually told him that his advice is dangerous.

Dr Mosley also raised the issue about GPs who are financially penalised if they don’t put patients on medication for any sign of raised blood sugar, cholesterol or blood pressure – again using the example of a GP who had lost funding because her practice was helping patients manage metabolic conditions through diet...

...and was actually being more successful than with their patients who were taking drugs!

I know this is starting to sound a bit repetitive – “There goes Ray, chuntering on about healthy diet all over again!”

But the more information I discover the more disturbing and worrying this picture is getting.

Relying on sound advice from government agencies has been shown time and time again to be an error – they simply don’t know enough, care enough or are being bribed to turn our attentions towards big food companies.

And yes, I do begin to sound like a stuck record but it is hard to ignore something that I passionately believe in.

But today, rather than whinge and rant I want to offer a bit of sanity for all of us...

...A simple truth

Every time I begin to think about the topic of proper food I find myself getting tied in knots because there are things I know I should eat (but don’t like) things I want to eat (but know I shouldn’t) and things I can afford to eat (but don’t excite me)...’s a difficult situation that no doubt we all encounter from time to time.

The way to overcome these problems and really do the right thing is simple – hide the things you don’t like, use less of the things which aren’t so good for you and bulk out on the cheaper items.

Let me give you an example: I love steak/bacon; I should eat more fibre; I get bored by lentils...

...Here’s what you do.

Ingredients (For two)

125g (5oz) puy lentils
50g (2oz) smoked lardons
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large sticks of celery, chopped
1 artichoke heart, chopped
1 large handful of spinach leaves
100g (4oz) fillet steak


  1. Put the lentils into a large pan of water and bring to the boil with a few woody herbs of your choice (Thyme, Rosemary or Bay work well), keep an eye on them as you don’t want them to go to mush, but still have a bit of a bite (around 20-25 mins should do it).
  2. In a separate pan boil the celery, artichoke and spinach in some stock (vegetable or chicken) until soft then blitz them to a soup in a blender.
  3. Fry the lardons in a dry pan for a short time and once the fat begins to render out add in the chopped onion and fry until the onion is soft and the lardons crispy.
  4. Take the lardons and onion out of the pan reserving as much of the fat as possible and add in the steak (seasoned) and fry for 3-5 minutes on each side.
  5. Assemble the dish. Strain the lentils well (after taking the herbs out) then mix through with the blitzed vegetables and the onion and bacon – lay this in the bottom of a deep plate or shallow bowl. Thinly slice the steak and place on top. Season to taste and drop a bit of mustard on to add a zing.

This really simple dish takes very little time but provides you with a filling and healthy supper.

You can replace the steak with chicken if preferred – or for a really vegetarian delight fry the onion in a little oil (no bacon) and finish the plate with grilled thinly sliced cauliflower (stalks and all).

A question for you

Now if you went to your GP and they were able to offer you this kind of practical and informed advice about what to eat, how to prepare it and when to buy it, wouldn’t that be better than a prescription?

Of course it is a completely false hope that any doctor has the time to do this, and frankly few of them have the understanding or skill to apply it but this is what real healthcare should be about.

Dr Mosley says in his newspaper piece:

“When I went to medical school, I learnt lots about anatomy, biochemistry and physiology, but next to nothing about nutrition or exercise.”

I am willing to bet that medical training hasn’t changed much since the good doctor did his degree, and if anything there is a lot more of the training that leads to the prescription pad rather than the greengrocer!

Follow me and use the approach I’ve described above and it is actually possible to begin to like all the things we know we should eat, and really enjoy doing so.

And finally, to matters of sport...

...last week I said the emotions around the football were a little fraught, and I am glad to say that honours are now even with both England and Wales getting through their groups (along with Northern Ireland and the Republic too)...

...but as for the Welsh Rugby side, well the results against the Chiefs and New Zealand don’t bode well for the rest of our tour!

Yours, as always


P.S. If you want to do more with healthy eating click here.



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