Mignon Jordaan tells us how the help of a dietitian early on in her diabetes diagnosis inspired her to start a career in dietetics.
Mignon Jordaan (28) lives in Johannesburg, Gauteng. She has Type 1 diabetes.
I was diagnoses with Type 1 diabetes, in 2006, at the age of 14. When I was diagnosed, I was put on Novomix and only injected twice a day. After about a year, it wasn’t enough to maintain normal blood glucose levels. My regime was changed to Novorapid and Levermir, which I still use now. The units of my insulin regime change so often, sometimes daily. However, the type of insulin remained the same and works very well. I use an Accu-Chek Performa blood glucose meter but also have a Medtronic Enlite CGM.
Why I became a dietitian
Due to being diagnosed in my early teenage years, it was extremely challenging to accept and not be embarrassed. I was referred to a dietitian to assist with my diabetic menu plan and how to change my lifestyle. I had no clue what a carbohydrate even was.
The whole experience of how the dietitian impacted my life and assisted me to understand my condition better and how you can still eat as normal enlightened my passion for dietetics.
More pressure to manage diabetes
There is definitely more pressure on me to manage my diabetes well due to me being a dietitian. As a dietitian, I set the example of what a person and client should eat. Ask any dietitian.
The diabetes journey is tough. There are days when I feel completely exhausted, have no time to eat when I need to, have a lot of stress that makes my blood glucose low/high, and hours of concentration and focus at work even if I experience a low. But, in the end it has made me stronger and I learnt how to cope with these situations.
As a dietitian, I have the knowledge of the body physiology, chronic diseases and how to manage it with dietary intake. This helps to optimise my health and teach patients personal and practical tips.
Well-managed blood glucose levels
I am proud to say my blood glucose levels are very well-controlled. My HbA1c is <6,5% and I keep it there easily. My aim is to keep my blood glucose level low and adjust my insulin accordingly.
I am a patient at Centre of Diabetes and Endocrinology (CDE) and have a wonderful team. They include a diabetes educator, endocrinologist and a dietitian. Yes, I’m a dietitian seeing a dietitian for my diabetes and they all assists me to control my blood glucose levels. What I love about seeing my dietitian is I always learn so much from her and our consultations usually go so fluently because I understand the whole process. Her advice for me is always beneficial and practical for my lifestyle. My main purpose of seeing her is to hear from a professional what I deep down already know. It helps me to stay committed and goal driven to optimise my health.
Finding my winter mojo
During winter, it can be very challenging to get up early and get exercise in. I always loved being active and love sports which helps me a lot to stay active. My method of keeping active and energised during winter is:
- Stay in a routine. Even if you wake up at 7am instead of 5am – Do it! Get a new routine and stick with it. Make sure you enjoy your exercise to ensure it is maintainable.
- Every morning I drink a booster of vitamins and minerals to keep my immune system optimised during the cold times. I use ‘Tailorblend’ to mix my own blend of vitamin B complex, lots of vitamin C, Vitamin D (recent research showed a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to a lower immunity and higher risk of getting COVID), vitamin A, zinc, iron and selenium.
- I love a crunchy texture and delicious green salad with seed sprinkle and top it off with some protein, like chicken, fish or meat. During winter time oven-bake roasted vegetables, coated in some vegetable oil like canola/olive oil with a side of protein is one of my favourites.
- Snacking is very important to me because of my busy work schedule and exercise routine. I love a typical easy-going fruit, like an apple (I like almost all fruit), and added peanut butter to lower the GI, a cracker, like Provitas, with peanut butter/low fat cheese. As a treat, a block or two of Lindt dark chocolate, or the Futurelife lite high protein bar. As a low-calorie low carbohydrate snack when my blood glucose is already on the higher side and I need some energy, I go for unsweetened peanut butter, steamed free vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, peppers etc. with some low-fat cottage cheese, raw carrot sticks, lean biltong or nuts.
Helping other people with diabetes
Most of my diabetic clients are mainly Type 2. I have such passion to work with people with diabetes and teach them my knowledge. All patients I approach in an individualised manner, depending on any other chronic diseases, psychological conditions and personal struggles and goals. I develop a complete menu plan according to their weight, preferences and financial situation.
Diabetes education is a big part of my approach to enable patients to understand the different types of carbohydrates, the importance of unsaturated fat and lean protein in their diet, micronutrients and how to still enjoy a social life and keep your blood glucose under control.
To win my patients trust is of utmost importance to make sure they keep in regular contact and communication with me throughout their diabetic journey and this enables them to gain as much dietary knowledge and guidance.