Living with Diabetes: Jawad Ali KhanWritten by Muslim Link
Pakistani Canadian Jawad Ali Khan came to Canada in the early 1980s to work in the field of IT. Now a senior, he has decided to get fit in order to help him manage his Type 2 Diabetes and maintain his independence.
How did you find out that you had Diabetes?
It is a tradition in my family to get Diabetes. It’s genetic basically. I used to get chest pains so they diagnosed angina. So, I have heart disease basically. At the time they had to do a lot of blood tests which looked at your blood sugar and that is how I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.
I was okay until about 2002 when I had a heart attack and had to have by-pass surgery. But I’m still here!
People think heart attacks are very dramatic and very painful but in my case it was just a little pain, like a pinch in my chest. It was a very tolerable pain. I refused to go to the hospital. Luckily, one of my good friends said he would drive me to the hospital so I didn’t have to call the ambulance. So he drove me to the Heart Institute at the Civic Hospital. And it ends up my four arteries were blocked and they had to do surgery.
So you were struggling with several health issues for a while. Why did you decide to get fit now?
In my case, both my kids ran away from home. One ran off to Toronto and the other has run off to Chicago. So I have no slave labour at home. So who does the gardening? Who does the snow-clearing? Me! I have to do it myself. I wasted a lot of money trusting landscaping companies and snowblowing companies. So it is better if I do it myself and if something goes wrong it is my fault and I haven’t lost any money.
So, about two or three years ago, I decided to get fit so I can take care of things myself. So, I started looking for a diet I could cope with. I watched a documentary about the 5 and 2 Diet. So basically you eat five days normally and two days you are fasting. And in the documentary they mentioned our Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and how he used to fast on Mondays and Thursdays every week. So, since I was used to fasting in Ramadan I thought this is right up my street. So I started that diet. I lost a lot of weight. And fasting those two days is not very stressful and you can drink tea and water during the day. Then my son introduced me to the ketogenic diet. This diet is very low in carbs. So I can cook with butter which is a bonus! But you can’t have things like potatoes, rice, or bread. I haven’t bought bread in six months. So I have lost around 50 pounds.
My son has encouraged me to go to the gym. I go three days a week. I go to Good Life Fitness. Their prices are reasonable. I’m not lifting 250 pounds weights or anything! There are low impact options so you just adjust things for your age. Use your own brain, don’t strain yourself! I just go with my fitness level. I go to the intensity that I can handle. I’m not in there doing a Mr. Universe Competition! I just want to be able to walk up and down stairs without being breathless or work in the backyard for a few hours and garden. I just go to the gym to get fit and build stamina.
Now, I feel very spritely. I’m able to move fast. It really has allowed me to become more active. I don’t get breathless.
How have you coped with such a drastic change in your diet and lifestyle?
I don’t find it much of a struggle because it has become a necessity.
No drug can cure Diabetes. Drugs can only allow you to control it. The best way to manage it is through diet and exercise. Diabetes is not a fun disease. It could kill you. Also your circulation in your extremities can get you into trouble and you might end up with amputations. I don’t want that.
Our religion teaches discipline, especially during Ramadan. Ramadan is really all about self-control. After iftar we overeat-that is completely wrong. Often at the end of Ramadan, people come out overweight. That is not right. Now, I’m guilty of that too. But I have learned with this 5 and 2 Diet what discipline should be. If you cheat, who are you cheating? Yourself.
I have been to several weddings and not had any desserts. If you are serving yourself in a buffet dinner you just go past the naan, you go past the pilau. But you can have the beef curry and the chicken curry and load yourself up with salad.
Once a week I can go carb crazy! I go buy pakoras and veggie samosas. But that is only once a week.
It is all about balance and moderation which is exactly what our religion teaches.
Is it important that your family support your diet?
Yes. If someone is eating cupcakes and cream cakes in front of you, you might slip. If all of that stuff is in the fridge, you might slip. You have to change the environment.
What advice would you give to other people with Diabetes who are facing having to change their lifestyle?
All of this precooked stuff they have in the supermarket; you don’t know what is in there. You need to cook for yourself and cook things fresh. Corporations profit by selling us stuff and we eat that stuff without thinking. There is good stuff available in the same stores where they sell bad stuff. You can go to a buffet restaurant and you can eat the wrong dishes or you can eat the right dishes. In the end, it is your life and your health. It is up to you to do what is best for you.
To learn more about Diabetes visit The Canadian Diabetes Association
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