For many years, Alex worked as a moulding technician which involved early shifts getting up at 04.30am. A workplace accident at the end of 2004 left him with limited sight and put an end to his working life. He has been working with our Occupational Therapy team ever since.
Alex Mather recently spent five weekends in the Wheatbelt helping build a large shed for his brother-in-law. He was lifting and shifting Colorbond sheets. It’s something he would have never attempted a year ago.
The 65-year-old credits his enthusiasm and energy down to his better diet which has seen him drop 12 kilos in three years. Alex has adopted a healthier lifestyle since meeting our dietitian.
Alex and his wife Donna are both being guided on what they should be eating thanks to VisAbility’s Dietitian Wendy Vivian and the Dietetics service we offer. Wendy goes as far as to say that Alex, who has type 2 diabetes, is a shining example of how you can better manage the condition by changing your food and nutrition.
But why did he decide to look at this service at the outset?
“I had some money left in my NDIS plan and my Occupational Therapist, Jaimi suggested I meet with a dietitian. She knew my lifestyle was quite sedentary and that I had type 2 diabetes,” Alex explains.
The result? Not only does he feel lighter and better for it, Alex has also had his diabetes medication decreased, something which makes him, his doctor and his dietitian very proud.
Life after work
Alex grew up on a farm surrounded by an orchard and used to enjoy fruit freshly picked from the trees.
“I suppose over the years I had become inactive. Yes, I did a little walking and fishing, but I’d sit around the house a lot.”
Alex’s sessions with Dietitian Wendy started just as the pandemic took hold. They had a meeting face-to-face and then subsequent sessions took place online.
“Wendy is a straight talker. She is making us more aware about healthy food choices and more nutritious options,” Alex explains.
Wendy gave them the knowledge so that Alex could make better choices in the future and some of these included:
- Eating a variety of vegetables each day.
- Portion control and limiting meal sizes.
- Knowing the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats and how the latter can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol levels.
- Eating fresh fruit over tinned fruit. Tinned fruit is still healthy but the juice can be full of syrup and is very sweet.
- Improving dairy intake in order to improve bone health and increase nutrients.
- Avoiding refined carbohydrates like white bread and eating wholegrain bread and cereal with a higher fibre content.
- Choosing lower salt options. Alex and Donna now enjoy low salt vegemite and don’t miss the original one.
Dietitian advice – putting it into practice
Alex’s wife Donna does most of the cooking, and she says it’s been fairly easy to adjust their eating habits.
“Now I cook lots of chicken and fish and we have it with some salads. If we have chips, we air fry them. It means there’s less fat involved than a traditional deep-fat fryer,” Donna explains.
“Wendy is great at explaining things and is full of facts. We’ve spoken about the different ways of cooking food, so we now check ingredients for hidden nasties like sugar.”
The couple is both drinking more water and trying to instil their better eating habits into their adult sons.
Dietitian Wendy Vivian is impressed with how far Alex has come.
“Both Alex and Donna were very keen to learn and took on board my advice. Alex has great clinical results and has reduced his body fat stores around the abdomen. His commitment has been impressive.”
As for Alex, will he be continuing with his dietetic sessions?
“I have a review coming up so yes, it’s a fantastic feeling to drop a couple of sizes in my trousers. Donna has also lost 25 kilograms as well so it’s a great result all round.