What’s Hiding in my Genes?

In 2006 my dad was diagnosed with diabetes, my mom and I, knowing how difficult it would be for my dad to adjust to his new diet, cut down our sugar intake from three teaspoons in our coffee/tea to ONE! We didn’t have money for fancy diet plans, and just did the basics.

My dad being his stubborn self, basically just cut down on his sugar, took his meds and continued to indulge at special events, often saying “jong man, as die kos daar is dan moet jy did eet, ek sal moôre worry oor my suiker!”. Like a naughty child he failed to stick to his diet.

Fast forward to 2014 and he’s just been informed that he can no longer eat gluten products. After months of struggling with digestive pains…finally we have an answer, gluten free!

After spending the weekend browsing the nutrient information of products and looking at the health of our family, I now ask myself “what’s in behind my genes?!”

I look at my mom, who two years ago were classified as disabled. She can no longer work as result of her condition; osteoporosis and ankylosing spondylitis – I understand this to be a type of arthritis of the spine…

My mother’s condition however is nothing new. As a teenager I remember my mom spending many days/weeks in hospital, unable to move; being discharged and bed-ridden for weeks, unable to climb the steps or move too fast.

When Kai first started Gr.1 earlier this year, my mom was still able to take a slow walk to fetch him in at school in the afternoons. Now she has to take the bus and when Kai has extra murals she walks home with him, stopping on-route at four spots where she can sit down and rest her aching bones. She has to sit on a chair when doing dishes/preparing meals – that slight bend over the basin/cutting board is just too painful.

My mother used to wear a back-brace, but it was so uncomfortable, that she stopped using it years ago, there’s been times when she’s had to walk with crutches because her legs would just go numb. Recently she was diagnosed as diabetic as well…

I look at my parents and I look at their lifestyle after being diagnosed with their conditions many years ago, and I look at the health challenges they have today and ask myself:

Would my dad be on a gluten free diet today if he changed his lifestyle 8 years ago? Would my mom have such pain and difficulty moving around if she followed doctors orders decades ago?

All these what if’s. The reality however is that mom HAD to work, dad tried his best with his diet – knowing that special diet requirements for one person in our family just didn’t fit in the budget, especially when that one person wasn’t too worried about managing his eating plan!

Truth is we now need to buy gluten free product; R66 for a box of cereal and budget for bus fare to/from school R14/day… Not looking after your health is VERY PAINFUL and COSTLY!

Suppose I better go for a check-up sometime soon to rule out diabetes, cholesterol and bone disease… You never know what’s hiding in those genes…