How a love of home baking put Gloria Hunniford at high risk of developing diabetes
Gloria Hunniford has revealed how the joy of her mother's home baking as a child instilled in her a sweet tooth which could have caused diabetes.
A radical shift in her eating habits appears to have stopped the illness from taking hold, after doctors warned her she was at risk of developing the potentially killer condition. The veteran broadcaster has revealed in a new TV series, Food: Truth or Scare? how she could have become one of the 5.3% of adults in Northern Ireland who are falling victim to either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.
The condition has shot up by 33% in Northern Ireland within the past five years.
Among the worst side-effects of the disease are blindness, limb amputations - and even death.
Presenting the BBC show, Co Armagh-born Gloria said she was shocked to learn she was pre-diabetic.
"What happened in my case is they discovered I had a very high blood sugar spike. Once you have that your GP is down on you like a tonne of bricks.
"He said 'your liver function is out, your kidney function is out, it might be to do with what you're eating'," she revealed.
During the investigative food series she recognised that a lifelong love of sweet treats left her pancreas in a state where it worked less effectively, making it harder to control her blood sugar levels - significantly increasing her risk of getting diabetes.
"I can't help but wonder if I had eaten differently growing up, because my mum baked a lot, things could have been different.
"It meant cutting out croissants, chocolate and biscuits because, like my late sister Lena who struggled with diabetes, I had a sweet tooth."
She said her own story underpins the whole thrust of the TV series - the link between food and health - amid a backdrop of often conflicting advice.
"When my husband Stephen (74) had a heart attack 12 years ago, I told him he wasn't allowed more than three eggs a week because of his high cholesterol.
"But during filming I found eggs have no impact on it. In fact, they are a superfood with as many nutrients as fillet steak."
It was not only sugar that had to be drastically reduced in her diet but also carbohydrates.
Staples like bread and potatoes were added to the list of no-nos due to the risk of excess weight around her middle.
"I didn't want to start taking tablets so I trained my mind to get rid of sweet yearnings my mother had given me almost from birth."
After six weeks on her new eating regime, in which she lost two stones, a follow-up test showed the danger of diabetes had been slashed.
"I've been advised if I stick to the way I'm eating now I should be fine," she said.
Watch Gloria every day this week on BBC1 at 9.15am.