England rugby international Henry Slade has told how he learned to live with diabetes – with the help of a few jelly babies.
The England and Exeter Chiefs centre was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five years ago when he was 18.
It can cause weight loss and loss of muscle bulk, which is especially worrying for a rugby player who needs a bulky body.
But in an exclusive interview with Rugby Lives, Slade revealed how he manages his diet to help him adapt to the condition. He also needs to inject himself regularly to keep his blood sugar levels under control – and that’s where the jelly babies come in, helping him to keep his levels up before a game or at half time.
Slade explained: “The boys here are pretty good at the club. Every time we come in everyone’s got all their kit up, and you’ve got an energy drink and a water – and I’ve got a little pot of jelly babies, so everyone keeps trying to come over and nick them, so I’ve got to hide them in my bag when I get in. I just have a few before the game if I need them, or at half time.”
Apart from that, Slade just has to think about what he is eating and when.
“I can’t just eat stuff like willy-nilly without thinking about what’s going in,” he went on. “And sometimes I’ve got to judge how many carbs I’m taking in so I can inject my insulin accordingly.
“If I’m not having carbs then I don’t really have to inject. For example, in training, I’m burning off most of the sugar anyway so I don’t often have to inject at all.”
The Chiefs canteen is well equipped to deal with Henry’s requirements but he must be more vigilant at other times. He revealed: “It’s when I go home and have a bigger meal with more carbs is when I have to be careful.”