Thoughts

Reversing Type 2 Diabetes

At the Highland Games back in August 2015 the people doing the First Aid offered “health checks” to the volunteer helpers. I took up the offer as it was some time since I had seen a GP. They said there was nothing wrong with my lungs or heart however, they strongly recommended I saw a GP as quickly as possible owing to my blood pressure readings.

So, the following Monday that’s what I did and was really lucky to get a cancellation appointment. The GP confirmed my high blood pressure and put me on medication right away. I was then asked to come back for other tests and told to be seen before I went on holiday. So, the afternoon before going away I went back and was told, “you do realise you are diabetic?” No, of course I didn’t! So, type 2 I presumed as I forgot to ask and wasn’t put in insulin. Just another set of medication and advised briefly on diet – if it come out the ground it’s good, otherwise bad, no mention of fish. Changes to my lifestyle are recommended but would have to wait until I returned from holiday at end of August.

I have received advice on diet since then but, it’s a bit general. I’m trying to pay more attention to the nutrition information of food products, however, some companies don’t use the traffic light system to make it easier to read. I tend to avoid those companies products (Kelloggs, Bird’s Eye to name a few). It has been suggested that I look at diabetes.uk/scotland website for recipe ideas. However, most I’ve looked at suggest the meals are for 4 people. In fact, if you look closely at most recipes you can’t find many for a single person. It’s a bit like food shopping in general how many food items are aimed at single people? Despite there being a growing number of people living on their own, the grocers and supermarkets aren’t paying that much attention to this market yet.

At present my blood pressure has lowered, not enough, my weight hasn’t changed much but I am trying to eat more greens. It will be a slow process.

Can type 2 diabetes be reversed? That’s what I’m trying to find out – the hard way!

Since being diagnosed in August I’ve been trying to watch my diet. My GP wrote to me offering me the chance to participate in a trial (Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiReCT). This trial aims to reverse my diagnosis by putting me on a weight loss programme for 12 weeks then teach me how to eat properly for 8 weeks. This weight loss programme is 800 calories per day (soups and shakes). I come off my medication during this period. I’m monitored by NHS Nutritionists throughout the full 20 weeks.

I started at beginning of December 2015 at about 95Kg. The actual dieting part is quite hard and I am trying to do my regular exercise however, it makes doing me regular walks a bit tough sometimes – running on empty – but, they’ve encouraged me to stick with this, even if it’s not briskly.

I’ve also been advised not to rush out and buy new clothes on the diet phase. As I live alone I’m not buying food for 12 weeks so, money saved will help with a new wardrobe when I’m at the end of this period. Even at the end of the 20 weeks I will still be supported in maintaining whatever weight I end up at.

In April 2016 I was re-tested by the trial, my weight was down to 79.8Kg, my HbA1c was down to 36, success, my type 2 diabetes was in remission. But the trial continues as I now have to start eating solid food again gradually. My walking was back to normal, no “running on empty” feelings. Eventually I as up to 1200 to 1400 calories a day. Not as easy as it sounds. I will still be checked up on every 4 weeks.

In October 2016 it was the turn of my GP Practice to call me back for annual check up. My HbA1c count was 37, still in remission. but keeping weight off is still an issue. In November 2016, I was signed up to a 2nd year of the trial. They want to establish the long term effects of losing weight, increasing exercise and changing health policy.

As of now - April 2017my weight has gone up to around 88Kg, it’s still quite difficult to eat properly. I am trying to concentrate on low calorie food items, replacing sweet stuff especially. I need to reverse some of the weight gain otherwise the diabetes may come back again. I may also have to consider increasing the pace I walk at or changing the type of exercise I do, be more active.

I would say reversing your diagnosis can be done. It requires effort and willingness to make changes to what you eat and how you live.

 

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