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Yesterday was my 3 year diaversary. 3 years to the day that I was diagnosed with type 2. The diagnosis that I refer to as a blessing in disguise.
I spent the day sharing some of my journey on social media (mainly Twitter) in the hope that it helps others understand more about type 2, obesity and metabolic health. I'm not medically trained and it really is just sharing what worked for me.
I remember the day so vividly. I had been to the Dr (a very rare visit) with symptoms that were worrying me. Severe unrelenting heartburn for weeks, sudden onset IBS and a dry mouth. I had other issues but I was putting these down to the menopause and my age and didn’t think to mention them, yeast infections, blurry vision, itchy skin and skin tags had started to appear.
My bloods were taken and I had to go for a scan. An endoscopy was booked in.
I was booked in with the nurse for my results. She confirmed I was t2d. Hba1c of 62mmol/mol. Anything over 48 and over = diabetic. Nurse told me it was progressive and wanted to start me on metformin and statins and gave me a couple of leaflets, I would have a review in a few months. I asked for 2 months to see if I could do anything with diet. I hadn’t got a clue what it was going to be but she mentioned losing weight. I was at my heaviest, 14 stone 7lbs (my ideal weight is about 11 stone). I had given up on dieting as it just never worked. Up and down like a yoyo, trying every diet you can think of (I worked in a big office and there was a different diet sheet circulating every week). I did lose weight over the years here and there but it all went back on again, and some! But this time I had a health goal. Reversing my diabetes.
I asked if I got a blood glucose monitor ‘you don’t need one, they make you obsessed, we will just take your bloods next appointment and that will tell us how you are doing’. Yet on the NHS website it states 'checking your blood sugars is an important part of managing your diabetes'!
I didn’t want to end up like my poor mum who was an insulin dependent t2d. She was registered blind in her 60s, had neuropathy, sores on her legs that wouldn’t heal, community nurse having to dress wounds daily, BP, kidney and other issues, and yes she was overweight, she had a spare tyre all around her middle (which I now think was the effect of the insulin).
I came home and fell into my husband’s arms an emotional wreck. 2 days of crying on and off. I felt so ashamed. I was angry as I felt I had brought it on myself. I let myself get overweight and I didn’t exercise. I couldn't even tell anyone (apart from close family) about my diagnosis. I just said my blood sugars were a little high.
I couldn't believe what was happening because I actually thought my diet was healthy, wholemeal bread, rice, pasta, jacket potatoes, cereal and I loved bananas. I would often have 2 bananas on a working lunch. Low fat products. Lots of processed/packaged food but I didn’t see any issues here. Quick and convenient.
I had heard diabetes could be reversed through articles i had seen in papers so I Googled ‘reversing diabetes’. It took me straight to Diabetes.co.uk. The first thing that hit me was the members were saying that the official guidelines need to be avoided as they make things worse! You can imagine my shock reading this. And I could see from many forum members signature panels that whatever they were doing was indeed working with massive drops in Hba1c, weight, BP normalising and great cholesterol levels. I also that other health issues were disappearing like migraines, aches and pains, foggy head, tiredness, IBS and many more, so many in fact I made a list that filled an A4 sheet of paper. I used to have a little tinnitus prior to my dx. That disappeared too.
The official guidelines:
Lose weight, don’t skip meals, eat lots of starchy carbs, lots of fruit during the day, low fat, low salt and ‘healthy’ wholegrains, wholemeal bread, brown rice and pasta.
Constantly battling with the DONATE button on every page. They wouldn’t need so many donations if they listened to the diabetics and changed the guidelines accordingly.
Every link from the NHS type 2 diabetes website takes you to Diabetes.org.uk with the advice I’m being told to ignore.
So what was the diabetics advice (I since discovered that every diabetes forum recommends this as the most effective way to reverse t2d symptoms, reduce/eliminate medication including insulin and get into remission, working very closely with HCPs, not the only way though, horses for courses and all that).
The advice was to:
Test blood sugars using a blood sugar monitor. Everyone is different and what might spike blood sugars in one person might not spike another.
Keep a food diary
Cut out (or cut down on if you can’t cut out) the foods that cause spikes.
Cut out ultra processed foods and eat real food
I used an app called Mysugr to input readings. This app gives you an estimated Hba1c so you can see if you are heading in the right direction. I found out (as most t2d do) that sugars and starches send my BG sky high.
These are guidelines for newly diagnosed t2d from the forum members of the 2 main UK diabetes sites, more or less opposite to the official guidelines:
Diabetes.org.uk forum members advise = forum.diabetes.org.uk/boards/threads/maggie-daveys-letter-to-newly-diagnosed-type-2s.61307
Diabetes.co.uk forum members advise = diabetes.co.uk/forum/threads/basic-information-for-newly-diagnosed-diabetics.26870/
Again, basically, avoid starchy carbs as they will spike you (constant spikes can lead to serious diabetic complications), avoid low fat products as they are often full of sugar, eat healthy fats. Eat fruit mindfully as it can significantly impact on blood sugars (I find berries are best), avoid ultra processed foods (full of sugar and other rubbishy ingredients) and stick to eating real food. Items with 5 ingredients or less.
Obviously if there are other health issues people are dealing with this advice may need to be adjusted accordingly.
I had absolutely no idea carbs turned to sugar, that savoury food turned to sugar. I was shocked to find out a large jacket potato can have the equivalent to @19 teaspoons of sugar in.
When your body becomes insulin resistant (insulin is the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels) the sugar that it can't deal with gets stored as fat, in the liver and the body, which is why I had started to put weight on without changing the way i ate. And why when I had my scan just before my dx it showed up a fatty liver.
When I returned to the nurse 2 months later I had lost 2 stone (I was low carb and many days below 20g, drinking lots of water, no wine!). My hba1c was 47 (pre-diabetic level). I was no longer hiding my dx from friends and family, I was indeed telling everyone and also telling them that ‘there’s HOPE, t2d doesn’t have to be progressive’ And massively promoting low carb.
Here is a video link of just one Dr who has discovered the benefits of low carb and introduced it into his practice. 86 of his patients now into drug free remission. He is saving and lengthening lives, giving people a better quality of life and also saving the Treasury a fortune. The amazing Dr David Unwin.
Sad to think he has seen a patient as young as 10 with t2d. The youngest pt with it is recorded as being 3 years of age. It used to be classed as a disease of the elderly.
Dr Unwin has also come up with infographs which guide you as to how much sugar is in food. Genius.
Another Drs appointment 2 May 18 and HBa1c was in the normal range (41). A 42lb weight loss. This was a side effect of going low carb and being very focused on regaining my health.
26 June 18 I reached my target goal - 50lb weight loss where I am currently almost 30 months later.
I have just had my annual check done and my results came back 'normal no action'
Weight - 10 stone 10lbs (down from 14 stone 7lbs at dx)
Hba1c - 36mmol/mol (down from 62 at dx)
BP - 116/69 (borderline for meds at dx with readings of 140/90 and over
Cholesterol (I ask for a full lipid profile to get the breakdown I feel tells the bigger picture
total = 5.8 (same as dx)
HDL = 2.62
LDL = 2.95
Triglycerides = 0.50
I asked for a raft of other tests and all normal. I did ask for vitamin D level but they missed that one out! It can be very beneficial in the fight against Covid. I have already had Covid and survived! My Covid symptoms were late last year. 26th November through December for the main symptoms but my cough lasted well into the New Year. I was very poorly, I thought it was flu, never had flu before but it seemed that this could be my 1st experience. For me it came in waves. Felt I was getting better then BOOM. I have it all documented as I was really quite worried.
Fever/hot/cold (3 waves)
Cough from day 1
Slight breathlessness, couldn't take full breaths in (went to Dr 8th December as feeling so poorly and he gave my antibiotics for a chest infection)
Headache (I never get these so this in itself was unusual)
Lack of appetite (lost 5lbs)
Blood sugars all over the place
I haven't been poorly since thankfully. As soon as I could test for antibodies I did.
May - Abbot test - positive
October - Roche test - positive
Back to my journey
I find I don’t have the same relationship with food. Not thinking about it constantly. I used to be eating breakfast thinking about what I would be eating for lunch. Eating lunch dreaming about dinner. I rarely feel hungry. I was constantly hungry on my high carb diet. Constantly tired (this will have been the roller-coaster that comes with a high carb diet, highs, then crashes making me feel tired and wanting something to pick me up, maybe a bar of chocolate. Now I often wake up not even hungry and have a coffee and cream for breakfast. I usually eat twice a day but sometimes will have a cup of tea in the afternoon with my favourite choc and nut bar from Aldi (5.9g). I definitely enjoy my food more than ever. After 3 years I am only just becoming a little more adventurous in the kitchen. I have invested in Mrs Ps Low Carb Christmas ebook - behind this is a lovely lady called Emma Porter, herself diabetic (type 1) who follows a low carb way of eating for its health benefits. More info on 'thelowcarbkitchen.co.uk
I invested in many books on diabetes (mainly because I was giving talks/presentations prior to covid) and 2 of the best cookery wise are:
The Diabetes Weight-Loss Cookbook
The Reverse Your Diabetes Cookbook
Both books Dr Unwin has had input and include lots of info, infographs as well as recipes
Other books I would recommend are:
The Diabetes Code - Dr Jason Fung (Lots of info and quite in depth)
The 21 Day Immunity Plan - Dr Aseem Malhotra (easy to read, shorter and concise)
There are so many health benefits to low carb as you can see from many forum members signature panels. Not just better blood sugar control or weight loss but blood pressure, cholesterol, appetite reduction, less sugar cravings, fewer migraines, skin conditions, IBS, heartburn and many many more. Incidentally, my t2d symptoms disappeared within a few days of going low carb. So much so that I cancelled the endoscopy that the dr had arranged. I haven't had heartburn since. Even my skin tags have gone (can be a sign of insulin resistance).
The diabetes guidelines prior to @1980 were in fact low carb healthy fat (I have copies of many from all different years) They changed when fat was wrongly alienated. People became frightened to eat it in a way. I had to read a lot into it at the beginning to reassure myself that what I was going to be eating wasn't going to do me more harm than good. Once I realised it wasn't I felt happier.
Ivor Cummins I find is great where this is concerned - lots of videos on YouTube
Here on the Forum @bulkbiker started a great thread:
I've shared my journey with anyone who will listen in the hope of raising awareness. Newspapers, magazines, radio, even TV sitting with Holly and Phil on This Morning (I can't tell you how nervous I was, couldn't even speak to my hubby the night before, but I thought if it helps get the word out). Many on this forum have done exactly the same. It's definitely a team effort. But 3 years on I feel frustration that even though so many of us are crying out for change, patients and health care professionals, yet little has changed, despite having CGM monitors which are real game changers. You can instantly see the effect food has on blood sugars. Many non diabetics are trying them too. Just 14 days (one sensor) will tell the user so much. I rarely finger prick these days as I use a Libre Sensor CGM all the time. I don't really need to as I'm type 2 and not on medication but I still love to see the daily graphs. I know how the food I eat effects me (I'm quite boring with regard to the food I eat), but I'm just quite attached to it now. Literally! I also buy a1cnow tests and test with these occasionally. Before using a CGM I found finger pricking plus inputting results in Mysugr gave me a very good projection (the more finger pricks during the day the more accurate).
I joined my surgery Patient Participation Group (PPG). My surgery, especially the practice manager and diabetic team, has been amazing. They have taken on board low carb and helped me produce a handout leaflet for any patients interested. They also provide me with a room for pt to pt support sessions, 5 local surgeries can access. (Currently on hold due to Covid). And so much more.
It's so good to see other surgeries starting to advocate low carb as an option. This is one of the best sites I have come across, packed with info, even a 4 weekly meal planner.
EXERCISE IS DEFINITELY BENEFICIAL
Exercise isn't something I have enjoyed although I absolutely love a long scenic walk. I am fortunate to live by the sea and have a beautiful promenade. I try to get one in every day but many days don't succeed. I'm a bit of a keyboard warrior on Twitter, it's not healthy in more ways than one! When I do have a walk my CGM tells me that it has been good in lowering blood sugars. I can feel a New Year resolution coming on.
SO MANY PEOPLE TO THANK
Firstly my amazing husband - Eric - superstar
If he had 1p for every time I've mentioned the word diabetes since the start of my journey he would be a multi millionaire.
He isn't diabetic but has himself lowered his carbs. He does still have bread occasionally but no pasta, rice and rarely potatoes. And certainly no breakfast cocktails as he used to. A big bowl of about 3 different cereals before he went to work. He loves a full fat Greek yoghurt with keto muesli nowadays, or smocked/peppered/piri piri mackerel, or eggs of some sort.
Over the first 18 months he lost 21lbs. He avoided going on a 2nd BP medication and is hoping to eventually come off all together. He wore a CGM from 6th Jan this year, he went keto (under threat of 2nd BP med). It was amazing to see the results. When Eric has a carby day and we test his BP we know it will be raised so definitely a link here.
DCUK FORUM MEMBERS
How blessed was I to find DCUK and so many people who give their time to help and support others on their journey, whether it be the beginning, or any other point. Someone is always there to help and guide. Or just listen. They really don't get the recognition they deserve, especially the mods who have a very tough job. And incredibly manage to fit everything in in their own busy and I would imagine sometimes challenging lives.
There really are too many to mention here. So many have helped me in one way or another but I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone for everything.
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