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Newly diagnosed pensioner

Discussion in 'Newly Diagnosed' started by misterjohn, Dec 20, 2018.

  1. misterjohn

    misterjohn · Member

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    Hello everyone.

    I’m a newly diagnosed pensioner. I’ve been hovering in the pre-diabetic spectrum for three or four years.... but now, according to two HbA1c tests (taken a month apart), I have just crept into the diabetic part of the spectrum. I have a meeting with the Diabetic Specialist Nurse after Christmas (but before the new year).

    The initial reaction I had to the diagnosis was not shock.... because I had been classed as pre-diabetic for three or four years. I was quite low for a day or two. I put my situation down to relaxing an iron grip on my diet; for three months I had dropped my self-imposed embargo on bread, cakes, biscuits and crisps. Not having exercised much also didn’t help either (I normally cycle a couple of days a week).

    My current concerns are as follows:

    1). The measurement of blood sugar.

    I have been measured on the haemoglobyn scale. The result print-outs quote measurements on this scale, viz. 41 > 47 mmol is prediabetic; 48 mmol and above is diabetic.

    However, the measurements I see on this forum (and the measurements my diabetic friend quotes) seem to be on a different scale altogether, viz. 4.5 mmol to 8.5 mmol.

    My personal initial diabetic measurement is way, way off this scale. I was diagnosed as 50 mmol and confirmed as diabetic with 51mmol a month later (according to WHO guidelines).

    Should I therefore be dead??!! Can I make it to the New Year?

    Nowhere can I find a simple, clear explanation of these scales.

    2). I am a single, elderly male.

    Now, though I say it myself, I think I am in pretty good condition, viz. I am not overweight. I’m tall, mobile, etc.

    So, I’m thinking that maybe my situation is worse than the average (since, rightly or wrongly, I associate diabetes generally with being overweight and being inactive... and that a successful prognosis would involve cutting down on food in some way ... and exercising more).

    Since I don’t eat a huge amount.... and I’m not overweight, should I be worried more than the average newly-diagnosed diabetic?

    3). Finally, being elderly, male, and single.... and still working, albeit part-time on a voluntary basis in a demanding job, it may be no surprise to learn that I can’t cook. I live on TV dinners.... or frozen meals that I heat up in the evening. I also eat out at a very cheap café (no fried food, no fast food..... just plain cooking).

    I am not a big food fan. I think that time spent in choosing menus, preparing food, cooking food, entertaining with meals (in short, everything connected with the popular trend for TV cooking shows, TV chefs, etc) is time utterly misspent and wasted. I know this is not, by any stretch, a popular view...... I rarely find anyone who agrees with me. But I put it like this: I don’t imagine anyone on their deathbed saying “Oh, I wish I’d eaten a greater variety of pizza”, or “I wish I’d learnt how to cook meals with cuscus.” (Likewise, I don’t imagine anyone expressing regret at not having studied Ancient Greek hard enough).

    My point: do I now have to reverse a lifetime lifestyle of minimising the importance of food in my life? Do I have to become interested in cooking, in menus, in preparation? Or is there an effective short-cut (a brand which, for example, provides ready meals for diabetics)?

    I get that I will have to change my diet. I’ve already banished bread (I LOVE toast), crisps (I LOVE Pringles), biscuits, cakes, puddings (of any sort), sweets of any kind... I am sharply cutting down on potatoes and rice. I get that I will have to exercise more (I’ve enrolled at the local gym.... and swimming pool).

    But do I have to get swept up in the minutiae of meal preparation? home cooking? etc.

    Thank you for reading this.
  2. Rachox

    Rachox Type 2 (in remission!) · Moderator
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    Hi mister john and welcome to the Forum. First I’ll tag in @daisy1 for her useful info post.
    Next let’s clear up the different blood tests for you. The diagnostic test called HbA1c is the 50 and 51mmol/mol you have received, it’s a clever test which averages the excess glucose stuck to your red blood cells over about 3 months, that’s the lifetime of red blood cells. The other reading the 4.5 to 8.5mmol/l quoted by your friend are finger prick tests that measure your blood sugar at that moment in time.
    I would suggest lowering your carbs by cutting out the obvious culprits as you have already started to do, cereals, bread, rice, potatoes, cakes, biscuits, crisps etc. To stop you feeling hungry and to prevent weight loss as you aren’t overweight you need to up your fat intake. You can keep it simple, how does eggs, mushrooms and bacon sound? Beware of foods labelled ‘Diabetic’, they are overpriced and only have reduced sugar, not reduced carbs.
    A meter to monitor your response to different foods will help you immensely.
    Oh and btw your readings of 50 and 51 aren’t too dreadful so you’ll make it to New Year! ;)

    Edit to add that HbA1c used to be quoted as a percentage in the UK, some countries still use percentages.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    #2 Rachox, Dec 21, 2018 at 12:00 AM
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
  3. Resurgam

    Resurgam Type 2 (in remission!) · Expert

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    I think you are a little confused between the test for Hba1c, which is the diagnostic one, and over 48 is diabetic, and the testing for the actual blood glucose level in mmol/l, which is the 4. 5. 6. ans 7 numbers though sometimes higher
    You are actually only slightly over the diagnostic level, so, I would advise that you reduce your carbs - if you have been overdoing them recently - perhaps select the ones you feel that you really wish to eat, BUT - eliminate the ones you can do without and restrict the ones you continue to eat.
    I would advise trying your hand at a few home cooked meals - the cookery programs on TV are indeed a waste of time as they are all aimed at the wrong way of eating.
    There is little harm in eating a stir fry of low carb veges - for instance, sweet peppers, mushrooms and courgettes, which is a very easy fix. Wash and slice the courgettes, wash the mushrooms and pull out the stalks - the only bit to throw away is the stalk end of the courgette. The sweet pepper has seeds in the middle, so I slice it in half and pull out the middle and the stalk, then cut it into slices. Have a frying pan on low heat and put in a couple of tablespoons of light olive oil, add the veges and allow them to cook slowly. If you have a lid for the pan it keeps in the flavours more, and you can pick up the pan, hold the lid down and shake to turn the veges over. You can either use a perforated spoon or a wide spatula to move the veges onto a warm plate once they are done, or use a separate pan to cook some eggs, fried, scrambled or maybe sausages, or bacon, or even all three- no preparation required, just put into the pan and heat. You might need help with the timing, but you can keep things warm in the oven on a low setting if you need to have them wait.
    You might be surprised at just how easy it is to make a meal which will not raise your blood glucose levels.
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  4. daisy1

    daisy1 Type 2 · Legend
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    Hello and welcome to the Forum :) Here is the Basic Information we give to new members and I hope you will find it interesting and useful.


    Diabetes is the general term to describe people who have blood that is sweeter than normal. A number of different types of diabetes exist.

    A diagnosis of diabetes tends to be a big shock for most of us. It’s far from the end of the world though and on this forum you'll find well over 235,000 people who are demonstrating this.

    On the forum we have found that with the number of new people being diagnosed with diabetes each day, sometimes the NHS is not being able to give all the advice it would perhaps like to deliver - particularly with regards to people with type 2 diabetes.

    The role of carbohydrate

    Carbohydrates are a factor in diabetes because they ultimately break down into sugar (glucose) within our blood. We then need enough insulin to either convert the blood sugar into energy for our body, or to store the blood sugar as body fat.

    If the amount of carbohydrate we take in is more than our body’s own (or injected) insulin can cope with, then our blood sugar will rise.

    The bad news

    Research indicates that raised blood sugar levels over a period of years can lead to organ damage, commonly referred to as diabetic complications.

    The good news

    People on the forum here have shown that there is plenty of opportunity to keep blood sugar levels from going too high. It’s a daily task but it’s within our reach and it’s well worth the effort.

    Controlling your carbs

    The info below is primarily aimed at people with type 2 diabetes, however, it may also be of benefit for other types of diabetes as well.

    There are two approaches to controlling your carbs:
    • Reduce your carbohydrate intake
    • Choose ‘better’ carbohydrates
    Reduce your carbohydrates

    A large number of people on this forum have chosen to reduce the amount of carbohydrates they eat as they have found this to be an effective way of improving (lowering) their blood sugar levels.

    The carbohydrates which tend to have the most pronounced effect on blood sugar levels tend to be starchy carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread, potatoes and similar root vegetables, flour based products (pastry, cakes, biscuits, battered food etc) and certain fruits.

    Choosing better carbohydrates

    The low glycaemic index diet is often favoured by healthcare professionals but some people with diabetes find that low GI does not help their blood sugar enough and may wish to cut out these foods altogether.

    Read more on carbohydrates and diabetes.

    Over 145,000 people have taken part in the Low Carb Program - a 10 week structured education course that is helping people lose weight and reduce medication dependency by explaining the science behind carbs, insulin and GI.

    Eating what works for you

    Different people respond differently to different types of food. What works for one person may not work so well for another. The best way to see which foods are working for you is to test your blood sugar with a glucose meter.

    To be able to see what effect a particular type of food or meal has on your blood sugar is to do a test before the meal and then test after the meal. A test 2 hours after the meal gives a good idea of how your body has reacted to the meal.

    The blood sugar ranges recommended by NICE are as follows:

    Blood glucose ranges for type 2 diabetes
    • Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/l
    • 2 hours after meals: under 8.5 mmol/l
    Blood glucose ranges for type 1 diabetes (adults)
    • Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/l
    • 2 hours after meals: under 9 mmol/l
    Blood glucose ranges for type 1 diabetes (children)
    • Before meals: 4 to 8 mmol/l
    • 2 hours after meals: under 10 mmol/l
    However, those that are able to, may wish to keep blood sugar levels below the NICE after meal targets.

    Access to blood glucose test strips

    The NICE guidelines suggest that people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should be offered:
    • structured education to every person and/or their carer at and around the time of diagnosis, with annual reinforcement and review
    • self-monitoring of plasma glucose to a person newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes only as an integral part of his or her self-management education

    Therefore both structured education and self-monitoring of blood glucose should be offered to people with type 2 diabetes. Read more on getting access to blood glucose testing supplies.

    You may also be interested to read questions to ask at a diabetic clinic.

    Note: This post has been edited from Sue/Ken's post to include up to date information.
    Take part in Diabetes.co.uk digital education programs and improve your understanding. Most of these are free.

    • Low Carb Program - it's made front-page news of the New Scientist and The Times. Developed with 20,000 people with type 2 diabetes; 96% of people who take part recommend it... find out why

    • Hypo Program - improve your understanding of hypos. There's a version for people with diabetes, parents/guardians of children with type 1, children with type 1 diabetes, teachers and HCPs.
  5. JoKalsbeek

    JoKalsbeek Type 2 (in remission!) · Well-Known Member

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    Hi, and welcome!
    As others pointed out, there's 2 different tests, and they use different measurements. So no, you shouldn't be dead. Actually, at 50, you're doing way better than a lot of us were at diagnosis. Some have hit double your number when they were diagnosed, and got their diabetes under excellent control, so you certainly have a good chance here. Not on death's door just yet! Just find it odd that if you already knew about the prediabetes, nothing much was done to keep you from actually becoming diabetic. Ah well, water under the bridge and all. You're at this point now and ready to tackle it.

    Do you have to turn into a kitchen princess? Nah... (I know I hate to cook, and I've quit baking entirely!) While it's good to make meals from scratch, you don't have to don a chef's hat or anything. You already know to cut the carbs; practically all carbs turn to glucose, after all. So no potatoes, pasta, bread, fruit (save for berries, avocado and tomatoes), rice and cereal. Besides the obvious straight sugars.

    For me, making a meal goes rather quickly, because I am very impatient for one thing, and hate being in the kitchen doing kitcheny stuff. So... Eggs with bacon, cheese, mushrooms or tomatoes, high meat content sausages, that sort of thing... Easy enough to toss in a frying pan, takes about 5 minutes. Or an omelet with unwhipped, unsweetened cream, cinnamon, a sweetener (erythitol), with some extra cream on top and berries and coconut shavings on the side. Sometimes sprinkle some cocoa powder on if i'm feeling fancy. Salads? Just a bag of salad mix, open a can of tuna, drain most of the oil out (not brine!), throw in some olives, capers,mayo and avocado (I always have it from the frozen section because I can't for the life of me get a "right" fresh one). Or whatever tickles your fancy. It's just getting stuff from packagings and throwing it in a bowl, really. No actual cooking required. In the evening I'll have meat or fish with cauliflower rice or broccoli rice. With the pseudo-rice I throw in grated cheese and bacon, to make it extra filling, but the rice itself would only need 2 minutes or so to be done. It's not a whole lot of work, but the longest I take in prep-time. For snacks, I have olives, cheese, extra dark chocolate (85% Lindt is good!), nuts, whatever. And if you're out and about and you don't want to go for a steak dinner (which you can, just tell them to add extra veggies or salad and leave the potatoes), just go to a burger place and tell them to hold the bun. Without a bun it's about 5 grams of carbs (meat, tomatoes, sause, lettuce, bacon etc), with the bun it's between 30 and 40 grams of carbs. And really, who needs that sponge anyway?

    Do you need to revise how you view food? Yeah.... But you don't have to qualify for the next Master Chef or Great British Bake Off. ;)
    Again, welcome,
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    #5 JoKalsbeek, Dec 21, 2018 at 8:38 AM
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2018
  6. Prem51

    Prem51 Type 2 · Expert

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    Welcome to the forum @misterjohn. Unless you get electrocuted by fairy lights on the Christmas tree or a similar seasonal hazard you should make it to the New Year and for many more New Years.
    Your diagnosis readings of 50/51 aren't too high. There are different scales used, the 50/51 would be on theHbA1c (IFCC) scale which is generally used in the UK. On that below 42 is non-diabetic, 42-47 is pre-diabetic, and 48 and above is diabetic.
    You should be given a retest after 3 months. Many on here with higher diagnosis readings have reduced their blood glucose to pre-diabetic or non-diabetic levels by their 3 month retest, by changing what they eat.

    As to cooking, I am like you. I regard food as mainly just fuel to keep me going. I'm not interested in spending time on it.
    There are quick low carb meals - I am having sea bream and 'green rice' tonight. The fish just needs a few minutes in frying pan and the 'green rice' (from Iceland) is in pouches which takes 3 minutes in microwave.
    Some processed ready meals are low carb. You need to check the total carb content on the nutrition list on the packaging. I try to go for ready meals that are less than 40gms of carbs. M&S do seem to do many of these.
    There are suggestions for low carb foods on the forum, many of which are quite quick to prepare.
    If you can't do without bread/toast go the lowest carb content. Burgen Soya & Linseed is the lowest widely available in most big supermarkets.

    Have a read round the forum and ask any questions you want to, the people on here are friendly and supportive.
  7. Debandez

    Debandez Type 2 (in remission!) · Well-Known Member

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    I'm a non chef/ cook too. I've managed to get from hba1c of 62 to non diabetic 39 without spending so much time in the kitchen. Eggs are a winner for breakfast. Fridge to face in less than 5 minutes. Full fat Greek yoghurt with a few berries thrown in. Kippers (from Iceland £1 a pack and about 5 mins in microwave) or a continental breakfast of cheese ham salami. Lunch a pre prepared salad with tuna, ham, cheese, chicken. And meat and veg for dinner. Spag bol wirh green beans instead of pasta. Use cauli rice instead of rice (4 packs microwaveable from Iceland £2). You can still eat out. I do it regularly. Just make good low carb choices, no potatoes, rice, pasta or bread where possible. Or very little if you can't cut out completely. I'm 12 months down the line and I've come over all peculiar in that im getting the urge to cook! And even bake! Just goes to show you never know what's around the corner in life.
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  8. Dexterdobe

    Dexterdobe Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    You have posted in this forum and shown that you want to get your blood glucose under control. Not many newly diagnosed people do that, so I'm confident you will succeed. As others have said your blood sugar level isn't too high, so action now should help you avoid the hideous side effects of our disease. Any reduction in sugary and carb foods consumed will get your Hba1c results down. A major reduction should get you back into normal levels. I have cut out all the worst carb foods. Bread, pasta potatoes rice etc and my HBA1C fell from 53 to 40 in four months. Good luck to you, and remember, beating Type 2 is a marathon not a sprint. It takes time and commitment.
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  9. rhubarb73

    rhubarb73 Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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  10. jjraak

    jjraak Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    While i see a lot of serious content i think some is tongue in cheek, and i think, we survive better with a sense of humour to almost any occasion.

    Was pretty handy with a frying pan and the odd oven dish, but the T2D came as a shock and rattled me as well, particularly where foods where concerned.

    All great advice re the MMOL/HBA1c scoring.

    So let me hit the food front instead.

    I think sadly you will need to have some knowledge and ability...others may disagree, so be it.

    BUT i think much of it CAN be simple.

    Eggs, bacon, chicken, meats, and some sausages..all ok...but need cooking or buying cooked in cafes etc.
    BUT you'll need veg..and some fruit.

    For me, if it's not poached eggs or egg and bacon..then my Go To FAST FOOD is..
    Greek Yoghurt..with blueberries.

    3 large tablespoons and 10 berries, sees me snacking in minutes, then able RUN to the train station, and NOT be hungry until over 4 hours later.

    Not every one has one, but we have a Cottage chicken takeaway near work, and i LOVE their 1/2 piece grilled chicken.
    a little salad from the supermarket, and i cut chicken that 1/2 into two..so i get two meals from it, and it doesn't spike me..(your mileage may vary)
    also done similar once i've found a good shop doing rotisserie chickens (£5 each) but DELICIOUS....i just cut into more pieces..
    supermarket salad, or some lettuce and tomatoes/onions, ready meal in minutes.

    For green veg..important to us Type 2's, my fav is broccoli.

    Cut broccoli florets down centre of stem..so floret has flat edge.
    Place in frying pan, fry gently in a little olive oil.3/4 mins
    CAREFULLY, splash on some SOY sauce, light is better.
    Then, again carefully, add a level of water to frying pan, don't cover florets, and let simmer away until florets are al dente (aka soft enough to chew/eat)
    serve with meat/fish of choice...we sometimes have as just snack on their own, so we cook more then needed, and save extra in fridge.

    a few simple changes, once i cut out potatoes, rice...and bread....(ok, ok.YES....i lied about the bread*..HAPPY !! )

    *But i am trying on the bread front..sourdough and ryvita don't seem to spike me so much..but it is only one or two a day.
    looking to try the breads spoken of earlier, though.

    As i said a few simple amendments and i'm giving the food a good go.
    in fact i probably eat better food all round now then i ever did.

    Good luck, and hope it all settles down and you find a routine YOU can live with.
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  11. misterjohn

    misterjohn · Member

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    Thanks to everyone who offered advice and comment on my posting.

    I have already started radical action on my lifestyle:

    1). GONE: bread (toast), crisps, biscuits, cakes, puddings, sweets, flavoured yoghurts
    2): REDUCED: portion sizes, potatoes, rice
    3): IN: Greek yoghurt, oily fish (mackerel), (quality) vegetable soups
    4): EXERCISE: cycling for 2x30-minute trips at least 3 days a week, gym membership activated (for access to swimming.... when the weather gets a little warmer)
    5): MONITORING: daily weight readings, daily blood pressure readings (entered in an app on my Android phone), purchase of Apple Watch 4 (at a 25% reduction by good fortune).

    I have had a briefing from the diabetic nurse at my (excellent) doctors’ practice. She is going to read my bloods tomorrow (and then in 3 months) and give me a foot inspection. She has not given me a blood testing meter (they are pretty cost-conscious at the local practice); she will supply one if I ask... or if it becomes necessary further down the road. No medication for the time being.

    My diagnosis coincides with the New Year.... hence it gives an added impulse to make the changes and get back my iron grip on my diet.... (I’m toying with the idea of creating a blog .... to cement further my resolve; but I well know that human beings really lack the power to make and sustain radical resolutions without the grace of God)...

    Once again, thanks to all who commented.....

    I found particular comfort and strength in the solidarity you showed me over the role of food/cooking in my life. So I will endeavour not to assume the role of (as someone put it) Kitchen Princess. I will remain one of the Ugly Sisters.
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  12. PenguinMum

    PenguinMum Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    @misterjohn can I strongly advise you get your own BG meter and strips and test at the start of eating and two hours later. That way you will know which foods suit or spike you. See Daisy’s informative message above. There are obvious culprits but some foods suit some and not others. Keep a list of those foods and you will soon build a bank of safe thongs to est. I compare not using a meter to crossing a busy road with a blindfold on. Good luck! The current low cost (btw the cost of testing strips is the main considerstion here) one thats popular is the Tee2. Sometimes you can get a free meter but the strips are more expensive.
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  13. PenguinMum

    PenguinMum Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Lol not safe thongs obs...safe things!
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  14. jjraak

    jjraak Type 2 · Well-Known Member

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    Like that..:D
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