A supermarket worker from Chirk has praised a dietitian-led programme for ‘changing her life’ and halting her journey to Type 2 Diabetes.
Pat Andrews, 58 had reached 15 stone, had knee problems and was on the verge of having to give up work because of the pain.
After years of being pre-Diabetic she was on the verge of developing Type 2 Diabetes like some other members of her family, when she was asked to take part in a Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board pilot scheme.
The VLCD diet (Very Low Calorie Diet) has been piloted with pre-Diabetic and Type 2 Diabetes patients in the Wrexham area.
The programme involves going on a short, intensive diet lasting for around 8 weeks and is led by dietitians and supported by Doctors. Participants have support from dietitians all the way through the process to make sure they stay on track.
Pat followed the strict diet, consuming a mixture of vegetable based recipes, calorie controlled meal replacement shakes and measured water intake.
Pat said, “I was really overweight and I couldn’t lose weight or control it. My health was going downhill and I was thinking about giving up my job because I was struggling to work. My knees were bad, I have hardly any cartilage left in between the bones and I would be hobbling round the shop in agony sometimes.
“I had been pre-diabetic for a few years. I was struggling, eating all the wrong foods. I ate far too much cake, biscuits and lots of sugary food. You think you are not eating too much but my portions were far too big. I’d have a big dinner every night and usually pudding and then sit down and snack in the evening. I was also snacking in work during the day.
“It’s a really tough programme but it has stopped me from becoming Diabetic. It was a bit unpleasant, the first week was the most difficult, but once I got past that, it wasn’t too bad.”
The programme is an intervention designed to help people get back on track with their weight and ‘reset’ their eating habits. With an average weight loss of around 10kg it is generally enough to return the blood glucose levels of participating patients to the normal range from the pre-Diabetes range.
Patients who already have Type 2 diabetes who participated in VLCD groups in the Wrexham area have seen either the reversal of their Type 2 Diabetes or have improved their Diabetes control and reduced their medication and symptoms.
Pat spoke of how the diet has transformed her health, changed the way she thinks about food and had a huge impact on her life.
She lost over 14 kilograms and nine inches from her waist and hips. She said, “It’s an awful lot and it was really noticeable. I was a size 20 and now I’m a 14 to 16.
“This programme has totally changed my outlook. I used to look at vegetables and think ‘oh yuck’. Things like carrots and peas taste sweet to me again. Because I was consuming so much sugar, they didn’t seem sweet compared to that.
“I’ve also become more active. I used to garden a lot but one hour of gardening would make me very tired, now I can do four hours or more and feel fine. I also bike everywhere and I can walk a lot more than I used to.
“Although the programme is just diet based I also joined a gym, I go twice a week and I do aqua aerobics and through this I have also made a whole bunch of new friends too.
“It has enormously changed my life, I was so miserable and depressed. Before, if I felt low, I’d head straight for the kitchen. I felt like I was getting into ‘old age’ mode and questioning how long I could continue working because of the pain in my knees.
“It’s made a huge difference to my mobility. I was seeing a knee specialist in Wrexham and I thought I needed a knee replacement but now at the moment I don’t think I need one because I’m not having much pain.
“I was at a point in my life where I felt I was ready for change, I had got divorced and my son had left to go to university and I felt like I needed to change but I couldn’t do it on my own. It’s the education that comes with it not just the diet that has helped and the dietitians have been brilliant.
“It’s difficult to get over wanting sugar but over time it gets a bit easier. I didn’t realise that Diabetes could be stopped and that I could reverse it. I’d read that once you were pre-Diabetic it was inevitable and just a matter of time before you became Diabetic but this just proves that it’s not the case.
“I do still eat the odd sugary snack but it’s not normal food for me now, it is a treat. I eat an awful lot more vegetables now too. I do eat meat too but not in the quantities I used to. I buy a lot more raw food and cook from scratch rather than processed food like pies. I check labels and I’m far more calorie conscious.”
All adults are encouraged to understand their blood glucose reading as swift action can stop progression to Type 2 Diabetes. Speak to your GP or Practice Nurse for more information.
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