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Managing diabetes 2020

Type 2 diabetes: making changes for good

The UK is facing a diabetes crisis. In the last 20 years, the number of people living with diabetes has doubled; today there are 4.6 million people with the condition. Of these cases, around 90% are living with Type 2 diabetes.

Dan Howarth

Head of Care, Diabetes UK  

Pictured above: scroll down to read Shivali Modha’s journey to putting her diabetes into remission

Type 2 diabetes has many risk factors, including family history, age and ethnicity. But weight can also be a major contributing factor for some, with those carrying extra weight or with obesity having an increased risk of developing the condition.

Just like any other type of diabetes, type 2 diabetes is a serious condition, which can lead to devastating consequences such as amputations, eyesight loss, heart attack or stroke

However, it doesn’t have to be like this. If managed well, you can live a healthy life and prevent complications.

Although no two people with diabetes are the same, adopting a healthier diet, increasing exercise

and getting support to lose weight (if needed), and stopping smoking can truly make a difference.

It can significantly improve your diabetes management, lower you blood glucose levels and reduce your risk of complications.

Find out what works best for you and you only

You’re more likely to be successful with lifestyle changes if you find things you can stick to in the long run.

Starting with something as small as switching soft drinks for water or cooking more meals from scratch could help create healthier habits.

In turn, this may have positive effects on how you’ll then view the bigger shift to a healthier lifestyle and how likely you’ll be to maintain it.

Aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week will raise your heart rate, make you breathe faster and feel warmer.

You should still be able to talk and only be slightly out of breath. And you don’t have to do all 150 minutes in one go. You can break it down into bite-size chunks of 10 minutes throughout the week.

If you live with type 2 diabetes and carry extra weight, losing a significant amount of weight could put your condition into remission, as research trials such as DiRECT have shown. This can be life changing.

It’s vital, however, that before making any changes, you check in with your diabetes healthcare team and ensure your new diet is balanced, and that your diabetes medication is adjusted if necessary.

A life-long struggle with diabetes with an unexpected surprise

Shivali Modha, 38, mum of two, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008. Shivali spent years battling with feelings of shame and stigma associated with diabetes, combined with unhealthy eating habits and a lack of physical activity.

“For years after my diagnosis I carried on battling with food, battling with life, with having to manage my diabetes and the emotional roller coaster that comes with that – all while working full-time,” Shivali recalls.

“My medication was gradually increased, and I was feeling under pressure to deal with my diabetes. However, one day, my father-in-law decided to lose weight to raise money for charity and I decided to join him.

It was not easy at all. For years, I had struggled and had flitted between following all sorts of diets, so I was convinced it wouldn’t work and that diabetes was not easy to manage or beat. But I did.”

“I started small by adopting the basic rule of having half a plate of salad or vegetables, a quarter plate of protein and a quarter plate of complex carbs at every meal. My life changed in ways I couldn’t imagine, and all the effort paid off.

“By eating healthier foods and losing weight, I have put my diabetes into remission. I know this won’t work for everyone and that type 2 diabetes is certainly not always related to lifestyle, but if you’re carrying extra weight, it is worth trying.

“I now feel incredibly lucky to have had my daughters watch their mummy change her life and offer that example to them and other young women.”

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