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Fatima's story: eating healthier helped me go into remission

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Fatima Nurmohamed

Diagnosed in 2009.

When I went into remission, I was so happy. They tell you you’re never ‘cured’. You’re in remission, because your diabetes can come back at any time.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Fatima worked hard to change her eating habits and increase her activity levels. Now after losing nearly three stone and putting her diabetes into remission, she volunteers as one of our Community Champions, raising awareness of diabetes and Diabetes UK in her local community.

Diagnosis

Leading up to my diagnosis

I’d been diagnosed as having borderline diabetes and then, about 10 years ago, the doctor said my sugar levels were too high and I now had diabetes. I’m the sort of person where, if you tell me I have something, I just take it. Some people would be upset. 

I had no symptoms. I thought I felt healthy, but I was eating too much and I was heavy. I weighed nearly 11 stone. I used to get tired when I was walking or doing my work.

Food and healthy eating

Diet, nutrition and active living

My work used to be office-based, sitting on the computer all day. After I was diagnosed with diabetes, every time I went to the doctor he’d say, ‘you need to lose weight.’ I thought to myself, ‘that is not possible, because I can never lose weight. I live to eat.’

I joined the gym and that didn’t last. I’d go for a month, but then I’d lose enthusiasm for it. But one day in 2015, I woke up in the morning and thought, ‘I’m going to change.’ When I have that determination, there’s no stopping me. I’m a computer person, so I went online and found a programme called MyFitnessPal, which was free to download. After inserting all my details about my age, height and how active I was, the app worked out I had to consume only 1,200 calories a day. Entering each and every item I ate, I found that some of the stuff I was eating was extremely calorific, and it didn’t fill me up at all! 

I didn’t follow any particular diet, but I started eating smaller portions. If I wasn’t full afterwards, I still wouldn’t take another portion. I’d eat some nuts to fill me up instead. Around the same time, I started walking a bit. I’d never been very active. It was always work, come home, too tired, eat, sit down. That was it.

My weight started going down gradually, half a stone at a time. My sugar levels were coming down, too. I felt so much better. I was more active, less tired. I could take my grandchildren to the park and play with them. In the past I’d walk up the road and get breathless. Now I could walk everywhere. I have a car, but I also have a pass that gives me free travel. My kids couldn’t understand why I was suddenly taking public transport everywhere, but I explained that I needed to take the bus so that I could walk to the bus stop. 

In late 2018, I went into remission. I was so happy.

Diabetes UK and me

Getting involved with the community

My GP surgery runs a walking group and through that, I met a lady called Priya, who works at Diabetes UK. She asked if I wanted to become a Community Champion – a volunteer who raises awareness of diabetes in their local community. I did a two-day course where I learned how many people in the UK are affected by diabetes, and that there are a number of people are high risk of diabetes but are not aware of it. We did a session on food focused on Asian and West Indian food, educating us about many calories our food contained. 

In Summer ‘19, we introduced a walking programme at our mosque. Our OAPs get together once a week and, now, we go for a gentle stroll – just to get people up from their chairs. We also held a “Know Your Risk” session with the help of Diabetes UK, to help raise awareness. At the session, nearly 90 ladies took part. Of those, 75% discovered they were at high risk of Type 2 diabetes and another 10% at medium risk. They were advised to visit their GP for a blood test.

 

Supporting others

When I talk to people who are worried about diabetes, I tell them to stop eating sugar. You can’t tell them to stop everything completely, because then they don’t want to know you. If they say they like to eat toast every day, I tell them just to eat it at the weekend. Have some crackers during the week instead.

In our community, we eat a lot of rice, so I tell people to change to brown rice. If they say they don’t like the look of it, I suggest stirring in some turmeric powder to turn it yellow. Then it doesn’t look that bad! Some of them have followed my advice and tell me they’ve lost weight. My target when I started was one pound a week.

 

Biggest challenge?

Food was my biggest challenge! Exercise was a big challenge too, because I wasn’t a big walker. Now, I walk every day and I’m doing a 10-mile charity walk for Diabetes UK.

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