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DiRECT and being in remission has been life-changing: Kieran's story

"I'm so grateful for what being healthy has given me the opportunity to do."

In September 2013, I was in hospital with kidney stones when type 2 diabetes was picked up in blood tests. I felt shocked and numb when I was diagnosed. I was struggling with a few health issues at the time and this was another thing to get my head around. 

I was told to manage the condition by changing my diet and activity. I started off with good intentions, but I'd lived on fizzy pop and junk food for years and the only exercise I did was occasionally running around the garden with my kids. I soon lost motivation and needed something drastic to pull me out.  

Starting the DiRECT trial

The following year, my diabetes nurse said a researcher, Professor Roy Taylor, was looking for people with type 2 diabetes to take part in a study to help people put their type 2 into remission. Roy explained it involved following a diet of 800-calories a day, made up of soups and shakes, for between 8-20 weeks. It sounded horrible, but I realised I was being given a chance to reset my life and my health, and it was a no-brainer to do something about it. 

I started the DiRECT trial in September 2014. I completely cut out normal food and did the low-calorie, meal replacement phase for around 16 weeks. The first 7 weeks were horrendous. I slept an awful lot and separated myself from my family when they ate. Then my body just kicked into gear and I saw the benefits, which changed my mindset.

I can't believe how long I've been in remission for

After four months on the low-calorie diet, I'd lost 3st 7lb (22kg). At the end of my first year on the study in 2015, Roy told me that my blood sugar levels were in the normal range and that I'd put my type 2 diabetes into remission. It was such a relief. 

When I was asked to take part in the DiRECT extension study - and carry on having appointments at my GP surgery to help support me to keep the weight off for another three years - I was really happy to. I just carried on living the way I had been and if I could provide the researchers with more data to track if I could stay in remission for the long-term, then great. 

Eight years on, I'm still in remission and not on any diabetes medication. I can't quite believe how long it has been. My weight has gone up slightly, but I'm no way near where I was. 

DiRECT was a 'Control-Alt-Delete' moment for me, I saw it as an opportunity to reboot the way I was living. It has completely changed the way I think and eat. I don't deny myself, but I listen to my body now. If it tells me that I'm feeling full, I do something about it, I don't plough on regardless. 

The study has been positive for my family too. By supporting me they're healthier because of the changes we made in the house, so there are these ripple effects.

I don't worry about that now

I think things would be hugely different if I hadn't taken part in DiRECT. From conservations I'd had with my doctors before the trial, I know I was on a slippery slope and walking into all sorts of health problems. And that would have put limits on everything I could do and plans for my future. I don't have to worry about that now. My oldest son is almost 18 years old and my youngest is 16, and I've had the chance to enjoy doing stuff as a family over the past 8 years that I probably wouldn't have been able to otherwise. 

DiRECT has 100% been life-changing. Those few months on the low-calorie diet were hard, but I'd do it again no question. I'm so grateful for what being healthy and has given me the opportunity to do. It's amazing that what I went through all those years ago is still benefitting me today.

And if by taking part, it has given other people in the same position the chance to live healthier, happier lives, then I'm happy. 

Find out more about our DiRECT research into a low-calorie diet and remission.


Research like this is helping us create a world where diabetes can do no harm.

But our scientists across the UK aren't finished. And it’s only with your help that we can push ahead with ground-breaking research. Will you donate today and help us lead the fight against diabetes?

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