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Doing my best to beat prediabetes — Mala's story



"Now the diabetes prevention course has finished, my regular check ins and phone calls have stopped. And I’ve felt like there’s no one to keep me on track."

Mala was diagnosed with prediabetes just as lockdown was easing in April 2021. And a few months before her wedding.



It was quite a shock to find out I had prediabetes. I’d had a blood test at the GP and then got sent a text saying “you’re prediabetic, you’ve been referred to the diabetes prevention programme".

I’d been tested before, but the results had always been negative. 

When I found out I had prediabetes I was working at Diabetes UK, actually on the charity's website page about the Healthier You National Diabetes Prevention Programme! And the first thing I felt was embarrassment I’d got myself into that situation, although I tried to see it as a positive make-a-change call. 

Our family is from South Asia (the Indian state of Gujarat) so I knew about the risk of type 2 diabetes. But I hadn’t thought it was that high. After I was told I had prediabetes, I found out that quite a few relations in my family have type 2 diabetes.

Lockdown lifestyle

I’d got into a bit of a rut during lockdown. I think I’d got up to around 65kg (10 stone) and I hadn’t weighed that much before. Just that change from being really active. I wasn’t doing a lot of exercise before but I was moving lots. I’d gone from a daily commute with a school pick up and working full time and rushing around to just being at home. 

Maybe there was a bit of depression there as well. Feeling quite isolated and then work being very busy and comfort eating. I was going through the perimenopause. My periods had become less frequent and it was affecting my memory and moods. And it was hard to say if the emotional things were due to lockdown or the menopause.  

And like most people we increased the amount of alcohol we were having during lockdown from one or two nights a week to most nights.



Lifestyle advice

I was put on the 10 month Healthier You National Diabetes Prevention Programme. You join an online call initially fortnightly and then monthly and they give you dietary advice and advice on how much exercise you should be doing.

There were about 40 of us to start with, but by the end there were about 10. Some people were confident straight away and others were still struggling and I was somewhere in the middle. 


You’d get a call from the person doing the session on the day to ask you for your weight. This was good for motivation, as I was quite conscious we were working to lose weight. If you had to say you’d put on weight, you wouldn’t feel good. And I’d read into their reactions. Sometimes it was ‘wow, that’s great’. Sometimes it was not so much. 

My BMI was a bit high. And my husband Adrian got me scales linked to an app that tells you your BMI using a traffic light system if you’re a bit high. 

A big motivation was I knew I was getting married and I wanted to feel better for that. 

I definitely knew I didn’t want type 2 diabetes knowing what the complications can be.

One of the most helpful things in the course was understanding diabetes and how it affects your whole body and how exercise helps. I’d started going to the gym a couple of times a week and walking when I could at lunchtime, as well as a 20-minute walk to and from school with my son.

Food and healthy eating

Healthier meals

I’m a big believer in one meal for everyone! So one change I made was to make our meals healthier. I changed everything to wholegrain: rice, bread and pasta. And when my husband was cooking, I asked him to give me smaller portions. 

And I'd swap to healthier things. For lunch instead of soup and lots of toast, I’d have avocado on whole grain toast and scrambled egg and salad on the side. And I had porridge instead of granola for breakfast. And I stopped having honey with things. And I’d have healthier snacks like yoghurt and passion fruit and not the ‘healthy biscuits’ I started eating in lockdown! And we reduced alcohol to one or two nights again. 

One of the things they kept saying on the course was “don’t eat the same things every day! I find that quite hard. You don’t want to spend too much on different berries and things so they don’t go to waste. 

I have a sweet tooth like my husband. But although he and my son still have their sweet treats, I’ll usually have something healthier. 

Life with diabetes

Trying to stay on track

After I’d finished the prevention course, I was referred back to the GP to have another test for prediabetes. I found out I was out of the prediabetic range. And I was really pleased and my husband was really pleased, so it felt like a big achievement. But maintaining it afterwards I’ve found quite difficult. 

The doctor told me I was only just out of the prediabetic range, so I still had to be really careful. 

And now the prevention course has finished, my regular check ins and phone calls have stopped, I’ve felt like there’s no one to keep me on track. There isn’t that motivation in getting a good result in my weight each month. 

And I’m finding the gym quite hard to keep up with as I don’t have the car as much as I used to so I can’t get to the half-hour lunchtime exercise classes that I used to enjoy. And my weight has started to go up again.

Finding the time for the classes is hard as there’s no time in the evening. My son gets picked up from after school club, then it’s homework, dinner, bedtime, a little bit of time for us to relax before we start all over again.

I’ve only just recently told my mum about being at risk of type 2 diabetes. I wanted to get my blood sugar levels back to a normal range before I told her. I didn’t want her to worry. Now that I feel like there’s always going to be that risk it was important to tell her. Perhaps she’ll stop putting butter on my chapatis now!

If you want help to make lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes, our trained advisors on our helpline are here to support you. Call 0345 123 2399. 

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