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How taking part in the Diabetes Prevention Programme benefited me: Meera's story

Meera stands looking out at a lake


I am realistic about the fact I could develop diabetes, but now I have the feeling that I can change that – I have the power to do something about it.

Meera was told she was at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in 2020, after her GP carried out some routine blood tests. She decided to join the Diabetes Prevention Programme to not only lower her risk, but also improve her overall wellbeing. 



I have a family history of type 2 diabetes; both my maternal grandparents had diabetes, my mum has been living with diabetes for over 25 years, and my dad was diagnosed about 15 years ago. I had been feeling unwell for a couple of months – it felt like I had flu all the time, my body ached, and I was constantly tired. In the end I decided to make an appointment to see my GP and get things checked. I didn’t know what it was and to be honest I didn’t suspect diabetes.

The GP arranged for me to have some blood tests, which showed I was deficient in Vitamin D. However, it also showed that my blood sugar levels had just crept into the prediabetes range.

"I thought that eventually diabetes might be something I would need to worry about, but since I was in my forties, I didn’t think it would be an issue at this point in my life, so the news did come as a shock." 

Looking back, although I generally eat well, this was during the first Covid-19 lockdown and perhaps I hadn’t been as good with my diet as I could’ve been, and my activity levels had dropped significantly. My GP didn’t suggest any medication, instead she advised me to do the Diabetes Prevention Programme. I thought I should tackle this now before it became an issue.   


Diabetes Prevention Programme

The course would usually be held face-face but, because this was March 2020 and at the start of the pandemic, it was a 12-month virtual course. For the first four months we met every fortnight and then monthly after that. There were about a dozen people on the course and the peer support helped me a lot. Twelve months is a long time, and you go through ups and downs, so seeing others go through tough times too, helped me get through it. I think we encouraged each other, and it made me realise it’s not a perfect journey. It was also nice to see people being given advice and then at the next session see how they were managing things better. 

I found the programme extremely helpful. Some of it I already knew but the course delivered new information to me in an accessible format and with more detailed messaging. In terms of diet, it taught me what healthy looks like and what I should aim for. I learnt about portion control, making healthy swaps, checking food labels, the importance of eating fruit and vegetables, and including more fibre in my diet to feel fuller. There was also a big focus on activity. It taught me all the different forms of being active and emphasised that doing something is always better than doing nothing.

I also learnt that although portion control and healthy eating are key, it’s ok to have the occasional indulgence so long as you then manage your behaviour to get back on track. I think perhaps most importantly, the course provided a deep motivation of why I needed to make these changes.  

Making changes

I made lots of positive changes during the course. I started writing down everything I was eating and analysing the composition, so I knew what I could have more or less of, or if I needed to make any substitutions. I was looking at food labels and making good choices, and was also conscious of my food plate, what should be on there and the quantities there should be. A key thing for me was pasta. Previously I would’ve had double the portion, but by incorporating extra vegetables I would only eat the pasta quantity I should be having and would still feel full. Plus, I was getting all the nutrients I needed.

I realised I wasn’t doing enough exercise, and this was made worse by sitting at a desk all day. I started doing strength and conditioning classes, yoga, and 5-7k walks every other day. All of this got my activity levels up and I was burning calories. These changes helped reduce my blood sugar levels and I lost half a stone in weight. 

I had wanted to lose another five pounds but after the course finished, I did have a rocky patch. I was eating well but not exercising, which made me feel tired all the time. This is when I missed the peer support from the programme. I recognise that I’m now eating a bit more than I should be, but I feel I’m in a better place. I have the knowledge to make changes, it’s just a case of implementing these things. However, my GP repeated my blood test and I’m now back in a healthy blood sugar range, which I’m really pleased about.  

Journey with diabetes

Sharing my knowledge

It’s interesting how things have changed from the days when my grandparents were diagnosed with diabetes and just went straight onto insulin. My mum was on tablets for 25 years and then went onto insulin. She manages her condition well and is an inspiration, but she found it difficult at first. She was interested in what I was learning about on the course and said, “If only somebody had told me what you’ve been told when I was diagnosed. I borrowed books from the doctor’s surgery, but they were so clinical. The course content is so accessible it helps you to understand all this information. It’s brilliant.”

I spoke to my husband and children about my sessions, and they were very accepting and understanding of the changes I was making, for example why our meals were changing at home.   

Advice to others

I would definitely recommend the programme. My friend did a similar course, but it ran over four months and she felt overwhelmed, whereas I felt I had better support and encouragement from others. Raising awareness is most important at the prevention stage. If you can prevent type 2 diabetes, then it’s a win-win for everybody.

My GP explained to me that there is a strong chance I will develop diabetes – it’s more a case of when it happens. I am realistic about the fact this could happen but now I have the feeling that I can change that – I have the power to do something about it.

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