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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Snita's story: putting type 2 diabetes into remission and recovering from coronavirus symptoms

Snita Sharma

Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10 years ago

We eat together as a family and I’m really enjoying the time we’re spending together - definitely a positive to come from lockdown.

Snita shares her experience of working towards type 2 diabetes remission and how she has coped with Covid-19 during lockdown.

If you're using your phone, click on Diabetes UK and Me below to listen to our pilot podcast series Dining with Diabetes, featuring Snita.

Diabetes UK and me

Listen to Snita's story

Hear from people sharing their experiences of trying to eat and live well with diabetes in our brand new podcast series, Dining with diabetes. 

In this episode, Snita tells us how she put her type 2 diabetes into remission by changing how she eats. From tucking into plates of chips and beans to cutting calories drastically over 8 weeks, Snita’s life changed. She no longer needs to take her diabetes medication, and she’s discovered a brand-new passion for food along the way. 

If you enjoy this episode, Pauline has also shared her story about dining with type 1 diabetes. And there’s more from Snita herself below. 

Journey with diabetes

Diagnosis

I had gestational diabetes with my eldest son. Afterwards, I was told I could develop type 2 diabetes later in life, but at the time, I wasn’t made to feel that it was really important.

I ate all the time, I’d cook a healthy meal for the family, but then I’d tell my husband I wanted to go out for pizza or fried chicken. I think a lot of the time I ate because I was bored.

When I was 40, I visited a relative who had type 2 diabetes and told her that I was feeling unwell and tired all the time. She urged me to go to the doctor and a test at my GP confirmed that I had developed type 2 diabetes.

I asked my doctor if I could try to manage it with my diet, but she said my blood glucose levels were too high and that I needed to bring it down with medication. After I was diagnosed, I was in shock. I was almost afraid to eat anything. Everything seemed to have sugar in it. But I started taking the medication and eventually I thought, ‘well that’s taking care of everything’.

So, after a while, I pretty much went back to the way I was eating before. I still ate loads of unhealthy foods.

Exercise

After my initial shock, I didn’t think too much about my diagnosis. I took my medication and would eat what I wanted. This would often consist of high in fat Indian foods, takeaways and unhealthy snacks such as crisps and fizzy drinks.

Within five years, I was taking the maximum dosage of metformin and was advised by my doctor that I needed to start taking more medication. I begged for some more time and went home to talk to my family. My husband suggested I join a running club. I hadn’t done any exercise since school! But I had nothing to lose, so I joined a beginners’ running club, which I came to really enjoy. I even learnt to ride a bike and swim and started doing triathlons. But my diet was still really bad.

As I approached my 50th birthday, I sat down with my sons to make a list of things I wanted to do before entering a new decade. One of the things they suggested was putting my diabetes in remission but I said it couldn’t be done!

Remission

Remission

I found out about the Diabetes UK-funded DiRECT trial, which was in its early stages at the time. DiRECT looks at using low-calorie diets for weight loss to help put diabetes in to remission. I wasn’t in the right geographical are to take part in the study, but then I found another very low-calorie diet that I wanted to follow. My GP was concerned that it might not be safe for someone with type 2 diabetes but I told her “I’m going to be 50 soon, if I don’t try, I’ll never know.”

After a couple of weeks, I got the most amazing release of energy. I started running faster, and my swimming and cycling improved too. Mentally, I’d never felt so good. My GP supported me to reduce my medication as I started to lose weight and a blood test shortly before my birthday confirmed that my diabetes was in remission.

Maintenance

The hardest thing was transitioning from a really strict diet to a whole new lifestyle. A dietitian helped me do that, and my older son was a great source of support as well. To begin with I tried a high-protein, low carb diet but then I started researching vegan diets.

I’d become scared of eating fruit, because I considered it high carb. But I got to a stage where I felt my body needed more natural foods. Now, I eat a lot of fruit, salads, vegetables, wholegrains. My favourite dish is probably a lentil curry with rice. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed my diet so much. I feel amazing.

Life with diabetes

Coronavirus

I developed symptoms of Covid-19 a couple of weeks ago, but I can’t say for definite if I have the virus or not. I had a temperature for a few days and then developed a cough. I’m currently isolating with my husband and our two sons, but I’m feeling much better. 

During the first week when I was feeling unwell I needed to make adjustments at home. So I took precautions such as sitting by myself, not sharing food with anyone, and sleeping on my own.

Once I started to feel better I knew I needed to establish a routine in order to keep me healthy during these challenging times.

Self isolation and lifestyle

I wake up in the morning and do meditation in my temple room. Prayer is also important. I pray for everyone to be healthy and well – and also for my wonderful friends who work for the NHS.

I enjoy a smoothie in the morning, maybe with spinach and banana or fresh aloe vera with banana and berries. If there is any aloe vera left it goes on my face, as it’s great for the skin. I then like to put on a pilates or yoga video on YouTube, although my dogs wonder what on earth I’m doing!

I have been eating to try and boost my immune system, so lots of greens and fruits, as well as oranges for my vitamin C – lots of colour in my food.

We eat together as a family  and I’m really enjoying the time we’re spending together, which has definitely been one of the positives to come from the lockdown. 

Emotions

Mental wellbeing

I would normally attend a spiritual session every two weeks but because of the lockdown, the sessions are now taking place on Zoom, so I’ve joined remotely. While it isn’t quite the same, it’s still been really nice to see everyone and chat.

I think something else that has really helped me is not watching the news all the time, as it can feel quite depressing. Instead I’ve been tuning in for an update once a day. As an alternative I’ve started binge watching an Indian spiritual series on YouTube. My family are sick of me watching it but they still want to know what’s happening all the time, so I think they’re secretly enjoying it.

I’m just trying not to worry too much. I think it’s a case of taking precautions and following the government guidelines, as well as doing my very best to look after my health. 

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