Food and healthy eating

Enjoying what you eat is one of life’s pleasures, but sometimes it can be tricky if you have diabetes. Here we share stories from people who have learnt how to manage their condition and continue to enjoy food.



What I find difficult about diabetes

The biggest challenge for me with diabetes is resisting snacking. I’ll be good all day but then I sit in front of the telly, and it’s hard, but I try to stop myself.

I’m on the Metformin – the maximum amount. And I might have to go on insulin. But I’d love to get off the medication and get my blood sugar levels out of the diabetic range. I know I need to lose weight. And I’ve been on a reduced calorie diet and I'm also trying to reduce carbs.

I don’t know anyone with type 2 diabetes. So I do tend to crack on on my own although I might look at joining one of the Diabetes UK local support groups to connect with others with the condition.

Read Sean's complete story
Man seen from the back is walking along a sandy beach. The sky is blue.


Diet and exercise

On New Year’s Eve 2022 I had a wake-up call and decided I needed to make changes. I started to lose weight by exercising and following a healthier diet. This was three-and-a-half years after my initial diagnosis, but I was committed to making the changes.  
I looked at different types of diets and researched ways to put your type 2 diabetes into remission. I got the Carbs & Calorie Counter book from Diabetes UK and decided to do a low carbohydrate diet with a calorie intake of about 1,000 calories a day. What I missed the most was not having bread, and you pay so much more when you buy the low-carb bread. I now keep this in the freezer and treat myself to a few slices at the weekend.  
By August 2023, I had lost up to 4 stone and my blood test showed my HbA1c was 43mmol/mol without medication. I was pleased to be told by the diabetes specialist nurse that in eight-and-a-half months my diabetes was now in remission. My next review will be in six months’ time.  
For exercise, I started with chair yoga for seniors, which I found very beneficial – and anyone can do it. Then on YouTube I discovered an exercise programme, where the lady running the online classes was in her mid-fifties and she exercises with her mother who is in her eighties, so that really inspired me. I thought if her mother can do it, then I have no excuse. I also got myself an electronic treadmill a couple months ago, which I use regularly. 

Read Michael 's complete story
Mohammed sitting on sofa looking at camera


Making changes

I started reading up on type 2 diabetes and recognised how important it was to change my diet. As part of my research, I watched videos and lectures, and observed other people’s experiences. I decided to make changes overnight; I stopped eating certain foods, and completely changed my diet. Some people thought I was mad because it was so drastic, but I saw it as a crash course, initiated by me, to address my diabetes. Three months later, following another blood test, I had lowered my HbA1c from 59 to 40 and no longer needed any medication to lower my blood sugar levels.  
I am of South Asian origin, and we eat a lot of rice as part of our meals. I was also eating naan bread, and then on top of that more bread, as well as many cereals. I was basically eating a very high-carb diet, but at the time I didn’t realise the impact carbs were having on my body. 
My breakfast was usually cereal, which was often two bowls with a pint of milk meaning more sugar – it was quick and easy. Then lunch would be a sandwich and a couple of hours later, I would be hungry again, so I enjoyed a cake or similar in the afternoon. I realised my diet was basically all carbs.  At that time I didn’t really have an awareness of diabetes. As an educated man, I was intellectually sound but not about my body or health.  
I decided to join a gym and was there almost every day. A week after joining, I weighed myself and had lost a kilo. After four weeks I had lost 4 kilos in weight. Then the date came around to visit the doctor again. When she put me on the scales, she couldn't believe it. She said, “whatever you're doing just carry on doing it,” which was exactly what I did. I reduced my carb intake, I cut back on fatty foods and sugar, and introduced more vegetables into my diet. This became my new eating regime to help me with my weight loss.

Read Mohammed's complete story
Paul Ibberson


Making changes 

The realisation was that I needed to sort my life out. To start with, it was important for me to have a good understanding of diabetes. There’s not a lot of information out there and so I did a lot of research and found the Diabetes UK website very helpful. 
I soon realised I needed to make changes to my daily diet. This meant going onto a low-fat diet, cutting out all sugar and caffeine, and stopping drinking. I checked everything I ate for sugar levels, swapping out anything with non-sugar alternatives. I became quite obsessed with reading food labels and if I couldn’t find an alternative, then I would just cut it out. I would have lactose-free milk and made my own bread without sugar.

It was very difficult at the beginning, but I was motivated to keep going. 


Read Paul's complete story

Yvonne was diagnosed in April 2022

Making changes

Although my diet was relatively healthy, I had to cut down on things like pasta and jacket potatoes to follow a low carb diet. And although I hate cooking with a passion, I started cooking from scratch.

I’m an organised and disciplined person andI haven’t eaten any cakes, sweets, crisps for a year. There are certain food aisles I don’t got down in the supermarket anymore so I don’t have to look at them. My husband does a lot of the shopping. I give him a list. 

I have about 10 recipes and eat things like cauliflower rice or courgetti with bolognaise or chicken or fish dishes, bean burgers made with celeriac, a few oatcakes with tinned mackerel if I am walking, and low sugar fruits like raspberries, blueberries and apples. That’s my lifestyle now. 

A combination of medication and the low-carb diet made a big difference to my blood sugar levels. My last HbA1c was 6% – down from 13.8%. And my BMI is down to 21.5.

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