I was shocked to be told I had Type 2 diabetes. I’d gone to the doctors because I was feeling unwell after putting on weight, had some tests done and the doctor told me that I had diabetes and my sugar levels were high.
It happened two years after my father had died from complications of Type 2. He’d had the condition for quite a long time and I was worried the same thing would happen to me. I needed to make a change and that’s where the DiRECT trial came in – it transformed my life.
My GP told me about the DiRECT trial
It was my GP who told me about the DiRECT trial and I started the low-calorie diet programme in October 2015. It was 12 weeks of just soups and shakes. It was hard because it meant I went through the Christmas period on just a few shakes or soups a day. But I was determined to do it properly, so I followed the diet religiously.
The first few days were the worst and I struggled with headaches, but after the third day I got a bit of energy and I don’t know why but I went on a bit of a high and started painting the house, doing the garden and going to the allotment. And this continued for the next six to eight weeks.
It was nice not having to think about meals, especially at work. My wife was really supportive. We would normally always have a meal together so it was quite difficult for her as well. She was always there for me.
It was also quite strange not to be eating solid food. When you’re on the diet, you forget about it. I now like foods that I never liked in the past, my palate has completely changed. I now like eating fresh foods and cooking from scratch, as opposed to getting something quick, which is what I did before.
My Type 2 diabetes 'gone into remission'
At the end of the 12 weeks, I went for a check-up and was told my Type 2 diabetes had gone into remission. I’d lost around 26kg (4 stone) – going from about 94.5kg (14.8 stone) to 68kg (10.7 stone) and my HbA1c was around 38mmol/mol, which was amazing. And I’ve gone from taking 16 tablets a day to none. My blood pressure went back to normal, and my long-distance eyesight even came back. I felt 10 years younger. My lifestyle is now healthier and more active. I’ve moved closer to work so I can walk there and I’ve even got a dog.
When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I thought I’d have it for the rest of my life, but now I’ve actually put my diabetes into remission – it’s absolutely amazing to me. If someone had told me at the beginning that it was possible, I would’ve tried this at the very start.
People are taking part in DiRECT for two years, but everyone was recruited at different times. This means some people are still on the trial, and some have finished. Everyone has completed one year, which is why the researchers can announce those results. Tony has now finished the trial and can share his story.
Research like this is helping us create a world where diabetes can do no harm.
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