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How I beat type 2 diabetes, an alternative route to recovery.
When his diabetes doctor suggested he should share how he put his diabetes into remission, humourist John Spring wrote a book about it.
Did I beat type 2 diabetes? It’s a bold claim to make. I’ve now been in remission for eight years, so I guess I must be doing something right. This war isn’t over though, I have to stay vigilant to ensure I keep it at bay. However, being in remission does mean that type 2 diabetes (T2D) isn’t damaging me anymore. Those that have been diagnosed with this disease will have been made well aware of the longer term havoc it can do to their bodies. Unless, when they were told, they put their fingers in their ears and started humming, “La, la, la, I’m not listening”. Which is exactly what I did for several years.
For most type 2 diabetics or ‘prediabetics’ (those that have placed their order and are now awaiting delivery) their diagnosis might have come as a bit of a shock. Although it may not have been a complete surprise. It appears that quite a lot of us have been busy cultivating expanding waistlines whilst enjoying the comfortable benefits of a sedentary lifestyle. 5% of the UK’s adult population have been diagnosed with T2D, and another 1.3% don’t know they have it yet. By the year 2035, 10% of us will be type 2 diabetic. That might make the recently diagnosed feel a little better, as there is some safety in numbers, but our overstretched NHS isn’t too keen on the prospect.
That moment of diagnosis did scare me into making some immediate lifestyle changes and I congratulated myself when my blood sugar level saw some slight improvement. I even began to think that the switch to flatulence-inducing diabetic chocolate might have been worth it, despite the embarrassment it caused. Unfortunately, like me, a lot of diabetics slip back into complacency. They may not be feeling any immediate effects of T2D on their general health, so it becomes easy to ignore. However, it is a sneaky disease that lulls you into a false sense of security. The best analogy I ever heard was to liken it to a mild acid flowing around your body, slowly eating away at your nerves, your organs and your eyes. Consequently, left unmanaged, it will catch up with you and it is the end of this slow production line of diabetic damage that the NHS is now contending with.
Other type 2 diabetics will have different books to write that describe how they got there, but the synopsis will be similar to mine i.e. ‘ate too much, didn’t exercise’. When I finally decided to do something about my T2D it was to avoid that brief summary becoming my epitaph.
I’d read about rapid weight loss having a high success rate in putting T2D into remission. Since then it has become a well-funded approach and the NHS are currently trialling liquid based diets that limit calorific intake to 800 calories per day. Bariatric surgery can also impose similar draconian limits on your daily calorie consumption, and patients will lose weight quickly. But what happens after that? Bariatric surgery isn’t infallible, as a patient’s bad eating habits can find ways around it. Likewise you probably don’t want to survive on nothing but liquids for the rest of your life, especially if they don’t contain alcohol.
As I’m a busy chap with a demanding job and an even more demanding family, I devised my own practical regime for losing weight fast. The most positive benefit of this workable approach was that I learned how to avoid temptation by becoming the master of my own food. I also learned how to fit exercise into my busy life. These are the lessons that have kept me in remission.
To lose weight fast in the first place I’d set myself a target of 1200 net calories per day (food intake minus calories burned by exercising). I monitored what I was eating and I identified the heavy-hitters in my diet, in my case it was booze and bread. I then developed workarounds to drastically reduce my consumption of both of those. I further controlled my calorie intake by pre-preparing my own breakfast and lunch, thus avoiding the cornucopia of sweet and fatty temptations lurking in coffee shops and lunchtime sandwich bars. My home cooked dinners started to feature healthier ingredients and I soon realised that there really is no such thing as a low calorie takeaway. They are all evil.
I discovered convenient forms of exercise, something that had been alien to me as I’d never had the time or the inclination. This was also due to me having dodgy knees, allegedly, but that wouldn’t have been surprising considering the weight they’d been carrying around. So I started out by walking set routes every day and gradually I built up to being the world’s most unlikely runner. After four months I’d seen my weight fall by four stone and my blood sugar come down from 60 mmol to 42mmol (48 mmol is the diabetic threshold). Most importantly I’d also equipped myself with the knowledge of how to maintain that weight loss.
The low-calorie liquids or the surgeon’s knife may well kick T2D into remission. They may be the quick-fixes we all want these days but they’re certainly not easy procedures to undertake. Staying in remission is also hard work, but that has been made easier for me by using a new lifestyle to beat this lifestyle related disease.
‘How I Beat Type 2 Diabetes’ by John Spring is available on Amazon. £7.99.
Bullet points if required:
Five things I learned:
Rapid weight loss: It can put type 2 diabetes into remission, but seek the advice of your diabetes professional. I did.
Monitor: Record your food intake. Work out what it is that does you the most calorie damage, and why you eat so much of it.
Diet: Find a lower calorie way to eat that fits into to your busy life. Pre-prepare your breakfasts and lunches to avoid random calories elsewhere.
Exercise: Find a convenient form of daily exercise. Start gently and enjoy it.
Holier than thou: A great attitude to have when the couch potatoes want to lead you back into temptation.
Contact Details (not for publication): John Spring email: email@example.com
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