Hi all. Firstly I hope everyone is keeping safe and well. Fingers crossed we will eventually be able to resume a normal social life but for now the internet is our master!
Four years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. It didn’t come as too much of a shock as both my parents and grandparents were all diabetic. I was disappointed that I had also contributed to the condition through my love of all things sweet but I think some part of me conceitedly thought I might escape for some reason. My GP gave me the news, handed me an info-book and sent me on my way. I was in denial for a few months, not really knowing enough about the condition to act on my diagnosis. I spoke to a nurse who told me not to eat anything white carb-wise, only brown rice, pasta, bread etc. I made a few tweaks to my diet but it didn’t really sink in for over a year. I took my medication, went for my check-ups and carried on as normal but in the back of my mind I worried about my long term health.
During my last check-up the nurse informed me that my HB1Ac, the measure of glucose in my blood was at an all time high and that my medication was no longer controlling it. She gave me three choices. I could change my medication and try something different. I could apply for stomach surgery or I could sign up for a new trial diet programme run by NHS dieticians which runs over a year and aims to put diabetes into remission. I chose the first and third options, changing to a slow-release Metformin and agreeing to be considered for the diet. I was referred to the dieticians and, thankfully, accepted onto the Counterweight programme. Our group was due to start in the Spring, with twice weekly meetings for support. The first part of the plan is a twelve week total meal replacement phase. Basically it is 800 calories per day, taken in shakes and soups. No food at all. This would hopefully result in a dramatic weight loss and remission of the diabetes. We would then follow a strict food-reintroduction phase and be followed up over the next nine months to increase our chances of staying in remission and ultimately coming off our medication. The pandemic delayed the start but eventually 10 guinea pigs began our ‘journey’ in July, with the meetings taking place remotely on Teams.
This is not a diet for the faint-hearted. It is tough, and made all the more difficult by the fact that I make cakes for a living! The first week was hell on earth. Well, actually the first three days were fine. I cheerfully threw myself into it, revelling in my new found sense of achievement. We set up a group chat on WhatsApp so that we could all compare notes and provide support to each other and it has become invaluable, there is always someone on hand who knows exactly what you are going through and can be your cheerleader when you need it most and when your family members are fed up of you constantly being hangry!
Day three was the worst. Side effects that we had all been warned about kicked in with a savage, non-stop barrage of headaches, dizziness, energy-sapping body blows and rage. I ended up storming off to bed at 8pm when a cooking programme started on the television and I had the strongest urge to put my foot through the screen! The following day I felt better, my headache had subsided to a dull ache and as I sipped my first shake of the day I realised that I had a long way to go and would have to woman-up. This brings me to my second ‘change’ of the year, The Change. One of the reasons I found it so hard to lose weight and general bringer of misery. I have had some tell tale signs of menopause rearing its ugly head for a few years now. I don’t think I’m even properly ‘in it’ yet, which is scary, but something is definitely happening to my body. My inner thermostat is faulty, my skin thinks I’m a teenager again and don’t even get me started on my hair! And I seem to have developed a wobbly rubber ring around my middle which will not shift. This of course all points to disaster when you are a diabetic. I have tried several diets since I was diagnosed. The Keto diet, Paleo, intermittent fasting. I lose a bit of weight at the beginning then I plateau and no matter what, my stubborn middle-aged body refuses to relinquish any more and eventually I give up and eat a slice of cake. I mean, I have given birth to three children, my body is no longer producing viable eggs, why do I now have to endure years of shrivelling up and drying out before I can officially enter old-age? Why does it not all just fall out of the obvious orifice and let me go back to who I was in my early forties? It took me so long to find that self-assured, confident woman, finally breaking free of the shackles of hands-on motherhood and able to discover herself again, then as late forties approached the wheels started to wobble. So before they fall off completely I am determined to regain some control, put my diabetes on hold and feel healthier again.
I am currently in my ninth week of the liquid diet. Three more weeks to go before I can finally introduce a little normal food. I have mostly followed the plan carefully, although I have to admit there have been times when the odd spoonful of something may have fallen into my mouth. A furtive bite of bread, a tiny bite of my grandsons fish finger and once, in desperation I may have sucked the flavour off a few crisps! One of the women in my group said that she puts salt and vinegar onto a spoon and if she closes her eyes it tastes like she is eating a chip. I’m not convinced but twelve weeks is a long time and we are all doing what we can to survive. I had a proper meltdown at the beginning of this week when I got on the scales and I hadn’t lost any weight in two weeks. Not a single ounce. The same kilo had gone off and back on again for 14 days. I told the group I was throwing in the towel, cried for forty minutes and ate the pastry off a large pork pie (I never eat the meat, jelly urgh) It was a bleak day, but by the evening I was at the virtual meeting and everyone was so lovely, reassuring me that I had already lost almost ten percent of my body weight and four inches off that pesky rubber ring round my middle. The following day I started with a clean slate, a few coping mechanisms up my sleeve, and I feel positive that I can finish the programme and get rid of this horrible condition for good. One thing is for sure, however rocky the road might be, if I get there I’m never ever going back!
Thanks for reading. xx