My pre-diabetes journey
After being told in late 2019 that I was prediabetic, I was devastated. I knew my diet was poor, I relied heavily on carbs and sugars in my diet, both of which are obviously not great for pre-diabetes. Looking back over previous blood test results, it had actually been picked up as borderline back in July of 2018. 18 months previously my HbA1c had been 42, now it was 43. It was creeping up, and I had no idea. I needed to know about reversing pre-diabetes if I wanted to ensure that it wasn’t going to develop into full blown Type 2 Diabetes and bring with it numerous more health problems.
I wanted to turn things around, and improve my health, but then Covid hit and I began working from home. Due to my asthma I didn’t want to risk going to the shops, so I would have groceries and sometimes it would be days before I realised that I couldn’t remember when I last unlocked the front door. My mental health was deteriorating, and my diet went to pot.
Like it has for everyone, the last 18 months have been a struggle for me, and I genuinely thought I had really messed up my pre-diabetes (there has been a lot of comfort eating of carbs and sweets in this time).
As I was approaching going back to work on site for the first time in almost 18 months, I asked my local GP surgery if I could have a blood test so I could see how much damage I had done.
When the results came in, I was shocked, I had reversed my pre-diabetes! I then had to look back over the last 18 months and figure out what had happened.
How did I do it?
Much as I didn’t have a particularly healthy diet during the many lockdowns and working from home periods, in hindsight, there was a lot of things that I did that helped me reverse pre-diabetes.
I think the most important thing was that I wasn’t buying food out every day. Meal deals, canteen food, none of it were great choices, and I was always terrible at meal planning so I always conveniently “forgot” to take my own lunches. Two meals a day I would be relying on fast or convenience food.
During Covid, I might not have been eating brilliantly, but I was doing a heck of a lot more cooking from scratch. I tried out meal subscription boxes such as Hello Fresh and Gousto, and found that actually there were a lot of things that were really yummy, and really easy to cook, which I had never had the confidence to try before. I was definitely increasing the amount of vegetables I was eating, and relying less on carbs.
The second most important thing was that I walked. A lot. For me anyway. Once I realised I had gotten to the “When did I last unlock my front door?” stage of lockdown, I realised that I needed to start getting out the house more. I was already good friends with my neighbours and after they went back to work after the first lockdown, I asked if I could borrow their dog on my lunchbreaks to get me out the house. They got free dog walks, I had an excuse to get out the house, and walking with the dog became my social life as when you go out for a walk on your own no-one ever speaks to you, but with a dog, especially one as handsome as Loki, everyone wants to stop and chat.
To start with I’d just do half an hour a day, making sure I was back in plenty of time to sort lunch out and to chill before returning to my desk. As my fitness and stamina improved (and they are still terrible) we would go out for longer, sometimes being out for almost my entire lunch break. If I had food prepared, I could just eat at my desk, but the fresh air and exercise really did make a difference to how I felt. We didn’t go far or fast (when I walk with his owners I can see how much slower I am on my own, but it doesn’t matter)! I didn’t realise that exercise can help in reversing pre-diabetes and diabetes itself. I definitely think it has been a big contributing factor to this though.
Your doctor or diabetes nurse will help you if you have been given a diagnosis of pre-diabetes. I was referred to the pre-diabetes programme, and I found that whilst it was running on the phone (a conference call) I really struggled with it. people would join late and talk over each other. When it moved to Teams, it was slightly better, in that everyone was muted, but I still found the structure hard to work with and to be honest I engaged with the sessions less at this stage of the programme.
Once the programme moves back to face to face, and now they’ve had the opportunity to iron out any teething problems (I did it early in the pandemic) I am sure the programme would be much better and easier to engage with.