Studies suggest being overweight is one of the main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes – and our research shows that more than half of Slimming World members with the condition reported reversing it after losing at least 10% of their body weight.
This World Diabetes Day we’re proud to share our expert tips to help you reduce your diabetes risk. But first we have an inspiring slimming success story for you. With the unbeatable support of his Slimming World group, John Dick lost over 8st and managed to reverse his type 2 diabetes – and now he’s starting a new decade feeling happier, healthier and more confident than ever…
Why I joined Slimming World
The first time I walked through Slimming World’s doors was in January 2019, and I weighed 23st 4½lbs. I was about to turn 50, which was a huge factor for me, but the main reason was that, a year earlier, I’d been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
To be honest, it wasn’t a surprise – I knew my weight was affecting my health. As well as feeling constantly tired and out of breath, I had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and severe back pain. After being diagnosed, I had to take two tablets a day for my diabetes.
My GP suggested that losing weight could help me manage my symptoms, and throughout 2018, I tried to cut back on takeaways and watch what I was eating a bit more. It was slow progress, though, and I only lost about a stone. I knew if I wanted to be healthier in my 50s, I needed help. When a flyer for Slimming World dropped onto my doormat, I thought, “this is it, I’ll join!” I’m so glad I did.
The support of group kept me motivated
When I joined my local group, the first thing the Consultant, Claire, did was sit down with me and the other new members to talk through the plan. She explained how I’d need to make a few small changes to the way I ate, such as cooking with low-calorie cooking spray and trimming the excess fat off of meat to make it a Free Food.
It sounded simple enough to follow and Claire’s clear guidance gave me confidence that, if I followed her advice and stuck to plan as best as I could, the weight would start to come off. And it did! I lost 7lbs in my first two weeks as a member – and I didn’t feel hungry once.
At group, I paid close attention to the conversations Claire was having with the other members about challenges they’d faced that week. When she started talking about trigger foods, my ears pricked up. I’d got into the habit of snacking between meals, sometimes going through a whole packet of biscuits or multiple bags of crisps.
Listening to Claire, I realised this was something that could send me off track, too. I turned to the other members for support and they had loads of ideas for healthier snack options, like taking apples and bananas to work and having berries mixed with fat-free natural yogurt as a dessert in the evening. You wouldn’t believe how much fruit I go through now!
What I eat with Slimming World
During my new-member talk, when Claire explained Food Optimising to me, she made it clear how important it was to cook the majority of my meals from scratch – that way I’d know exactly what was going into them.
One thing she suggested, which really helped me, was planning all my meals at the start of each week. This made it much easier to fit cooking around my job – I could prep the ingredients in the morning and leave them to cook in the slow cooker while I was at work.
I love spicy foods like chillies and curries and they’re really easy to make in the slow cooker – and I’ve found that having a delicious, healthy meal waiting for me when I get home really motivates me to stay on plan during the day.
Reversing my diabetes symptoms
In just over 12 months, I lost over 8st and my health improved dramatically. My diabetes is in remission, I’ve been off all my medication for over a year now and I feel fantastic. My blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol is no longer high and I don’t suffer from back pain any more either. The first time I went back to see my healthcare team, the nurse was amazed at my progress and said she wished I could come back in and speak to all her patients.
My life now
I have so much more energy and I’ve taken up running using the Couch to 5K app. I run two to three times a week and I’ve completed the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 10K, two years running. When I first crossed that finish line and shared a post on Facebook, the support I got from my Slimming World group was phenomenal.
I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t lost weight before lockdown. Now restrictions are easing, I’m seeing people for the first time in a while and they can’t believe the difference in me. I’m a Scout Leader and when one of the parents who I knew well didn’t recognise me at all, that really brought home to me how much I’ve changed. I know I’ve inspired others to join Slimming World, too.
5 ways to help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes
Eating well and staying active are some of the things we can all do to keep ourselves healthy. As part of Diabetes Week, we’re sharing a few of the small diet and lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
1. Losing weight can help
Being overweight is a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes, alongside age, ethnicity and family history. Even a small amount of weight loss can help, with our research finding that more than half of Slimming World members with type 2 diabetes reported reversing the condition after losing at least 10% of their body weight.
2. Enjoy a diet rich in fruit and vegetables
Eating lots of fruit and vegetables has been shown to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. The good news is, most fruit and veg are Free Foods (which means you can enjoy them freely with no weighing, measuring or counting), so you can fill your veg basket and fruit bowl to the brim!
3. Include more beans, pulses and lentils in your meals
Getting plenty of fibre is fantastic for your gut health and studies have shown that it can help to keep blood sugar levels low. Free Foods like beans, chickpeas and lentils are rich in both fibre and protein – helping you to satisfy your appetite and feel full for longer – and can be added to casseroles, stews, soups or a chilli con carne
4. Try to drink less alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol is linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and, as it’s also high in calories, can make it more difficult to lose weight. Government guidelines recommends drinking no more than 14 units per week, spread evenly over 3-4 days. When you’re Food Optimising, you’ll naturally reduce your alcohol intake by counting alcoholic drinks within your Syns.
MORE FOR MEMBERS: Slimming World members can find out more about how to reset their relationship with alcohol while slimming – including our low-Syn cocktail menu – on the exclusive member website.
5. Give moving more a go
Regular physical activity is thought to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes development. That doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym or running laps around the park (unless you want to, of course!) – anything that makes you breathe faster, feel warmer and increases your heart rate counts. Our Body Magic activity programme supports you to become more active at your own pace and in a way that fits in with your lifestyle – and we’ve got lots of ideas for how you can get on the move.
We know being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes can be daunting and may leave many people worried about having to make drastic changes to their diet and lifestyle. If you, or someone you love, is in this position, we can help. We’re here to support our members in losing weight through healthy eating, without ever feeling hungry or deprived.
You can find out more about joining Slimming World here.