A diet of too many takeaways, cakes and pints of cider ended up with a diabetes diagnosis for healthcare assistant Michael Short. Michael works at Wakefield Hospice, and in November,last year he started to suffer from lack of energy.“I’d come home from work and fall asleep,” recalls Michael. “One day I slept for 16 hours but I didn’t feel any better.”At the time he weighed 17st 8lb, and at 6ft tall his body mass index (BMI) was 33 — classified as ‘obese’.In January he visited his GP and he was told that his HbA1c (which measures average blood sugar levels over three months) was 61 — the threshold for diabetes is 48.
Michael knew from his work how serious type 2 can be and couldn’t believe it had happened to him. He was told he was pre-diabetic two years ago but he didn’t heed the warning signs which he now regrets“My weight gain had escalated in the past five years but I thought I could get away with it because I was young-ish and on my feet all day at work,” says Michael. “The diagnosis was a massive wake-up call.”He was also diagnosed with sleep apnoea which is often associated with diabetes.“No one know which comes first though,” he says and it was another reason why he was feeling so exhausted all the time. He knew his diet was terrible, doing shifts didn’t help, as he ate at irregular times and ate a lot of carbs — about seven slices of bread a day, plus biscuits and cake. This was a high carbohydrate, high calorie diet and having cider to drink about three times a week.“It was made worse by the fact that there were always lots of cakes, buns and chocolate at work,many brought in by grateful people, but as a result I could end up eating lots in one day.“I have always been a yo-yo dieter but this was a real wake up call that I needed to change my lifestyle and not just to lose weight, this time it was about life or death. Type 2 diabetes can shorten your life expectancy and I didn’t want that.”His practice nurse advised Michael to follow the Eatwell Plate approach, with around 38 per cent of calories on your plate from carbohydrates, 40 per cent from fruit and vegetables, 12 per cent from protein, eight per cent from dairy or alternatives and one per cent from oils or spreads.
Low carbohydrate diet
He followed this religiously, but within days felt worse. Then he heard about how going low-carb could help with the diabetes.co.uk forum was full of stories about low carb high fat diets.The NHS accepts this can be of benefit and has approved the Low Carb Program app, which involves cutting all the main sources of carbs, such as bread and rice, to a minimum. Within 24 hours he had more energy, felt sharper and the blurred vision went away.Almost three months on, Michael has lost three stone. His blood sugar is in the normal range (last reading was 39) and he’s put his diabetes into remission, he came off metformin last week. His cholesterol has come down from 8 to 5.9 and this has been high for years, his liver results have improved and are now in normal range. Michael puts these results down to his low carbohydrate and at times ketogenic diet which he has maintained since January – The Low Carb Program. “It is the hidden carbohydrates that are the problem,” he says.“Cider was a big problem for me, I didn’t realise how much sugar there was in it and I’d probably drink three tins of cider three times a week on my days off“Now when we go to the supermarket I don’t look at how many calories something has on the label I look to see how much carbohydrate is in it.”
Michael’s weight has now plateaued at about 14.4 stone but he says it isn’t about weight loss.“This is a way of life now, I feel so much better and have managed to put my diabetes into remission.”He also does more exercise, including a daily 2.5 mile walk at a nature reserve near his home in Lofthouse. As well as putting his diabetes into remission the change of lifestyle has had other health benefits.“I’d had a scan which showed I had a fatty liver, when I went back a few weeks ago they said the blood tests showed that had improved. I am also sleeping better and the IBS I have suffered with for years has also improved. I have got lots more energy. I have shown that if you are prepared to try and adapt to something different it can be done and it makes a huge difference. People say I look ten years younger.!