Saturday, 29 December 2012


This Christmas eve I passed the 26 year mark of being a member of club-D (definitely not as great as it sounds).  I am proud to say that despite a little scare this summer, complications have still not caught up with me and nor do I plan for them to. In many ways diabetes has become a way of life for me, the only way I know.  I work full time in the Police and love my job dearly, but when the 9-5 has come and gone I spend almost every spare minute of my time immersed in the diabetes 'world', advocating, attending conferences, manning stalls, participating in market research or product reviews and generally diving into what I would term 'diabetes culture'. I speak to parents of T1 kids daily, take advice from other PWDs (People With Diabetes) who can help me with my latest dilemma and reminisce with other 'old-timers' about orange plastic needles and 2-minute long blood tests.  

What I wasn't expecting was for diabetes to darken the door of my family once more.  This time, it has come a-knocking on the door of my mother-in-law, mamma P.

When she told me about the symptoms she was having I knew that diabetes was a possibility; inevitable even.  The symptoms she described - tired, thirsty, blurred vision - made me sure that this Christmas we would once more have an unwelcome addition to the family.  Her expression as she listed her symptoms told me that she also knew, she just hadn't said it out loud, until now.

One of the many things that has given us our closeness over the years is our shared battle with weight.  Neither of us require the side of the house to be removed to allow us to be crane-lifted out, but if I wasn't already a type 1 I would - perhaps ironically - be in the 'at risk' of type 2 category, due to my weight.  Knowing the risks at hand and the likelihood that this could be type 2, my wonderful husband and diabetes partner in crime gave her a shove in the right direction and demanded that by the end of the week she needed to have an appointment booked.

Her diagnosis followed only 3 days later. Treatment with Metformin followed 2 days after that.

Now we have the task on our hands of navigating the type 2 tightrope.  Admittedly I am no expert on type 2, in fact, her diagnosis has made me realise just how embarrassingly little I know.  It has never been something I needed to think about, in exactly the same way that the non-D population know nothing of type 1, much to the dismay of those trying to raise awareness.

Her determination to address her health problems has already staggered me.  She has already stopped drinking fruit juice - her tipple of choice, she is asking questions about low carb and exercise and is already recognising her habits of mindlessly reaching over to the biscuit tin are what found her in this position in the first place.  But she is determined to change it, and it makes me respect her all the more.  It took me 16 years to start taking my condition seriously.  It took her just 2 days.

So, knowing that you know far more than I, I am asking for your help - if you know tricks and tips for managing type 2, Metformin, low-carb or losing weight, I would LOVE to hear from you.

Do you have any advice I can pass on?



  1. Hi Anna!

    It may sound weird, but congratulations on 26 years of living with diabetes. It takes a lot of work to take care of ourselves, so I think a celebratory pat on the back is definitely in order.

    Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law. I, too, am pretty unfamiliar with type 2. A couple of my favorite T2 bloggers are Bob Pedersen at and Kate Cornell at . They might be worth looking at.

    1. Hey Scott, thanks for the good wishes - it has certainly crept up on me and I'm glad to say that things are still going 'well'.

      I will check out both blogs, thank you.


  2. Hi Anna,

    I've been type 2 for over 20 years and am insulin dependent with weight issues as well, so both you and your mum have my sympathies :(

    For your mum, I would recommend the Carbs & Cals, Protein & Fats Weight Loss book by Chris Cheyette. It shows portion sizes on plates and dishes, plus carbs and calories, and is very easy to use. You can buy it from DUK's web site shop or Amazon or direct from Chello Publishing.

    I carb count and allow myself up to 50 carbs at each meal. This stops me getting the munchies in the afternoon and evening and needing a snack. My average meals are like this - Breakfast is 2 Weetabix with skimmed milk and an orange (better than juice), Lunch I have 3 Ryvita (mostly seeded variety) spread with butter (good for arthritis) and low fat houmous and a low fat yoghurt, Dinner is 3 small new potatoes cooked in their skins with lean meat and a variety of veggies. If I'm hungry during the day I have a small banana and/or a medium sized apple.

    White bread, pasta and potatoes (especially mashed) raise your blood sugars very quickly, so switch to wholemeal and new potatoes.

    Watch out for grapes and pineapple, they are very high in sugar. I have switched to Truvia instead of the other sweeteners, it's expensive but doesn't have the aftertaste of Hermesetas and Canderel.

    Hope this helps your mum. x

    1. Hi Jeanagh,

      Thank you for getting in touch, this is really helpful. I imagine carb counting is probably going to be the biggest change for Mamma P. I have been doing it myself for years, but as she is T2 I wasn't sure what the next step would be, it is really good to know it would work for her too. Thank you for the details of the book too, I will pass that on to her asap.

      Thank you so much for your help


  3. I hope that your mother-in-law has been referred to a Dietitian. I'm a little biased, being a Dietitian myself, but it really can be helpful for some people.

    I'd second the advice to buy the Carbs and Cals book (she doesn't need the one with Protein and Fat unless she's really interested), and if she's a smartphone user there's a Carbs and Cals app too.

    There's another app that's been recommended to me, but I haven't tried it out yet - Serenity Carb Counter. One of my colleagues who's a newly diagnosed Type 2 is using it, and finding it very helpful.

    Best of luck, Lola

    1. Hi Lola,

      I'm not sure she has yet, but will give her a nudge and let her know that she can request it. Is there any over-riding advice you would give about diet for T2s?

      She's not very phone-savvy (in fact I'm not sure she has a smart phone) but she loves to flick through a book so we can get her it as a reference guide. I too find it incredibly useful.

      Thank you

    2. Dietary advice for T2 is much the same as for T1 (and for general healthy eating) - limit refined sugars, moderate intake of starchy carbs, increase wholegrains, reduce saturated fat, lots of veg and salad and not too much fruit in one go. Carb counting is less important, of course, unless insulin is involved.

      In my work I generally try to get a picture of what a person ate pre-diagnosis, and suggest ways to adjust their diet that fit in with lifestyle and promote general healthy eating and weight loss (if appropriate).

      The latest thinking is that if your mum is overweight, then weight loss is the best approach for lowering risks for T2. It doesn't much matter how weight is reduced as long as it's sustainable - my T2 colleague has been put on a low carb diet (40g/day), although I haven't managed to get to the bottom of what happens when she reaches her target weight.

      Hope this helps

    3. Thanks, Lola. As you may know from the blog, I am a particular fan of low carb (the ease, the good results, the way I feel), but it is often met with resistance. My team are great and I'm seeing dietician next week to go over my diet and ensure I'm getting the right nutrients, but to hear you say fruit in small amounts is refreshing. I have a very hard time with fruit. 40g seems low though. Not sure I could sustain quite that low. I tend to be 60-100g.

      Thank you for all your advice. We are making her a 'recipe folder' with quick, easier, lower carb recipes she can make. Any paticular recipes you know of would be welcomed.

      Thank you again for your help/time