Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional: this blog post is written based on my own personal experience.
In October 2022 I had a routine blood test and two days later was told that I have prediabetes. According to Diabetes.org.uk: Prediabetes means that your blood sugars are higher than usual, but not high enough for you to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It also means that you are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You are unlikely to be experiencing any symptoms with prediabetes. Prediabetes is also sometimes called borderline diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes happens because insulin can’t work properly, so your blood sugar levels keep rising. This means more insulin is released. For some people with type 2 diabetes this can eventually tire the pancreas out, meaning their body makes less and less insulin. This can lead to even higher blood sugar levels.
Prediabetes is a warning that if you don’t change your diet, you are likely to develop full-blown type 2 diabetes.
Myth: Only fat people get type 2 diabetes.
I have a low BMI and am very active. When I saw the nurse, to be advised on my new diet, she weighed me and told me not to lose any weight.
My new diet is supposed to be low on carbohydrates and sugar but high in protein and fats, with an emphasis on ‘good’ fats such as those found in avocadoes, oily fish and nuts. The nurse impressed upon me that I must remove as much carbohydrate and sugar from my diet as possible. It’s taken some getting used to because I thought my previous diet was healthy.
Breakfast cereal is now off limits. I used to have a bowl of bran flakes plus a Weetabix followed by two slices of toast and marmalade. However, I weighed the cereal I used to eat and it was double the suggested serving of bran flakes plus there was the Weetabix – and it all contains sugars. The nurse suggested a cooked breakfast or lots of full fat Greek yoghurt plus nuts and seeds.
My compromise – I’ve ditched the bran flakes and Weetabix and replaced it with 15g of bran sticks from Grape Tree plus some nuts, seeds, dried coconut and some berries. I soak it in milk overnight and it tastes fine. I still have toast but have ditched the marmalade, instead I have either a fried egg, avocado, cheese or sugar free peanut butter on top.
At lunchtime my staple used to be two wholemeal rolls with cottage cheese and tomatoes. I started the new diet by replacing one roll with homemade coleslaw. Now I sometimes don’t have any bread at all. Instead, I have a large serving of coleslaw plus cheese or sardines (in tomato sauce) or chicken plus nuts, tomatoes and whatever else is in the fridge.
The evening meal is the hardest because it always included potatoes or pasta or rice etc. The nurse suggested mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes and it is nice. I’ve been reading various diabetic recipe books and some of the recipes turn out well, others are a bit insipid. And sometimes I do have to let the carbs back in but with the reduction in breakfast and lunchtime carbs, that’s probably OK.
I mostly say ‘no’ to cakes and sweets but fear that will waver over Christmas! The hardest thing is not knowing whether I have adapted my diet enough or too much or whether I need to do more. My GP won’t check again until October 2023.
By the way, I tried making diabetic carrot cake – it wasn’t good. I think the best policy is not to create no-sugar versions of favourite cakes but to have a little bit of the real thing very occasionally. My cauliflower and corned beef hash turned out well though. The experiments continue …
If anybody’s got any tips or tricks, I’d love to hear them!