Diabetes

Living with diabetes can be quite challenging, but by making sure you are eating the right diet and living the right lifestyle can make all the difference.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. The hormone insulin – produced by the pancreas – is responsible for controlling the amount of glucose in the blood.

There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 – where the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin.
  • Type 2 – is a serious condition where the insulin your pancreas makes can’t work properly, or your pancreas can’t make enough insulin.

Blood sugar testing for diabetes

Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, explains how new technology can be used to test blood sugar.

Type 2 Diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.
  • It can cause symptoms like excessive thirst, needing to pee a lot and tiredness. Although in some people, it can cause no symptoms at all and will only be picked up on a blood test. It can also increase your risk of getting serious problems with your eyes, heart and nerves and kidneys.
  • It's a lifelong condition that can affect your everyday life. You may need to change your diet, take medicines and have regular check-ups.
  • It's caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It's often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

What are the health symptoms of Diabetes?

The symptoms of diabetes occur because the lack of insulin, because either you haven’t enough insulin or the insulin you produce cannot work properly, means glucose stays in the blood and isn't used as fuel for energy. Your body tries to reduce blood glucose levels by getting rid of the excess glucose in your urine. Look out for the following typical symptoms:

  • feeling very thirsty
  • passing urine more often than usual, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss
  • blurry vision
  • slow to heal cuts

If you are concerned please go and see your GP who can investigate these symptoms.

Are there any other symptoms from Diabetes?

  • being diagnosed with diabetes can affect your mood – telling your partner and family will help them understand how you feel
  • it's important your colleagues or employer know in case of an emergency

Is there a healthy diet for Diabetes?

In the past, people were sent away after their diagnosis with a list of foods they weren't allowed to eat, or often told to simply cut out sugar. Long gone are those days of “do's and don'ts”.

The way to go nowadays is to eat a healthy balanced diet. Try and make changes to your food choices that are realistic and achievable in the long term, this will be different for each person diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes depending on your current diet, weight and the goals you want to achieve.

Many people with Type 2 diabetes make changes to their diet in order to achieve:

  • good blood glucose (sugar) levels blood
  • good levels of cholesterol , which is a type of fat.
  • good blood pressure
  • a healthy weight

There's nothing you can't eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you'll have to limit certain foods.

Recommendations would be:

  • Eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and wholegrains like oats, brown rice, quinoa and rye.
  • keep sugar, saturated fat, salt to a minimum
  • eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – don't skip meals
  • If you need to change your diet, it might be easier to make small changes every week.

This guide shows the types of foods that can make up a healthy, balanced diet. Being aware of the amount of carbohydrates in food and drinks is important for managing blood glucose levels.

If you find it hard to change your diet, a dietitian might be able to help.

For more information on the right type of diet visit the Diabetes UK website.

Other things I can do

As well as eating healthily and keeping a check on your weight, keeping active will also help to control blood sugar levels. Diabetes can be linked to your lifestyle.

  • Regular exercise or movement can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your blood sugar control.
  • If you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, there are free education courses to help you learn more about and manage the condition.
  • Your GP will need to refer you, but you can phone your GP surgery to get a referral letter, so you don't need to make an appointment.
  • There is an easy self-assessment tool link below to see if you may be at risk of developing Diabetes: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms/

Where can I go for further advice?

See your GP if you have any concerns or speak to one of the Medical Advisers at the Trust. Boots and Lloyds chemist can offer advice about the condition and blood sugar testing.

What about driving?

If you are on insulin you must let the DVLA know, however if you manage your diabetes with tables or diet speak to you GP for advice.

How should I make others aware that I have diabetes?

  • Carry medical ID in case of an emergency.
  • It’s important your colleagues or employer know in case of an emergency.

Personal Experience – Living with Type 1 Diabetes

Read Sukeshi’s story about living with type 1 Diabetes

diabetes type 1