Diabetic dieting

As I have said, I am diabetic. It runs in the family, and basically means I don't make enough insulin. Nothing like as bad as my mum who produces no insulin and has to have an injection with every meal - she has been diabetic over 50 years.

In my case I only need one slow release injection a day to top up things. This is a bit of a double edged thing! It means only one injection, at home, not carrying around insulin, that is good. It also means I cannot adjust to any changes and need to stick to a routine.

Without insulin my blood sugar gets stupidly high, I get really tired, and get zits and infections far too easily. Long term it would be bad!

The only issue really is the routine to which I stick is not that healthy, and I have been putting on about 1kg a year for some time.

So, for the first time ever I decided to try and do something about it, even if just for a while to see how it goes. Curse those full size mirrors in the en-suite on the cruise!

Not the same for everyone

I have a wife and four daughters so I have lived with people on diets for a very long time, so I know already that everyone is different. In my case I am sure I am different to other diabetics, and there are a lot of different types and levels of the condition. So please, do not take this an any sort of advice without talking to your diabetic doctor/nurse - I just am explaining what I am doing and how it is working.

Not some particular diet

First off, I have not gone for some standard or fad diet, of which there are many. I have gone for being "a bit more sensible". After all, 1kg a year is what? 3g a day!. Reverse that and I'll be my ideal weight in 30 years, sorted. But in all seriousness I don't expect to have to change a lot to make some progress.

The basics

My routine has changed over time, but generally these days, before I started trying to lose weight, I would have a breakfast (sod Costa for no longer doing sausage rolls, that is not nice), usually some snacks as and when hungry, maybe some sort of lunch around mid-day, perhaps soup or toast, a proper meal early evening (thanks Sandra), far too much whisky, and then loads of fruit juice. I rather like tropicana, and fruit juice is usually quite good for you, except it has as much in the way of carbs as the average energy drink, so, well, not so good. However, this meant I did not get hypo, and did not have high blood sugar, and slept well, and have a good HbA1c (a longer term blood sugar test done at my regular check ups). Indeed, the only real issue was gradually putting on more weight.

The big change I have made is cutting out snacks and juice. I started also not drinking at all, largely because of the pain killers from doing my back in, but actually the drink is not having much impact on my blood sugar so I am drinking some whisky again now. I may cut that out again and see if it helps.

The other big change is exercise - going for walks. Just round the block, 1.5km or 2.2km type walks, several times a day. Indeed, walking after eating seems to work really well for getting the blood sugar levels down after a meal. When I do go in to the office I am walking there, or back, or both.

I have also been drinking much more water. Bottled water seems a waste but is easy to carry (when walking) and keep in the fridge to be cold when you want it.

Balancing act

The big problem with a big change in carbs in my diet is balancing the insulin I take every day. This has been hard work - I have changed levels gradually and now reduced insulin by about a third. During this transition I have been hypo a lot, sometimes way too much (my vision starts to go if too low blood sugar!). I have some chocolate bars just in case, and a few times woken up in the night and had to eat half a bar of chocolate just to avoid passing out properly.

However, over the weeks I have got more and more balanced, and not going hypo as much. Even so, my blood sugar is on the low side a lot of the time, so may need a bit more adjustment. It is all about finding a new balance and routine.

Is it working?

Well yes, sort of. This is where the female dieting "experts" in the family are reassuring me. I have lost around 4kg so far in around a month, but 3kg of that was in the first week. I feel less big, and less uncomfortable, so that is good. The walks are getting easier (I live at the top of a hill, which makes them an extra challenge).

How do I feel?

I think this is probably getting to a sensible routine, but it has been hard work. The hypos have been a problem, not just making me ill, impacting my vision, but also leaving me with no energy and even causing migraines. Now I think I have the balance a lot better I do feel better.

Will I keep it up?

Well, I hope so. I really miss the fruit juice to be honest. I am pondering stopping drinking to see if that makes any difference to weight loss (probably will), but as I say I do not need to aim too high here in order to gradually lose weight.

I do feel like I have something nagging at me - a subconscious voice telling me I cannot eat a snack (no matter ho hypo I feel) or that I must go for a walk. To be honest that is annoying. I have set the challenge to myself, and I do not like my task master on this.

So I don't know how long I will keep this up. I don't know if drinking some juice but keeping up the exercise would work, for example. Am I pushing myself too far here?

OK sorry, I am new to dieting

I know, I bet everyone doing any diet goes through all of this, and sorry if I am being lame here. I have managed 54 years without having to diet. I am a newbie, and maybe a never-to-be-again if I get too annoyed with it.


  1. Well done! There's a strong family history of diabetes in my family (grandmother died of it) - my mother was diagnosed with it last summer, started dieting, lost a load of weight and is now non-diabetic again. I've lost a load of weight over the year too (40-odd kg), and feel better for it now - just about at a target weight I once thought was completely unachievable. I'd never really "dieted" before, but once I decided to make a bit of effort to eat sensibly, things all changed.

  2. Just curious. Were you any sort of bean pole before the gradual weight gain?

  3. Hello Adrian, I've sent you an email because Blogger rejects posts over 4096 characters (after you've already spent the time to type the entire thing, of course!)

  4. "I rather like tropicana, and fruit juice is usually quite good for you" - I am surprised as a diabetic you are saying fruit juice is good for you when its loaded with sugar!


    1. If you had read a few more words I that sentence you would see I am not!

  5. Fruit juice is a nutritional disaster. There is no sense in which it is good for you - it is fructose and causes disease.

  6. I dislike the word "diet". People think you go on a "diet" for a few weeks by eating less chocolate, loose a few pounds, then go back to what you were doing before. This does not work because all you do is put the weight back on again.

    When I wanted to loose weight, I didn't go on a diet. I changed my lifestyle. I changed what I ate and I changed my exercise. (i.e. I started doing some!) This is hard. It is not easy. If anyone tells you loosing weight is easy, they're lying.

    I'm fortunate not to be diabetic. I can only guess that it's even harder for you due to having to watch the sugar levels.

    It's probably a bit too late, but my suggestion is to slowly change your lifestyle. Big overnight changes won't stick. Over a period of weeks & months, make constant small changes. It'll make making the changes easier (Not easy - just easier!) Oh - and do allow yourself the odd treat. A life with treats and pleasures is a really dull life.

  7. Like anonymous, I too am fortunate not to be diabetic, but I noticed earlier this summer that my weight which had been stable for quite a long time had started to creep up. Not sure why because I didn't think I'd changed my habits at all, but it was definitely up.

    My experience of diets in the past is that they are hard work and have very limited effect. What I've done instead is to go for a brisk walk each day - minimum 3 miles and up to about 10 miles. Over the course of 2 months I've managed to get back down below my previous "stable" weight (still too high) and am aiming to carry on down. And I rather enjoy my walk!

    1. Indeed, I think the walks are going to be the main thing I need to keep up.

  8. You may find The Diet Myth, by Tim Spector to be interesting. It is based on recent science on gut microbiome studies (very geeky, very interesting) and on large scale epidemiological studies. It's a good summary of past diet theory and current best practice and had a good write up in the medical press:


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