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The Interview: Diabetes Awareness

Brenda Walker, Senior Officer with the Health and Social Care Partnership shares her experience of diabetes and how she managed to reverse the likelihood of a diagnosis…

Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in the UK and the prevalence is increasing.

About 4.7 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes already, that’s roughly 7 percent, and many people are currently living with undiagnosed diabetes, without knowing it.

People don’t always fully appreciate how serious diabetes is as a condition. Did you know that uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a number of short and long-term health complications?

Brenda Walker, Senior Officer with the Health and Social Care Partnership recently caught up with us to raise awareness of the condition.

Q: Can you tell us about the events that led to your recent experience of diabetes?

A: Well, at the start of 2021 in the midst of the second lockdown, I received some pretty shocking news about my health.

My older sister – who has always looked after herself much better than me – let me know that she had suffered a small stroke. Luckily, it had been very mild, but she had been prescribed high blood pressure medication, so I thought it would probably be a good idea to check my own blood pressure.

I have my own home monitor, but it is quite old – and when I checked my blood pressure, the results came back unusually high. At first, I thought the monitor wasn’t working properly, so I arranged with my GP to double check my blood pressure and do some further tests.

Q: What happened when you got your results?

A: When I phoned for the results, I wasn’t that surprised to hear that I had high blood pressure, but the doctor also told me I had tested positive for type 2 diabetes – which did come as a complete shock! It’s not really the sort of news you want to hear at the start of a New Year, especially in the middle of a pandemic, but I did feel lucky knowing that I was facing the type of diabetes that can be reversed.

Q: What advice did your GP give you for next steps?

A: My GP went on to explain that I was currently just over the borderline for testing positive for type 2 diabetes and he was reluctant to diagnose me as it was a lifelong condition. However by making changes to my diet and leading a healthier lifestyle I had time to make positive changes to reverse the condition. So, he would re-test me in 3 months and that was my cue to turn this thing around.

I read as much as I could about reversing diabetes (you can only do this with type 2 diabetes) and launched into a healthier lifestyle. I also found some helpful tips on the Diabetes UK website and I am delighted to say that by the time I was tested 3 months later, my blood sugar levels had returned to normal and I was no longer at immediate risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Q: How did the good news make you feel?

A: So, so relieved! The relief really was amazing – however I also felt really determined to keep my focus on leading a healthy lifestyle through a nutritious diet and being more active. I still have an annual review with my doctor just to check all is okay, but I feel back to my normal self and I’m so glad to have the wakeup call I needed to get my health back on track.

Q: Do you have any tips for any colleagues recently diagnosed or worried about diabetes?

A: You are not alone. If you are reading this and concerned about your diabetes or worried that you might develop diabetes (maybe due to parents having been diagnosed etc.) – get in touch. There’s lots of support out there including at work, so speak to your line manager if you need additional support or get in contact with the LiveWell group who can help to signpost you to lots of helpful resources.

I am really happy to also share my experience of reversing diabetes with colleagues directly if you want to connect via a Teams call and I’m considering maybe setting up some peer support sessions to encourage healthier lifestyles to either prevent or offset the impacts of diabetes. In the first instance though, just contact me via the Livewell mailbox: and I will get back in touch.

Looking for healthy recipe ideas?

The EatWell section of the LiveWell website is a really good resource for healthy recipe ideas. The LiveWell group also recently promoted the Diabetes UK Fakeaway February campaign, a healthy eating fundraiser encouraging you to ditch takeaways for healthier, homemade versions. We found some great ‘fakeaway’ recipe ideas below on the World Cancer Research Fund website – so why not give them a go as a healthier alternative this weekend?

Calorie-busting ‘fakeaway’ recipe ideas:

  • Homemade Pizza
    Calorie count (275 Calories) vs Takeaway Pizza (Between 389-867 calories for vegetarian and even more for meat/poultry toppings!)
  • Healthy Curry Recipes
    Did you know that the an average portion of pilau rice contains almost 500 calories and the average portion of peshawari naan bread contains a whopping 748 calories? Not to mention the starters! Healthy curry calorie count (297-423 calories depending on the recipe you choose) vs Takeaway Curry (Chicken Tikka Masala 1,249 calories)
  • Homemade Fish and Chips
    Calorie count (576 Calories including mushy peas) vs Takeaway Fish and Chips (Depending on portion size around 850 calories)
  • Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken
    Calorie count (239 calories with 120-130 calories for boiled rice or noodles) vs Takeaway Sweet and Sour (530 calories plus egg fried rice 678 calories)

For more information on Diabetes support visit:

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