By Nadine Miles on September 23, 2021
With diabetes accounting for 10% of the total NHS expenditure in England and Wales1, and the number of patients diagnosed with diabetes rapidly increasing year-on-year2, ensuring patients have access to the right programme, support and education is vital to help those with diabetes to significantly improve their health outcomes.
Spirit Health and Nestle jointly funded the Luton CCG Low Calorie Diet pilot, offering education provided by Spirit and Optifast, which is a Nestle meal replacement specifically designed for medically supervised weight loss. Such programmes are suitable for those who are overweight and have Type 2 diabetes.
Peter’s Weight Loss Journey
Peter, who is 65, started his weight loss journey in May 2020, as a type 2 diabetic weighing 16 and a half stone. Fast forward 10 months later as he reaches the end of his programme, Peter is the happiest and healthiest he has ever been, weighing 11 stone and 2 pounds, and completely off all diabetic medication.
“My Low Calorie Diet journey started when I went to my doctor around this time last year about my diabetes and weight. He asked if I would be willing to join the Spirit-led education and diet programme – who shortly reached out to me to ensure I was the right candidate for the programme. I was diabetic type two, having been diagnosed in 2017, and taking tablets every day for my diabetes and blood pressure.”
Peter started his journey, which consisted of a range of meal alternatives, including shakes, soups and meal bars – totalling 800 calories a day. Exercising was also strongly encouraged on the programme, and Peter would combine his low-calorie food intake with daily five to ten kilometre walks.
Peter found his experience on the programme fairly smooth riding, experiencing minor headaches and difficulties at the beginning due to the transition of food intake. Over the duration of the course, Peter found himself trying to mentor the other participants to carry on, especially those who were struggling with the changes as part of the programme. “I’m on the Facebook group for Optifast and would often see posts about men who are finding the process difficult, experiencing headaches etc. You have to work through it, as the results at the end are fantastic.”
Results were shown exceptionally quickly for Peter, who lost nine pounds within the first week of starting the programme. He kept a detailed list over the past 10 months of his weight loss journey, and every two weeks would share his results with the Spirit team. Peter went from an 18 neck to a 15 collar, a 48 chest to a 34, and a 44 waist to a 34 – proving how significant these results can be.
Education is Key
As well as the meal and diet changes, education and support were a vital part of the course. With a variety of diabetes resources available, specifically focusing on managing diabetes, those who take part in the programme become more self-empowered and aware of their condition. “We would have sessions around what you can and can’t eat, especially when we transition back on to foods. The team at Spirit would explain why, such as because of saturated fat, salt or sugar – which was really helpful.”
“When you first find out you’re type two diabetic, it’s frightening as you didn’t realise what you were doing to your body. The implications of eating bad foods and drinking, I was unaware that I could start losing limbs because I’m poisoning myself. Now I’m aware and educated about what could happen and know how to reduce these risks, I’m much more sensible.”
Peter applauds the team at Spirit for the help and support they have offered him over the duration of his weight loss course. “The team at Spirit are absolutely brilliant. We had a meeting once every two weeks where we would talk about any problems and issues. I worked closely with the Spirit team who always encouraged us to talk about any problems and issues, they were a great support network for myself and the others. At one point during the programme, my blood glucose spiked. I got straight in touch with the Spirit coach who advised me to have another milkshake, and within a couple of hours, my levels were back to normal.”
Since joining the programme, Peter’s results inspired his family to also take part. Both Peter’s daughter, who is 40, and son, who is 38, started Optifast, after seeing his weight loss journey. “My son weighed around 15 stone and has dropped to 11 stone, and my daughter also lost a stone and a half. They saw my results, took part themselves and can see that it works.”
Permanent Lifestyle Changes
There is no turning back now for Peter, he says. “I will take all of the lessons and practices I’ve learned on the course forward with me – it’s become not only a habit but a new lifestyle for me. I’m the oldest person they’ve had on the programme – yet I’ve never felt so great. Everything is where it should be, my blood sugar, BMI, cholesterol, I’ve lost so much weight, but more importantly, my general wellbeing is excellent. The Spirit programme has made a massive difference to my life, and especially in a third lockdown, if I wasn’t on this diet and feeling motivated to exercise, I would weigh a lot more.”
Peter’s advice for those looking to join a low-calorie diet programme is to see it through to the end: “There is no point in joining a programme if you’re not going to be dedicated to it. You won’t see the same results as me if you have cheat days. If you want to feel better about yourself, stay healthy and live your life to the best of your ability, stick through the challenging days because the results are worth it.”
The low-calorie diet programme has changed Peter’s life for the better. From being more aware of what he’s putting into his body, and transitioning from an XXL to a Medium in under a year, his changes are inspirational!
To find out more about Spirit’s low-calorie diet programmes, click here.