Patient tells her story at members event
Living with diabetes & expert advice
"I have diabetes, it doesn't have me." This is the positive approach Liz Piggot takes to managing the condition. As a patient with diabetes, Liz shared her experience of living with diabetes with over 30 of our members at the Trust's first Medicine for Members event at the Soho Walk-in Centre on 30 January. A nurse herself, Liz explained that she was not fazed by her diagnosis and describes it as a way of life which is very easy to handle.
Liz was speaking alongside Sonia Wijesundare (both pictured), one of our specialist community diabetes nurses and Esther John-Charles, our dietetic clinical lead, providing an evening of helpful advice for members on how to manage one of the most common health conditions affecting our communities. Diabetes is on the rise in all the boroughs where we provide community healthcare services and it is estimated that for the UK as a whole there will be 5 million people with diabetes by 2025.
Sonia outlined the main types of diabetes, explained the risk factors and highlighted the symptoms to look out for: increased thirst, extreme tiredness and unexplained weight loss. She also explained that for many people the diagnosis raises a range of fears and anxieties. Liz gave her own reassuring perspective on how she manages to live well with diabetes, adapting her lifestyle and paying close attention to her diet and exercise, but "not becoming obsessed by it".
Picking up the theme of the importance of good nutrition for people with diabetes, Esther explained the need for a balanced diet and highlighted the particular importance of carbohydrates as a factor influencing blood glucose control. Esther's helpful tips included the golden rule of preparing fresh foods whenever possible as pre-prepared ready meals can be very high in both sugar and fat, and that it is not actually necessary to buy expensive specialist diabetic foods. Esther explained that people with diabetes can still eat bread, but wholegrain bread is better than both white and wholemeal bread. She added that people with diabetes should still aim for 5 portions of fresh fruit a day but, because fructose in fruit is a form of sugar, these should be spread out evenly across the day.
With questions on a wide range of subjects including the difficulties of understanding food labelling, how much alcohol a person with diabetes should drink and the pros and cons of using artificial sweeteners, it was a lively and informative evening for everyone.
Click here to download the presentation slides from the event.
The next Medicine for Members event will take place on 26 March 2014, on the subject of improving the health of our communities. This will be followed by an evening discussing stroke care on 21 May 2014. Book your place by emailing email@example.com or by calling 0800 169 6134.