Diabetes can cause serious long-term health problems including kidney failure, heart disease and stroke, so it is important diagnosis takes place as early as possible.
The risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by getting support to lose weight – where appropriate, getting more physically active and eating healthy food. The Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme can support in all these areas. The first thing to do is find out if you’re at risk of developing Type 2 by using the Diabetes UK risk tool. If you’re at moderate or high risk, you’ll be invited to sign up to your free local Healthier You service.
A person’s first assessment is an opportunity for health and wellbeing coaches like me to understand their current health and what they want to achieve from the programme. They may be apprehensive about what being referred to a lifestyle programme means. Reassurance is always at the forefront of my mind, ensuring the person is put at ease. I emphasise that although making lifestyle changes can seem daunting, we will be with them every step of the way to offer support and reassurance to enable them to change their lifestyle successfully.
People are then invited to attend six fortnightly sessions where they will be coached around nutrition and physical activity. After this, they’re invited to attend seven monthly sessions focused on maintaining the changes made and learning new strategies to deal with stress and any sleep issues. The monthly sessions reinforce nutrition and physical activity changes to ensure the prevention programme delivers in every area relevant to reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
When I started as a Health, and Wellbeing Coach within Xyla Health and Wellbeing I met a retired chef who had a real passion for cooking and a great love of food. She was desperate to make lifestyle changes to lose weight. Each week she attended group sessions and told me about the progress she was making through small changes to her lifestyle and the way she cooked. She described the meals she had tried out and this led to other people in the group trying out her ideas. This was a great demonstration of how a group intervention can enable people to share ideas and know they are sharing common ground. This lady lost 15kg just by making small adjustments to the way she cooked, reducing her portion sizes, and increasing her step count. This highlights how small changes repeated each day can go on to make a huge transformation to a person’s health and wellbeing.
More recently, I coached a gentleman who was a healthy weight but described himself as struggling with motivation to be physically active. Each week we worked together to make sure he had a plan for the amount of physical activity he would aim to complete. Aware of the need to keep things achievable, he started with one 10-minute walk, twice a week. Gradually he increased this and through sheer determination is now close to his long-term goal of 30 minutes’ walking five times a week. Since starting the diabetes prevention programme, his outlook towards his long-term wellbeing has completely changed and his positive mindset to physical activity really is inspiring to see.
Seeing positive experiences like these drives my passion and enthusiasm to deliver the right messages to service users and support them to make lifestyle changes. Receiving messages and cards from people expressing gratitude is heart-warming and reinforces the positivity generated throughout the programme.
Find out more about Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week via Diabetes UK