Former Wigan teacher cured of diabetes by her massive weight loss
A Wigan gran has done so well at slimming that it has “cured” her diabetes.
Former teacher Brenda Whittle this week spoke of her delight at being told by doctors that her condition had gone into remission and, so long as she keeps up with the healthy eating that got her there, it would stay in remission.
The 72-year-old, who lives in Highfield with her daughter and her family, admits she was leading an unhealthy lifestyle and remembers the shock of being diagnosed with diabetes 15 years ago around the time she lost her husband Frank.
And it is two spells with Slimming World - she admits to a “lapse” a while ago - which helped her shed a total of four stones and means she no longer has to take medication.
Ahead of World Diabetes Day on November 14, Brenda was keen to highlight the benefits of adopting healthier food habits, including binning off quite a few of the old sugary treats.
Her inspirational story supports research revealing that losing weight is successful in supporting patients who have type 2 diabetes to lose weight and manage their glucose control.
Brenda, who attends the St Cuthbert’s group, joined up again in September 2018.
She says: “I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003, and the doctor told me I needed to take control of my weight to help manage the condition.
“Being overweight impacted on so many aspects of my life, from struggling to find clothes that I like to fit to not being able to do simple everyday tasks without feeling tired and out of breath.
“I always felt like I was lacking energy, I felt like I was on a slippery slope to gaining more and more weight and I didn’t really see a way out.”
After being referred by her GP, Brenda decided to join her a local slimming class.She said: “Walking through those doors was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I was embarrassed about my size and scared that I might be the biggest person there.
“I needn’t have worried though, everyone there was so friendly especially my consultant Emma.
“The group were so welcoming too.
“Since then my fellow members have become real friends and I honestly don’t think I could have done it without their support each week.
“They helped me with recipes and tips and if I was ever struggling they were always there to remind me why I’d wanted to lose weight in the first place and how far I’d come since first stepping through the doors.”
With support from her diabetes care team, Brenda followed an health eating plan and started cooking meals from scratch.
She swapped jam sandwiches and sweets for more fruit and veg with food optimised meals.
She said: “People think slimming means going hungry, yet it’s not like that at all with this eating plan.
“I love food and it’s never once felt like I was on ‘a diet’ – in fact, people are always surprised at how much food I have on my plate and can’t believe I’m losing weight eating so much delicious food and without ever feeling hungry.
“I can tailor the plan to fit my dietary needs and I can do this with support from my doctor.
“This means I still enjoy all my favourite meals like burgers and chips and roast dinners - I’ve just learned how to make small changes like eating lots of vegetables, using lean meat or cooking with low calorie spray instead of oil or butter.”
Today Brenda has gone from a dress size 24-26 to a size 16.
She is also more active nowadays, has joined a rambling club and she is also now able to look after her grandchildren.
“Thanks to the changes I’ve made my health has improved dramatically.
“My blood sugar reading is now in the normal range and the doctor says I show no symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
“I’ve got my life back and I couldn’t be happier. The world isn’t shrinking anymore; it’s getting bigger and bigger by the day!”
Emma Heyes, who runs the St Cuthbert’s group, said: “We know the obesity crisis is a ticking timebomb, and type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity too. We believe the support you get from being in a warm, empowering group environment is key to helping you eat more healthily and becoming more active too.
“The changes we’ve seen in Brenda are incredible.
“I hope her success will inspire other people in Wigan who’d like to lose weight and improve their health by forming new lifestyle habits and become happier to take action.
“That’s so important because the latest obesity statistics that show 26.3 per cent of people in Wigan are overweight or obese.
“There’s a warm welcome waiting and, just think, if you start today you could feel like a completely new person just like Brenda.”