Diet programme and support overcome obesity and diabetes

How Rebecca shed a third of her body weight using diet and determination.

In 2022 Rebecca began to follow a healthy eating plan and a strict diet. In seven months, with the support of family and Support Workers, she reduced her weight by almost a third to 68kg. What’s more, she no longer has diabetes.

Rebecca’s life is an active one. She attends gym, Pilates and drama workshop. She also works in the stock room of a beauty retailer, attends church and social activities with family and friends. Yet her weight kept edging up.

For years her dietician had told her that she was ‘extremely obese’. Eventually her weight reached 100kg and her doctor diagnosed her with Type 2 diabetes. This meant that she faced potential significant health risks linked with the condition.

Weight Loss Journey

In early 2022, Rebecca adopted a healthy eating plan which she and Theresa, her key worker, had drawn up together. Clear charts, designed by Deputy Manager Triston, helped to remind her what she could eat. In nine weeks between 2 February and 19 April, she lost 0.76kg per week.

Then, for the next eight weeks, she followed the stricter Newcastle Diet. In this time, she shed an average of 2.43kg (more than 5lb) per week. At the end of this, she returned to her healthy eating plan for 12 weeks. As her weight loss stopped during this period, she resumed the Newcastle Diet for a further four weeks, before going back to her healthy eating plan, which she is still following.

Support from Family, Support Team and Others

With the help of her family, Rebecca gained a clear understanding of what she was undertaking by changing her eating habits. She could see what the benefits would be and the dangers that diabetes posed to her health.

This was reinforced by her support worker team via our Wheel of Engagement’s Physical Wellbeing segment. It focuses on health promotion, prevention and planning, as supporting people to maintain the best possible physical health has positive implications for mental and social wellbeing.

Rebecca’s NHS dietician advised on foods and the duration of dieting, reviewing her weekly menu plan with her. It was Rebecca’s NHS psychiatrist who first told Rebecca of the Newcastle Diet, which was developed by nutritionists at Newcastle University, through a study funded by Diabetes UK.

From the start, Rebecca knew that she would have full emotional and practical support to lose weight. Her family and the team at her supported living house were cheering her on every day. She said: “I was happy because I wanted to lose weight, and this seemed to be a way to achieve my goal.”

The Newcastle Diet: Shakes and Vegetables

Developed to help reverse or prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes, the Newcastle Diet consists of a ‘shake’ three times a day. Additionally, dieters eat four portions of vegetables, raw in a salad, roasted, or cooked as a soup or curry. They must drink at least 2 litres of water, too.

Rebecca’s father, Roger Garside, commented: “In the total of 12 weeks that Rebecca followed the Newcastle Diet, she never once departed from it. This would be a feat of self-discipline for anyone, but for someone with learning difficulties it was an amazing achievement.

“Huge credit goes to those who designed the Newcastle Diet. The shakes are not only nutritious but also filling, warding off hunger. Helpfully, the accompanying diet booklet suggests a wide variety of simple recipes for tasty salads, soups and curries.

“This diet has two other great merits. It consists of two radical changes, one physical and one psychological. The radical change of foods not only forces a break with old eating habits and gets people used to buying and preparing fresh vegetables. This embeds a daily routine of cooking and enjoying healthy food, and it also changes your mindset. There is no daily agonising over what to eat or drink: you follow the plan.”

Keeping up the momentum

Rebecca added: “Having veggies for lunch and dinner made me stick with the diet. I wanted to lose weight and was determined to do it. My family and support workers were very helpful, too.”

After losing more than 30kg (equivalent to 5 stone), the new, slimline Rebecca looks and feels much better. Her mind is also much sharper, and her spirits much brighter. She’s determined to stay that way. Her healthy eating plan and active life are key to her success, along with continued encouragement from those around her.

“I’m happy to have achieved my goal and that I no longer have diabetes. My advice is to be strong and brave about it,” says Rebecca. “I feel lighter and I have more energy. I don’t crave chocolate or crisps, and I only have fruit snacks now. I have switched to skimmed milk in my coffee and salads instead of sandwiches at lunch time.”

Rebecca on the treadmill