A newbie 'Hello!' and comment on a GLoW research trial I was invited to join

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  • posted by Mecanopsis

    Hi folks,
    I was diagnosed type 2 just before Xmas and have just recently been able to read Mosleys “8 Week Blood Sugar Diet”; my diabetes was diagnosed following an eye test as my optician had concerns just how bad it was. My near sight was too bad for me to read even with glasses. When diagnosed my fasting sugar were over 20 and the HbA over 100.
    I found Mosleys book fascinating, and as he himself had commented on how some facets of the medical establishment are still wary or discouraging about the 800 concept I wanted to let you know about a recent study I was part of.
    As a recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic I was invited, via my local Medical Practice, to take part in the “GLoW” study; ‘Glucose Lowering through Weight Management’. This is a study being run by the University of Cambridge with two group studies; one group will be given full Weight Watchers membership for 6 months, the other will attend a one day ‘educational’ session.

    I was allocated to the Weight Watchers “Live Well With Diabetes” programme. I would like to share my brief experience of it. Brief, as the programmes aims and goals seem little more than a marketing opportunity for Weight Watchers with those running it having no obvious awareness or indeed interest in diabetes.

    The Weight Watchers (WW) programme gives participants access to full Weight Watchers membership for 6 months (currently online only). Despite being a research programme purely for recently diagnosed type 2 the Weight Watchers scheme has not been tailored in any way to better suit type 2 diabetics.
    The programme requires you to keep track of your daily meals and activity with points being awarded for each. Your meals should fit into a daily allowance of around 30 points. It’s very difficult to pick individual foods (such as plain scrambled egg for instance) as almost all foods are already presented in a WW meal plan with significant carbs in them all. When I queried why a lot of meat was listed with “(raw)” after it’s description, eg “chicken breast (raw)” one of the dieticians running the programme responded “Ooh yum! Raw chicken! Make sure you choose the right one!” How exactly this answered my question still defeats me.

    Other food / drink which our diagnosing health practitioners advised us to try and cut down on or avoid after diagnosis, such as fresh fruit juice and high sugar fruits would be listed as “0” points, suggesting that you could consume as much of it as you wanted.

    Now that my near vision has finally settled down I recently read the “the 8-week BloodSugarDiet” book, and without being too dramatic it was a revelation. I now understand how I came to develop type 2 and how I can hopefully reverse it, as swiftly and safely as possible. I had been on the 800 diet for just under a week when I was contacted to say I had been accepted to the Weight Watchers programme. Initially I was delighted as I felt the two could combine very nicely. As the study is affiliated to the University of Cambridge I would have expected the people running it, all of whom on the participant contact level appear to be Weight Watchers dieticians, to be familiar with current research regarding weight loss and diabetes. Having read Mosleys book I appreciate his own trials are hardly unique and similar studies span decades now, all suggesting that rapid weight loss can help put type 2 into remission.

    Alas, I could not have been more wrong.

    The Weight Watchers group, “Live Well With Diabetes”, has a closed Facebook page set up for the participants where the various administrators (WW dieticians) would post diabetes related facts. This was pretty much the only contact there seemed to be, and it was scant at best. Frustrated that I was unable to assimilate anything remotely like the 800 calorie recipes I was following on the WW meal tracker I posted openly on this facebook page explaining that I had read Mosleys ‘BloodSugarDiet’ book, was following the 800 diet and asking how to create these meals when the components weren’t listed on the WW app. I also said that I was disappointed that the groups name was “Live Well With Diabetes” when all the research indicated that this could be reversed. -Our participating group was purely made up of those recently diagnosed with type 2.

    Within seconds an open reply had been posted by “Emily”, one of the WW group administrators.

    It read: ” 800 calories a day is dangerously low and unsustainable. We would never recommend that. Have you spoken to your dietician about this?”

    (Part of the study with WW included two 45-minute conversations with a ‘dietician’ over the 6 month period. I hadn’t had this, in fact the dietician who was supposed to call me cancelled on 3 occasions, but from the comments I was reading on the facebook page I was rapidly losing confidence in the whole idea anyway.)

    I replied to “Emily’s” post explaining that, no, I hadn’t spoken to my dietician but that there were numerous studies around the low calorie low carb idea and this wasn’t some newfangled trend.

    There was no further comment.

    Well, things came to a head this week when “Emily” posted on the facebook page with a link to a page on the Diabetes UK website about an NHS DiRECT trial which had participants following an 850 calorie a day diet to achieve rapid weight loss. Quote “If you have obesity, you are more likely to put your diabetes into remission if you lose a substantial amount of weight – 15kg – as quickly and safely as possible following your diagnosis”.

    I replied to this post pointing out that this was effectively what I was doing and had tried to talk about. I was now 3 weeks in, had lost 4kg and hadn’t felt as well for a very long time.
    It very quickly became apparent that whilst I had read the full article, the WW admin team had not.
    This is the posted public reply I had from “Emily”.

    “The way the LWWD programme is tailored is by using dietitians in partnership with the traditional WW programme which promotes a balanced diet with sustainable changes to lose and maintain weight. Although the article mentions fast weight loss, what they really mean is fast, within 18 months of diagnosis and in a way you can keep it off. Weight loss of >2-3lbs per week on average is generally not advised (without clinical supervision) as it is very often unsustainable (i.e. the weight loss will be re-gained, often with additional weight) and depending on other health conditions or medications you’re on, can cause challenges. When we lose weight very quickly it often is also muscle mass vs. fat mass which is not desirable, especially after the age of 60. What we try to emphasize in the programme is within 18 months of diagnosis you lose 5-10% of your body weight (if appropriate). With regards to carbohydrates, we all need them! The key is to watch portion sizes (fist-sized at meals) and choose high-fibre, whole grain options wherever possible to help with gut health, feelings of satiety as well as blood sugars. The LWWD programme is a study so we are following a specific curriculum, just as the DiRECT study would have been doing (with the addition of clinical supervision). Of course, if you feel the programme is not right for you please do call us on 020 3827 1557 and we can discuss options. Thank you and have a good weekend.”

    I took that as a less than thinly-veiled “**** off”. !!

    If Emily is somehow equating a 5% body mass loss of 15kg over 18 months, then I think someone with a starting weight of some 300kg would be gravely disappointed. I think diabetes would also be the least of their concerns.

    With that response I politely left the group. I had no idea what the overall aim of the study was as no specific thoughts regarding current diabetes research appear to have been taken into account. As participants we were not told the details of a ‘specific curriculum’. They simply presented the standard Weight Watchers programme and left the group members to it. The study only runs for 6 months. Emily’s reply intimates an expected programme of 18 months; I wonder if after the 6 months participants are offered an extended Weight Watchers membership at a discount?

    Cynicial? You wouldn’t bet against it would you. And at £22.95 a month membership it’s obvious why Weight Watchers would have no interest in a programme which would promote rapid weight loss.
    Having left the study I looked into exactly what the studies aims were, I’m aware that links to outside sites aren’t allowed so please google it if you’re intrigued, its a bit long winded but quite interesting.

    Essentially, it seems I was right. They’re looking at participants losing 5% of their body mass in 6 months and 10% after 12 months, so it’s no surprise they will actively discourage any regime which would dramatically exceed that.
    When I was diagnosed I was 96kg. In 9 months I brought that down to 91kg largely by cutting out snacks. In the 4 weeks I’ve followed the 800 diet I’ve brought that down to 87kg (and know it could be better but I’m probably not consuming enough water and overdoing the bumper raspberry crop in the garden). So in 4 weeks I’ve already lost more than this study would want me to lose in 6 months.

    I’m all in favour of research and test studies, but it strikes me that the aims of this one are already outdated and fundamentally flawed in having a co-partner whose primary interest is a weekly subscription service.

  • posted by sunshine-girl

    Hi Anne, I am sorry you were disappointed and felt let down by what should have been a new and exciting adventure into forward thinking about diabetes. Thanks to you finding the book you have ended up here. We are all of a like mind and do eat 800 cals (or try to) or good nutritious food choice without white starchy carbs, sugars or processed foods. I regularly read the SW magazine and find there are a lot more accompaniments of things like cauliflower rice or courgetti spaghetti so they are sort of getting the message and would assume WW to be the same. I have a friend who has been a member of SW for as long as I can remember – at least 8 years – and she has now exceeded her starting weight (was around 18 stone now around 20) and she still goes along and pays her money. They do a lot of understanding chats and dont be hard on yourself and she takes this as confirmation she is doing everything right and it must be the diet, her hormones, the weather etc that keep her that size. They pander to her insecurities and nurture them and keep on promising. I bought her the BSD book and asked her to think about it. Problem is she loves cakes and SW encourange her to have her little treats, that is what points are for….. Some people cannot have treats and stop at that.

    My lovely dietician caused me to gain 5kgs in 6 months and put my normally okay BG levels off the scale with regular readings of 180 / 190 / and even 200 which is what led me to find this diet through Michael Mosley.

    Hope you can find some solace here with us and you seem to be getting the hang of it. We are not admin or doctors but we will do our best to answer any questions you have. We had hoped that more research would be done but so far we are not holding our breath and your experience confirms things are not there yet.

  • posted by Verano

    Hi Anne. Pleased you have found this forum. Both sunshine-girl and myself have been eating this way for the last 5 years and neither of us have had our health deteriorate in fact it’s improved!

    I was diagnosed with T2 back in 2011and found MM in 2016 so I was definitely not ‘newly diagnosed’. My blood sugar had never been very high at around 7-8 but in the low 6’s with metformin. My nurse was suggesting that I would soon need to add a second tablet to keep my blood sugars on an even keel. I didn’t want that and at around the same time I found The Blood Sugar Diet (which really is a way if life). I started to follow a low carb diet and within months my blood sugars, with metformin were back within normal boundaries. I followed my nurses guidance as this was a ‘new’ and ‘radical’ way of eating, and after 6 months reduced my metformin by half and then 4 months later I ditched it altogether. Since then my blood sugar has remained ‘normal’ just by eating low carb.

    I firmly believe, from my own experience only, that eating low carb is far more important than the weight loss to keep blood sugars normal. I lost 15% of my body weight but have probably regained a third of that yet my blood sugars remain normal.
    There has been a lot more research into diabetes over the last 5 years and I have to agree with you that at the end of the day WW is a ‘business’. In common with sunshine-girl I had a friend who was a life long WW member and used to go and weigh-in every week. She didn’t regain weight but then she had a very unhealthy relationship with food.

    Have a look at the ‘Take a look at this’ thread on this forum. (Just search in the box at the top right hand corner of this page). There are lots of pointers to good articles, books etc if you are interested. In fact I’m listening to a fascinating audio book, “Why we eat (too much)”, at the moment which investigates the bodies ‘set point’ weight. It takes the reader (listener) through the whole evolution of the way we eat and why. I’m not quite at the end yet but the way we have been misled by the food industry and the ‘miracle diet’ industry is really scary.

    Anyway, as sunshine-girl says, I’m glad you’ve found MM and this forum and I wish you a good journey to normal blood sugars and a more healthy way if life.

  • posted by Mecanopsis

    Thanks folks, I have to say this forum is such a lovely friendly place. I’ve been quietly reading articles and looking up recipe ideas here since I started the 800.
    I do feel desperately sorry for the rest of the participants in the study, especially when they’re being fed such blatant misinformation. And I’d forgotten about the ‘treat points’; you’re quite right, on top of your daily food points allowance you get a set number of ‘treat’ points (I think it started at about 5) which you can use for ‘treats’ ! If you don’t use those points they roll over like a lottery jackpot.

    I’m still stunned at just how much better I feel after whats only been a few weeks on a really very easy diet. I presume it’s the cutting out of basic white carbs (bread, potatoes, pasta, rice) thats been the difference. I have a quite large (2″) hiatus hernia which has been a major pain for years giving me heartburn and reflux; I’ve had to sleep sitting up for well over a year. Well, 3 weeks into this diet all that stopped. I was even able to cut down on the PPI (omeprazole in all its various forms) tablets I take every day by half. Unbelievable. Who’d have thought there’d be an effective diet where you can have a full English breakfast! (minus bread etc) !! That fact alone has been enough for two of my friends to start looking at this! (Before anyone panics its the breakfast shown in Claire Baileys book; one sausage, one bacon, egg, black pudding, tomato etc for 310 calories). We keep chickens so luckily have a relatively constant supply of eggs which we’re now using up far more than we did.
    My target weight is 10st 4lb, so around 66kg (I bought some new scales which are in kg so I’m constantly having to think what that means in old english), so with any luck I should be a lot closer to that now by Christmas; currently at 87kg.

    Thanks everyone, looking forward to continuing the journey with you all 🙂

  • posted by sunshine-girl

    Hi Anne, hope you are still with us. We run a weekly thread starting each Tuesday called One Week At A Time Starting…… and the new date. currently 13th July. Pop along and have a read and join in if you want to. We are all friendly, caring, non-judgemental and always supportive. Or if you need a boot up the backside we can do that too 🙂

  • posted by LifeUniverseEverything

    Mecanopsis: thank you for posting this! It’s fascinating to hear what WW think they can get away with (mostly robbing people blind!).

    I’ve only just switched from WW to F800 in the last few weeks and my results are so much better.

  • posted by Mecanopsis

    Funnily enough, someone from the survey just called me to ask me to confirm I had left the study. No questions, no “Why?”, nothing!!
    Sunshine-girl many thanks for that link, I’ll take a look now! 🙂

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