Successful Diabetes

Successful Diabetes

Diabetes Stories Website - February 2015

Welcome to our all-new monthly spotlight on an organisation or resource that can help us all in our quest for better health!

The February spotlight's on......The Diabetes Stories website

Read on for all the details and/or download your personal copy here

What is it?

Diabetes Stories is a website set up by the Oxford Centre for Diabetes Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM). It consists of stories and experiences of people with diabetes, families and health professionals from each decade between the 1920s and early 2000s. There are 100 stories, including interviews, video clips and downloads. Together these stories form an oral social and medical history of diabetes in the 20th century.  Its intention is to show how diabetes services and technological developments have affected the lives of people living and working with diabetes over successive decades, but it also serves as a contribution to the history of medicine itself.

Diabetes Stories was the brainchild of Professor David Matthews of OCDEM. He was inspired by the memories and experiences he heard from the people with diabetes attending his clinics and felt that there should be a collection of such memories.  This developed into a way of also capturing the stories of those working in the field of diabetes care.

Diabetes Stories was a collaboration between OCDEM and an oral historian, Helen Lloyd and was funded by 2 project grants from the Wellcome Trust.  As well as the website, copies of the recordings have been archived in the British Library and at OCDEM itself.

The website is easy to navigate and search, by person, by topic or by decade, for example. Each of the stories has a series of short extracts from the interview, highlighting different topics covered in it, or you can play the whole interview or download its transcript.  Some of the interviews have ‘extra content’, such as photographs and examples of equipment, supplied by the interviewee.

Diabetes Stories is a vast and absorbing resource which has something useful for everyone living or working with diabetes and for researchers both now and in the future

How can it help me with living with diabetes?

Many people say that one of the most helpful aspects of learning about living with diabetes is to share the experiences and feelings and practical tips from others who also live with it.  With Diabetes Stories, you can learn from others, not only currently, but from the past.  You can also get an insight ‘behind the scenes’ from health professionals and care workers and see how history has shaped the services you receive today.

You can use the topic search to look for any aspect of diabetes from any interview, which can help when you are looking into aspects of your own condition or experience.

Finally, you can gain motivation and inspiration from the stories, either because you can see how life has turned out for those who did not have access to our modern-day treatments or because of their successes in managing their condition, ‘against all the odds’

How can it help me with working with diabetes?

You can learn from health professionals who have pioneered new treatments or ways of working, and be inspired by their careers or research.  Diabetes Stories serves very well as a history of diabetes care, so you can become more aware of where developments you may have seen have come from.  If you’re studying diabetes, it can really help you find evidence and quotations to bring your assignments to life!

The best insights for health professionals are often those of people with diabetes themselves and this site gives you easy access to a whole variety of these, which you can listen to and reflect on  - and maybe even share with people you are currently seeing now, who might be experiencing some of the same sort of challenges – a kind of virtual ‘friend with diabetes’!

You can spread the word in your clinics and consultations that this resource exists, so that people have a different context for their diabetes and an opportunity to look at it themselves and find what is most useful to them

Our 3 top reasons to give Diabetes Stories a try


1.    It’s really easy to read and navigate

2.    It’s a mine of useful information and resource for many aspects of living and working with diabetes over the years

3.    You can dip in and out of it, whenever there’s a specific aspect you’d like to hear about


Any down sides?

As ever, just a couple of tiny things:

1.  When you listen to the recordings, there is just a blank screen, where it would be nice to have a picture of the interviewee, to link the story with the person         

2.    The recordings end in the early 2000s, around 2007, so more recent developments and experiences aren’t included.

That’s it for now! Hope you like our take on Diabetes Stories and watch out for another ‘Self Health Spotlight’ in March!


Diabetes Manual Complete

“When first diagnosed with diabetes 2, I was in a state of shock. I thought my life would never be the same again and would be dominated by this condition.

On receipt of the manual, I really did not know what to expect. I thought it would be full of jargon and unrealistic suggested changes to my life. How wrong I was. From page one it was extremely easy to read and understandable. It was written in such a way that I felt able to follow and use the suggestions without feeling alarmed. The main thing I came to realise was that I could manage this condition and the success of doing so was mostly down to me and what I was prepared to do to control it.

Although the case studies did not directly relate to my life style, that did not take away the ability to find them interesting, informative and adaptable to my life. What they did show was no matter your circumstances you could control the condition.

The six stages enabled me to think through each one carefully so that I could consider how they affected me. The explanation of the various types of medication and symptoms was also useful - what to look out for in your daily life, trigger points which would give a negative response to glucose levels etc. Even if my medication had to be increased or changed over time I did not feel too alarmed.

Although my condition is now invariably below 7 and a recent Hba1c reading was 6.6, I do not intend becoming complacent. Knowing the manual is there to answer any future questions and worries I may have is very reassuring”

(Val, Woking, 2014)


“I can't speak highly enough of my experience with using the successful diabetes manual with the support of Rosie Walker. I rapidly went from being shocked, angry, uninformed, frightened and feeling out of control to actively managing my condition, using the information provided to make my own choices and also do further research, feeling healthier and more positive than I have for a long time. I spent a few weeks thinking of nothing but diabetes ... but now it is just part of who I am, something I need to be aware of and in control of but not afraid of.

The manual is clear, very readable but never patronising. It is something I will go back to whenever I need reminders. Thank you, Rosie, for all the positive support .... just when I needed it"  

(Carole, Hastings, 2015)


'My Fitness Pal' website - January 2015

Welcome to our all-new monthly spotlight on an organisation or resource that can help us all in our quest for better health!

The January spotlight's on......The 'My Fitness Pal' website

Read on for all the details and/or download your personal copy here

What is it?

My Fitness Pal (MFP to its friends) is a free online food and activity tracker, which, as the name suggests, aims to help people to lose weight and become fitter.  You set your own weight and / or fitness goals, which it then converts to daily calorie and exercise recommendations. Then you simply add your daily activity and food intake and it automatically makes the calculations, so you can see your progress! 

There’s a vast, calorie-counted foods and activity catalogue, and you can store your regular foods, meals and activities, which makes it very easy to be exact about tracking these. The site also summarises your progress, either publicly or privately, according to your wishes. It has a friendly and supportive, rather than bossy or critical, approach and encourages you to make your own use of all that it has available.

For support from others as well as self-help, there are blogs, success stories, forums and communities, where MFP members can meet, share and compare their progress – or lack of it! – so as to keep motivated. 

It’s an American site, run by a fitness-orientated company, which encourages its employees to ‘walk the walk’ of healthy lifestyle. They’re so concerned about service that their support department styles itself ‘The Customer Happiness Team’!  However, the site runs in different languages and can be customised to the country of use (for example in terms of weights and measures). 

My Fitness Pal seems dedicated to excellence and, importantly, has both volunteer and staff moderators for the discussion forums, which also have prominent ‘terms of use’ rules.  The company are constantly adding new ways to make it easier to use the site and recently have launched several Apps in order to make continuous tracking on a mobile device even easier.

How can it help me with living with diabetes?

Maintaining your ‘fighting weight’ is one important dimension of managing diabetes of any type.  Another is taking regular, aerobic activity.  Both have been shown to help prevent long-term complications and other health conditions. which in turn can make diabetes more difficult to live with. This site not only helps with keeping an eye on food and exercise, but also gives reward (in the form of feedback) for doing so – both really important to prevent ‘sliding’ away from weight and fitness goals.

Losing weight is one of the most difficult aspects of life in general but in particular, it’s often the first recommendation on being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Many people struggle to succeed and My Fitness Pal offers a really quick, easy, attractively-presented way to help. 

Logging your food intake is well known to be a predictor of success in losing weight and the success stories the site features, can also help you stay motivated. Your motivation is increased further by the option to share your progress on the well-laid out discussion forum. 

Best of all, My Fitness Pal is free, so you can, as the site itself says ‘stop wasting money on other dieting programs’!

How can it help me with working with diabetes?

Most obviously, you can talk about the site to the people  with diabetes whom you meet in your clinics and education sessions and encourage them to give it a try if they are looking to lose weight or become fitter.  This will not only help them to help themselves in a very practical way, but also reassure you that they are following a reliable source of support.

And…as the recent NHS ‘Forward View into Action’ implementation programme has specified, it’s not just people with diabetes who need to look after their weight, activity and general health and who sometimes struggle to do this!  These are universal experiences for us all, including health care staff, so if you are looking to improve your own eating and activity habits and / or tend to be short on staying power or motivation, this could be the site for you!

Logging your progress and sharing the ups and downs with others are equally effective in losing weight or getting fitter, for those without diabetes.  And after all, if you think this site will be good for the people with diabetes you see, it makes sense to try it out yourself - doesn’t it?!

Our 3 top reasons to give My Fitness Pal a try

 1.    It uses well-known techniques for success in losing weight, made easy and accessible

2.    It lets you use its resources your way, while offering loads of support from the company and other members

3.    It’s free!

Any down sides?

Only a couple of very small things….

1.    The nutritional information about foods tends not to include fibre content, which would be a useful addition  

2.    Some of the feedback could be worded better – for example ‘(your name) has not visited for 3 days’ could possibly make a user feel guilty and demotivated. When you return, it might be better to translate this as ‘welcome back’!

That’s it for now! Hope you like our take on My Fitness Pal and watch out for another ‘Self Health Spotlight’ in February!

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