Residents’ stories highlight the health benefits of eating well

This story was published 7 June 2022

Residents in North Yorkshire have shared their experiences of the benefits of an adult weight management programme ahead of Healthy Eating Week and Diabetes Week this month.

Stephen walking through trees

The programme is delivered by us in partnership with local providers across the county. The free course runs for up to 24 weeks and aims to improve participants’ physical and mental health by helping them to eat well and get moving.

Participants receive a personalised weight loss plan and friendly, highly skilled weight management advisors help them at every step through online, telephone and face-to-face support.

Cllr Michael Harrison, the county council’s executive member for health and adult services, said: “The North Yorkshire adult weight management service is funded from our Public Health Grant to support people who need help and specialist advice to improve their health and wellbeing.

“Providers in each district are experienced in offering tailored support to each person who joins the programme. The proof of the programme’s worth is in the words of those who have used it to make such positive differences to their lives. All credit goes to them for their commitment and I hope their words encourage others who need support to seek it and make the changes they want to see in their lives.”

John, who lives in Clapham, joined the programme after his weight led to high blood pressure and a stroke scare.

“I was offered the weight loss programme, and I’d got to that point where I thought I need to do something,” he said. “I think your head has to be in a certain place to do it, and when you head’s in that space you can do it. The only person who can do it is yourself, I think.

“During the first six months I lost about 32kg. I’ve got more confidence in myself. I’ve lost some of the anxiety and gained a bit of freedom.

“It’s more difficult for men. It shouldn’t be, and if there are any men out there just crack on, it doesn’t matter what other people say. Do it for yourself.”

Charlotte, from Skipton, put on weight after having her third child.

“I was just really struggling with life in general,” she said. “My three kids are very active and I didn’t have the energy to keep up with them.

“A friend suggested the healthy lifestyles programme. I went into it with no hope at all. I just thought it can’t hurt, it’s free, let’s give it a go. The support offered was just unbelievable.

“Some other weight loss programmes kind of punish you for having a life. This programme helps you to have a life but reach your goals at the same time.”

Before joining the programme, Katy, also from Skipton, lacked the confidence to go out, could not walk far, was taking medication and had no energy.

“I was really, really hesitant about joining the programme, because I didn’t want to admit that it was a problem and that something needed doing,” she said. “I was ashamed of it and ashamed of myself.

“To anyone who is thinking of starting it, it is not just about counting calories and getting weighed and trying to follow recipes at home. It is a much more holistic approach to weight loss and a healthier lifestyle.

“Now I have got back into full-time work, the first time since 2008. I’ve got bags more energy, I’m sleeping better, I’m enjoying going out and about and buying clothes.”

Stephen, from Helmsley, joined the programme to bring his BMI (body mass index) below 30 to enable him to have surgery for a hernia problem. After six weeks, he has lost 13kg, reducing his BMI from 37 to 33.

The programme also helps Stephen to manage his diabetes.

“Towards the end of the year I got diabetes,” he said, “but I am managing that now, it is levelling out thanks to the course.”

Stephen says it is important to exercise as part of the programme, and he is now walking several times a day.

“For six or seven months I never really went out because of Covid,” he said. “I did have reservations about the course, because I had not been out for a long time, but it is doing me good and people should definitely go on it if they are referred. The course is getting me out of the house to walk, which is good, because while I was shut away and got very anxious.”

The adult weight management service is for people aged over 18 who live, work or are registered with a GP in North Yorkshire. It is available to people with a BMI of 30 or above, or anyone with a BMI of 25 or above who is also in a black or minority ethnic group, or has conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease or hypertension.

People can contact their local provider directly or ask their GP about the programme, and more information about the programme is available here.

Both Healthy Eating Week and Diabetes Week begin on Monday next week (June 13). Find more information is available on the British Nutrition Foundation website or Diabetes UK website.

How healthy eating can help to control and manage diabetes

People living with diabetes, like everyone, should aim to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Simple changes to eating habits can help to manage diabetes and reduce the risk of complications. A healthy balanced diet includes food from the five main food groups:

  • Fruit and vegetables – aim for at least five portions a day (a portion is the amount that fits in your hand)
  • Starchy foods – bread, pasta, rice. Choose wholegrain versions, which contain more fibre and have a lower glycaemic index, so will affect blood glucose levels more slowly.
  • Protein foods – beans, pulses, nuts, eggs, meat and fish. Aim to eat something from this group every day and oily fish once or twice a week. Aim for less red meat and processed meat as these have been linked to cancer and heart disease.
  • Dairy and alternatives – these are good sources of protein and calcium, aim to have some every day. Choose lower-sugar and lower-fat versions.
  • Oils and spreads – We need some fat in our diet, choose sources higher in unsaturated fat rather than saturated fat, which are less healthy.

Cut down on foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat. These should be eaten less often and in small amounts, including biscuits, crisps, chocolates, cakes, ice cream, butter and sugary drinks. Sugary foods and drinks are high in calories and raise blood sugar levels, so go for diet, light or low-calorie alternatives. The best drink to choose is water – it’s calorie-free. 

Be mindful of portion sizes – eating the correct portion size can help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and help to control blood sugar. See a guide to portion sizes for adults.

For more information about diabetes and diet.