Beating Diabetes and Arthritis

….And Losing 20 kilos on the way

Val Birthday 2013 3

by Val Smith



Nearly 10 and a half years ago now I moved to France with my partner looking for the ‘good life’. At the time I was overweight but although I wasn’t entirely happy with my body, I didn’t worry unduly about it.

I had a wonderful first couple of years over here. We wanted to fit in with the community and went to every meal in the village which entailed eating 5 courses most of the time, drinking wine as if it was water and generally enjoying the life and food that the south west of France offers. To be fair to myself, I was also doing a lot of exercise as we started to grow our own veggies which included a lot of digging. At that time I was still reasonably fit and doing a good half of the work that is involved in starting up and maintaining a 25 by 5 metre plot and in fact, once it was rotavated, I did it all. Our garden is large, we have about an acre of grass, which back then I was cutting with a small motorised mower, walking up and down the slope. I become the fittest I had ever been but unfortunately, also the fattest. I don’t know exactly how much weight I put on, but I ended up carrying 28 kilos more than I was comfortable with.

At least the food I was eating at home was healthy. I started first by having 3 hens to produce eggs, then we went on to keeping pigs for their meat and after that lamb. All these animals have a good life and are fed on a near organic diet. Not a lot of fat, coupled with the garden veggies it was a healthy diet for me. I later started growing turkeys and chickens for the table and geese so all in all I should have been fit and slim. Unfortunately, the cheese, wine, pate etc. were not so good for my waistline or my health.

As I approached 60, I started to develop ailments related to lifestyle and age ……

…Not good. I had mild type 2 diabetes and my cholesterol was creeping up alarmingly, on top of this I was far from happy with my personal life and was not looking forward to reaching the big 6.0. To me it signified old age; when I was young 60 was an ‘old age pensioner. I was letting life slip by and was actually starting to feel old, like I should be drawing my pension. All in all, I felt as if I really didn’t have a lot to look forward to except for my animals.

I decided that enough was enough and I was not going to continue down this slippery slope. Drastic steps had to be taken. The first step was to fight the diabetes and cholesterol. The doctor had put me on pills for them both, but unfortunately I found that I couldn’t take statins as they made my muscles ache after just a week. I was put onto something else that didn’t really help my cholesterol. I had seen the television programme “Food Hospital” that claimed it was possible to reduce both problems through diet, and in some cases eliminate them completely. I felt I had to at least try.

The main attributor to both these conditions is being overweight. I had TO LOSE WEIGHT and lots of it.

The diet requires you to include oily fish at least two times a week. I like mackerel so this was my main type of oily fish and it was also cheap. This is meant to put good cholesterol back into your body. The diet also includes large quantities of soya products and tofu. Unlike so many faddy diets, this was not difficult to keep to nor was it expensive. There are no special pills, products or meal replacements to buy, just good wholesome ingredients available at the supermarket, greengrocer – or your garden!

So began 2 years of slowly getting my weight down by 20 kilos. I didn’t diet solidly for that time, I had a fair few breaks where I put the odd kilo or 2 back on, but then I didn’t want my diet to make my life miserable and therefore run the risk of giving it up altogether. Within a few months I started to get my cholesterol and diabetes under control with this diet and I felt so much better and years younger.

At some point during that time, I developed arthritis, albeit only mildly yet again, but still irritating and painful from time to time. After a while, it got worse. I constantly had a tender feeling in the right side of my neck, often leading to headaches that lasted for a couple of days, my legs weren’t flexible at all and the left thigh was permanently numb. I noticed that as I improved my eating habits and lost weight the pain in my leg was not as bad as it had been a couple of years earlier, before I started the diet; my new regime helped there. Getting up from a settee was often painful, I was stiff for the first few steps, and so the list goes on. I knew this was only going to get worse.

My mother had suffered from severe osteoarthritis

from the age of just 30 years old; by the time she was 60 her knuckles were red and swollen and she was no longer able to knit (her favourite hobby) and the doctor prescribed her a support for her back. I was dreading following in her footsteps.

Luckily, whilst emptying a box that had been left unpacked from our arrival in France over 10 years ago, I found a book of my Mums that she had been given by my sister. It claimed that it is possible to cure arthritis by diet. My mother had never followed the advice, putting her faith completely in the hands of modern medicine. I read it from cover to cover and thought ‘well there is no harm in trying this, it can’t make me any worse and who knows, I might even lose a little more weight.’ I decide that I would start it on a Monday. I always find Mondays a good day to start things so the week before I bought beef liver, veal kidneys, sea fish, plenty of fruit and vegetables that could be eaten raw. I also stocked up on soya milk and bottled water of the fizzy variety.

The idea of this diet is to detox, so the first day you eat nothing and drink only water – preferably mineral due to the chemicals in the tap variety. That was going to be a big hurdle, but I really wanted to get better and I didn’t want to be on medication all my life if I could help it.


Next week:

Read Val’s diary of how she beat high cholesterol, diabetes and arthritis.