As part of World Diabetes Day (14 November 2019), Birmingham diabetic and Community Champion Jit Pundal, aged 50, talks about his passion for raising awareness around managing Type 2 diabetes.
I am diabetic; my Dad was, my Mother is; and large number of my close family and friends are also diabetic. So, for me, it's personal. I have had Type 2 for over 15 years, and at the start it was so frightening. I know my Father had it, but I had thought "it won't happen to me". But it did.
I want to make sure that everyone (especially the BAME community) knows about the benefits of healthy eating, cooking, living and being physically active, as it can help you control your diabetes and your mental health. And if you have a healthy lifestyle, you will not need to go on “diets” in the future.
My advice for newly-diagnosed patients would be don’t worry or panic, and to ask your GP practice for advice. There is a lot of help and support available. My top tips would be to ask to be referred to a diabetic nurse, foot clinic, and for an eye test.
I would also suggest asking to be put on the My Diabetes education course, and registering with Diabetes UK to get ongoing support and guidance.
Diabetes is manageable. By getting good advice from health professionals, visiting the NHS website or Diabetes UK, you can feel more in control. It is also important to change your lifestyle, start eating healthily, be physically and mentally active. And to take any medication you are prescribed!
If you don’t understand something about your condition, ask ask ask! That is what GPs, nurses and Diabetes UK is for.
I am a Diabetes UK Community Champion. As part of my role, I help to educate and raise awareness of diabetes across the community. I go to events in Birmingham, such as Black History Month, Diwali, temples, churches and places of education to promote all the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
As well as promoting a healthy lifestyle, I also try to recruit other Community Champions, and therefore increase the number of people helping others across our area.
I really enjoy going to colleges and universities, as we are then speaking to young people so they can start living a healthy lifestyle; develop habits which they can use and maintain for the rest of their lives. They can also tell their parents about the benefits.
I also engage with GP surgeries, chatting to patients across Birmingham and Solihull about the My Diabetes Health Programme, which has been designed to help people understand diabetes better and give practical advice about how to improve their health and physical activity.
More information, including how to become a Community Champion, is available on the Diabetes UK website.
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high. It can cause symptoms like excessive thirst, needing the loo a lot and tiredness. It can also increase your risk of getting serious problems with your eyes, heart and nerves.
It is a lifelong condition that can affect your everyday life. You may need to change your diet, take medicines and have regular check-ups. It’s caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It’s often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.