'My children can’t believe how good their mum looks!' 

Shafina Bibi was shocked to hear she had diabetes, but now she’s changed her lifestyle and has never felt better.

"I was devastated when I found out I had diabetes," says Shafina Bibi, 35. “I never dreamed it would happen to me.”

Shafina moved to the UK from Pakistan nearly 15 years ago. As someone of South Asian origin, she had a higher risk of getting diabetes. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2001 and feared the worst.

“Being South Asian and overweight, I was more at risk,” Shafina says. In fact, the more overweight and unfit you are, the greater your risk of developing the condition. More than 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight.

Shafina also developed temporary gestational diabetes during pregnancy, and this put her at an even greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. “But, in spite of all these high-risk factors, I never dreamed it would happen to me,” Shafina says. “Suddenly, I was told I was at greater risk of serious complications such as heart attacks, blindness and kidney damage. I felt very frightened and alone.

“When the diabetes educator from the community diabetes team called to invite me to their ‘new to type 2’ group education session, it was a huge relief. The educator held the group at my local community centre and spoke in Urdu, my first language, which put me at ease. She explained all about type 2 diabetes, making it absolutely clear that we should keep fit and slim by exercising, cutting back on fat and eating more fruit and veg. It began to sink in that if I wanted to see my grandchildren, I’d have to lose some weight.

“When you’re a mother of five, finding time to look after yourself is hard. After my youngest was born nearly four years ago, I became very overweight and felt far too tired to exercise.

“But I left the session feeling really motivated. I reduced the oil in my cooking and cut out butter and ghee. I began eating more fruit and veg and moved from full-fat to semi-skimmed milk. Now, when I feel peckish, I eat an apple rather than half a packet of biscuits. I walk my children to school every day and make sure I’m going as fast as I can.

“In the last seven months, I’ve lost nearly four stone (25kg) and my blood sugar levels have come right down. I feel full of energy. My children can’t believe how good their mum looks.”


Page last reviewed: 18/06/2014

Next review due: 18/06/2016