Since having my ileostomy eleven years ago, I have learned the importance of drinking regularly and keeping my fluid intake up. I learned this the hard way having collapsed after a shift at work owing to dehydration. However I had been noticing a couple of changes to my normal routine, i.e. more trips than before to the bathroom to urinate, especially during the night, and a constant dry mouth in spite of all the fluids I was taking. So I made an appointment for a blood test to check if everything was okay.

Diabetes Diagnosis

I really didn’t expect to have a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes and it came as a bit of a shock. I thought I’d been pretty good at managing my diet since having my stoma but obviously I needed to revisit it! It appeared that some of my regular foods were in fact not helping the situation and they were all things that I believed were helping me because of my stoma: sugary drinks, salty snacks and things like white bread and rice (lower fibre). My first question then was: is it beatable? The nurse assured me that it was so that became a new mission.

Dietary Changes

Having had a conversation with the nurse, I soon realised that I was going to have to cut down, as opposed to cut out, carbs. Carbohydrates are complex things. With the help of, I was able to consider better choices regarding my carb intake. I was eating an astonishing amount of carbs daily: bread and potatoes in particular. I was also advised to eat plain crackers or biscuits, have low sugar cereals (such as Weetabix) and have whole-wheat bread or at least half-and-half bread.

Reduced Fat and Sugar

Working shifts can be a real nuisance when it comes to planning meals. I confess that I was a terror for not taking a well thought out packed meal with me but took the easier option of popping into Greggs or the Coop in the Quadrant in Swansea to buy a pasty and a doughnut… or two.

I also drink a lot of tea – with two generous sugars in each cup; I have a very sweet tooth. It was clear that here were huge changes that had to be made. I have reduced the sugar in my tea to one moderate spoonful and now Mrs T plates up cooked dinners that can go in the freezer to take with me on days when I’m working late and wouldn’t have a meal at home.


Looking at the advice online, healthy snacks recommended include nuts and seeds that I can’t actually tolerate because of my stoma. Fruit and vegetables are also recommended; whilst I can eat both, I have to be careful of anything in skins so I often eat tinned fruit (in juice not syrup) and I stick to root vegetables as part of a dinner so that they are well cooked and soft. I do eat peas now and again but a pea purée is far easier to digest than the little green bullets!


In order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, I was prescribed metformin. Unfortunately one of the side effects of this is diarrhoea which isn’t great news for anyone but especially and ostomate. I found myself unable to take the full dosage and also taking loperamide tablets to control things enough to go to work. Metformin also gave me terrible mood swings which I absolutely hated. So it was with great relief and satisfaction that when I went back for a check-up, my diabetes has now fallen back to a pre-diabetic level.

After four months of watching my diet, maintaining my exercise level via regular walking, I am delighted to have achieved this. There is a history of diabetes in the family so I am at a greater risk. However, being careful about what I eat and drink has an additional significance now. I feel healthier and I have actually dropped my waist size too. Like most things in life, it’s all about getting the balance right. I found a good quote online that really sums up my experience with diabetes: “Diabetes is only a word, not a sentence.”