Huel and multiple illnesses

I came to Huel in the hope that it could end a years-long problem for me. A little history first: I’m a long term survivor of HIV (diagnosed in January 1987, almost certainly had seroconversion illness in spring 1980), and as such have been through pretty much the entire pharmacy, including virtually all of the early drugs. While they kept me alive they’ve left me with a number of health problems, the relevant ones here being diabetes and Fanconi’s syndrome (diagnosed in 2007 and 2012 respectively).

I used to view cooking as a competitive sport, my best mate and I trying to out-do each other when we ate together twice a week. In late 2011 I started getting sick with what the following year was diagnosed as Fanconi’s syndrome: damage to the kidneys results in their recycling function breaking down so that minerals and vitamins that should be recycled go down the pan. Among the symptoms are non-rational thinking, bone density loss, and so on. By the time I was hospitalised I weighed just 60kg and was sufficiently irrational that the papers had been drawn up to section me if I refused to go. Among my delusions was the idea that a litre of fruit juice and a small pot of yogurt a day made for an adequate diet… I’d completely lost my love of cooking and eating, and neither has returned. I lost much of my Tarot knowledge and almost all my Welsh too, but that’s another story.

Since 2011 I’ve struggled to maintain some semblance of a proper diet - in 2013 I was living on eight bottles of Ensure a day, until I realised that my blood glucose had hit 20 and that the stuff is 25% sugar. Since then I’ve been living on microwave meals (memory issues make me dangerous at a cooker), and dreading eating as there’s little pleasure in it. One of the few tolerable foods are savoury snacks, so I keep plastic boxes of cashews and of bombay mix in the living room.

A few weeks ago I saw an advert for Huel on Facebook, liked by two people whose opinions I respect, read up a little and in a “what the hell” mood bought a couple of bags, thinking that even if it tasted foul I’m experienced enough with medication that alters the sense of taste to be able to neck something I don’t like if I know there’s some nutritional benefit to it. My first impression of the vanilla (I’ve yet to try plain) was that I don’t have the strength in my arms to shake it properly and that it was a little bland, but it would ensure that I was having at least one diabetic friendly, nutritionally sensible meal a day…

It took less than a week for me to give up on the idea of microwave meals: I’m experimenting with throwing some fruit into the blender, and getting through just under 400g Huel a day (on the low side for someone of my height and build, but my life is largely sedentary as it hurts like hell to walk). Together with the fruit and the snacks, the only way I can fault my diet right now is by the salt from the snacks. In a matter of weeks my worries about diet have gone. The only problem I have is a little indigestion after breakfast, a meal I’ve never eaten before, so I think it’s just my system adjusting to the unexpected. Unfortunately my morning meds preclude the use of antacids.

I’m aware that this is early days, but I doubled up for my third order and had three bags of vanilla and a bag of plain, so I can experiment with savoury ideas. At this point my big regret is that Huel wasn’t around in 2012: it would have saved me so much worry. It feels like I’ve been living with an eating disorder since the Fanconi’s hit, and now I have what seems to be an answer. I say “seems” because I’m treating Huel the way I’d treat a new drug: it has three months to prove itself, during which I’ll ride out any adverse effects, and after that period it’s indefinite. So far I’m feeling fine on Huel, and after an unexpectedly high Hba1c some months ago, I had another done last, three weeks or so into going 100% Huel and I haven’t had the diabetes nurse on the phone, so I presume that’s improved.

If Huel isn’t being promoted to hospitals and dietitians, it damn well ought to be. It’s something I intend raising with the specialist dietician next time I have my HIV hospital appointment, maybe taking a sample along for her to try.


Wow, there’s a lot going on in there!

Welcome to the Huel forum. It’s a great shame that nutrition wasn’t high on the list of priorities of the people that were in charge of your medical care. Anyway, I wish you all the best in your Huel journey and hope you continue to feel better.


Welcome to the forum, you do have a lot going on, but you’ve got this far :slight_smile:

I almost always blend my huel in a blender, is it possible you could lay your hands on one? It also allows me to experiment more with flavour tho’ I have a sweet tooth and vanilla huel, blended with cacao and peanut butter is my favourite.

I’ve yet to try any savoury flavours but I really ought to give it a go. There is an absolutely massive thread somewhere with lots of ideas for flavouring your huel.


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Wishing you all best wishes on your nutritional journey :slight_smile:

Thank you so much for sharing so much about your medical history. I really hope that Huel proves itself to be a long term benefit to your diet, I have a lot of confidence.

Keep us updated on this thread and thank you so much for the positive feedback so far.

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Nutrition isn’t very high on the list of priorities in any hospital I’ve been in or visited: basically start at your childhood school dinners and go downhill. A friend in the eighties discovered how to get reasonable food in hospital: tell them your diet is kosher vegetarian - pretty much guarantees you an individually made meal. I was referred to the local dietitians last time I was in hospital (£40 round trip in a taxi!) and ended up with one of them telling me that everything she knew about diet, diabetes and HIV, she’d learned from me! She didn’t take kindly to the idea that she could at least pay my taxi fare as a consultancy fee…

I dragged the blender out of the cupboard: it’s a fancy one I got when I was doing reviews for Amazon Vine (hey, half an hour’s work and you get to keep what you’re reviewing…) and find that the ice crush setting, once to smash the fruit I’m using for extra flavour, and then once to blend in the Huel does it perfectly. I can make a meal and be back at the PC before the cordless mouse powers down.

It’s now a month since I’ve had an on-the-plate meal and I’ve gone from eating twice a day to three times, including breakfast, which is a pretty amazing thing for me. Until recently, dinner/lunch has been a rarity and breakfast non-existent. Didn’t used to eat till tea/dinner time. Now it’s three meals a day, about 125g Huel with perhaps the same weight of fruit making up part of the liquid. I’ve noticed I’m not drinking as much, even taking into account the liquid making up a Huel meal, which means that my diabetes is under tighter control. (A pint glass of sugar-free pop is always to hand, Monster in the mornings, ginger beer later; I don’t drink either tea or coffee.) I had a repeat Hba1c test a couple of weeks ago and haven’t heard from the GP, which is a further indication that diabetes is behaving itself.

My next HIV appointment isn’t until January, and I intend collaring the dietician then (she’s a lot better than the local ones). Over the past thirty years, between HIV and, when they came along, some pretty toxic drugs, I’ve learned to recognise what’s “normal for me” - in the early days we often knew as much as our doctors did, so learning to recognise your own “normal” was, and still is, an important skill. For the first time in years I’m not worrying about either the nutritional value of a meal or, indeed, whether I can face eating. While I’ve got a lot of worries going on at present (especially with DLA ending - I’ve put in my PIP application, but I’ve heard so many horror stories…), eating is no longer one of them. You’ve got no idea how much of a relief that is…


Thanks for your post and feedback. I used to be a clinical dietitian, albeit 14 years ago, and I know the sip feed supplements available and, although I’m biased, I know Huel is far superior.

I did a presentation to some dietitians earlier this year and the response was mixed. Please do mention it to your dietitian - the more that hear about how well people are getting on using Huel in illness, the better it will be received in the future.


I was horrified when I (finally) read the ingredients label on Ensure (I’ve used others in the past but they were before diabetes and I had the typical HIV wasting syndrome) - doctors prescribing the damn stuff to people with diabetes!

I definitely intend bring it up with Kath the Diet: like many people diagnosed in the eighties I’m used to experimenting on myself, and I’m impressed with Huel, sufficiently so to post about it in poz-only places as well as my facebook page. As you can imagine, over the years I’ve seen all manner of weird and frightening ideas for dealing with life with HIV, and Huel is the first time I’ve “promoted” a specific product. Only problem is the way it makes it difficult to get to the £40 spend to get supermarket shopping delivered :wink:



I was severely malnourished and weak and sickly because of it, and after the first week of having Huel twice a day, my health came back completely. In fact I can’t remember when last I felt so very healthy. I had not realised how ill I felt all the time since I had been feeling that way for so many years that I had ceased to notice it and thought I felt well, purely by being so used to feeling the way I felt. The sharp contrast in healthiness after Huel was enormous. I’m so ridiculously healthy now, and passed all my blood tests. I’m no longer deficient in anything. Huel is a miracle food. I can tell you that from first hand personal experience. I’m 56 years old.

I love sweet things and am a total coffee addict, but I stopped eating sugar decades ago, and changed to Stevia. I buy vanilla Huel and add a healthy dash of Stevia to make it milkshake sweet, and I throw in a heaped teaspoon of very good quality instant coffee. I LOVE my Huel like that :smiley: