HbA1c, just a number?

Do you ever find yourself paying a little too much attention to a specific number?

Your weight? Your distance covered? Milestones reached? Friends on Facebook?

Or, perhaps, your HbA1c, the “lighthouse” of how you’re doing as a diabetic?

It’s easy to put a lot of weight on a number (pun intended!), because it’s something measurable, something you can follow and have a direct understanding of whether it improves or gets worse.

What’s difficult to understand is that these numbers, none of the ones I mentioned above, matter much.

Your weight technically doesn’t matter much, as long as you feel fit and healthy with it. Neither does the amount of kilometers you ran last week, unless you were in a race… Counting milestones only creates an inner stress and pressure to reach your goals faster, harder, more productively. And, friends on Facebook – are they r e a l l y friends…?

I know. This is crazy cakes.

We’ve been told, time and time again, to set measurable goals, and it’s really hard to find ways to measure improvement without those numbers.

So also when it comes to diabetes care and the HbA1c value.

I’ve been conditioned for 30 years to regard my HbA1c as the shining light of how well I’m doing, so the habit isn’t easy to break. Even when I know I’ve done pretty darn well lately.

I had my a-few-times-a-year appointment with my endocrinologist earlier this week.

Driving there (only takes about 7 minutes, but still), I was super-nervous and kept sending little wishes out for a lower-than-last-time HbA1c reading (which was 6,4%).

I got there, peed in a cup, had some blood taken, weighed in and measured my blood pressure. For someone who has a severe case of “White Coat Syndrome”, which is when you get nervous just seeing, being near or even thinking of a doctors office, the last part always seems a little stupid. And it was this time too, because it was through the roof.

I got into my endo’s office and we chatted a bit about life in general, before we got into the whole diabetes thing.

Once again, I was complimented by her on how well I’m doing. This is still a weird feeling to me, after having basically been a disappointment and being scolded for the other 28 years I’ve met with endocrinologists.

She told me that there probably isn’t much more I can optimize about my care without having a lot more hypos. “Watch me” I thought to myself, as I still think I can, and I will keep trying to optimize and improve until the day I die.

Anyway, to the value that every diabetic has been conditioned to regard as a sign of life or death: my HbA1c was 6,2% this time, or 44 mmol/mol.

This is the lowest I can ever remember having during my 30-year career in and with diabetes. I asked my parents, too, and they can’t remember anything lower either.

The fact that I’ve put so much emphasis on it and then receiving exactly the result I was hoping for made me ecstatic. Happy, euphoric and close to tears of pride. In my opinion, with all right. (And I have yet to celebrate this properly!)

After we had discussed some other topics, and I had received all the supplies I needed from their office (making it feel like Christmas every time I go there!), I got into my car and drove off, full of joy!

I got home, told my husband about the result, he gave ma a huge congratulatory hug, and I was so darn pleased with myself. I posted a rarely-seen-selfie  and got on with my day.

Later in the evening it hit me though. I was sad. Despite my excellent HbA1c result. Despite the praise and the congratulations. I felt saddened.

It took me a good few minutes to figure it out, a little EFT tapping and some meditation came in very handy at that point.

I was sad, because that result didn’t mean anything, really.

Fine, it means that I’m reasonably well controlled in my diabetes. It means that I’ve come a long way from where I started a few years ago after a long diabetes burn out, giving me double figure HbA1c’s. And it gives me a little hope for the future.

But it also means that I’m not really awarded in anyway for it (unless I buy myself something pretty, or have a glass of champagne to celebrate). It doesn’t give me a break from diabetes, not even for a minute. It doesn’t stop the poking, prodding and always having to be on alert. It doesn’t mean I can live carefree and forget about everything.

It just means that I’m alright and that my doctor is proud of me. And that I’m technically “pre-diabetic” according to my HbA1c. 

Don’t get me wrong.

I love the fact hat I’ve found my own way and am finally in the position where I feel like I have even the faintest of clues about this whole diabetes thing.

I love the feeling of not being scolded by my dream health care team. And I love that I can say that I’ve reached a new record in my life.

But I don’t think it’s the best idea to put as much of a value as I do on this one value. Especially as there are so many other factors that determine how well I’m doing and/or how healthy I am.

 

What about you – do you also put too much emphasis on one single number? Perhaps it’s your weight? How far you’ve run this week? Or maybe you’re like me and put (too) much focus on your HbA1c?

Diabetes Sweet Spot

When you start on a new journey, you ideally want to know what the eff you’ve gotten yourself into.

Not least when it’s about your health, well-being and future life.

I get that. I totally do.

And I’ve got something really special up my sleeve for you today!

This is one of my biggest secrets in doing what I do. You could see it as a 4-year short cut, as that’s how long it took me (well, plus 26 years…) to get to where I am today.

 

Diabetes Sweet Spot

Diabetes Sweet Spot

 

Let me explain this diagram a little (?) more in detail…

First up we have

  1. Sexy Food and Water

What I mean by this is real food that makes you feel your absolute best, fuels your body, your mind and your soul whilst not jerking your blood sugars around.

In my experience, and many others that I’ve helped and talked to, the mentality of “eating and covering for it” simply doesn’t work.

Eating a lower amount of carbs than we generally do today is very beneficial to most people. Even more so if you’ve got diabetes as a constant companion.

Picture this, a doctor tells their patient, who is lactose intolerant, to drink 1 liter of milk a day, “because it’s good for them”… Do you see the flaw in logic here?

If that patient does drink that milk, “like the doctor said”, they will be in a world of pain, discomfort and also spend too much time on the porcelain throne. Because their body is unable to process lactose properly.

All clear?

Now, picture this; a doctor/CDE/nutritionist tells a person with diabetes to eat 60% grains and carbohydrates with every meal, “because they need it”… (Wait, where have I heard this before…?!)

Carbohydrates, no matter in which form (pasta, rice, bread, cereals, pastries, cookies, ice cream….) turn into pure sugar (glucose) as soon as it hits your mouth and the enzymes in your saliva.

And what do people with diabetes not produce (enough of)?! The hormone that lets energy, in the form of sugar, into the cells, namely insulin. And if we can’t produce it ourselves, we have to add it in a much less precise and guesstimating way in comparison to our well-oiled-running-like-machines-bodies.

Ergo, removing some (or even all) of those sugar-shape shifter-carbs from what you eat is a great idea.

That would be the same logic as for our lactose intolerant friend I mentioned before – to take away what your body can’t process properly to reduce pain, discomfort and make life easier.

(I’ll happily talk more about this, if you don’t agree, let me know in the comments below!)

And water. Tons of clean, clear water infused with alpine air (in a best case scenario).

You need water not only for hydration, but also for moving energy/sugar around, to keep the insulin you take active and to flush your system of toxins and other stuff slugging around.

  1. Medications & Supplements

Even if you do everything else right, it doesn’t disguise the fact that you’ll still need insulin. Just a lot less of it, which in my books is a definite winner! Today, I’m taking 1/3 of the amount of insulin that I used to a couple of years ago.

When you start taking better care of the other areas in your life, you’ll usually get the privilege to cut down on, or even completely stop taking, other medications you might be on.

For me it was the case with my blood pressure medicine. I could cut my dosage with 75% after I started eating better, relaxing and taking better care of myself. But just because I was able to cut down, it doesn’t mean I don’t have to take them at all, I still do. Just a much smaller dosage.

And I still haven’t needed medication for my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which is usually treated with hormones.

I generally recommend a series of supplements, which I’m currently taking myself as well. Yep, all of them:

Vitamin D3, Omega 3, Antioxidants (in the form of green powders), Probiotics, Vitamin B Complex, Magnesium and Zinc. Sometimes I add Chromium to the mix as well.

But these aren’t set in stone; it really depends on you and your own journey.

  1. Self-love & Attitude

Oh, how I can go on about the importance of self-love!

The fact is though, that when you start seeing yourself, your body, mind, soul and brain (and every little cell in between) as one Team, shit starts to shift.

This means that you don’t think of your pancreas (for example) as the bad guy for having applied for (way too) early retirement. Or hate your immune system for attacking your pancreas, thyroid, skin (or whatever else it’s decided you could do without).

And how do you get to your Team Me status?

A lot of it comes from self-love, making sure you feel good and love yourself.

What is self-love then? Here are some ideas:

  • Eating well. Healthy, healing real food full of happiness and love.
  • Water! It purifies you, makes sure you get energy to your cells and hydrates every part of you.
  • Meditation
  • Exercise
  • Breathe deeply, truly and all the way into your toes.
  • Stretching or going to that yoga class you know you love.
  • Rocking it out to your favorite tune is the pure definition of self-love!
  • Make Gratitude your Attitude! Tell yourself what you’re grateful for every day, either just mentally, or write it down in a journal, or make a gratitude jar.
  • “Do nothing” days
  • Essential Oils
  • Reading your favorite magazine with a cup of tea/coffee/or hey, even bubbly.
  • Treat yourself to a massage or a mani/pedi.
  • Treating yourself to that one thing you’ve been eyeing up lately. It’s ok to be materialistic, too!
  • Putting up boundaries. What’s ok for you and what isn’t? Break up with those things that aren’t.
  • Prioritizing good sleep is good self-care. (Danielle LaPorte said that, and I know she’s right!)
  • Put. Away. Your. Phone. I promise you, you don’t need to know what is happening on Facebook every second of the day.

But how can you make sure you don’t forget about loving yourself?

Here are my Top 3 Tips:

  • Schedule it. Otherwise it’s the easiest part to neglect for me (even though I really know I can’t afford to).
  • Make it a daily practice. Can you feel the benefits of it when you meditate? Make sure you practice it regularly. Does a long walk in the sunshine do you worlds of good? Get hooked on them!
  • Make yourself your first priority. It sounds really selfish, but it’s not. Think about it, how can you be there for others if you’re not feeling well yourself? Make a team out of your body and yourself, call it “Team Me”. This team always has priority over everything and everyone else. Fact.
  1. De-stress & Movement

This point goes much hand-in-hand with the previous one.

If you’ve changed your attitude about yourself and diabetes, you will have a lot less stress in your life. That’s a promise.

Meditation, eating well, and all of the others I mentioned above help de-stress you and your life.

As does exercise, for example.

I’m not saying you have to turn into an instant iron man competitor, ultra marathon runner or Olympic-grade swimmer right now. (Although if that’s what you want, then by all means go ahead! You have all of my awe and respect)

Start s l o w l y, gently and build on your exercise and fitness level every day. It’s not more difficult than starting with a short, brisk walk outside.

After a while, the walk will automatically become longer or more intensive, as your body feels it can perform better. Before you know it, you might even want to try jogging or hiking in the mountains.

And all of this while not even thinking about your daily walks as exercise! How flipping great is that?!

It doesn’t have to be a walk though, anything exercise-y that floats your boat is awesome, be it yoga, zumba, dancing on your own to your favorite tunes, body exercises, stretches, skiing, swimming, or a royal mix of them all.

The most important point is that it shouldn’t feel like exercise – you should do it by yourself, without thinking “this is hard”.

  1. Daily Rituals

The rituals you set up for yourself is what you can lean back on when times get a little less rosy and sunny, for example.

If you feel a little lost, you know that your ritual (or routine, but that’s a boring word) can be a saving grace.

Also, if your body knows approximately when or in what order something will be given to it, it knows to prepare for it.

My daily ritual looks a little something like this…

I wake up at 7:30am, find myself a centering thought for the day, after which I check my blood sugar (both on my cgm and manually). Then I check the main notifications on my phone (I want to change this)… Then I get up, take my supplements and proceed to my morning meditation. After a shower and putting some clothes on, I open my laptop and work until lunch, before which I check my blood sugar manually again. It’s a healthy, happy meal. After checking the notifications again…. I go back to my computer and work for another 2 or so hours. Then I go out for a walk (my daily walks are holy) as an afternoon break, after checking my blood sugar. Back to work (client/computer/meeting) until it’s time to make dinner and check my blood sugar. After dinner, my husband and I talk, go out for a date or do something productive. Before bed time there’s the last batch of supplements, taking my make up off with coconut oil, checking my blood sugar and showing gratitude for the day I’ve just experienced. Lights out, sleep.

Of course this differs when I have something special to do, but this is my ground framework.

But this way things like checking my blood sugar becomes part of my routine and it doesn’t feel as difficult or even impossible to do it. I even miss doing it if I somehow skip it in my routine, or have ran out of test strips… (I know, I’m a little weird. But I’m happy that I am, life is that much easier when you’re a little weird.)

 

 

Et viola, if you get these areas right for YOU, you’ve entered into what I love to call the Diabetes Sweet Spot.
This diagram is essentially a summary of the last 30 years of my own research and experience, and if you do need some help on the way here, I’m all ears and would love to help you.

 

Have you found your Diabetes Sweet Spot? How did you get there? And how long did it take you?

When Diabetes is bigger than it needs to be

Diabetes is undoubtedly a very big part of your life. Just as it is of mine.

And you can blame a lot of stuff on it. Sometimes you have to blame more on it than you’re willing to admit.

If you’re anything like me, people have asked you why you don’t blame MORE stuff on it to get out of sticky situations etc… I have to admit sometimes it’s tempting, but I have enough things I have to blame on diabetes, and I don’t really feel the need to make it any worse.

But there are certain moments when diabetes is pointed out as the bad guy, even if it (for once) has nothing, or very little, to do with what’s going on.

When diabetes becomes bigger than it has to be, I sometimes find it difficult to cope. It feels a little like just because I have diabetes, I’m not allowed to have “real people feelings”, but instead everything has to be related to that my pancreas doesn’t work like it should. I’ll show you some examples in a second.

These are all examples that has happened to me, or that I’ve noticed recently.

Doctors blaming everything on diabetes. Yes, they’re doctors, yes, they know all of your health history, and yes, they (sometimes) see the bigger picture.

And whilst things like infections, colds, poor healing time and your thyroid doing a funky dance can very well be diabetes related, it doesn’t mean everything is.

Like an injury you’ve gotten while being (or trying to be) sporty. Unless you had a mega hypo or hyper blood sugar when it happened, it quite probably has nothing to do with diabetes.

Or an allergic reaction. Again, unless it’s gluten (which can be diabetes related), my seafood allergy probably isn’t connected to my diabetes.

Yet, in both of these instances I’ve gotten the answer that it’s “because of your diabetes”. Newsflash!

Being thirsty. While excessive thirst is a good indicator of your blood sugar being high, again, it doesn’t have to be the case. At all.

A “normal” person needs anything from about 1,5 liters of water and upwards per day. And this can vary greatly if you’ve done more exercise than regular, if you’re on certain medications, if you’re stressed, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your altitude, if it’s hot outside, if you’ve had alcohol, if you’re sick with fever or diahorrea… The list goes on! And that’s ignoring any kind of diabetes, high blood sugars, and other fun stuff.

And yet, especially as a child, I was always asked if my blood sugar was high when I was thirsty. (Sorry, mom! I know you were only worried about me.)

There could have been a gazillion other reasons for my thirst. But then it was always had to be due to my blood sugar and that I had somehow misbehaved and eaten something I shouldn’t have.

This lives on in me, and every time I’m super thirsty, I automatically check my blood sugar. Even if it’s first thing in the morning when your body is automatically de-hydrated and needs to fill up on the water reserves.

Being tired. Yup, it’s exhausting to live with diabetes 24 hours of every day, of every year. It is.

But it’s also exhausting to be a human being, with everything that one needs to do, should do, and does anyway.

Every yawn, every early night and not being the last man standing at a fantastic party isn’t automatically connected to me having diabetes.

Maybe I have something to do early tomorrow and need my sleep? Maybe I just love sleep? Maybe I can feel so much better if I only get a proper nights sleep on it? And maybe you do, too?

We all need, under optimal circumstances, about 7-9 hours of sleep per night. To let your body rest, to let it regenerate those broken cells, to think clearly the next morning. And for things like weight loss and hormone regulation, proper sleep is crucial.

Having a bad day. As soon as you’re having a bad day, those loving people next to you automatically assume it’s because something’s up with your diabetes. I know, every single one of you only wants the best for me, and you’re worried about my well-being. And I am grateful for that.

But “normal people” aren’t Mary-Poppins-ray-of-sunshine all the time either.

It may very well be that people with diabetes have these days slightly more often than people who don’t have to worry about things like asking a little computer how you’re doing in that minute, and worry (more or less) about what that number means.

Everyone has days when they just want to give up, when they feel hopeless and feel like they can’t take it anymore. Everyone, including those with diabetes, have those days.

And they are allowed. Those days are needed, too. If only to remind you how well you’re doing on other days.

Manicurist… This is a fantastic story. And it happened to me quite recently.

One day, not too long ago, I decided to treat myself to a manicure.

For once, said manicure wouldn’t be done by myself (gasp!), but by a professional. And I was really looking forward to some me-time, some pampering and switching off my head and just relax.

The manicure itself was lovely, I felt amazing after it and having chosen to do gel lack, I expected it to last at least a week.

When I woke up the following morning, I saw one of the nails had already chipped! Off of my expensive manicure (not even that is cheap in Switzerland).

I was upset and frankly a little shocked. I didn’t think it would start chipping off that soon. I called the nail lady to let her know, and she told me to come back later the same day to fix it.

When I got there, we got to talking. I told her that I have diabetes, and of course her grandmas cousins friend had it too, but died. Great.

Suddenly she says “I know why it chipped off so soon on you!” Being all ears, I asked her to explain.

“It’s because of your diabetes!”

I couldn’t believe my ears.

I asked her if she was serious, and she told me that was definitely the reason.

Almost speechlessly I thanked her for her help and that she was so nice as to fix my problem so quickly.

This might even have been a believable reason, if it wasn’t for that other times I’ve treated myself to gel lack manicures, they’ve held just fine. No chips, no complaints until about a week after. Which is normal. To me, she was just blaming her crappy job on my very-handy-for-excuses illness…

 

Diabetes is always a double-edged sword; on one side you have the negative stuff that is really painful, sore and keeps you in bed some days. On the other, you have things you can, should and need to do. Like having “real people feelings”.

 

When have you experienced people blaming your diabetes for something it wasn’t really part of? Tell me in the comments below!

Weight Loss – 5 Tips

Sure, food is a big part of losing weight. But it’s not the only part.

This is such an important realization to make, if nothing else to stop yourself from buying into the next fad diet with some super formula that will make you loose weight faster than lightning.

That’s nothing more than excellent PR and marketing work. Rarely there’s any science at all behind it.

The following tips are true for the vast majority of people, whether or not you have diabetes, metabolic syndrome, adrenal fatigue, other problems with endocrinology, or just plain don’t-know-what-to-do status.

 

1. Mental Clarity

The major, number one on the list of weight loss tips is: Mental Clarity.

This is so important I could talk about it all day.

What you eat and how/if you move is crucial to what happens to your weight.

But so is also your mental state.

You’re probably confused and feeling lost when your weight loss suddenly stops or you can’t keep the 500 kcal limit a day (ok, that last one is i n s a n e). You start wondering what’s wrong with you and why you can’t look like that Victoria’s Secret angel…. (ok, that last one is probably self-explanatory… We all have different circumstances and starting out points; all of us can’t end up looking like a super model!)

So you end up feeling stuck. What’s a girl to do?!

a) Answer these crucial questions for yourself:

– What/who/why am I holding on to this weight for?
– What is my excess weight shielding me from? (This can be mental or physical things, like not wanting extra attention or having been bullied around the time when you started gaining weight.)
– Who will I be when I’ve lost this weight?
– How will people see me when I’ve lost the weight?

The answers to these questions will help you clear your mental blocks around weight loss.

b) Why?

Another question!

Answering your “why” (as in why you want to lose the weight) is bringing back the enjoyment in the whole process. It’s a motivator, part of the goal and something to look at on days where everything is blah.

So WHY do you want to lose weight?

If that doesn’t work, you might need more help, in which case I’d recommend working with a coach, therapist or practitioner (for example nutrition and/or emotional freedom technique (EFT Tapping))

 

2. Sleep

No sleep – no weight loss.

This has so much to do with hormones, de-stressing and giving your body the time it needs to heal and repair itself.

When you’re depriving your body of sleep, you’re actively stressing it. And let me tell you this, nothing will happen to your weight if you stress! (Apart from if you want to gain a few and feel miserable.)

Stress hormones, such as adrenaline, norepinephrine and epinephrine give your body other things to do than to focus on weight loss. They throw your body into a “fight or flight” mode and all your body will care about is surviving. Certainly not about losing weight, it will rather hold on to it in case it needs it for the flight-part.

A night here and there without proper sleep is, admittedly, not going to do much. But when it becomes a habit, it might halt your progress.

This goes for any other stressors as well, not just the lack of sleep. Our new favorite hobby, “being busy”, definitely doesn’t help and is a reason why I think so many are overweight these days.

 

3. Exercise

“Eat less, exercise more”, right?!

God no, please don’t!

Exercise shouldn’t be a self-punishing mechanism, although I know very well that it can easily be one.

You should exercise because you enjoy it. Because you feel that your body feels well. Because your mood improves and you can push yourself a little further every time.

Yes, it’s important to exercise. But it’s just as important not to do it out of hating yourself. You have to love the weight off!

As for what kind of exercise you “should” be doing, I couldn’t care less!

Do what motivates you, what makes you feel good and what makes your heart and soul sing those happy tunes.

Be it power walking (with a good audio book!), running, dancing, weight lifting, swimming, mountain climbing, (aqua-) aerobics, pilates, yoga, tennis, football, floor ball, basket ball… You get the point; whatever it is that makes you feel good – do it!

 

4. Eating only when you’re hungry 

“Ooohhh, it’s almost 12 o’clock, that means I get/need to have lunch!”

Recognize yourself?

Unless you actually are hungry (and by hungry I mean properly so, not just any little rumble in your tummy), don’t eat a full meal.

If you’re not hungry when your usual lunchtime rolls around, there’s no one who says that you h a v e to eat. Save it for when you actually are hungry.

Eating because you’re used to it is frankly pretty silly. It makes you eat more than you need to, and, in most cases, it puts you back on the blood sugar roller coaster. (You don’t want that, whether you’re diabetic or not.)

I’m definitely not advocating any type of eating disorders!!

But I am telling you to listen to your body. What does it tell you? Are you really hungry, or are you just bored? What does it need? Are you procrastinating something that you know you should be doing with a snack or a meal?

Check in with yourself before your next meal, are you really hungry?

 

5. Food

This point could (and will be) a whole blog post/a third of my book.

That you are what you eat is clear by now, with everything you eat slowly becoming part of your cells, muscles, skin, bones, organs, hair and nails.

So that what you eat plays a more-than-crucial role on your weight journey is clear as crystal.

Let’s assume you’ve realized that all them carbs aren’t your best buds.

And let’s assume you’ve done something about that. Like starting to eat less processed carbs, flour, bread, pasta and rice, and have started eating more healthy, healing, happy fats. For instance.

And what if your weight is still the same? Or, gasp, has increased?!

If you’ve gone over the point’s I’ve mentioned above, here’s 3 things for troubleshooting Vol. 2.0:

– You’re not eating enough fat, and still eating more carbs than your body can tolerate.

– You’ve fallen for the “low carb baking” train and use almond flour (etc) like it would be water. There is such a thing as eating too many nuts, and in this case, I’m pretty sure that’s what’s happening.

– You’ve heard dairy is basically a “free food” instead of the carby stuff, so you use it. A lot. But it might be that your body cant handle all that diary, and reacts with bad skin and weight gain.

No bueno. Dial back on these things one by one until you find which one(s) is(are) your culprit(s).

 

5.5 Patience 

Patience, my dear, patience.

Being someone who has close to zero patience (working on it!), I understand you completely.

You’ve made all the changes needed; you’ve even given up on bread.

So, naturally, you expect results, like, yesterday.

Except that’s not always the case.

After years, even decades of abusive eating, your body won’t “get it” straightaway.

We can adapt, and your body will adapt to your new, healthier ways. Being animals of habit, the same goes for your body when it comes to weight loss. It knows what it knows and not a thing more. But it can definitely learn new things.

All you need to do is to give it a fair chance to do so, too!

Can you show yourself, your weight loss journey and your body a little more patience? I think you can!

 

Quick recap of what’s important with weight loss:

1. Mental Clarity

2. Sleep

3. Exercise

4. Eating only when you’re hungry

5. Food

5.5. Patience

 

Which of these have you tried? Where are you still struggling? Answer in the comments below!

 

 

Seed Crackers GrainBrain Style

Have you ever tried seed crackers?

All you wanted was a little crunch in your life, but all you got was disappointment.

Were they a little… papery? Or were they full of chemical stuff, or stuff that you can’t/don’t want to eat?

I’m making you a very happy bunny today.

Almost everyone who has tried these seed crackers has asked for the recipe. I’ve even ended up selling quite a lot of it!

So today I’m going to be super nice and share it with you so that you can make it yourself! ! It’s safe to say that this will be the only crack(er) recipe you’ll ever need.

And, what’s fantastically awesome about these is that they are completely allergen free! No grains, no gluten, no dairy, no egg, no soy, no funky chemical stuff. Well, unless you’re allergic to seeds (sesame?), or crunchy seed crackers!

The recipe is actually super simple, and can be tweaked exactly to your liking.

GrainBrain’s Seed Crackers

3,5 dl (1,5 cups) sunflower seeds

1 dl (0.4 – 0.5 cups) flaxseed

1 dl (0.4 – 0.5 cups) sesame seeds (can be swapped if you’re allergic, see below)

0,5 dl (0,2 cups) pumpkin seed

3 tbsp psyllium seed husk

a pinch of salt

2-3 tbsp olive oil

4-5 dl (1,7 – 2 cups) water

  1. Mix all the ingredients carefully. I like to mix all the dry ones first, then add the olive oil and mix again. Lastly, I add the water. Mix!
  1. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Put the oven on 150 degrees celsius (300 fahrenheit).
  1. Bake half of the mix out between two sheets of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out. The mix gives you two baking sheets, depending on the size of your oven, of course.
  1. Remove the upper layer of parchment paper, and cut the dough into cracker sized pieces before putting it in the oven.
  1. Let it dry in the oven for 55 minutes each.

Et viola! Enjoy with some butter and your favourite sandwich topping.

Nutrition Info:

(Whole batch)
Carbs: 55 g
Protein: 36 g
Fat: 114 g

(If you divide the crackers into 24 pieces per baking sheet, 48 pieces total)
Carbs: 1 g
Protein: 0,75 g
Fat: 2,4 g

These are super filling and contain so much good stuff, like fibre, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, Calcium, Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Manganese and Zinc.

The only problem you’re going to have is to stop eating these…!

Customise it (or Pimp my Crackers)

You can add all kinds of herbs and spices to it to make it your own and to add variation.

Here are some ideas: chili flakes, Italian/French herb mixes, sea salt, pepper, paprika spice, taco spice mix (make sure it’s a clean one), fresh garlic, rosemary, oregano or basil, or even cinnamon or cardamom to put a sweeter spin on it.

I’ve also played around with adding and removing different seeds to the mix. I’ve added chia seeds and whole psyllium seeds, for example. This gives it a completely different taste and texture.

I’ve also used a chili-garlic infused olive oil instead if the plain one. There were some sparks flying off of that one! J

Please try this out, it’s definitely worth the longer time it takes to make it than just picking any old crap up from the store. And don’t forget to leave your comment below of what you think of it!

 

Make A Change – 4 Steps How To

It’s never too late to start a positive change.

 

“The time for action is now. It’s never too late to do something.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

It’s easy to think that “you’re too far gone/old/overweight/addicted/stuck” to make a change for yourself and your life.

I know where you’re at right now. I really do.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know how I’ve struggled with making changes in the past…

Having spent a gross majority of my life (26 years), trying to make the right choices for me and my health and having learned lessons from each and every time, whilst not getting anything right.

Seeing different doctors, nutritionists, nurses and experts, even psychologists. And no one could tell me or even give me a clue of what I really needed to do.

I’ve basically ran on wild goose chases in terms of my health my whole life. Different medications, different diets, different motivators and different dream health care teams (of varying success).

This tires a person out, and can even wipe them out completely. What you’re left with is zero motivation, zero patience, zero happiness and 100% wanting to sleep through it all.

At this point I really started feeling like a pre-programmed robot, dreading the future and being sure I wouldn’t see past the age of 30. I was following all of the books, one at a time, and NONE of them made anything better. At all.

It was after that I started studying again, this time to become a nutritionist. And thank the Universe I did.

Somewhere, somehow I found the motivation of giving it (and myself) One. Last. Try. with all the stuff I was learning at school.

And that’s when the proverbial hammer hit the head of the nail – I managed to create something so much more beautiful that I had ever imagined for myself. More health, more freedom, more wealth, more pride, more self-esteem.

This, amongst many others of my stories, taught me a Big Lesson: It’s in the big hurdles that we gain the most insight into ourselves and the most experience in life.

 

“Nobody can go back and change a beginning. But anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Maria Robinson

 

Even if you’re 96 years old and realize that, hey, smoking doesn’t serve me like it once used to, it’s better to stop the nasty habit and move on. It doesn’t matter if your last day on earth is tomorrow or in, well, 96 years, there’s always, always, always space to make new positive beginnings.

This is especially true if it comes to improvements in your health and well-being. As we both know, there’s nothing left unless we have this very founding principle in place.

So, what can you do if you realize that there is a change (or even two) you would LOVE to make for yourself?

  1. Realize that you’re not stuck.

You never were, you never will be. I know it’s not easy to break free from old habits, after all our lizard brains make sure that it’s very comfortable right there. But: getting out of your comfort zone and sniffing a bit of fresh air is essential to making a change. How can you get a breath of fresh air today? How can you move out of that couch potato state of mind? It does take making a plan of action for yourself, and not let said plan be defined by your age or held back by your current situation.

  1. What are you afraid of?

What’s stopping you from making the ultimate commitment to invest in yourself, your health and your future? Spend some time identifying what might be holding you back. Then find a way to work through them, or get help from a coach or practitioner who knows exactly in what kind of deep ditch you’re currently sitting.

  1. Find your ultimate motivation.

And make sure this goal is for you and no one else. This is just as true for general goal setting as it is for a lasting life-style change. Why do you want this change? How will you feel once you’re there? What will others think of you?

  1. What’s the one baby leap you can make today to start it all off?

Take one little step a day, but make sure you take one every day. Help yourself to make an easier transition in the not-too-distant future. It definitely helps to set a deadline for yourself, and work toward that, step by step.

 

There’s always, always, always something to be grateful for. So why not make one of those things to be grateful for that you made a decision to invest in yourself and your health?

The bottom line is, you don’t need to wait for the “perfect moment” to make things happen. You can decide any time you want to that the time is right for YOU to make a change.

 

“It’s never too late. Don’t focus on what was taken away. Find something to replace it, and acknowledge the blessing you have.” Drew Barrymore

Diabetes Belief

Don’t stop believin’!

Dealing with any kind of health challenges is, well, challenging to day the least.

And, yes, it’s even more so when you know said challenge (say, diabetes) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

This is exactly the point at which it’s so important to keep believing.

I’m definitely not talking about a religious belief here. No Jesus, God, Allah or Buddha right here. I’m talking about a much deeper, more profound belief, the belief in yourself.

Believing that everything is going to be OK. Believing that you will wake up the next morning. Believing that your blood sugar won’t pull a 180 on you while driving. Believing that the hypo treatment will work in time, and that your body can take (yet another) beating in the form of a hyper high blood sugar.

Having said this, you can’t just leave it all up to chance either. Behind that strong belief lays tons of hard work, dedication, resilience and, yes, pain. There are tons of blood sugar checks, basal tests and some near death experiences behind it, too. As well as many crappy doctors appointments and opinions, bad medical team members and just sheer experience.

But having the trust in yourself that you have the knowledge and tools necessary to pull through this situation (too), is truly one of the most valuable things you can have. Believing that you can handle everything that life throws at you, and that you can do so with ease and grace (well, more or less, although we both know there’s nothing easy or graceful with waking up with a 3am low blood sugar…).

Trusting that everything is going to be OK, and that there will be a cure for this someday (even if it might be “5-10 years from now” 😉 ). Believing that there is a purpose to all this madness of poking yourself with various needles and staying off the regular coke, unless it’s a medical emergency. And believing that you won’t find yourself with missing limbs, vision loss and gastroparesis any time in the future.

This kind of belief system is vital for you to keep going, to wake up every morning and feel that you’ve got this. Knowledge and believing you can is truly powerful. Sometimes you have to dare to be wildly optimistic!

Just by showing up every day, you’re already doing an amazing job and have taken one giant leap towards starting to believe in yourself. Remember that there’s never been, and will never be another you, so it’s better to work with what you’ve got.

Being able to believe in yourself and your capabilities has a lot to do with self-love, self-appreciation and self-esteem. Basically you have to know who you are on the deepest of levels in order to know in your core that this is something you can handle.

Also, for me, attitude and being able to believe like this go hand in hand. So it might be that all you have to do is to dig a little deeper in your attitude closet – you’ve got this. I believe in you.

Ps. And for a little comic relief, here’s the awesome song that I know you’ve been singing in your head since you read the first sentence of this post (but in the much more awesome Glee version)

Diabetes & The Long Run

When you’re first diagnosed with Diabetes, it’s a major shock to the system.

The questions are endless. What do I eat? What medications do I have to take when? I have to inject myself several times a day?! What the what? I didn’t sign up for this!!

But what happens after living with diabetes for a long time? How does it feel? How does one cope? Why doesn’t one just give up?

Technically, this year marks a series of “jubilees” for me and Diabetes.

It’s been 30 years since my diagnosis this year. 26 of those I spent on a clueless treadmill/roller coaster without a mission and without a cause. The last 4 have been the best ones, so far, starting with me radically changing the way I ate. I’ve spent 28 years with around 10 injections a day, 2 years on the pump. 1 year with my BFF Dexter (my Dexcom CGMS).

Anyway, I want to focus on the first one of these – 30 years with diabetes.

Living with diabetes for 30 years is like living with the most loyal companion (or enemy, depending on the day) you’ve ever encountered. It never leaves your side, and you never get even a second to yourself.

It takes a lot to get used to living with it being a part of you. And, because it’s always evolving, dynamic and on the move, it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with it. Oh, you don’t react well to gluten anymore? Ok, let’s change that. No dairy either? Ok, well, bye bye cheese. Caffeine makes you hyper react? Ok, decaf it is. And that’s just talking about a few food things, completely disregarding certain forms of exercise, timing of medications, or reactions to certain situations.

It’s a silent friend that never talks until it screams. And when it does, it screams loudly. Scary lows, annoying highs, and the possibility of losing a limb or your vision.

The awful feelings and the taste of glucose tablets (or orange juice when your life depends on it, for that matter). Lengthy doctors appointments and the endless needles. Hospitalizations. Advice you should have never followed, other advice you should have followed from day 1. To mention a few.

There are so many things that are so bad with this disease. Horrible, in fact. But there are also things I would have never learned if I hadn’t had this Constant Companion of mine.

It has taught me discipline, timing and humility. It has shown me that life is here to be lived, not to be wasted. Life is fragile, don’t take it for granted. It has taught me about the importance of self-love, no matter what happens. It has helped me see how strong I truly am, “this too shall pass.” I’ve realized that being stubborn isn’t always a bad thing; it can even help you sometimes.

So, what keeps you going throughout the years?

You simply have to. You have no choice but to buckle up and try to enjoy the ride as much as you possibly can. Until that cure comes “in 5 – 10 years”.

Nothing gets better by ignoring diabetes. Trust me, I know.

The mental part of living with diabetes is difficult from time to time. There’s no point trying to sugar coat (ha!) that.

In my teenage years, I didn’t want to have diabetes. I was angry, disappointed at life and everything felt like a huge burden without any light in any tunnel.

Crap endocrinologists, the wrong advice and general teenage turmoil made me ignore diabetes “for a while”.

This “while” made me loose almost everything; my parents, family, friends and myself. And it almost cost me my life.

“Nothing works, why bother?”, I remember thinking. But it didn’t make diabetes go away. Rather the opposite.

Time and again diabetes would show up, scream loudly at me for ignoring it and smack me straight in the face. I was in the hospital from passing out on the street, and other times because I was in a diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), close to death. And everything in between.

Once I got my proverbial shit together, it still took me years to get back to the excellent care my parents had once given me. Many, many trials and errors, wrong paths and terrible turns followed. As soon as I finally thought I had a foot firmly on the ground, the carpet was pulled out under me once again.

Luckily, I managed to find a road leading towards my path.

Diabetes IS a part of you, whether you want it to be or not. And it’s up to you to find a way to work with it in a way that works for YOU. It has to become second nature to you to check blood sugars, (gu)es(s)timate carbohydrates in a meal, take your medications and to accept your (new) reality. Not to mention finding the small things that make you feel better.

For me it was a long-winded road, the batter part of 26 years, to get to the point where I am today. And I still regularly find out new things about my life with diabetes. It’s a disease that keeps you on your toes, that’s for sure.

You cope because you have to. You don’t give up because it’s not an option. And just for being in this position, you deserve a huge medal! But along the way, you may just find a wonderful path through it all that is made just for you.

What are your biggest struggles and questions when it comes to diabetes? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Paleo Scones

Going grain free = going bread free.

In the very most cases, at least. The “bread” you do eat won’t be the factory produced, refined stuff you find at the super market.

Bread is usually one of the things I hear most often from my clients that they miss when they are getting healthier. Which nowadays really surprises me, actually, although it didn’t use to… I was just as much of a bread addict as I’m sure you are, or have been, too.

But I’m very proud of you that you’re willing to make this change for yourself; to go at least gluten-, if not grain free!

So, you know those mornings (or lunches, or evenings), where you just wish there was a simple, yet healthy, thing you could throw together and have fresh out of the oven?

These wonderfully nutritious and yummy paleo scones you can whip together in under 5 minutes. And they’re done in 10 in the oven.

Paleo Scones

You’ll need:

3 dl almond flour

0,5 dl chia seeds (can also be changed to sunflower seeds or linseeds, depending on your taste and preference)

2 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp psyllium seed husk

A pinch of salt

You can also put some seeds on top of the scones, making it more into a type of bun than scones. Variations are endless!

Do this:

  1. Put the oven on 180 degrees Celsius
  2. Mix all ingredients
  3. On an baking sheet covered with parchment paper, make 6 socnes/buns with a spoon
  4. Put in the oven for about 10 minutes
  5. Enjoy with butter, cheese (if you can handle it), vegetables, ham, or unsweetened jam, or almond butter.

Nutritional info (per scone):

Carbs 5g, 3g fibers
Calories (kcal): 198
Fat: 16g
Protein: 7.5g

I’ve based this recipe on the fantastic Annika Sjöö’s original recipe. She’s a truly inspiring swede who is fully into eating Paleo and training CrossFit, and won Swedish “Let’s Dance” (“Dancing with the Stars”) a couple of years ago. If your Swedish is any good, check out her inspirational blog here!

 

Let me know what you think of this recipe! Do you have another favorite (grain-free) bread recipe to share with me? Post it in the comments!

Traveling with Diabetes

I truly love to travel, it’s one of the biggest passions in my life.

To get to see, feel, sense, experience and smell the smells of a new place, is sometimes what keeps me going through a rough patch.

I try to travel as often as I can, meaning as often as money allows me to. And although I’ve never pursued this passion without diabetes, it still makes sure to keep me on my toes.

Like the other week, when I was traveling back from Stockholm.

You know those low blood sugars that you do e v e r y t h i n g in your power to turn, but they just stubbornly hang on as if they were the ones in danger?

The ones that leave you in full panic mode, because what if your blood sugar doesn’t turn in time? What happens if you pass out and become unconscious?

Normally that’s not really an issue for me, my lows usually respond quite well and fast to my figured out and well-rehearsed treatment.

Just this particular low blood sugar wanted to stay with me. And stay and stay and stay.

So, for a little background info… Ever since I got my insulin pump, every time I fly I have to turn my basal rate WAY down. As in to -85% of the normal dose. It doesn’t matter when during the morning, day, night or evening I fly, unless I basically turn off the basal, I will invariably have a hypo.

The first couple of times when this happened I didn’t understand anything. I asked the company that manufactures my pump if, by any chance, high altitudes could influence it? Of course not was the answer, which was later also confirmed by my lovely diabetes nurse.

To this day I still don’t know why my blood sugar plummets as soon as I’m in the air. But that’s not the point of this story.

So, before this particular flight, my husband and I grabbed something small to eat before boarding the plane, because airplane food is beyond terrible and shouldn’t be eaten by anyone.

My blood sugar then was kind of highish, around 8 mmol/l (144 mg/dl), so I bloused a minor amount for the food, bearing in mind I had to turn down my basal rate anyway. It’s gonna work out, I reassured myself.

We boarded, I sat down, and turned down my basal before having to stow my bag in the overhead bin as we we’re seated by the emergency exit.

The take off was smooth considering the weather conditions. The fasten seatbelt light went off, and I went to grab my phone from my stowed bag to finish an audiobook I had on there. “Might as well take down the whole thing” I remember thinking.

Suddenly, I get a massive urge to just talk, talk, talk to my husband. This should have been my first sign that everything wasn’t right in the blood sugar department.

We talk about a future holiday and where we should go, when I suddenly get vertigo while sitting down in my seat. “Wooow, what’s going on?!”

I grabbed my Dexcom and saw it at 5.9 mmol/l (106 mg/dl) and sinking, fast.

“Oh shit.”

Basal was already basically turned off, so couldn’t do much more there. I grabbed a portion of glucose powder with 10 g carbs and chugged it, as I could feel how fast I was falling.

I waited the obligatory 10 minutes before checking both the Dexcom and manual blood sugar again. Dex said 4.5 mmol/ (81 mg/dl) and still falling. Manual check said 3.6 mmol/l (65 mg/dl).

“Fuck. What do I do?” I asked my rationally thinking better half.

“Have more glucose.” And I did. I had another 2 or 3 glucose tablets, munching on them like they were the lifeline I needed.

Considering my normal, total hypo correction is usually 4-8 grams of fast acting carbs, this was starting to worry me. I was up at more than double.

I was also running out of glucose tablets, as I barely ever need to use them anymore, I don’t carry an endless amount of them around anymore.

My darling husband called the flight attendant, asking her to quickly bring me some juice.

By the time the orange juice ran down my throat, I was in full-blown panic mode. Dexcom was still stubbornly pointing downwards.

This had now gone on for so long that my husband asked if they happened to have a Glucagon set in their onboard medicine kit, just in case. Of course, I hadn’t brought one with me. Why would I, I never need it and it’s one more thing for my poor back and shoulders to carry?

Turns out they didn’t have one. And even if they did, my husband, who has been brainwashed in how to use one of those things, wouldn’t have been allowed to administer it. It would have to be done by a medical professional.

As my blood sugar was still stubbornly going down, by this point at 2.4 mmol/l (43 mg/dl), I started to really panic.

Fast acting carbs were clearly not helping in time, there’s no Glucagon set and we still had 45 minutes until landing. If I pass out and lose consciousness now, I’m as good as dead. I don’t want to die here in an airplane, somewhere over Germany. Shit, piss, fuck.

I hear a flight attendant call out over the intercom: “One of our passengers is in need of immediate medical attention. Do we have any medical professionals on board?

I had to laugh in the middle of my panic, that was a definite first for me. Very rarely have I needed to rely on complete strangers for help in treating a low blood sugar.

The most amazing thing was that on this flight of ca 200 passengers, there were 7 medical professionals. Seven, including a lovely doctor that kept me talking and drinking more orange juice.

The taste of the juice was so repulsive by this point. Eugh, how much I truly hated the taste of orange juice then. But it was my key back to life, so it was just to keep drinking it, especially as my blood sugar was still at 2.4 mmol/l (43 mg/dl).

After what seemed an eternity, panic, too many chalky glucose tablets and way too many glasses of yucky orange juice later, my new doctor friend told me to check my blood sugar again. 4.0 mmol/l (72 mg/dl) – thank all holy powers above, it was moving in the right direction!

By this point we were approaching landing, meaning I would have had to stow my hand luggage again. My husband kindly said that this wasn’t an option, and asked if they could re-seat us somewhere where I could keep my things right by m, in case things got ugly again.

Being a fully booked flight, the only option to re-seat us was in business class. I clearly didn’t care anymore at this point, I just wanted to land and get home to shower, have a hot tea and sleep. The other people in business class weren’t quite as understanding…

The last 20 minutes of the flight I got to sit in business class, which I had never done before. So, in order to lighten the mood, you could say diabetes got me upgraded for free. 🙂

Having buckled up for landing, I checked my blood sugar again. Seriously, my poor fingers. Anyway, it was 5.5 mmol/l (99 mg/dl) and I could finally breathe. Long, deep, oxygen filled breaths, which I hadn’t taken for the past hour or so.

Despite all the glucose and carbs I had had throughout this horror-hour, my blood sugar didn’t start to go up again until after leaving the plane. And it never went higher than 9.5 mmol/l (171 mg/dl), which was remarkable for that amount of carbs, which is guesstimated to be around the 60-80 gram mark.

My husband led me out from the plane on shaky legs, thanking the flight attendants for their amazing help and asking me if I was ok and if he should get me a wheel chair. Being mortified at the fact that diabetes caused me a scene, I told him I’d rather crawl to the exit than get in a wheel chair.

Getting home had never felt so good. Home where I was safe, and where I had Glucagon kits if I needed them. The day after was awful, I had the biggest hypo-hangover I’ve ever experienced, I was pretty much useless all day.

So, what’s my lesson in all this? 

Even though everything turned out ok in the end this time, doesn’t mean it always will. I can’t even fly with active insulin from a previous meal, it has to be off. Completely. Also, always bring your own Glucagon. Airplanes don’t have them.

So, in light of this, let me share my 5 best traveling with diabetes tips with you:

  • Figure out how YOU (and your blood sugar) react to air travel. Do you go high or low? Test, test, test and correct accordingly, either with food or with insulin.
  • Wear something medical alert-y, whether that’s a piece of jewelry or a tattoo.
  • Bring more supplies than you’d ever need for the same amount of time at home. It’s better to bring too much and not end up in the dark forests of Sweden without enough insulin… This includes hypo treatment. Bring L O T S of that. You just never know.
  • Check your blood sugar more often. Is it going up or down? (This is especially where a CGM is truly worth its worth in gold (as they don’t weigh much…))
  • Choose the pat down at security checks that use full body scanners (especially if you’re wearing medical equipment such as an insulin pump or CGM. You won’t get a new one if the scan damages your equipment.)

Although diabetes sometimes needs extra precautions before you set off, I would never ever stop flying and traveling. It’s one of the most amazing things in life, and all the extra work is worth it. You just need to find out how to counter-act it.

I would love to hear your travel tips, with or without diabetes – how do you make sure you stay healthy and well during travel?