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Type 1 Thursday – Jet Lag and Blood Sugar Impact?

How does jet lag affect blood sugar? And how can you ease the burden? 

Last week, I attended the most incredible of events, KetoCon 2019, in Austin, TX (awesome city, btw! If you haven’t been yet, you gotta go!). With closer to 3 000 people attending the event, it was amazing to talk to people, connect, share stories and experiences, meet new friends, listen to mind blowing talks with tons of new knowledge. I also had the incredible honor of being a speaker at #ketocon2019, which was an unforgettable experience! (Universe, please send me more speaking gigs! Kthx!) It really is an amazing community, and I’m so proud and honored to be a part of it.

With traveling that far, however, comes a certain amount of jet lag. 7 time zones back and forth within a week is a little…. intense. So I wanted to tell you about how jet lag impacts blood sugar, and share some of my tips on how to make the jet lag easier on you.

What are your best jet lag tips? Let me know in a comment!

Transcription

If you prefer to read, here is the typed up version of the video above:

Today’s topic has been a part of my life for the past week or so. So I thought if it affects me, then it may affect someone else out there.

I recently attended KetoCon 2019, in Austin, Texas, where I was also fortunate enough to be a speaker. I was very, very touched and humbled by that. I had a fantastic time! The amount of people that I met, the awesome storys that I heard, connections, some of the samples I tried… Everything was amazing! So many people were there, it was a huge event this year, closer to 3000 people. I was very, very fortunate to be there! I really hope that I get to go back to KetoCon next year, and I hope that you will join me there as well.

I love travelling! Sometimes with the travel comes changing time zones, perhaps not all the time. But when it does, meaning that your body might be stuck in one time zone, where as you have moved on to the next. That discrepancy between what your body feels like and what it actually what time it actually is, where you are is called a jet lag. This time, we did a very short trip to the States, it was only a week back and forth. It was a little bit intense. Usually, there is a way or direction that it’s easier for us. For me, it’s going to the east, which is apparently uncommon, I have a lot easier to come home from the States to Europe, then going to the States. This will be taken into account for future trips, believe me…

Jet lag can also affect your blood sugar because your body feels like it is in a different time zone than you are and your insulin pump settings are not in tune with your body’s needs. This is despite that you have changed your insulin pump settings by the time you touch down on the new ground. Your body might need a different amount of insulin than what you are giving in at that point in time. This also happens with basal insulin, or long acting insulin, it’s not novelty for insulin pumps.

It is also a huge stress for the body to change time zones. It gets all confused about times and when to sleep and when to stay awake and when you’re hungry and when you need to drink. And when you have insulin, for example. We also know that stress is a blood sugar killer. Because this is such a stress for the body, this can really cause havoc on your blood sugars. (It wasn’t too bad for me personally, this time. I suffered more from a terrible pump site, than the jet lag itself.) And it didn’t help that I was travelling very quickly back and forth, across 7 timezones within a week.

I was going to share a couple of my best jet lag tips. Although they’re not 100%, clearly, but they may alleviate a little bit so that you don’t have to have such a bad time as you may think it might. So first of all, I wanted to clarify that actually a lot of jet lag is a mindset. If you decide that it’s going to be a terrible time being jet lagged. Guess what? It’s going to be a terrible time to be jet lagged for you! That’s not really any magic. If you decide that hey, yes, okay, admit to yourself, yes, it’s not going to be great. But at the same time, it’s going to be worth it for what I’m doing. You’re already halfway there. If you then also add to it that I’m really excited to go and I can’t wait to see what awaits me where I’m going.

Change the timezone already before you leave. That way you are a little bit more acclimatised to the new time zone even before you leave home. That can involve blocking sunlight, when it’s supposed to be night in the new time zone, or it can be being in front of really bright lights when it’s going to be sunshine and it wasn’t at home. Or it can be regulating caffeine intake, all kinds of things. And there’s a lot you can do yourself. But of course, there’s also apps and I just did a quick search on App Store, and there are so many jetlag apps that you can use. Go explore and find what works for you.

Also, hydration is super, super important for trying to prevent as much as possible of jet lag. First and foremost, this is very important while you’re up in the air, because being that high up anyways dehydrates your body. Don’t make it worse for yourself, as dehydration can cause even more problems. A little bit of electrolytes might not be the worst thing to keep your body fully hydrated, healthy and happy throughout your journey.

Make sure that you expose yourself to sunlight when you’re supposed to. When you have arrived go outside, hopefully it is during daylight time, so that you and your brain and your eyes and all this stuff that works together gets used to when it’s supposed to be dark, when it’s supposed to be light. Sunlight is healing, as we all know, lots of vitamin D, that’s great. Also the fresh air helps to maybe keep you awake rather than stuffy indoor air, when you’re not supposed to sleep.

Stay awake until at least 10pm local time, or whatever your bedtime is, so that you are least a little bit more on to the new time zone. There’s also of course includes no napping, do try to stay awake as much as you can until as late as you can or until your bedtime, whatever hits first. And then hope for a really, really good night’s sleep. If you can’t sleep through the night, which may have been my problem going to the US, definitely do a lot of meditation, a lot of snoozing until you feel ready to fall asleep again. You can also add supplements, such as melatonin and that can really help at least to go to sleep. It’s still debated on whether it helps you to stay asleep but it may help to go to sleep. You can also try things like over the counter histamine drops. Check with your doctor first. CBD oil can also help you sleep when you’re supposed to sleep, as does double magnesium.

Being in nature in the time zone that you’re not used to yet and enjoy the walk. That also keeps you from sleeping when you shouldn’t sleep. Do some yoga doors perhaps, there’s also a lot of jet lag yoga on YouTube, for example, that was very helpful for me, as well. But forest bathing definitely does help.

Keep busy. When I got home yesterday morning, I made sure to unpack my whole bag, put on the washing, so that I had something to do the whole time so that I wouldn’t fall asleep. Today, I feel a lot better, probably also thanks to my hydration plan and my forest bathing and meditation and all these things that I do implement for in order to help my jet lag along a little bit quicker and not just suffer from it.

What are your best jetlag tips I can’t wait to talk with you more in the comments below.

And wherever you are exploring next, enjoy and hope the jet lag is not too bad.

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Type 1 Thursday – Unexpected high blood sugars? 🤔

…it could be THIS!

When you’ve done everything you normally do to keep your blood sugar healthy and stable, and your blood sugars all of a sudden rise to the point that you have to drastically increase your basal dose or rate.

You’ve eaten low carb, taken insulin & other meds you may be prescribed, hydrated, moved, supplemented, not stressed too much, changed insulin vials, stuck to your routine – all to no avail. Your blood sugar is stubbornly and unexpectedly high anyway!

In thisType 1 Thursday, I will discuss a possible reason why, based on my own very recent experience.

Watch the video or read the transcription below:

Type 1 Thursday – Hanna Boëthius

Have you experienced something like this? Leave a comment and tell us more!

Transcription

If you prefer reading the information, here it is:

Today’s topic is actually a bit of a personal note, because this is something that I’ve recently experienced. If I’ve experienced it, there may be others out there who experienced the same and may need help with similar situations or at least help figuring out what it can be.

If you live with Type 1 Diabetes, you know that some days are just weird, blood sugar-wise. It doesn’t matter what you do, your blood sugar’s either high or it’s low, or it’s whatever where it shouldn’t be. Usually it is a little bit on the higher side, and if you have frequent lows, you just think that you’re cured for a split second!

When you have those stubborn high blood sugars, to the point where you do a basal test to find out how much basal you should be taking. And that actually shows that you’re taking too little basal all of a sudden! It’s not due to hormones, if you’re growing or a woman or anything hormone related. It is not due to the seasons, because whether can involve insulin resistance, too. It’s not because you’ve changed your diet, you’re eating the same thing. Basically, you keep everything the same. Just all of a sudden, your blood sugar’s up, and you need more insulin overall.

“Oh, okay. Have I not exercised enough? Yes, I’ve done that.” Check off the list. “Am I coming down with something? Am I getting a cold or a fever? Is there something like that going on? Nope.” You feel fine as a little baby bird, just maybe apart from the high blood sugar situation? Hmm, what else? “Am I injured somewhere? No, not that I know. And have I been drinking enough water and I’ve been taking my supplements? Have I been eating low carb enough?” It can also of course, be stress, it could have been stress in my case, definitely. And it could have been a bad insulin vial. But as this kept going throughout insulin vials and stressful periods and stuff, I figured out it wasn’t that. All these things that will checklist of lifestyle factors that do influence blood sugar. Everything is in check. What the *bleep* is going on?

Well, this, as I mentioned, did happen to me quite recently. In the past few months, all of a sudden, my basal requirements increased with, I kid you not, 30%! This is, of course, it’s just a number and you have to use the insulin that your body needs. But to me, it felt very weird. Wait, what could this possibly be that is going on? I didn’t think more about it. My blood sugar was then back to their stable, wonderful self, with the 30% extra basal insulin requirement.

But then I started getting a tooth ache. We were traveling at the time, and I was like, “Oh, no, I have to like find a dentist!” I’m not too fond of dentist, as it is. I contemplated finding an emergency dentist where I wasn’t notat home, and didn’t really speak the language. And I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know where I am and all the stuff. I’m like, oh, what am I gonna do?

But I made it. I could soothe the symptoms until I got back to my normal dental hygienist, who happily took an X ray of my lower jaw on the left side and noticed, “oh, you have an abscess underneath that tooth that was hurting.” I’m like, “oh, okay, so it was an inflammation. I just couldn’t feel it at the time!” I had walked around with an inflammation, which is known to cause high blood sugars and insulin resistance (or both, which is probably the case here). I was very jolted when she said that it has to be surgically removed.

Now, I’ve had a fair amount of dental work done. Especially when I was still in my high sugar eating days, my teeth started crumbling a little bit. I didn’t know why, because I was eating the way I was supposed to. Since going low carb, I haven’t had any problems at all. So for a long time, I haven’t had to go to the dentist, I’ve only gone to the dental hygienist to get my teeth cleaned and and she checks my teeth. If everything is good, I don’t have to go to dentist. Yay. Happy me. But this time, she’s like, “well, you know, you can’t really remove this on your own, it won’t go away. So we have to actually surgically open up your gums on the lower left side.” This sounded lovely. (If you’re sensitive, please just fast forward!)

“We have to open up your gums on the lower left jaw and we have to dig out the inflammation by hand because it won’t go away.” And I’m like, “No, this is terrible!”, feeling my stress regarding dentists as it is, my blood sugar immediately went up a little bit. I wasn’t very happy about that (but that wasn’t the point of the story.) The point of the story is, that when I finally managed to get the courage to make that appointment, and the dentist was allowed to cut up my gums (and ended up doing a lot of other work that I just don’t even want to remember, because it was terrible.) Then, when the inflammation was out, and I had started healing, look at that, hey, presto – there went my 30% basal rate that I had added on top! My basal rate went back to normal. It was that inflammation.

The moral of my terrible experience and story is that if you do have unexpected highs and your basal rate does go up, it doesn’t have to be anything that you’ve done or that you’re doing wrong, or that you’re not being “compliant”. That’s a terrible word! It can also be something that is going on in your body that you don’t even know about, as in my case, it was a dental inflammation, a dental abscess.

I don’t recommend it to anyone. But if it does happen to you, make sure that you get it taken care of, and go check it out. And this is why it’s actually quite good as a diabetic to get your teeth cleaned quite regularly so that someone can see the differences going on.

Have you ever experienced anything similar to this? Anything that all of a sudden raise your blood glucose values or all of a sudden raise your basal rates?

Let me know and let me know how you sold that in the comments and we’ll be happy. I’ll be happy to do chat with you there.

I hope this story hasn’t put you off! It did me for a good while, but I’m happy that it’s now over and I can look forward again.

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Type 1 Thursday – Injections vs Insulin Pump?

Today’s topic is MDI (multiple daily injections) vs insulin pump – which is better?

This comes after a question I got on an Instagram post, where I was asked if it’s necessary to use a pump as a Type 1 Diabetic?

My short answer is DEFINITELY NO! If you achieve great results and reach your goals, it doesn’t matter what kind of insulin delivery system you use. The main point is that you have normal, healthy, happy blood sugars.

Watch the video (or read the transcription below, if that’s more your thing) to find out my pros and cons of MDI and insulin pumps.

I want this to be a conversation starter, so why don’t you let me know YOUR pros and cons in a comment below? And, what do you use to deliver insulin? Let me know!

Transcription

The age old question for most people living with insulin dependent diabetes, is the question I recently got on my Instagram post.

The question was about whether it is necessary to use an insulin pump, or if multiple daily injections, either though a pen or syringe is better for diabetic?

This is very difficult to answer straight off the bat, because this is a highly individual topic. In my opinion, the short answer is that it doesn’t really matter what you use to deliver the insulin, that you do need as a Type 1 Diabetic, as long as you do. If your diabetes is well managed with maybe a completely crazy version of either MDI or insulin pump or whatever, then hey, that’s fantastic. You found what works for you, and that is great.

Today, I wanted to have a conversation starter with you, which we can happily continue in the comments below. I wanted to outline my pros and cons for both MDI, which is multiple daily injections, you deliver your insulin by injecting yourself every so often with both basal and bolus insolence. And also pros and cons for the insulin pump that I’ve noticed for the past couple of years. Maybe this can help you make up your mind, maybe there you find out something that you want to try, and if you do, please let me know in a comment.

My own story in regards to my insulin delivery method has been a little bit jumpy. Well, I was actually flat out refusing to have an insulin pump for so many years. I had had diabetes for 27 years before I finally agreed with my diabetes nurse that now I was ready to try. And this despite health care professionals suggesting an insulin pump to me, for the majority of my upbringing, (well, maybe not in the 80s. They weren’t super common back then.) since they have become more common, they have been suggest to me every once in a while, and I’ve always refused. Because, and this was the biggest con for me the insulin pump back then, was that there’s something always attached to me. I was afraid that I would feel sicker than I have to be. And I was afraid that I’d be constantly reminded of that I am maybe not as chronically healthy as I would like myself to be or as other people may be. (I am, however, chronically awesome!)

So I was very, very hesitant and very afraid of getting myself my first insulin pump. I opted for a tubeless patch pump, which then changed into a tubed pump, about one and a half years ago, I took the step towards a tubed pump for a variety of reasons, which we can happily discuss, and maybe a little bit later. I’ve done multiple daily injections for a lot longer than I have lived with an insulin pump constantly attached to my body.

I wanted to outline few pros and cons of them each.

So let’s start with MDI, as that’s where I actually have most of my personal experience. I want to start with the pros. This is a biggie for me, and for very many other people who live with diabetes, the freedom factor you have with multiple daily injections. You don’t have anything attached to your body, unless you’re wearing a CGM, but they are a lot smaller and maybe you don’t want two things connected to your body at all times.

Hand with this goes also that it makes the illness more invisible. Because you don’t have a pager looking thing stuck to your hip or your clothes somewhere. It becomes a very much more visible illness to live with, with an insulin pump.

If you do multiple daily injections, you can also take a lot more different types of insulin, because different insulins act in differently during different times. For example, as Dr. Bernstein always recommends, is that you take regular insulin, or R insulin, to cover protein, and the protein spike that comes a few hours after you eat a lot of protein. This is easier to do if you are on MDI then having to remember to also have another shot when you’re on an insulin pump. You can also then take fast acting insulin, to which you have to correct high blood sugar or for covering for carbs. Finally, you can choose which long acting insulin that you combine this with in a way more flexible way. When it comes to types of insulin that you take, you can find a routine and a regime that works for you. And for your diabetes, to manage it properly.

MDI can also be seen as being a bit simpler, you take an injection and you’re done. Instead of having to care about every time you remove a piece of clothing or something that the tubing gets stuck or you snag the the infusion set… If you get the benefits and reach your goals with MDI, then why not stay with that?

I think it can also be argued that MDI is cheaper than being on the pump. With the pump comes very many things that you have to pay for, such as rent of the pump, for example. I have to pay rent every month for having my pump. All the supplies for it also cost a lot. It’s not just the insulin that costs! With MDI, either you use syringes that are reasonably cheap, or you have insulin pens that most people with diabetes actually get for free.

Also, from a very, from very superficial point of view, because sometimes you need to be that, too. On MDI, you can wear anything, and you won’t see any devices poking or sticking out, or being in the way, or there’s a seam or there’s something that is just obstructing either the pump or the tubing. With MDI, you are freer in that way too.

I would conclude that with the main point of the pros of MDI is freedom.

The cons of MDI! I find it in hindsight, it is quite inconvenient to be on MDI for myself. I can only speak for myself here! But every time I had to correct, every time it’s time for the the basal shot, I had to pull up my shirt, or pull down my pants… For me, it became quite inconvenient, because I had to inject myself about 10 times a day, before I swapped to the pump. That was a big sales argument for me, to be honest, not having to pierce myself with a needle 10 times a day, only do it once every three days, that sounded like heaven! That’s why I went for it, actually. You also have to remember to take your basal insulin at the right time. It became a huge effort for me to try to remember when and how and how much, which dose at this time of day…

What else I see as a con for MDI, in my opinion, is that you have a lot more to carry along with you when you leave the house. An insulin pump is always on you. So that’s it for the insulin thing. Then you need a blood sugar meter, maybe some glucose tabs and that’s fine. That’s a lot easier to carry then two types of pens and the pen needles and blah, blah, blah, for me it becomes a lot more carrying along. That being said, for most people is not a problem.

Another, slightly inconvenient part of MDI, is that you have to expose body parts. Usually this is not a problem at all, whether you’re female, male, whatever. But – imagine what is it really, really cold, and you have to like take up your shirt, and you feel that icy wind against your skin. Then you also have to inject yourself. I don’t miss that at all. I really do enjoy the fact that for example, if I am out and about around town or something, I can just take up my insulin pump, I can look like I’m texting (or whatever ignorant people choose to believe). That’s how easily I’ve saved my life with more insulin if that’s what I need, or turned down the basal if that’s what I need. But it becomes a little bit inconvenient for me to expose body parts here and there, especially when I’m out and about.

The importance of rotating sites becomes very, very big on MDI, because we all have those favorite spots that we like to inject ourselves in. And that’s fine. But you do have to rotate your sites! I noticed for myself, that it is a lot easier for me to rotate pump sites than it was to rotate injection sites. It even got so bad that no one could touch my upper thighs for a while because I had just injected so much long acting insulin into them.

For the MDI cons, in conclusion, inconvenient to me.

Let’s move over to the pros of the insulin pump. So the absolute highlight for being on an insulin pump for me is that it is very, very flexible. I can be very flexible with my basal rate, for example. If I notice that I’m trending upwards, I can change it, I can add on a bit of temporary basal to see if that’s the problem. And also with the bolus, you have the different bolus profiles. Instead of, as I was talking about in MDI, you can use different insulins for this, you use the same insulin the whole time, just in different profiles, so to speak. For me, it’s a lot easier to just remember that I have one tool to work with and I can do different things with this same one thing.

My second favorite pump benefit, it is micro-bolusing. I can take bolus’ in the size of 0.1 unit, for example. If I really want to, I can do a 0.05 bolus on some pumps, making it much more precise. This is not possible on MDI, because there you have the minimum is half a unit. So it depends a little bit on how tight you want to steer your diabetes ship. I really like the fact that I can really micro manage my blood sugars, to a certain extent, not overly so of course, because that becomes ridiculous on all other levels. But it is very nice that I can do a micro bolus every now and then. When I see the CGM trending up, I’m like, oh, let’s try with 0.X units and see if it comes a little bit down. If not, then I have to redo and recalculate. But it is a good check for me to see what’s wrong.

As I mentioned before, it is very easy to handle when you are on the go. You can even take care of your health and blood sugar during a business meeting (I have done that many times before), and when you’re out with friends, if you are in a busy street. Or imagine, for example, it’s rush hour at the farmers market and you feel or you get a notification for your CGM that your blood sugar is a little bit high, you would like to correct but you can’t really find a quiet corner. With an insulin pump, it’s a lot easier because you just click a few buttons and you’re done. You’ve taken care of the situation and you can move on with your day.

To a certain extent, I also find that it’s more efficient for me to treat and manage my diabetes with an insulin pump. I don’t use nearly half of the insulin as I do before. I also don’t spend as much time managing my diabetes as I did with MDI. Also, of course, if you are a data nerd, you have a lot of data to take care of and see and have insights and analyze and see trends. And the ever so important tech integration, more and more pumps now do integrate with a CGM, so that you can get both things at in the same device. And also, the looping possibilities that are coming up now that are very, very exciting to everyone who lives with diabetes.

The cons of insulin pumps (yes, yes, they are. There are cons with these ones too, it’s not all just roses and happy flower dances.)

I already mentioned one of them, which is that this is something that you always have attached to your body. And that can be very draining, both emotionally and physically and mentally, for some. It’s not always easy to always be connected in that way.

The tubing does, if you have a tubed pump, get caught on stuff like door handles, and other things, clothing, everything. It’s not really the most maybe smooth thing in the world to live with, you do have to watch out and make sure that your tubing is inside of your clothing, preferably, so that you don’t snag it somewhere.

I find that using an insulin pump produces a lot more trash than MDI. I’m not really happy about that, but as it is a lot easier for me to manage my diabetes with the help of an insulin pump, I keep with it, and I hope that the insulin pump provider companies will at some point really reconsider their recycling policies, so that you can maybe even send that stuff back so that they can take care of it. And not to mention Dexcom, please get your act together! But that’s another video. 😉

One problem with insulin pumps is that if it for some reason, malfunctions, and that can be the site malfunctions, the battery runs out, or the insulin goes bad or the machine get some sort of hiccup. If it somehow malfunctions, you don’t get any insulin at all and that can become dangerous quite quickly. That is one of the bigger cons for an insulin pump.

For me, airport security, or generally when you travel, insulin pumps can sometimes get a little bit interesting. They will want to swipe them for explosives. For certain airports, I do have to take more time into consideration when I travel through there because they just don’t know really what it is yet. It is unfortunately becoming more and more common, meaning it is less of a problem. But sometimes I could happily maybe be on MDI for a trip!

What do you have to add in terms of pros and cons for MDI and pros and cons for insulin pump? What do you use it to deliver insulin?

Please let me know in a comment below. I will be happy to chat with you there.

Type 1 Thursday – My HbA1c Formula

Lowering your HbA1c as a Type 1 Diabetic is HARD!

How did I turn my double digit HbA1c nightmare into a healthy 5.0% habit? Find out all about my 12 step formula in this week’s Type 1 Thursday!

My HbA1c Formula

What is your goal A1c? Or healthy goal in general? Let me know in a comment below!

Transcription

If you prefer to read about my HbA1c Formula, here you go:

Getting your HbA1c down as a Type 1 Diabetic is hard! It’s really, really hard and requires a lot of work and effort. So how did I turn my HbA1c from a double digit nightmare to a 5.0% healthy habit?

In this week’s Type 1 Thursday, with me Hanna Boëthius, one of the cofounders of The Low Carb Universe, as well as a Type 1 Diabetic since 34 years. I don’t know if you know, but I reached something magnificent. I have had a long, long standing dream of reaching a HbA1c of 5.0% (31 mmol/mol) in the “other scale”. This week, I finally got confirmed that this was the case and I couldn’t be happier! But what you may not know about me, yet, at least is that not that many years ago, I was a total diabetic mess. I failed to take care of myself. I had terrible blood sugars and very little knowledge of how to actually manage diabetes. So my A1c not too long ago was in the double digits, which is not good for anyone who knows anything about blood sugar. At the same time, I was so hopeless because I was clearly not given a the proper tools of taking care of my diabetes.

I actually shared my full story a couple of weeks ago, but so that no one else has to go through all the trials and tribulations that I did, I have formulated my getting a better HbA1c formula!

It’s what I have done to bring my HbA1c from double digits to a healthy, happy 5.0 habit. I’ve actually been under 5.5% for more than three years now, something I’m very happy about! That means that it’s stable, that means that I have found out a few things that work for me. That doesn’t necessarily means that they work for every single Type 1 out there, but they work for me. And maybe just maybe you or someone you know will be able to draw a little bit of inspiration from what I’ve done, so that you can get healthier and to your health or A1c goal as well.

This is a 12 point plan, so buckle up and get ready, we have a lot to go through!

Number one is definitely eat low carb. I know, it’s a very heated topic in all of this. But if you have problems with blood sugar, there is really nothing else that will work as well as to lower your intake of dietary carbohydrates. This also means my favorite topic in the world, which is the law of small numbers. Instead of with a lot of carbs, you add a lot of sugar, and then you have to chase it with a lot of insulin and then the margin of error is just equally as big. Instead, you can eat a little sugar, you add a little insulin and the margin of error is smaller. This is the number one reason why low carb for diabetics is such a great idea, because it leaves out so much of the guessing work. I also incorporated intermittent fasting into my routine a good couple of years ago. This means that I skip breakfast every day, just because I’m just not hungry, and I don’t see the point of stressing my body with trying to, to digest more. Intermittent fasting that has helped me a lot, and maybe it’ll help someone out there too.

You have to find out if you are intolerant towards any sort of foods. A very common intolerance is dairy, for example, which is a big thing within low carb. If you have any issues or allergies, then maybe it’s not going to help you reach those blood sugar goals that you are so dearly after. Make sure that you find out other things, for example eggs, night shades… People have intolerances towards many foods, but you might not find out.

What is your personal carb threshold? I know this is also very widely discussed within the diabetic community. I personally eat maybe 20 grams of carbs a day, most days not even. For example, the great Dr. Richard Bernstein says that you should eat 30 grams a day with six grams of carbs for breakfast, 12 for lunch, and 12 for dinner. It’s all up to you finding out what kind of level that you should be at for the best results. This is definitely not carbs from cookies, and pasta, rice, potatoes, all this stuff. This is green leafy vegetables, vegetables that have grown above ground, as these vegetables don’t impact your blood sugar as much.

Treating the few hypoglycemia as that you still will experience, but not as many, with precision so that you don’t go up and down and down and up and up and down as we were used to on the high carb lifestyle that I was on before, but treat lows with precision. Use the exact number of grams of glucose that you need to get into back into a healthy, safe level of blood sugars. If you overshoot too often, then your average blood glucose is going to go up. If you want to bring your A1c down, then make sure that you stay in range as much as possible.

Second point is medication, whatever kind of medication you’re on. Yes, insulin, but I don’t want to discount any other sort of medications you may be on, they may have an impact on your blood sugar, please check this with your doctor. When it comes to insulin, there are two really important things that you have to do: number one, basal rate or your basal dose of insulin, the long acting insulin that should keep you stable throughout the day and night. Please test that this is correctly dosed. If it’s not, then it’s going to cause you to either slowly but surely go up in blood sugar or go down and blood sugar if you’re take too much basal. You can test this by fasting and checking your blood sugar every hour of that fasting window, you can either divide it up or do 24 hours in one go. The second part is of course, bolus insulin, the mealtime insulin. Make sure you know your ratios, and that they are properly calculated, or found out through trial and error, as they are in my case. The common ratio calculations that exists with high carb eating, don’t quite apply to all diabetics eating low carbs. So for very many of us it has to become a trial and error. With a law of small numbers, the error margin is not that big. So you’re not going to be in for a wild ride. It takes some time to figure it out.

Also pre bolus for your meals, even if they don’t contain that many carbs, just so that the insulin has a bit of time to start working before the food comes and does the same. What really helps when you’re trying to find out your medication and ratios and pre bolusing for meals, and everything else, is of course to have a continuous glucose monitor. This is either Dexcom, for example, or Freestyle Libre, or any of the other ones that are out there, whatever one fits you the best. I know they’re very expensive, and they’re very hotly debated as well. But they are a huge, huge help when it comes to really lowering your A1c, because when you see a trend you can start acting before the catastrophe is a fact, hyper or hypo.

The next point, is blood sugar levels. As a perfect diabetic, or whatever that means, you should try to aim for an average of 4.6 mmol/l or 83 mg/dl. This is what people who are healthy and have a functioning pancreas’ are on average. If you are at a much higher average right now, don’t try to get down to 4.6 or 83 in one go, do it step by step. All of the modern blood sugar meters have an average measurement of blood sugar. Depending on how often you prick your finger, it might may be representative of what it actually looks like. As soon as you see where that average is, just try to aim for values slightly below that. You will slowly but surely take it down to normal healthy levels and therefore achieve a normal healthy A1c. You HbA1c, in short, it’s the average blood sugar for the past sort of six to eight to 12 weeks.

How you correct blood sugar also matters! Don’t be aggressive about it, whether you have to correct a hypo or a hyper. That causes the large margin of error. Be careful about it, and have a little bit of patience. I’m the worst person to talk about this, as I have zero patience! Be sure that you have a little bit of patience when you do treat, as things can turn quite suddenly. Find out if you are affected by the dawn phenomenon, for example, which is when the liver kicks in and starts shooting out sugar so that you wake up in the morning. Or if you have something that is called boots on the ground syndrome, which is when you are have woken up and you put your feet on the ground and the stress of your day gets your liver going and your blood sugar consequently goes up. Those can also be fine tuned with basal insulin, which needs to be handled by a doctor.

Then number next is stress. Stress is a really a blood sugar killer! It really aggravates your whole system, and it causes your blood sugars to go up. Make sure that you can prevent and avoid as much stress as you can in your every day life. How can you reduce it? Well, you have to find what works for you. Could it be yoga? Could it be meditation? Could it be a long walk in the nature? Could it be a hobby, could it be having a pet? Stress is really something that we have to work all of us, but especially people with glucose problems need to work hard at trying to eliminate it.

Next point, movement. I don’t like the word exercise, so I’m going to use movement. Our bodies are made to be moving and our bodies feel good if they get to move often and in different ways. Find out what makes you happy. What is fun for you, what way of moving is so fantastic that you just forget about time? It could be dancing, it could be the ones that I mentioned before, yoga, walking. It could be weight training, it could be dancing on the beach (which we do happen to do in Mallorca! If for nothing else, join us to find out how much fun that is in November.)

Movement has a very individual reaction on blood sugar. In the long run it definitely smooths things out. But when you’re doing exercise, or you’re moving vigorously, chances are that your blood sugar is going to go up. You need to find out what strategy works best for you. There is a rule of thumb – strength training makes your blood sugar up and cardio makes your blood sugar go down. But that’s not true for everyone, that’s just a rule of thumb! You have to find out what works for you and what happens to your body in different movement situations.

Next point is planning. Make sure that you are prepared for basically anything when it comes to diabetes. If you’re traveling, carry a glucagon kit, always have glucose tabs with you, no matter where you go. And even if you’re only doing a quick run, make sure that you are prepared for anything that can happen.

No matter how great of control you have of diabetes, things still do happen. Please be prepared for all eventualities at all times. For example, also bring enough test strips for your blood sugar meter, make sure that your insulin pump or your vials have enough insulin in them for the day or the time you’re going to be away. It is all about planning. It really is about treating and treating blood sugar – if you fail to plan, you really plan to fail. Don’t get caught in that trap. That can save you a lot of “interesting” moments with diabetes.

Next point is mindset. What is your goal? Set a clear, actionable, timely goal. Also make a plan of how you’re going to get there. Without motivation and a proper mindset, you aren’t going to reach your goals.

Next one, acceptance. Accept that diabetes is what it is, life still happens with it. And you can only do the best you can, and you can only do the best that works for you. You can’t do much more than that. And please don’t hate diabetes! The more you make it your enemy, the more it’s going to lash right back at you and you’re not going to be able to work with it, which is what you have to do. You have to be kind to yourself, you have to show yourself some love, even when things go wrong. That way you’re going to get to a better relationship with your diabetes, which is also a huge point.

Find your support network, whether that is that our coaches, CDE’s and nurses, doctors, spouses, personal trainers, and other happy people around you, like your friends, family, pets – all of these people that that create the network around you. Make sure they are supportive. This is who you turn to when you have a bad day, or when you want to celebrate a fantastic achievement. You don’t have to sit there by yourself, you can turn to other people and let them help you both in good times and in bad. When it comes to the medical side of your support network, please make sure that you have a Medical Dream Team. This is a key to getting the care that you know that you need, and to try to find out what works best for you. This is where you can really get support for your lifestyle choices, and also help you with your diabetes management.

Hydration, you have to hydrate! Make sure that you hydrate properly, because this helps the body to keep all that, perhaps, unnecessary sugar at bay. The body really does well when it is well hydrated. I personally try to aim for about two liters of clean water a day. It doesn’t have to be that for you.

Finding a routine that works for you . A daily routine, as in you get up sort of the same time in the morning, you go to bed sort of the same time at night, and everything in between. Of course you should be spontaneous and have fun, too! But the main parts that could have a little bit of a structure will help you manage your blood sugars better. Perhaps this could include when you take your basal injection, if you’re on pens or syringes, or when you change your pump site. Also work into your routine when you take your supplements, when and how much you hydrate, when you eat, what you eat, when you move… Building it into a routine is great, because blood sugars, as far as I’m concerned, aren’t too happy about uneven routines, they tend to do better when there is a routine, so that you know what you’re doing.

My final point are supplements. Some potentially blood sugar lowering supplements may be of use. The ones that I take, for example, are omega 3, vitamin D (helps autoimmunity) magnesium (high blood sugars do require a lot of magnesium), also zinc for the immune system. Chromium also can help keeping your blood sugar levels a little bit more stable, as it helps with insulin sensitivity way down in the cells. Also, I’ve heard a lot of good things, but I haven’t tried it myself yet, about alpha linoic acid, ALA.

These are my 12 steps of what I did, and my HbA1c formula to lower mine from a double digit nightmare to a healthy and happy 5.0% (which actually in fact, if I get to brag for a second, is better than even some healthy people have!). I’m very very proud of myself, especially after 34 years of living with this disease and it not having been very easy at for very long periods of time.

What is your A1c goal (or if you are not focusing on A1c – what is your health goal)?

Let me know in a comment and I’ll be happy to chat with you there.

Type 1 Thursday – Why the Dietary Wars?

In today’s Type 1 Thursday, it’s time for a more personal comment… 

Why do people disagree so strongly about what people with diabetes should eat, when we all should have a common goal (notmal, healthy blood sugars)? 

Type 1 Thursday with Hanna Boëthius – Why the Dietary Wars?

What’s your opinion about this? What tools and tricks have you tried to try to manage your diabetes and what worked for you? I would love to hear in a comment somewhere and I will be happy to chat with you there. Comments and questions are welcome!

Transcription

If you prefer to read, here’s the transcription of the episode above:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of Type 1 Thursday with me Hanna, one of the cofounders of The Low Carb Universe. Also, as I’m sure you’ve heard me say many, many times now, I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes since I was two years old. So for 34 years, I’ve been juggling this wonderful roller coaster that is Type 1 diabetes. And I am happy to share some of my knowledge with you that I figured out and some of the aces up my sleeve that I have gathered in these 34 years! I wasn’t always in control, as I am today. I was very uneven moment, even majority of my diabetes career…

But today, I want to talk about a topic on more of a personal comment. And this is actually something that I’ve gotten comments about before and also during this series, namely the nutrition debate for people with diabetes.

Why is it so inflamed regarding what you should eat as a person with diabetes? How can there be such divided opinions? Everyone who has an opinion seems to be going head to head with each other about this?

I’m actually sad about this, because we all should have that one common goal, which is that all people with diabetes are worthy of normal, healthy, happy healing blood sugars. How the person in question, who is living with diabetes, gets there should be less of a question – as long as they do. If someone comes to me and says, “Hey Hanna, I went vegan and since then my blood sugars are really great!” I’m like, “amazing, great! I’m so happy you found what works for you!” Or if someone says, “you know what, I’m following the Western diet to a tee, and I have amazing blood sugar’s” My response? “Great, fantastic!!

No one could be happier for you than I am in that moment, when you tell me that you have fantastic blood sugars regardless of how or what you’re eating, I, and I know very many people with me, who do advocate for a lower carb, real food, sugar free way of eating don’t want to be militant about it. It’s not that I want to convert every single person with diabetes, that’s not my point. It will never be my point.

But the point is to educate, to inform, and to make people with diabetes aware that they do have a choice.

There is a choice when you’ve tried everything else. When you’ve tried every single diet, every single insulin, every single supplement, way of eating, timing of insulin, there are still options. There’s always, always, always something that you can do in order to improve your health.

It’s not about being militant, it’s not about standing my ground and holding it tight. No,. My goal is for every person with diabetes, to know that there are different ways of managing blood sugar and diabetes, and it but it doesn’t have to be according to the standard Western diet, it doesn’t have to be a vegan approach. It doesn’t have to be low carb, it can be something completely different, as long as it works for YOU. The main point to find what works for you, you can’t look at anyone else. You can draw inspiration from other people who are doing something that is working for them, and then take the good parts. And leave what doesn’t work for you, it’s all about information.

I have had a struggling past with diabetes, it’s been very, very difficult for me to control my diabetes with the standard Western diet that I was told to eat for 26 years. Which, requires, well, recommends, 35 to 60 grams of carbs per meal, five times a day. For me that became unreasonable. It didn’t work. I couldn’t maintain good, healthy, normal blood sugars, without mountain tops and valley bottoms, in terms of blood sugars, which of course doesn’t make you feel great at all. It makes you feel terrible.

My whole point about advocating for low carb for diabetes, and I know very many with me, it is that as long as you get stable, healthy, happy blood sugars, we are all game for it. It wasn’t until I actually did start cutting down my carbs, coincidentally, perhaps, that I started to get better control of my diabetes. So I went from a double digit HbA1c, to a level of 5.1% last time. This is well within the healthy range!

I swear that I could not have done that without the help of dietary change, a change in my lifestyle, and a change in the way that I was eating. For me, I know that it’s not sustainable to do that on a standard Western diet with up to 240 grams of carbohydrate a day, I can’t chase that with insulin. We come back to the law, small numbers, this works a lot better for many, many diabetics.

I really wish I would have had the choice myself earlier to know about that there is a low carb way of eating so that I could have made the decision and try it out earlier, seeing the benefits. I would have saved myself a lot of pain, a lot of suffering a lot of worry, a lot of anxiety because that always comes hand in hand with wobbly blood sugars

This is this is why it’s become such a passion for me, and for the rest of us talking about low carb for diabetes, that every single person with diabetes knows that there is that option to try out as well. When every other option has been explored and transpired, that’s run out of time. It is so important to me that you know that there is another option. And that there are very many options beyond this, too. The main point is that this isn’t disregarded as an option.

So it’s so sad to me that the nutrition debate, especially within diabetes, but also generally, for the general population, has become so inflamed. And I really wish that we could see that we all have a common goal, all of us trying to educate people with diabetes, whether it is with different ways of eating, with exercise, with all of these lifestyle measures… I just would be so happy if we could just realize that we have a common goal, and that is that people with diabetes have normal, healthy, happy blood sugars.

If you have any questions or comments, or what’s your opinion about this? What tools and tricks have you tried to try to manage your diabetes and what worked for you? I would love to hear in a comment somewhere and I will be happy to chat with you there.