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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.

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Type 1 Thursday – Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes

It’s Thursday – time for another Type 1 Thursday! 

Today’s topic is Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes. What are the differences? What are the similarities (if any)? And what about management and treatment, what are differences and similarities there?

Type 1 Thursday – Type 1 vs Type 2 Diabetes

What are your take aways from this video? Share in a comment!

Transcription

If you prefer to read, here it is:

For today’s topic, I wanted to explain and go through the differences between the two main types of diabetes. So that is, Type 1 Diabetes, as I have, and also Type 2 Diabetes that is the more common version. There are also many other versions of diabetes together with it.

I wanted to draw the outline of the sort of differences between these two, and perhaps if there are any similarities. And what about management? How does that work between the two different types?

So basically, Type 1 Diabetes, as you may or may not know, is an autoimmune disease. That means that my beautiful immune system decided that those insulin producing cells looked a little bit dodgy when I was two years old, and kick them out of commission, which is not great because that means that I am all other type 1’s will have to inject insulin for the rest of our lives no matter what we do, no matter whether we go low carb and no matter if we go carnivore – we will always have to inject some insulin. Perhaps not as much as when on the standard American or Western diet, but still a bit so that we keep our engines running, as insulin is the master hormone. And it’s very much needed. So if you don’t produce any, you have to add some.

It is, as I already said, it’s the pancreas that get or a part of the pancreas that gets kicked out. That means that I produce no insulin, but other Type 1’s may produce some, but it is nearly not enough insulin. This can be hereditary, but Type 1 doesn’t have to be hereditary. I, myself, am an example of that. I have no history of Type 1 Diabetes in my family, I am the lucky chosen one. How great is that?

Type 1’s are about 5% only of all diabetes cases. Considering there are over 420 million diabetics in the world, that means that we are very small minority. And I’m not sad about this, because I don’t wish this on anyone. It does explain that we have to do a little bit more advocacy for our type of diabetes because we are not represented as much as Type 2’s.

The onset of Type 1 Diabetes can be very sudden, and it’s usually discovered within weeks. If it’s if it’s not LADA or other side types of Type 1, you will be very, very sick very suddenly. Symptoms include frequent urination and thirst, incredible unquenchable thirst, falling asleep everywhere, because your blood sugar is skyrocketed high. There are few warnings to look out for, that can also be mistaken for the common flu. Don’t wait in case you have this suspicion, go and check it out, if it happens to a family member, for example.

There’s no cure for Type 1 Diabetes. We do have better management possibilities than we’ve had in the past 34 years that I’ve been living with the condition, but there is to date, no cure, and I’m not positive about one happening anytime soon. I secretly, or not so secret, I do wish for it every single day of my life, even if it is easier to manage with lifestyle choices, it’s not as easy as maybe it would have been without having to act as your own pancreas.

Type 2 Diabetes, what is that? That is basically a severe insulin resistance. So your body is still producing insulin. In fact, it’s actually producing tons and tons and oodles and oodles of insulin. But the problem is that your cells don’t recognize the insulin that you’re producing, making you insulin resistant, making you not be able to take up the sugar from the blood stream, making it hang around in the blood stream. That is why you have higher blood sugar in Type 2 as well. Basically, the body does not recognize its own insulin. And this can be very tricky, but there are a lot of things that you can do to improve insulin resistance even as a Type 1, but definitely as a Type 2.

Type 2 can be lifestyle related, or it can also be hereditary. But the lifestyle part is a majority of the cases.

Diabetes cases that are Type 2 in comparison to Type 1 are basically the remaining 95% (and 5% are Type 1.) This can take years to develop, although the symptoms are just the same as in Type 1, just maybe not as severe from the beginning. You might notice a need for more water over a while or you might notice that you’re more tired than usual. But that can also be attributed to stress and all these kind of things that are lifestyle related, as well. The lucky thing with Type 2 is that many cases actually can be reversed with the help of lifestyle measures, like changing your diet, movement, taking supplements, all these things that you can do with your lifestyle is to alleviate and also perhaps reverse Type 2. Even if your Type 2 has so called been turned into Type 1, which it can’t, Type 2 can only become insulin dependent, but it can never be Type 1, because it’s not an autoimmune attack on your insulin producing cells.

What are the commonalities of these two types of diabetes?

Both of them lead to the same complications. These includes retinopathy, potentially blindness, that leads to nerve damage, potentially neuropathy, and/or amputations. And it also can lead to kidney problems and nephropathy. It can lead to cardiovascular disease, it can lead to stroke… All of these things that aren’t so nice with diabetes can actually be attributed to the high blood sugars or the constant constant fluctuations in blood sugar and not the diabetes itself. If you manage to keep your diabetes at bay and keep your blood sugars at a normal, healthy level, then the risk of complications, DKA and all these things, it’s very much smaller than if you don’t and you go between minimum and maximum at all times.

A second similarity is that you have the same goals of achieving normal, healthy, stable blood sugars. Make those continuous blood glucose monitor things look like lines, not roller coasters, but lines. That goes for any diabetic, independent of type.

Thirdly, the want to reduce insulin. Before before people get angry with me here, let me explain why.

In Type 1, if you keep adding lots and lots of insulin the whole time, the risk is that you’re going to be a double diabetic. That means that you, in addition to your Type 1 Diabetes, develop severe insulin resistance so that you have both types of diabetes. For me personally, and I know very many with me, this is something that we definitely want to avoid. You can’t think of insulin as a free for all thing that can make you eat anything that you want. For those of you who works for, great! For those of us who maybe it doesn’t work for, and we need more insulin than necessary, it’s not maybe the best idea. The risk is there, and I was there myself a couple years ago, I am very sure that I had double diabetes, because I was on so much more insulin than I am on now. But it wasn’t confirmed. So I can’t say with security.

Why you want to reduce insulin as a Type 2? If there isn’t that much insulin to not react to for the cells, then maybe they start listening a little bit. It’s like a small toddler, when you scream at them, and try to reinforce your power and try to make them understand… Do they ever listen? No. If you, on the other hand, just keep calm and really give it instructions with a point and and with direction, there is at least a chance that they might listen. It’s similar with Type 2 and insulin, in my opinion.

How can you reduce the amount of insulin needed or used? How can you get stable normal blood sugars? And how can you, as a Type 1 diabetic, not get double diabetes? Lifestyle measurements. As a Type 1, as I said, you will always have to take some insulin, but it will it can be reduced. The power of nutrition in diabetes is just so immense. You can eat a sugar free, low carb, real food kind of diet (and I hate the word diet but there’s no other way of explaining it). If you eat real food, if you if you eat sugar free and if you low carb, chances are that you will be able to improve your health a lot.

This doesn’t just go for people with diabetes – this goes for everyone. Whether you have diabetes or not, if you’re healthy, if you have no health issues at all, you are always going to be better of health wise, if you eat a sugar free, low carb, nutrient dense, real food diet. That’s just it. That and of course, movement, exercise, make sure that you feel joy in your life, make sure that you take supplements if you need them. Make sure to hydrate, make sure that you have a routine that works for you. Make sure that you alleviate your stress. All of these lifestyle measurements are good for both diabetics and non diabetics.

If you have any takeaways or any ideas or any comments, let me know below and I will be happy to chat with you there.

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Type 1 Thursday – How to eat at restaurants

Is eating at restaurants difficult while trying to maintain normal blood sugars?

Not necessarily!

This is my little guide of how to eat at restaurants while maintaining the normal blood sugars all Type 1 Diabetics deserve and should strive for!

I share my top six tips for successfully dining out, what to focus on and how to build a meal. Check it out here:

I share my best tips for dining out with Type 1 Diabetes, while maintaining normal blood sugars.

What are your best tips for dining out with Type 1 Diabetes (or if you’re mindful of your sugar consumption over all)? Let me know in a comment!

Transcription

If you prefer to read, here’s an unedited version:

Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of type one Thursday with me Hanna which is one of the founders of The Low Carb Universe. We organize Europe’s truly healthy hundred percent real food events. But that’s not what we’re here to talk to you about today.

Today is, of course, another episode of Type 1 Thursday, where we discuss all things, type one diabetes, and low carb and healthy food and healthy eating and all of that stuff that may not be talked about as much in other places. So I thought, hey, why not? Let’s do it.

I am a type one diabetic since 34 years this year, which is yay, you know, alive and stuff. Today, I will be sharing with you you how to navigate restaurants, and eating outside of your home with type 1 diabetes, and how to maintain normal glycaemic blood sugar levels throughout this. And do stay tuned, because I will be revealing my top six tips on how to actually make this happen properly, after a bit of an introduction and stuff like that.

Why are normal blood sugars so important?

This is I don’t know, like the 13th video I think I’m making in this series. So if you watched any of my previous stuff, I think you know why normal blood sugars are so important. And so also, of course, whether you are either treating yourself or don’t have another option, but to eat at a restaurant, where it is more difficult to figure out what they have added to your meal, which you may not have added at home. Yes, healthy normal blood sugars. All diabetics are deserve them. All diabetics should strive for them. And we should not be content and happy with anything else but normal levels.

That’s my opinion. And I’m sticking to my guns. And that’s why I’m making all of these videos. And of course, why it is so important is of course that you have to, well, I assume if you’re anything like me, you want to live a long, happy, healthy life with diabetes, despite diabetes, thriving in your life. And then normal blood sugars will keep you there for longer. Let’s just keep that as at as a baseline.

I am very, very happy now because this wasn’t the case before. But healthier options at restaurants are becoming more available more readily available. Just things like for example, a big normally very pasta focused chain has recently brought out noodles as an option. And that is great, of course for us who are trying to mind our glucose and trying to mind the sugar intake in our foods. For example, there’s a lot more vegetables on the menus, there’s a lot more that you can get sauces on the side and no one looks at you weirdly, you can substitute a lot of the the sides with vegetables, and no one looks at you weirdly, and side salad is a huge thing, which you can also of course, when you are fueled by other things but sugar in your body, then you can have that too without a problem and not feel deprived or anything.

So there are three things: first of all, when you see go to a restaurant, that is important that is of course, as always, no matter where if you’re all at a restaurant, but focus on the protein and vegetables, which can be solved, they can be changed. All the pasta, rice, potatoes, fries, all of these things that you know, don’t leave you feeling your absolute best when you eat a restaurant, substitute them for different types of vegetables. Here is a great tip actually, that I found out a couple years ago is that when you look at a restaurant menu, and you see, let’s take an example, a sirloin with mashed potatoes. “okay, well, the mashed potatoes aren’t great for me, but I see here with the with the seven on this menu, you serve asparagus, do you think I could swap the mashed potatoes for these asparagus?”, for example. Check what they have on the menu in other dishes, and what type of vegetables they have there. And maybe you can find your favorite there or something that is at least better for you than mashed potatoes that are currently being offered. And of course, then number three is keep all or most sauces on the side. Make sure that you get the source in a little couple of sites so that you can first of all taste how much sugar there’s in there. Even if someone tells you that they’re Oh no, it’s completely sugar free, there’s no sugar, you can taste it very quickly. And you can make your choices after that.

Easy restaurants to go to when you are minding your sugar intake and you do not have the metabolic capability of breaking these things down as effectively as maybe other people do.

This includes but is not limited to, for example, steak houses, burger places. Seriously burgers without buns with all the good cheese and bacon and maybe an egg on top and a side salad, you’re going to be full four hours. When your friends who ate a normal burger menu starts going on about “I could go for like a coffee and cake”, you know, just fueling up again, you’ll still be full, “I am winning at this game”.

Also, Italian places are fantastic for low carb you wouldn’t think it but and very very little of the Italian cuisine is actually pasta, pizza, all these heavy things. It’s more like fresh meats, fish, seafood, and a lot of vegetables. Italians eat a lot of vegetables, and the yummy yummy olive oil, of course. And that is a great tip for if you are out and about and see an Italian restaurant, if it is authentic enough, and hasn’t zoomed in on the pizza thing, because then you can just scrape off the toppings, but it’s not a great experience for anyone. So let’s not go there!

You can also go to salad bars, that’s a given. Or deli places, maybe somewhere that makes sandwiches and you can ask to have the sandwich feelings on a salad or on a plate instead.

Brazilian steakhouses are fantastic. You won’t be lacking protein after going to a Brazilian steakhouse, I can assure you that. French places are great, not as much bread as you would think. And also Greek places are fantastic, all the Mediterranean really Greek, Italian, Spanish, of course with all the tapas, and it’s fantastic. And then of course Italian as I mentioned before.

Mexican is also surprisingly good, because there you can have things like fajitas without the bread and the beans and all this stuff and the rice. You can have all of these things that are really, really yummy that people don’t quite realize are yummy, because they cover it up with all these carby things so that they don’t actually get the flavor of the real thing, which is the protein of course.

Even sushi places actually are quite great for low carb because, and bear with me, you can have a few edamames and you can have a whole plate of sashimi, which is of course the sushi without the rice, so if you’re minding your sugar intake, don’t despair if you only have sushi place at hand. There’s always always things that you can do. And I’ve seen now actually sushi places who make rice out of cauliflower rice, there is one place for example in Stockholm. I think it’s spreading, too, and this trend of maybe not wanting sugary rice is becoming bigger.

Alright, I promised you my six top tips on how to manage restaurant but the restaurant visit with type 1 and wanting to keep your blood sugar’s at a normal level, because this is what we’re striving for.

As I said before, number one, if you can do research the menu online so that you want you know what you’re handling, you can already make a couple of choices, you can have an overview of what the actually have, you can check the starters, the mains, the deserts, but seriously don’t have too much hope for the desert, because you probably won’t find much apart from maybe a cheese platter, which also is a fantastic dessert. This also helps you if you are a bit conscious about your spending.

Number two, of course, stay away from the starches. If you get offered a bread basket and you know you can’t resist it, ask them to take it away. Make sure that your dish does not contain rice, pasta, potatoes, fries, or mashes if you know you can’t navigate around them. And I’m not saying that you always have to be 100% – you do what works for you. And if tasting a bit of these things works for you, then good, keep doing that. But if you know that you can’t keep away from them, make sure you stop them from the beginning.

Number three, which I already mentioned in the beginning, but it’s very, very important: focus on the protein and the vegetables. That is the easiest thing that you can do. Even at a restaurant or at home or anywhere you are. If you’ve been invited to a dinner somewhere at a friend’s place, that is sometimes a little bit tricky. But always focus on the protein and the vegetables, and then don’t pay so much attention to the things that you can’t have. Of course, this is as much a mind game for you as anyone else. Instead, pay attention to things that you can have. Take it as a positive thing that you are doing something good for you, your body and your health. Because you want to stay healthy for as long as you of course, possibly can.

Number four, which is something I struggled with a lot. In the beginning, when I first went low carb, I’m often said, “oh, it’s okay. Don’t worry. Just bring this and this and whatever else. Like, take everything out of it. It’s fine!” No, no, no, actually, the proper way of doing it is Dare. To. Ask., make sure that you do find the option that works the best for you. Because no one else is going to be looking out for you. Dare to ask “what do you put in that sauce?” “Oh, is this gluten free?” (If gluten is a problem for you.) “Oh, is this sugar free?” Waitstaff should know this. If they don’t, they are very welcome to run back to the kitchen and check with their colleagues. It’s really important for you to know what the food that you eat actually contains. “Oh, is this thing breaded?” “Do you have bread crumbs in your Parmesan Melanzane?” There are so many ways of cooking food that should be “free food”. Not everyone does it the same way. Dare to ask. As I mentioned before, if you see a vegetable in some other dish, maybe you know they’re willing to swap that for the thing that you don’t want in the dish that you want, or with the protein that you have chosen. Dare to ask what’s in your food. How can you swap it? What can you do to make this work for you? At the end of the day at a restaurant, you are a paying customer and they generally would very much want happy, healthy customers that keep talking about their wonderful establishment and the fantastic service that they got. They will very rarely rarely be snarky about your dietary restrictions, because they want repeat customers too.

Alright, number five, you know what, if it doesn’t go perfectly fine, if something goes wrong, like you have a glass of wine too many than you expected, or if you’re eating a bit more of the starch than you expected – just don’t panic. It’s alright. You’re not going to die from screwing it up once, but it is a learning curve. So don’t panic, make sure that you remember it so that you know next time what not to do and what didn’t work for you. Work with the things that do work for you, and what you leaves you feeling the healthiest, best version of yourself.

And then number six, which is actually something that I did for myself, in the beginning. Now it’s just second nature, but in the beginning, I made every restaurant menu a game for myself. Everywhere I went, whether it was Chinese, (that is a tricky one, though, because they mix everything in sauces), or a pizza place, or Italian or burgers or whatever. Wherever I saw a menu, I made it into a game for myself to make a nourishing, sustainable dish for myself from any menu. That is my tip number six, make it a game. Oh, what can I eat at this restaurant? Uh huh. Okay, but if I swap that, with that, and then, instead of that I have that, and then I get a meal that works for me and leaves me healthy, happy and feeling fantastic. Even after my restaurant visit.

Those were my quick tips for you. Actually, let’s call it the little guide of eating at restaurants with Type 1 Diabetes. I hope you have enjoyed this video!

I want to know from you what your best restaurant tips are with type 1, or even without. If you’re just minding your sugar intake, what are the best tips that you have figured out they’ve seen someone else do that you’ve heard someone else do?

Share them with me in a comment and I’ll be happy to chat with you. Until next time!

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Type 1 Thursday – Fasting and T1D?

Join me for another Type 1 Thursday, ahead of our Diabetes. by The Low Carb Universe event in June (bit.ly/happydiabetes)

Today, we’re talking about fasting and T1D. Is it possible? Should you do it?

Do you do some kind of intermittent fasting? Have you noticed any benefits as a T1D? Questions and comments are welcome! 🙂

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Type 1 Thursday – Blood Sugar Ranges

Welcome to this week’s Type 1 Thursday with me! I’m doing this series ahead of the world’s first event solely focusing on diabetes from a low carb perspective, diabetes. by The Low Carb Universe!

We’re talking blood sugar ranges today, what is normal, what can be expected on low carb and how to get there. 

Did you learn something new in this episode? Let me know in a comment below!

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Travel Checklist for Diabetes

Maybe you’re planning a trip soon and would love a travel checklist for diabetes?

(I made you a travel checklist for diabetes below, make sure to check it out!)

What is necessary to bring along on a long trip with diabetes?

Sometimes I feel like diabetes just has it’s own luggage to bring along, physically as well as emotionally.

The emotional luggage we’ll have to discuss another time, because this time I want to talk about the physical luggage Diabetes brings along. Especially when traveling.

As if packing for a trip isn’t stressful enough (“what shoes should I bring?”, “does this dress go with that jacket?”, “what make up should I bring?” and “WILL IT ALL FIT IN MY BAG?!” – you get the point…), as an added bonus, you also have to haul around on all the stuff that you need for diabetes to keep in line.

I always bring all my supplies in my carry on bag when I fly. That way it’s harder to lose it, and the insulin stays at the right temperature throughout my trip.

The size of said carry-on bag has changed, though, in favour of trying to save my shoulder from falling off from carrying all the heavy stuff. Now I bring along a small, cabin sized wheelie bag where I have all my supplies, from insulin, to pumps, to test strips, to hypo treatment.

I also deposit a few things in my traveling buddy’s, usually my husband’s, bag. At least that way, if I lose my carry on, I’m not completely stranded in terms of diabetes. He has an extra blood sugar meter and test strips, and insulin with emergency-syringes. And glucose tabs. One can never have enough of those.

While I make sure to bring along most things on my travel checklist for diabetes, I don’t always bring everything.

Like ketone sticks, for example. I don’t usually bring those, unless I’m traveling somewhere really remote with no pharmacy within the next hour or so of driving. I figure that I can buy them pretty much anywhere I go.

On the other hand, insulin and BG test strips can get really darn expensive, not to mention inaccessible without a prescription, unless you prepare properly and take enough with you for your whole trip. “Enough” here means way too much, by the way. You never know what might happen, so it’s better to be prepared for most things that may happen.

Food

And, pretty please, get organized and bring your own snacks. Food on the road is generally beyond terrible, and like that you know you can at least eat something. I bring things like nuts and dried meat and other cutleryless foods on the plane, whilst in a car or on the train you can get a little more creative. This time around I’m going to make low carb pancakes and wrap them up in foil to bring along on my long flight, as I know from experience that food on flights is never good.

Another note regarding food, please don’t get fooled by the “need” to snack, which is most commonly masking the fact that you’re bored out of your brain.

Water

Traveling by plane is like sitting in the middle of the desert, although maybe not quite as warm. It’s dehydrating like nobody’s business! Being hydrated can really be one of the keys to better diabetes management, so please do us both a favor and DRINK A LOT OF WATER! (and skip the booze up in the air, but that one is evident, right?)

Security

Getting through airport security can be a lot easier than it’s made up to be. This is of course assuming that you don’t meet an a-hole security agent.

In my 30 years of living with diabetes, having traveled to many different parts of the world (although I have MUCH left to see and visit!), I’ve been stopped exactly twice at security. Once for my test stripes (what, you didn’t mind the syringe full of potentially very deadly stuff in my bag? Ok, then.) And once because my pump set the alarm off. In both cases it was easy to explain, and I didn’t even have to show my medical certificate. Security agents see so many diabetes supplies on a daily basis; they’re barely phased by them anymore. At least within Europe.

Now, I’ve heard that US TSA agents can be a little trickier to handle. For example, they have no problem jeopardizing your super expensive medical equipment and tell you to go through the full body scanner wearing your insulin pump, for example. I would insist on the pat down, not risking any breakages or malfunctions. This of course means that it might take a little longer for you to get through, but it’s worth it, and as long as you know about it, you can plan for it.

The bottom line is, as long as you’re nice and cooperative (enough) to them, they’ll usually treat you with the same respect.

Anyway, let’s check out the goodie in this blog post, my Travel Checklist for Diabetes.

These are the absolute essentials that you need to bring with you (or at least ocnsider bringing with you). If you think “I’ve never needed that before”, you should probably take it along anyway, as traveling can make your body do some funky stuff.

Travel checklist

  • Enough insulin to cover the days you’re gone (this should be a no brainer!) Make sure you bring both basal and bolus insulin, even if you’re using an insulin pump. You just never know…
  • Blood glucose meter & enough test strips, extra batteries (it might even be good to bring an extra BG meter.)
  • CGM sensors
  • Keto sticks (As I said, I don’t always bring them)
  • Glucose tabs (or whatever you use to treat a hypo)  (Bring too much of this, you never know what your body think of your new location.)
  • Snacks. (See above)
  • Glucagon Kit (most airlines don’t have these on board their planes. Better be safe than sorry!)
  • Alcohol wipes (these are great, not just for setting infusion sets and cleaning fingers, but also for wiping surfaces like tables, handles or cutlery that seems unclean.)
  • Other prescription medication and supplements you may be taking (easy one to forget, trust me. I’ve done it before.)
  • If you’re going somewhere really warm (lucky you!), bring something like the FRIO bag to keep your insulin in. (http://www.frioinsulincoolingcase.com)
  • Medical Certificate (This can save you at security checks!)
  • Diabetes ID (If you’re found unconscious somewhere, I’m sure you’d prefer that the EMTs knows what you’ve got.)
  • If you’re going somewhere remote, bring a glucagon set. (Again, you never know.)
  • Your BG diary, if you use one. (Otherwise there’s some great apps for that, for example www.glucosebuddy.com or www.mysugr.com)
  • Address and telephone number of your doctor’s office.

If you are on injections, also bring:

  • Insulin pens, plus back ups
  • Pen needles

If you’re on a pump, also bring:

  • Your pump, as well as possibly getting a back-up pump. (This can be ordered from your pump manufacturer.)
  • Batteries/Power adapter
  • Cartridges (if your pump uses those)
  • Infusion sets, or just enough of patch pumps
  • Syringes/pen for emergencies
  • Basal insulin for emergencies

If you’re planning a pumpcation (vacation without your pump):

  • Your action plan, that you’ve talked to your med-team about
  • Pens and needles
  • Basal and bolus insulin

It’s better to take too much than too little!

I’ve made a pretty print out of this list that you can print out and tick off the boxes as you put the items into your bag.

travel checklist diabetes

travel checklist diabetes

 

Click here to download the list: travel checklist diabetes

What are your best traveling tips? What can’t you travel without? Let me know in the comments!

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The Low Blood Sugar Make up

Diabetes gets in the way of life sometimes.

And the other way around, too. But that’s the topic of another story.

Being such a big part of our lives, it would be weird if it didn’t mix in and mash up your plans sometimes.

Sometimes we’re talking about interrupted sleep, another time it’s an unplanned meal on the menu. And sometimes it’s about being so tired, simple chores can be compared to climbing Mount Everest. At least. Not to mention the guesstimation game we play with the pancreas on our hip, in a pen or syringe. Up? Down? A little up and then down? The other way around? Or even *gasp* stable and level? (Watching your blood sugar do a salsa dance on a cgm is sometimes entertaining, as long as you don’t put too much personal attachment to the numbers)

You can almost never tell with 100% accuracy where your blood sugar will end up after a meal, some insulin or just by plain old living.

And sometimes you can’t let the stubbornness of diabetes get in the way, either.

Like the other morning, when I had to get to an appointment I had.

I woke up at 4.4 mmol/l (79 mg/dl), which I was happy about. My cgm curve looked smooth from the night and I was even more happy about that.

I jumped in the shower, washed my hair, moisturized and brushed my teeth. I was feeling a little sleep-groggy, but nothing else.

I went to put on my clothes, got dressed and noticed an odd, fuzzy thought popping up in my head that usually stems from the low-blood-sugar-drawer in my brain.

Nevermind that right now, I had other things to do, like taking my morning medicine (thankfully not insulin) and supplements.

When I got back downstairs from the kitchen, my next task was to do my make up. But I decided to check my cgm first, which showed 4.1 mmol/l (73 mg/dl).

Ok, I thought, that’s not bad, although I’m dropping. More of the odd, fuzzy thoughts popped up, and I decided to check my blood sugar on my blood sugar meter, if only to ensure myself that I wasn’t low.

3.4 mmol/l (60 mg/dl) “treat your low BG!”, my d-companion Doris (OmniPod) was telling me.

“Ahh, eff-word”, I said out loud. “I don’t have time for this!”

I usually don’t treat lows until below 3.5 mmol/l, as I find they usually recover fine from there with just the help of lowering the basal on my pump. But as I was leaving, and it was 0.1 mmol/l lower than my usual threshold, I decided to pop a glucose tablet and shut of the basal on my pump for 30 mins.

Knowing I’d be completely OK within 15 minutes, but had to leave the house in 20, I had little choice but to continue with my morning routine and my make up, which is a fairly effortless task.

If you’ve never experienced a low blood sugar before, let me tell you that it can be quite “interesting”. It feels a bit like being tipsy, without having had anything fun to drink. Or like being in a very fast, accelerating car while standing on the ground. It can be dizzy, vertigo, confused and temporary vision problems all in a big merry go round that doesn’t want to stop right now. (It can also feel a gazillion times worse than that, but thankfully that wasn’t the case this time.)

Having to think twice if you’re *actually* using foundation and not the bright pink blusher heavily all over your face is a challenge I’m usually blessed from. I usually know where things go in terms of make up…

Or double-checking that the eyebrow pencil is still brown and you didn’t accidentally reach for the turquoise eyeliner to fill in your eyebrows instead. Or concentrating so hard on getting mascara ON my eyelashes and not only underneath my eye. Not to mention actually getting that blusher semi-equally distributed. Or checking that the foundation isn’t blotchy anywhere.

This can, but probably shouldn’t, be compared to doing your makeup after a good after work drinking session with your colleagues. In short, no bueno.

Throughout this particular mornings routine work, I kept thinking if I actually managed that well with everything, or if, once I was back on track again, would find myself looking like some Cubist rendition of myself. Or like a clown. Or like Gene Simmons from Kiss.

All I could imagine seeing once the low blood sugar fog had lifted was some weird version of myself, as it would have been painted by Pablo Picasso himself. Or something equally scary.

This time I was lucky, though.

When my blood sugar was back in normal range again, I saw that I looked more or less like myself, if only ever so slightly more tired.

What do you do when your blood sugar drops low, do you keep going or stop and wait? What does your decision depend on?

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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?

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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?

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Fat Facts

Food fact: Fat, glorious fat!

Let’s set the record straight here once and for all: not all fats are bad!

Sure, the transfatty crappy vegetable oils (cottonseed, rapeseed and processed sunflower oils for example), margarine, the junk food you get at most fast food restaurants or chips/cakes/cookies/candy aren’t what we’re talking about today. (Which are all pretty sorry excuses for food, really.)

We’re talking about the good, healthy, happy, healing fats, like salmon, coconut, avocado, eggs, olive oil, butter, nuts and seeds, for example.

Eating more fat (and less carbohydrates) has amazing benefits on your health.

When you start adding more fat to your meals, your blood pressure is likely to go back to normal.

Fat also has very minimal, if any at all, effects on blood glucose levels (yay for us diabetics!), meaning less roller coaster and more stroll in the park action.

Chances are also that eating more fat will make you lose weight (I’ll explain this more later in this post).

It also keeps you full and satisfied for longer, meaning that snacking and unnecessary meals are less likely to sneak in to your eating plan.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, here are 7 more reasons you need to give your body fatty acids to work with:

  1. Fat = energy

Good fat contains more energy than carbs or protein. This is energy (calories) that the body can use and knows how to use, unlike processed carbs, for example.

  1. Healthy cells need fat

The walls of every cell in your body (the membrane) is made out of fat. If you don’t eat enough fat, you can’t build healthy, properly functioning cells. And that’s putting yourself in a pretty bad place; if you can’t build cells, your body can’t function like it should.

  1. Think fat!

The cells I just mentioned of course also include your brain cells. But fat is needed for more than that – it’s also needed to build myelin, which is insulation for the nerve endings in the brain and helps carrying messages across.

  1. Fatty vitamins

The fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K can’t be absorbed by the intestines without fat, meaning you are depriving your body of these vital vitamins unless you eat enough fat.

  1. Hormones are made of fat

Your body produces sex hormones with the help of fat, as well as many other hormones and hormone-like substances (like prostaglandins). Your hormones are vital to your body functioning properly, and any irregularity in hormone production can have some unpleasant or even devastating consequences.

  1. Your skin loves fat!

Your skin is one of the first things to react if you eat too little fat – it gets dry, flaky and feels too tight. The fat we have right underneath our skin also helps to insulate us in colder weathers.

  1. Fat protects your organs

Just as the whole body is insulated by fat, so are your organs on the inside. Especially the kidneys, heart and intestines rely on fat to keep them from harm and in their correct places (your kidneys can actually start “traveling” in your body if you don’t have enough fat to keep them in place.)

 

There are two common misunderstandings about fat that I regularly hear:

  1. “But isn’t eating more fat gonna make you fat?”

Let’s crush this myth once and for all: fat doesn’t make you fat! 

Of course you can overeat fat, but it will be difficult as it’s very satiating. Your body has a natural stop that prohibits you from overeating as easily as you can with, for example, carbs.

  1. “But isn’t fat free of nutrients? How do you get your vitamins?”

The richest sources of vitamins D, E and K2, and choline all come from food sources rich in fat (cod liver oil, red palm oil, grass-fed butter and egg yolks)

Fat also makes vitamins in the other food more available for the body to absorb.

 

So, where can you add more healthy fats in your day?

Eggs and bacon for breakfast? Avocado and walnuts added to your lunch? Fry the vegetables for dinner in coconut oil? Perhaps you can even have some glorious salmon for dinner?

 

Fat is healthy and desperately needed by your body, don’t deprive it of this great source of everything.

Lots of lardy love!