Tag Archives: diabetes and healthy habits

Reminder to Self

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From my head AND my feet.

I recently had a two week stint of…oh I don’t know, diabetes burnout or just feeling “blah” and unmotivated.  I didn’t exercise much for two weeks and I had some processed food and began to need about 25 units of my long acting basal insulin a day.  I’m back on my exercise routine and regular eating pattern and I just wanted to share that I’m down to 15 units of my long acting.  That’s a huge change isn’t it?

I don’t know which I love more: healthy food or exercise.  I feel like I can’t manage my diabetes unless I use the powers of both.

Sometimes I’m jealous of our ancestors.  Exercise was a built in way of life (no cars, no TV, no internet, no food unless you work for it).  Healthy eating was a lot easier (no processed or gmo foods, no two week old produce shipped from another continent.)  See?  They almost had it easier.

How can we make the most of what we have?  How do we exercise smart choices over temptation?

I don’t know about you but what helps me is to meditate and work on being aware of what I want for myself.  This keeps me focused (most of the time) on what needs to be done to get me where I want to go.

I’ll try to remind myself of all this next time I go into a “I don’t feel like it” phase.

Real Age Diabetes Tool at Diabetes Care Club

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I work a bit at Diabetes Care Club, writing blog posts and helping out on the forums.  While logging on the other day I noticed they entered into an exclusive partnership with Real Age to create a diabetes specific real age evaluator.  I thought this was cool because I’ve taken the Real Age Test before but was a bit bummed out by how it wasn’t able to capture information based on my diabetes management and therefore not really give me a more accurate or personalized assessment.

My Real Age Diabetes score is 26-which is pretty encouraging considering I’m about to turn 29 in a couple weeks.  That’s the fun game aspect of the Real Age test but it’s not what I consider the most important aspect.  The test asks questions on every element of health imaginable and then, depending on your answers, gives you information and recommendations.

I found this test to be a helpful tool to me because it pointed out my weaknesses in my overall health.  For example, I realized that I’m eating and exercising pretty well most of the time but maybe I’m not as socially active as I’d like to be or I’m not testing as often as I’d like.  Also, the test reminded me about all the annual diabetes wellness check ups I should be having such as a visit to the eye doctor and podiatrist.

We don’t necessarily need help pointing out what we’re doing right.  We need help to pinpoint what we need to improve upon and taking the Real Age Diabetes assessment helps to organize your strengths and weaknesses in an easy to view and understand way.  And yes, it is kind of fun to work to lower one’s “real age”, I’m not going to lie.

Something I want to mention:  The regular Real Age test gave me a score of 24 and the Diabetes one a score of 26.  I think that’s interesting to note because it shows how diabetes does make a difference-not that we didn’t know that!  But it shows that creating a diabetes focused Real Age test was really worthwhile.  The truth hurts but it’s also empowering.  Let’s try to focus on the empowering part and on the part we CAN influence.

Take the test here! (you will have to register and sign in first)

2012 March and April Resolutions

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It’s Fabulous Friday!  Self love sometimes means getting very disciplined about forming a new habit or completing a goal.  My type 1 sister, Ana and I are doing just that this year:

Ana’s January and February goal was to stretch every day.  She didn’t quite do it BUT her March/April Resolution was to test her blood sugar more often and she just so happened to do that all through January and February which is pretty awesome.  So now she’ll try to keep that up and stretch, too.

My Jan/Feb goal was to complete my little eBook:  “How to Start Your Own Diabetes Blog” and I did!  It really helped me to have a deadline on this and sufficient time to work on it without juggling 10 other goals.

For March and April I want to focus on healthy eating.  It’s not easy, particularly lately that I’m so busy, but I know it makes a huge difference in the way I think, feel, and manage blood sugars.

So what do you want to do by the end of April?

Have a great weekend!

5 Reasons Why Food Becomes an Issue for People with Diabetes

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Because diabetes management is also food management, you can imagine, if you don’t have diabetes, that the issue of food for a diabetic, is indeed a complicated one (much like this sentence).

5 Reasons why food becomes an issue for people with diabetes:

1.  Carbohydrates must be consumed to level out a low blood sugar or to prevent one due to active insulin.

This is the case even if you’re not hungry, even if you’re nauseated, even if you are stuffed on Thanksgiving Day.  Carbohydrates are full of calories so weight gain can become an issue if someone is having too many lows.  Carbs are also filling and eating while not hungry or just to fix a low tends to push a person into an unhealthy habit of eating to pacify a symptom (perhaps depression or anxiety) or to fix feelings of fatigue or tiredness.  Next think you know, a person is apt to think they need a snack every time they have a headache or feel weak or are nervous or feel sad.  The list goes on and on and since food really is medicine for people with diabetes, the stable use of food easily derails.

2.  Some foods are much harder than others to cover successfully with insulin, creating a good foods, bad foods war.

A popular idea out there is that there are no bad foods.  I understand the thinking behind that train of thought but personally, I do think there are bad foods.  It all depends on your definition.  For me, something that doesn’t support health but rather damages it, is “bad”.  While you and I might disagree on that, we probably agree on this:  Because rice is trickier to cover with insulin than say, chicken, we get into negative feelings about rice over time.  Not all of us, but if rice doesn’t give you any hurdles, just replace it with whatever does-like pasta or pizza.  The point is that a perfectly healthy food like brown rice can become demonized in our minds simply because of our frustration with it’s complex carb load.  I like brown rice but I almost run from it screaming because of how difficult a time I have covering it with insulin.  I eat a few fork full and I know I need to be done.  It’s a shame that we also find that cheese, often full of saturated fat and sodium, tempts us to eat too much of it because it’s so easy to cover with insulin.

3.  More insulin means more fat so people who use insulin therapy have a unique weight management challenge.

Let me explain.  The more insulin one takes, the more fat they will gain.  So let’s say that I’m having a rough year (which is quite human of me, right?) and as a result I don’t carb count and measure and insulin dose as accurately as I should (also normal human behavior), well, because I’m sometimes giving a little too much insulin and needing more food to cover for that fact and because I’m sometimes giving too little insulin resulting in a higher amount of insulin needed to bring blood sugar down after the fact, I’m apt to gain a few pounds between consuming more calories than I’d like and giving insulin to cover a high blood sugar that a non diabetic never has to worry about.  Phew! The key to weight management is carefully counting carbs and covering those carbs at the right time and with the precise amount of insulin.  That key, my non diabetic friends, is not one that humans hold, it’s in the hands of Zeus and his friends.  So, what do diabetics taking insulin do?  I don’t know but I know what I do, I eat less than most people and I exercise more than most people.  That’s what I do.  Others probably count carbs carefully and probably don’t have a disposition to insulin resistance (which causes one to need more insulin and thus gain more weight).  Still, others eat low carb so that insulin intake is low and so is weight.  The rest of us may have a few extra pounds we could do without, seeing as we didn’t even earn them.  Sigh.  What a dilemma.

4.  Due to the above, it becomes tempting to skimp insulin in order to manage weight.

This is a scary one I’ve never personally tried.  However, it’s a realistic problem for many people with diabetes at some point or another.  Some people get quite desperate to manage their weight that they don’t take their insulin.  This causes high blood sugar, ketones, and body fat burning.  This also causes death and if you or someone you know is doing this, get help ASAP.  I write about this one because while it may seem pathetic to the outsider, it’s not at all.  I understand that it probably starts with just a moment of desperation, a longing to be thin without having to work doubly hard as everyone else.  Diabetes that isn’t tightly managed usually begets unwanted pounds so I can understand how it’s tempting.  But like I said, it’s very dangerous and something that you should never ever do if you have diabetes.

5.  Eating becomes an abnormal event.

When someone who takes insulin before a meal does so, they have to start some math in their heads.  They have to take note that their fast acting insulin begins in about 15-30 minutes.  Then they have to recall their blood sugar and figure out how long it will take the insulin to start pushing down the blood sugar.  If my blood sugar is 150, for example, I don’t eat right away.  I wait about 25 minutes instead of my normal 15 minutes because I want to start eating when my blood sugar is a little lower than 150 but higher than 100.  Are you still following?  OK.  Then, I have to make sure that I eat the amount of carbohydrates that I’ve just given insulin for.  So, when one of my toddlers needs something in the middle of dinner and I get up to do it, that means when I sit back down, I have to now speed eat.  I have to stuff myself to make sure I don’t get a low, providing I don’t already have one.  Or let’s say I’m at a restaurant.  I either try to guess when the food is being brought out or I let my food get a little cold before eating.  Sometimes I’m a little high but I’m hungry so I eat really slowly.  Sometimes I have literally inhaled my meal because of a low.  Either way, I can’t always just sit down and enjoy. my. meal.  This speed eating might also become a habit.  And you know what else?  When we eat while low, we become used to eating when feeling trembly or weak or flushed.  So I’ve noticed when I’m nervous or anxious or tired, I eat really fast!  It’s like I’m used to shoving food in my mouth in an effort to make those symptoms associated with low blood sugar, go away.  Why?  Because when we have a low blood sugar, we’re essentially on the way to death and our body makes us feel really awful so that we get the message, follow what our body is saying, and eat some carbs!  Preferably fast acting carbs.

Diabetes and food, they go together like a knot.

So what can we do?

Ok, this post was all doom and gloom so here is the light at the end of the tunnel.  Next week I’ll post what I have set up as some rules that work rather well for me and others I know.  These rules have helped me enjoy food more and stress over it less.  This doesn’t mean some of the above doesn’t still occur but I have lessened the occurrences which is something.

Coming next week:  5 Helpful Food Rules

Can you think of any other ways that the relationship between food and a person with diabetes is complicated?  If so, share!

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