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Vegetarian to Vegan with Type 1 Diabetes


First of all, I recognise that dietary intake is a personal and cultural topic to the majority of people, so please read this as a sharing of my knowledge, experience and values, not as a challenge to your education, values and diet. If you have followed my Type 1 Active blog or social media for a while, you will probably know that I have maintained a vegetarian diet for the past 8 years and that, through macronutrient manipulation, I have a pretty wide understanding of food and how it effects my diabetes management. From this, I will discuss my motivations for transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, my initial concerns and what I have noticed since being fully vegan.


As someone who is very active and wants to maintain muscle mass, I was concerned about my protein intake, especially because the bulk of the protein I was eating came from yoghurt, cottage cheese and milk. Moreover, I had worked so hard, as a vegetarian, to be able to maintain an excessive amount of protein (150grams daily which I now know is far too much) and I was wondering how many beans, lentils and nuts I would have to eat to reach the same amount of protein on a vegan diet. In addition to anxieties of protein deficiency, there is a lot of speculation about vegans lacking in other vitamins such as iron or the ubiquitous b12 that can only be obtained by eating animal products. Other less pressing concerns were slightly petty, but I want to be honest… I love coffee!! I was questioning for a while how I was going to still enjoy cups of coffee without semi skimmed milk. I also love Maltesars when I go to the cinema so I was also allowing this to hold me back too. There were other things, but these were the main concerns. Oh, and I was also wondering how I would be able to defend my decision for this lifestyle change when I was challenged by friends, family and strangers. As I move through this post, I will show you how I was able to relax about all of the above.


My first motivation for transitioning to veganism stemmed from the massive break outs I was having on my skin. As they had been happening for a few years I did some research and learned that the spots could be a direct result of stress, hormone imbalance or too much dairy consumption. I had my hormones checked via blood test and they came back as normal, and as I try to keep stress levels to a minimum that left the dairy in my diet as the culprit. From this, I associated breakouts to when I had been eating more dairy. So, by the end of January 2018, this give me enough fuel to cut all animal products from my diet to see how it worked for my skin. Shortly after making this decision, I began looking on YouTube for meal recipes and found an abundance of inspiration that guided me into a new direction of motivation.

I watched the documentaries, “Forks over Knives”, “Earthlings”, “Cowspiracy” and “What the Health”, all of which illuminated how animal products are contributing to the severity of disease and general ill health amongst humans. Furthermore, some of the graphic scenes within these documentaries opened my eyes to how ignorant I had been to animal cruelty. I instantly recognised the delusional dialogue I had been feeding myself as a vegetarian who thought I was doing some good for the animals by not eating meat. The reality is, without going into detail, the cows who were providing milk, yoghurt and cheese for my pleasure, were exploited, in pain and scared of death just like the animals that are slaughtered for consumption of meat eaters.

Positives of Vegan Diet so far

As you have just read, my motivation related to the aesthetics of my skin and to general empathy towards the mistreating of animals and I can happily say that I am seeing positives about both of those things. Although it is not perfect, my skin is clearing up and it definitely looks like it is in a better place. Moreover, switching to non-animal based products, including the milk in my coffee which is now deliciously replaced with soya or almond milk, I actually feel like I am contributing to a good cause by not investing my hard earned money into the exploitation of animals.

In addition to the above, I have noticed unexpected positives too and this first one is a revelation in itself because it is that I feel more at peace with food than I ever have. I’m not overly obsessing about calories, specific macronutrient ratios or how much I am eating. If I am hungry I will eat until I’m full and if I get hungry again, I will eat again. The food I have been consuming, although not majorly different to what I ate previously, makes me feel good, not guilty. This is a massive shift in my thinking and I am so grateful that I can find this peace, even if I do still have to count carbs for diabetes management. Relating back to protein as one of my earlier concerns, without being too worried about caloric intake, I am easily eating between 70-90grams of protein per day and I don’t see any loss in muscle or strength. Yes, you could argue that it is early days, but from following other vegan athletes, such as Simnett Nutrition and Rich Roll, I see that a vegan body can be a strong, efficient body.

In terms of overall well being, my energy is increasing daily and I feel excited to burn this energy off when I go to training. I suspect that the added carbohydrates, that I am using to replace the excessive protein I used to eat, have something to do with it. Speaking of carbs, whilst I have increased my carbohydrate intake (between 250g-400g), my total daily insulin has been reduced. This means that my overall insulin sensitivity is improving and I have experienced a few severe lows to prove it. This can only mean that my body is handling carbs better than it did when I was eating dairy (mostly zero fat). However, due to the increase in carbs and a few miscalculations, I have had a few highs too, but this would be no different to my regular diet. So, a quick tip from me… if you attempt to try turn vegan overnight, please be prepared to adjust your insulin accordingly.

I know diabetes is a massive topic in your life, as it is in mine, so you don’t just have to take my word for it. There are multiple studies that have proven plant based / whole food diets can reverse type two diabetes. Yes, I recognise that the majority of the people who read this blog post are type 1 diabetic, but I’m certain that this research regarding type 2 diabetes can clearly offer strategies that can be successfully employed by type 1 diabetics too. Mindful Diabetic Robbie can tell you all about type one and type two with plant based diet.

Useful Resources

Simnett Nutrition… Everything you need to know about a Vegan diet, including delicious recipes, regular vlogs, and of course, athletic motivation. His way of life and his incredible physique can completely override the picture you have of the “malnutritioned thin vegan” to what a plant based diet can really allow you to achieve.

Earthling Ed comes more from the animal rights activism stance, as opposed to health, but still definitely worth watching if you are willing to let him abolish any preconceived notions that you have regarding veganism. Apply his questions to the internal logic you have about eating animal products and see how you get on.

Dr Michael Gregor, author of “How Not To Die”, is a highly experienced force who strongly advocates a plant based diet for the maintenance of exemplary health. His work covers the prevention and reversal of chronic disease, such as Type 2 Diabetes, and he offers many case studies that can prove how effective this diet is.

So far, I believe that I am truly profiting from this diet and I know that if I continue to treat my body with the most nutritious food, my body will pay me back with further strength and vitality.

Rowena x

p.s. after I had already written this post, I did a poll on Instagram that asks whether I should write on or not. For those of you who said yes, thank you for being open to learn and absorb new information that might stand outside of your comfort zone. For those of you who didn’t want me to write this, thank you for reminding me that diet and health is not priority for some people. We have all been there.

Book Review: Think Like a Pancreas


Think Like a Pancreas. Book ReviewThink Like a Pancreas is a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while, when I finally got around to buying it I read it in one week and decided to write a book review for you. From the moment I picked up this book, I knew I would get through it quite quickly because of how the author, Gary Scheiner, breaks down the medical jargon into a vocabulary that is easy to read and relatable. What’s more, he is type 1 diabetic himself which makes me automatically pay more attention. Mainly because of how he uses experiences of own to express his point. Sure, there are times when he does delve deeper into a language that makes me want to fall to sleep, but he somehow ties it in with some humour and I was instantly drawn back in.

Without giving all of the details of the book away, I will share what I took away from the book. The first and foremost thing that drew me in was how brutally honest Scheiner was about what could happen if you don’t take care of your diabetes. I saw this as a motivator and it prompted me to consider how well I am taking care of myself.

Straight after the negatives, he talks about the positives of good glucose control. I was relieved to read about how an even tighter control could improve overall mood and sense of wellbeing. This point resonated with me because of how low mood and irritability are the first things I notice when my blood sugars have been on a roller coaster ride.

Being on pump therapy, I am clearly aware of a basal / bolus routine. However, throughout the book, I was reminded of all of the reasons why one should be following a basal / bolus routine and why fine tuning is important. He is inclusive to those who take multiple daily injections or those who use an insulin pump. He then offers efficient ways of testing basal / bolus doses to ensure they are correct for you.

In terms of dietary needs and aside from the obvious kind of healthy diet we should follow, Scheiner illuminated the effects that protein can have on the blood sugar if consumed without carbohydrate. Basically, if you eat protein with carbs, you won’t have to bolus for it, but if you eat protein without carbs, such as a protein shake, you will have to administer a small bolus for it. To calculate this bolus… if I was having a scoop of protein that contained 20 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbs and 0.2 grams of fat, it was suggested to take the total amount of protein, half it and then take a bolus as if it were a source of carbs. Thus, 20/2=10protein = 10grams carbs. – This was significant for me as I sometimes eat sources of protein that contain minimal carbs or fat.

Later, he explores the details of how to prevent spikes in the blood sugar by manipulating bolus of food timings. I was already familiar with a lot of the points made, but they were still very relevant and useful. They will be worthwhile to you too if you enjoy carbs as much as I do. Trust me, I tried the low carb life and I was miserable. I feel much stronger and more energetic when I have carbs in m life, even if they cause the occasional spikes.

Have you read this book? What did you take from it? I will definitely look at this book again if I ever have any questions because of the range of topics covered that pertain to living with diabetes on a day to day basis. Reading this book made me realise how little discourse there is surrounding the “everyday” life of a diabetic. I mean, I really do acknowledge and appreciate the researchers who focus on the medical scientific part of diabetes, but I think there should be a few more qualitative studies that could highlight areas surrounding mood, motivation to control diabetes or how living with diabetes may or may not affect relationships etc.

I hope you’re having a great start to the new year of 2018. I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Rowena x


Type 1 Diabetes and Pole Dance


Type 1 Diabetes and Pole DanceType 1 Diabetes and Pole Dance is not something you read very often in the same sentence. However, from posting about my pole antics on Instagram, I have come to meet a few other amazing girls with type 1 diabetes who pole dance too. As you’ll know if you already follow my active journey on instagram, my blood glucose likes to play tricks on me when I pole dance. It is very dependent on the type of session, so when the session is more danced based I tend to go low, but when it is more tricks focussed I go a little higher. Anyway, it’s over to these wonderful superwomen who climb that pole regardless of t1d…

Type 1 Diabetes and Pole DanceElisa (@eliska_pole)

“My BG reacts always in a different way… (for everything!!!) Actually I don’t know… some times after 1 hour pole I’m low… sometimes … especially when I feel adrenaline, perhaps trying new tricks, my BG is getting high”




Type 1 Diabetes and Pole DanceRhian (@rhiandickinson)

“I find my blood sugar tends to run quite high while I’m on the pole probably because of the adrenaline. I tend to start my workouts around a bg of 7 or 8 and pretty much sustain that throughout. I’ve only gone low once or twice during sessions and keep a protein bar and lucozade sport at hand just in case.”




Type 1 Diabetes and Pole DanceSheesha (@cirque_de_sheesh)

“I don’t identify as a pole girl, more so as a circus girl who will occasionally cheat on her silks. My blood sugar usually stays the same during training but will drop a little overnight after exercise. 😊”




Type 1 Diabetes and Pole DanceBecky (@bex_jonesx)

“I really love pole dancing to my surprise, I was so nervous about being rubbish at it and so conscious of taking my pump off and people seeing it or going low in the middle of a class. But that’s not the case now I quickly learnt that everyone is so nice, not judgemental and a great bunch of people based on the Banter! I love the developments I’ve seen in my ability to hold my own weight and climb a slippery pole as well as challenging new moves.

In terms of blood sugars, it was trial and error as always with a few lows before class, during and many after! I have learnt now though that reducing my basal rate about an hour and half before keeps me steady during class, night time lows are getting better but need more trails and hopefully less error.”

For those of you have messaged me about potentially starting pole dance, there you have it, a few other pole dancing superstars to encourage you that it’s ok to take part too. If you know any t1d pole dancers, male or female, tag them in this post and I’ll add them on. The world should know how fun pole dance is and that it is definitely fine to do with T1D. You can read more about the benefits of pole dance here.

Happy Pole Dancing

Rowena x

Are you following Type 1 Active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Youtube?

Back in the World of Diabetes


Back in the Diabetes WorldNot that I ever left, but I am now back in the world of diabetes… You may have noticed that I have posted a little less over the past twelve months? Well, that’s because I have been completing a full time Masters in Dance Practices, teaching, performing, and managing online clients for Type 1 Active. Towards the end of the MA course, of which I achieved the final result of distinction, I became very stressed and let my diabetes management slip a bit. When I performed, the adrenaline hypers were difficult to control and when I was writing my dissertation I was sitting down a lot and not really taking the time to accurately count my carbs.

I know where I have been going wrong so it should be fairly straight forward to get myself back on track. In fact, things are looking up already because I connected to my CGM again and realised a few things that I already know. Like taking bolus at least twenty mins before I eat in order to avoid the spike. And ensuring basal doses throughout the day and night are correct.

A few of you have asked what I am up to, now that my studies have finished… I teach a lot of pole dance classes and one to one sessions, do online training for people living with diabetes, and I am just about to release a new product for Pole Purpose – it’s a creative resource pack for pole dancers. Alongside this I am reading for my PhD application. I would really love to delve deeper into my dance research so I am working really hard to make that happen over the next few months. Alongside all of the above I am keeping up with my own training and health maintenance.

My training pretty much involves, in no particular order, pole dance, contemporary dance, HIIT, cycling or walking, and yoga. I’m trying to keep the cardio at a lower intensity to give my body a break from all of the harsh pole / hiit training. I’m having one full day off a week, to regenerate both mentally and physically and it is helping a lot. I didn’t realise how shut off I’ve been from life with no day off.

Things you may have missed if you don’t follow me on youtube or Instagram,

Dealing with negative comments

My podcast interview with Rob Howe….

Two Very short trips to Paris and Las Vegas- pics on my insta.

Generally a lot of yoga and pole pics / videos…

Now that I have more time I will be vlog / blogging again so please let me know if there are any particular topics you want me to talk about.

Lots of healthy thoughts and happiness to you.

Rowena x

How do you like to eat when you travel? Do you work out whilst you are away? Let me know on Instagram, Twitter or YouTube.

Active Rest Days


Active Rest DaysIn short, an active rest day is a remedy to over training and involves light exercise that will stimulate and speed up your recovery process. An active rest day is something I have truly learned the meaning of recently. I overworked, burned out and injured myself. Not good! However, I see it as a learning curve and feel that I have really found the value in doing something a little lighter with my body. Not taking the time to rest is so common, even amongst beginners. Some of my clients have come to me with negative experiences of exercise and the reason for their bad experience is because they didn’t take time to rest and therefore burned out.

When considering what activity you might want to adopt as part of your active rest day, you have to take your current fitness level into consideration. Mainly because this exercise should be much less intense than the exercise you do as part of your regular fitness program. For instance, if you were a long distance runner and your body needed time to rest and recover, you could go for a walk instead. It’s going to be different for everyone.

Here are a few ideas of what you could do.

Self Myofascial Release (SMR)

SMR is self-massage with foam roller, tennis ball or a lacrosse ball. After feeling so tight in my upper body from intense pole training, I swear by them now. It’s like getting a deep sports massage. The foam roller is appropriate for larger muscle groups such as the quads, hamstrings and lats, whilst the small lacrosse ball is really great at targeting the difficult to reach areas between the shoulder blades. It is fairly uncomfortable at the time, but the goal is that you feel benefit afterwards. You might find this video useful.


Walking is as a great way to allow your muscles to recover. I like to listen to a motivational podcast or music whilst walking outside in the park. It’s a really positive way to boost overall wellbeing too. Of course, again, this depends on your fitness level. If walking is part of your fitness program already, you might want to lower the intensity of the walk on the days that you utilise walking for active rest.


I’m a true fan of yoga. I love it because it releases my body when it is sore from dancing. However, dependant on the program, it can be very physically challenging. Look for a light yoga class if you aim to use it as a recovery rather than an actual workout. YouTube is a great place to start – I have several, free yoga tutorials that you can follow along with.


During my recent holiday, I swam for the first time in about 3 years, so it’s safe to say that I am out of practice. Therefore, my body probably wouldn’t benefit from swimming as an aid to recovery. However, if I were to consider a really low intensity session then I might benefit from the cardiovascular aspects of the activity, as well as the low impact is has on joints and bones.

Overall, it is important to allow yourself time to recuperate. You are human and your body is with you for the long haul, so look after it.

What’s your favourite way of actively resting? You can reach me on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Rowena x

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