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Type 1 Diabetes and Coronavirus


Yesterday I put out a post on my Type 1 Active Instagram asking fellow T1D’s to share their knowledge of coronavirus and diabetes. Based on comments, reputable sources and general health guidance for ill diabetics, I have listed some key information below.

  • Just because you have t1d, it does NOT mean you are more likely to become infected with the virus. This is often confused with the information that diabetics might experience more severe symptoms than a non-diabetic. This is probably one of the most important points as it may alleviate some of your anxiety.
  • Sick day rules apply; test more often, drink plenty of water, check for ketones if hyperglycaemic. Your health care provider will have given your specific information on sick day rules.
  • In case of lockdown it is important to have enough carbohydrate to treat at least 14 days’ worth of hypos. Same goes for insulin and test strips.
  • If you are on lockdown and not displaying any symptoms you should still test more often. For most, being stuck at home will change normal daily activity level, which means basal rates may need to be adjusted.
  • No manufacturers of insulin or medical supplies have expressed concerns about their ability to deliver their supply.  
  • I am sure you already know to wash your hands more often and to keep your distance from large groups, but it is worth repeating. Be smart!
  • Don’t panic.

Here is some useful reading…

Diabetes UK – https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus?amp&__twitter_impression=true

JDRF – https://www.jdrf.org/virginia/2020/02/28/coronavirus-what-we-should-do-now/

I hope this has been helpful for you. I will update regularly as I gather more information. Stay strong and continuing with exercises and self-care, even if you are stuck at home.

Rowena x

Poor Diabetes Management


The past 6 months have been intense. I started my PhD, released a new product for Pole Purpose, performed at myriad events, lectured across various modules on an undergraduate dance course, delivered presentations to MA and PhD students, presented at academic conferences, bought and moved house, travelled to Peru (and got sick whilst I was there), teaching pole choreography and technique, created three dance works (two of which are still in developmental stages but both have solid foundation to work from), discontinued online training and diet management and started teaching online dance tutorials instead, and finally, I have been trying my best to manage my health. This has not been easy and is surely evident in my Hba1C. It is not terrible, but it is the worst it has ever been since my diagnosis back in 2014.

As I am aware that putting health second is terribly unproductive, I strive to ensure that I am getting at least 7.5 hours sleep per night, drinking lots of water, exercising daily, and attempting meditation. What strikes me about my actions is that they are all congruent with “remedies” that are given to help eliminate the symptoms that I am experiencing with my fluctuating blood sugar; low mood, anxiety, tiredness and tingling feet, to name a few.  

This acknowledgement encouraged me to question what else, in addition to the above efforts, I could be doing to make the symptoms go away. Here are some of my findings.

Tingling Feet – I don’t get the tingling feet daily, but I have mainly noticed that is comes along when I have had a blood sugar higher than around 9mmols. According to Healthline and NHS, tingling feet in patients with Type 1 Diabetes can be a sign of Neuropathy. Neuropathy, in simple terms, means nerve damage that may have emerged as a result of continued hyperglycaemia. There are various different forms of nerve damage and various treatments, but for the type that I am experiencing, where the nerves are not completely dead, they suggest to stretch, and to avoid cigarettes and alcohol. I stretch and I don’t smoke but I do drink alcohol, so it’s possible for me to experiment a little more with this. First step is to closely monitor the sensations in my feet during and after drinking and then go from there.  

Anxiousness and Low Mood – I have deliberately categorised anxiety and depression together because I believe they exist beside each other.  I have spoken about out of range blood sugar before and how it can alter my mood very quickly, but I feel it is more consistent as of late. The anxiety is not always diabetes related, but when it is, it tends to occur when I am due to teach – “what happens if I go low when I’m teaching”, this usually prompts me to have my pre teaching snack without a bolus. I am very much aware that I could reduce my basal for the same effect, and I sometimes do, but adrenaline when teaching is unpredictable so I feed my anxious thoughts and end up “high” as a result. I’ve got steps in place to work on this and I believe the Libre is helping me with this process.

In terms of low mood, it goes against who I am because I am generally quite upbeat, motivated and positive. I work very hard and I am usually proud of my achievements. However, if my blood sugar is out of whack, I will literally find any excuse to call myself a failure.  Must work on this! The recommended natural treatment for low mood, alongside good diet and exercise, it to meditate. I used to meditate for ten minutes daily and remember being calmer. Maybe this is the key. Perhaps that will eliminate some of the symptoms above?

Have you any experience with any of these? I love to hear your thoughts, so feel free to email me [email protected] or find me on social media.

Rowena x

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

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