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What Does Your Diabetes Say About Diabetes?


Sometimes, when looking to be inspired, I watch TED talks. They have an app and a range of different clips on Netflix. I watch them because they inspire me in writing, doing better and generally pushing myself to aim for bigger and better things. The speakers are experts from all different fields; choreographers, writers, entrepreneurs, chefs etc. The most recent one was from an African writer who was talking about Single Stories. As an example of a single story she used her experience as an African Female who moved from Africa to America for college. Now, before her roommate had even met her she had assumed that because she was from Africa she would be poor, listen to tribal music and wouldn’t speak very good English. This wasn’t the case at all.

This got me thinking about my single story and if that has changed since my diabetes diagnosis. Have I gone from being Rowena to being that diabetic girl? I certainly hope not. Do people think of diabetes when they think of me? As a diabetic person, what information do I implant into peoples brains about diabetes?Diabetes Story

How I act and manage my diabetes will give someone a story about it and I would prefer for it not to be a sob story. Yes, it is challenging but if I get it right I can feel well and energetic. That’s why I try my best every single day to keep it in check. I will never tell someone that I can’t eat something because I am diabetic, I will tell them that I don’t want to eat it because it is not good for me. If I’m having a crap day at managing my blood sugars I won’t tell a non-diabetic about that because I don’t want them to feel sorry for me or to assume that it’s my fault. When I am in dance class and I have a low, I will not make a scene; I will test and act accordingly. You get where is coming from? How I act will determine how another diabetic is treated. How someone’s mum manages their diabetes will affect how people see mine. An example, I have a friend whose mum is Type 1 who doesn’t exercise because of hypos. Thus, because her mum doesn’t exercise because of hypos, my friend is under the impression that I should be very careful around exercise.

If you know someone who has Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes you will obviously have an idea about it and a story to tell if the conversation calls for it. If you’re diabetic, you will understand that people have a “single story” about diabetes and some people will not change their idea of it even if you shove it in their face. The most common “stories” are that it is a self-inflicted medical condition brought on through eating too much sugar or it is believed that we can’t eat sugar at all. I live with type 1 diabetes and I can firmly tell you that both assumptions are incorrect.
Where does that leave me now? I guess I just have to make sure my story of diabetes is a one that won’t mislead people for years to come. What do you think about your diabetes story? What impression do you give to other people?

Have you followed me on Instagram and Twitter yet? As of next week I will be posting my weekly workouts, my before and after blood glucose and some of my meals. My timetable is sorted and I can’t wait to get into it.

Rowena x

7 Good Things About Living with Diabetes


There are a few good things about living with diabetes, you read it right. Initially, I did only think there was one and that was obviously food related; see my Perk of living with diabetes post to understand how I came to this conclusion. However, I’ve been in search of a few more and I have come up with the following.

Expert Level

How many subjects can you say you are an absolute expert on? It has been said that it takes 10000 hours to become a master of a certain subject / field of expertise. So, if this is true, at time of writing this post I have been diabetic for around 2 years and 5 months, which is equivalent to around 21168 hours. That makes me an expert two times over and will keep increasing until there is a cure. Remember, we don’t get the time off when we sleep / go on holiday so every single hour can be accounted for.

A good excuse not to share food

I’ll happily share anything I own, but I don’t share food (obvs unless you are diabetic and lowJ). Now that I am diabetic, when I am eating something I have the perfect excuse not to let someone pinch a few or my carbs because I’ve already bolused for it. I’m giggling as I write this because everyone takes it so seriously, even if the food is only worth less than 5 carbs.

Changes to Your Own Lifestyle Rub off on people around you

When you make the effort to treat your body with more respect by eating healthier and exercising more, the people around you will begin to consider the choices they make too. For instance, one of my friends really cleaned up his diet when he realised how many carbs were in certain foods he was eating. He would check and say “you’d have to bolus x amount for this amount of carbs” and he eventually phased most of those sugary food out of his diet.

Deeper Understanding of Your body

Although diabetes is the most confusing thing ever, it has also given me a deeper understanding of my body; what irritates it is, what foods it works better with, what exercise very effective. Highs and lows tell us a lot about what is going on inside and if we pay attention to that we can really fine tune management to stay as healthy as possible.

My post on stress and hyperglycaemia is the perfect example of this.

Carb Counting Masters

I know this might not sound like a big thing to brag about, but gym bunnies who are not diabetic would love to have our discipline when it comes to carbs. Especially the IIFYM group of flexible dieters out there. They might have a slip here and there without much consequence and will thus learn / progress a bit slower. However, when we slip or miscalculate we have from hypers / hypos to remind us to calculate the food properly next time.

I could pretty much eye ball the portions of most fruit, veg, potatoes, pasta, rice and breads. Although it is still good to weigh them where possible.

It shows us we are strong and can adapt to any situation

Aside from the other diabetics, I don’t know anyone who actively makes themselves bleed every day in order to stay alive. We do this with a smile on our face and get on with the rest of the day.

It goes with that saying – you never know what you’re capable of until you try. Being forced to manage diabetes has taught me that I am ready for anything life has to throw at me because I know I will adapt and handle it.

Insulin pumpers are technically Borg

Speaking of adapting, my GF / friends always jokes that I am like seven of nine from Star trek because of my medical devices that could be passed as borg implants. Seven of nine was part of a collective and is very efficient and smart. I’m happy to be compared to her so I’ll take it.

I would loooove to hear anything you have to add to this. Let’s not take diabetes so seriously so we can keep smiling.

Rowena x

I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Diet for Diabetes


What is the perfect diet for diabetes? Well, like I always say it is individual to the person. However, when living with diabetes there two main diets that always pop up and have proven to make life managing diabetes that little bit easier. For instance, most doctors recommend a low glycaemic diet because the carbs are released at a slower pace in comparison to carbs with a higher glycaemic carbs. The other popular diet is a low carb diet – mainly recommended for blood sugar control, but not so much by doctors, more so by people living with diabetes.

What is HIGH / LOW GI?

High Glycaemic foods include white rice, cereals and sugary drinks.

Low Glycaemic foods include brown rice, oatmeal and sweet potato.

Low Carb Diet

A low carb diet involves reducing the amount of carbohydrates that you eat on a daily basis and replacing the missing carbs with extra fats and protein, although some people forget to do that and end up severely undereating.

Anyway, it’s obvious why low carb diets are great for diabetes control – to put it simply, there is less chance of hyperglycaemia if you are not eating a lot of carbs on a regular basis.

The low carb lifestyle can be very tough and can leave you feeling somewhat unhappy in other ways which is why I would never recommend it to my clients. I believe a healthy balance is the most effective and sustainable diet out there. Not cutting whole macronutrients sources from your diet.

Saying that, there are people who seem to get along well with the low carb lifestyle and I am happy for their adherence and control.

But, again, I am not one of those people. Ever since I was a kid I have enjoyed carbohydrates more than the other macronutrient sources; protein and fat. I didn’t eat much meat which is a very dominant food source in the protein department and I avoided fats, mainly because I thought they would make me fat; but that’s a story for another post. Anyway, the point is, diabetic or not I like carbs and I am willing to continue eating them providing I can stay healthy and strong. Which I am.

Things to Consider

If you are considering adjusting your diet for diabetes sake, you have to ask yourself what is going to keep you happy. You see, there is no point in having great diabetes control if the strategy you are using to meet that level of control is making you mentally ill; miserable, depressed and isolated without the foods you enjoy.

Ask yourself the following…

Low GI

Can you see yourself making small changes each week, maybe switching from white potato to sweet potato? Swapping white bread to brown bread etc. If so, great – a low GI diet could work for you. If not, consider something else.

Low Carb / No Carb

Could you see yourself a year from now not eating any of the carbs you enjoy including fruit, vegetables, pasta, potatoes etc? If so, great. If not, don’t worry – try the above.

Overall, the diet for diabetes, as stated earlier, is going to be personal to you. If you do currently eat low GI food and struggle with diabetes control, think about the timing of your insulin and see how you get on with that before you go cold turkey on the carb front. Oh, and check out my carb counting tips to ensure you are calculating accurately.

Also, remember that diet does not always mean weight loss, it’s about lifestyle choice and should be seen as something that you can adhere to in the long term. Food is not the enemy, even if you are living with diabetes.

Take control of your health.

Rowena x

I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

The Key to Diabetes Management

Managing diabetes takes time, dedication, experimentation, patience and knowledge. Great blood sugar levels are not achieved just by taking a couple of shots of insulin and doing a bit of exercise here and there. In fact, it’s very far from it as there are so many variables that can affect the success of the insulin; the amount of food you eat, the exercise you do, your height, weight, resting activity levels, stress levels etc.

With all of the above in mind I would definitely say that the key to diabetes management is understanding your own body and how it responds to all of the above. To do this you will have to monitor, assess, and make changes, but most of all BE PATIENT.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but here’s the way I see it… experimenting every so often in order to maintain decent blood sugar, will take up much less time and energy than dealing with hypers and hypos every day. That’s really exhausting. I mean, of course I would rather not be playing around with blood glucose levels, but sometimes you’ve just got to do what you got to do.

Anyway, as I said earlier, if you are trying to figure out what works best for you, patience is everything because, again, there are so many variables.

My tip for maintaining patience is to know why you want to achieve a better level of blood glucose. An obvious one is that you want to achieve good health. However, sometimes this is not enough to motivate you, especially when you look fine on the outside and can’t see the potential damage of crappy levels on the inside.

Try to think more about immediate benefits of good blood glucose levels.

For me, my motivation is that I want to I want to dance to the best of my ability every day for the rest of my life. This is difficult to achieve if my body is preoccupied with high or low blood sugar levels. Also, healthier blood sugar makes me happier in general and I feel that I am much nicer to be around if my levels are in range. You must know what I’m talking about here… Cranky hypos / hypers are not fun.

Choose your motivation for finding out what works for you and keep a note of it close by.

Start your experiments with something small; if you are spiking after a certain food, experiment with the timing of your insulin or if you feel shitty after eating a certain food, try eating it at a different time of the day, less of it or none of it at all.

Write down the results.

If you feel like you are doing a really great job, reward yourself. Buy yourself something nice and say well done. No one else is going to do that for you because they have no idea how much of a victory it is to be able to manage and maintain health whilst living with this disease. Celebrate all of your achievements with diabetes.

I hope this helps. I really try to give you advice that you can use as a starting point to find out more about yourself. We are all different and what works for me might not work for you. There is never only one way.

Rowena x

I’d love to share more of my advice with you on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Weight loss and Insulin Reduction


Having recently lost a couple of pounds I have been reminded that weight loss and insulin reduction go hand in hand. I mean, it is something I already knew but my basal manipulation has been a bit different this time round. Knowing that I would have to reduce my basal insulin when I started losing fat, I was prepared with night time alarms to make adjustments.

I’ve noticed that when I lose as little as 1lb in weight my insulin dose needs to change too. Despite small adjustment each day, the past week I have woken up most nights with very low blood sugar, the lowest being 1.5mmols. Luckily I keep my Lucozade in my bedside cabinet and was able to treat it quickly.

Anyway, without trying to scare you, I hope this will prompt you to do something about your background insulin / pump basal rate if you plan on a diet. Do extra blood sugar checks and if you are waking up lower than usual it is definitely time to adjust. Especially if you are cutting calories alongside exercising. I would start by reducing in small increments 0.05 and keep adjusting until you get it right. Speak to your diabetes team if you are really unsure.

With the plan that I will lose 1 pound per week over the next 4 weeks, I will monitor how much insulin I have to reduce by and update this post.

With regards to hypos interfering with dieting…

I’ve said this in a few of my blogs before, but when a person is trying to lose fat, they have to be in a caloric deficit, i.e. burning more calories than they consume. However, I have received tons of emails from fellow diabetics who are frustrated that they can’t lose weight because they have to eat to treat a hypo.

“I’ll never lose weight if I have to keep eating the calories I burn off in the gym”

I always tell them “Yes you will, there are other ways around it.”

Night time hypos that are treated with carbs that I haven’t already accounted for…  I just make a note of how many carbs I have eaten / drank. Usually 20 during the night as I like more than 15 to be sure when I sleep – and then I just subtract those carbs from one of my meals or snacks the next day. This ensures that I am still in a caloric deficit.

I do something similar with day time hypos, although this is never really a problem because I like to eat every 3 hours anyway and have probably planned the carbs and just won’t bolus for them. If not, I subtract the carbs from one of my later meals.

I hope this makes sense. Please comment if you have any questions. I know it can be difficult to calculate everything and to feel like you are stuck, but the fact that you are trying and reading this post says a lot about how your future will go. 3 carb counting tips for diabetics has proven to be very useful for otheres. Take a look.

Keep going.

Rowena x

I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.