Food Glorious Food

One of my favourite tops - 'WTF (where's the food)'

One of my favourite tops – ‘WTF (where’s the food)’

There’s something no diabetic wants when they’ve got diabetes, and that’s a sweet tooth. I’m part of the one half of the population that would choose sweet over savoury. I’m the person who gets would get excited about Starbuck’s flavoured lattes at Christmas. I’d be the one dipping biscuits into my sugared tea, and finishing every meal with desert. I would sit and devour a giant bar of chocolate washed down with a big glass of milk. And I’d love every minute of it.

Alas, my love affair with all things sugary was rudely interrupted by diabetes after 25 sweet, sweet years and that would mark my End of Part One. With my pancreas well and truly munted, I made the decisions to break up with carbohydrates. The decision itself was an easy one, based not only on my long term health but because of the immediate unpleasant effects of carbohydrates on my body. However, the adjustment to a low carb diet from a high carb one was mother-flipping hard. I’m not gonna sugar coat it (haha). Carbohydrates are addictive and breaking addictions are tough. But I’ve always been up for a challenge, and as far as I’m concerned, this is a fight for my life.

So what do I eat?

Breakfast.

The most important meal of the day. I love breakfast. Lucky for me and my fellow diabetics, bacon is completely carb free.  You can look high and low for the carbohydrates in any of these nine delicious, standard breakfasts and you’ll struggle. As you can see, I eat a lot of bacon and eggs (I substitute milk for avocado oil in the scrambled eggs)

For lunches and dinners, I’ve had to be a bit more inventive than I used to be, but it’s not been impossible. There are many low carb alternatives out there..it’s just finding and creating them. Instead of rice, I put cauliflower in a hand food processor (or grate it) and fry it in salt and pepper. Instead of pasta, I make courgetti (vegetable peeled courgette, lightly boiled or sautéed). Instead of regular noodles, I’ve found a brand of Japanese noodles called Shiritaki (or Yam) noodles, and they only have 3 grams of carbs per 100g serving. Instead of regular pizza, I make it with a cauliflower base. Where there’s a will, there’s a way…

Bunless Burgers

If I’m working, chances are I’ll get myself a burger without the bun. So instead of a gigantic carb filled bun, I get all the goodness wrapped in fancy lettuce. It’s always super delicious, not to mention the marginal impact on my blood sugar levels. Win-win.

Eating out

Eating out is slightly much more of an issue. There are carbs in almost everything. A salad is the safest option – and sashimi is delicious. One of my favourite places to go for lunch in town is a place that does the best ribs and chips for only $15 – I just substitute the chips for salad and ask for the ribs to be lightly basted. Also on a Tuesday a place does a kilo of chicken wings for $10 which is awesome.

…And that pretty much wraps up what I eat these days. It’s not always plain sailing though. Sometimes I want what other people have, but I deal with that better than eating something and finding out afterwards that it was full of sugar.

Tea and coffee

I’ve always been a big fan of a strong soy flat white coffee (I can’t drink New Zealand Milk, and for those of you in America –  a flat white is kinda like a latte but with next to no foam)… but now I have a long black (hot water topped with a double espresso). When I’m making so much effort to eat low carb, it just seems silly to bolus for something as simple as a coffee. I’ve also tried making ‘bulletproof coffee’ at home (coffee blended with grass fed butter and coconut oil), which is actually pretty yummy and filling. I also used to drink a lot of English Breakfast tea with milk and sugars… so I’ve made the move towards Green and Peppermint tea instead, which doesn’t actually bother me anymore, and I enjoy them.

Alcohol

As a 25 year old living in a ski resort town full of backpackers, I spent my first Winter drinking…a lot. Nobody really goes on a night out without having a few Jager Bombs (a shot of Jaegermeister dropped into Red Bull), but now I have Coconut Tequila instead. Instead of beer or cider, I drink vodka and diet coke, or the occasional wine. I don’t drink half as much as I used to – partly because I don’t enjoy my ‘new’ drinks as much, and partly because I’m scared of the effects of alcohol on my blood sugar (usually they spend an evening slowly declining until I eat before hypo-ing).

Another one of my favourite tops! (Looking very tired after a night waking up every couple of hours correcting my BS levels)

Another one of my favourite tops! (Looking very tired after a night waking up every couple of hours correcting my BS levels)

So there you go! That’s what I eat, and drink, in a day.  Every day. I don’t have the cravings for most carbs anymore, nor do I have any desire to eat them when I see them. Things like bread, pasta and rice are just something to have the tasty stuff with anyway. So why poison myself with food I can find an alternative for? I do often want chocolate still, so I need to cut that out entirely to eliminate cravings (I often buy sugar free), and occasionally I’ll crave a sweet, milky, tea, but I tell myself the same thing every time: it just isn’t worth it. I’m not depriving myself of anything eating this way, I’m giving myself a healthy body and life – my last HbA1c was 5.4%, and I have stable blood sugars with very few hypos and even rarer hypers. That’s why I do this. 

Diabetes Blog Week

I wrote this post for Diabetes Blog Week – an annual blogging event designed to share different perspectives over the same topic, and to make connections and better understand Diabetes. Today’s topic is ‘Foods on Friday’ and aims to document what you eat in a day!

My diabetes is a baby.

My diabetes is a baby. It needs caring for 24/7, with no weekends, holidays, or even time off. The only difference with the arrival of diabetes and the arrival of a baby is that with a baby you at least had several months to prepare yourself.

My diabetes a baby. It wakes me up in the night, crying for food. Sometimes I have to set an alarm to check on it. I have to care for it before I let myself sleep. It’s the first thing I tend to when I wake up in the morning.

My diabetes is a baby. I have to make sure food establishments are suitable for us. I have to make sure my drink is suitable for it, and question the waiter about food content to make sure I’m not harming it.

My diabetes is a baby. I have to make sure I can work around the needs of my diabetes. I need to be able to check my blood sugar when I need to. I need to be able to run to the bathroom when nature calls.

My diabetes is a baby. I don’t choose when diabetes cries, and when it does it has my full attention. I can’t afford to do anything else but tend to it until it has settled. Sometimes this means missing out on things. Sometimes this means I have to wait out the storm on my own.

My diabetes is a baby. It’s one I’ve been forced to adopt, didn’t want, or can give up. It will never grow up, nor will it ever leave me. My diabetes is a baby, it’s my baby…for life.

Diabetes Blog Week

I wrote this post for Diabetes Blog Week – an annual blogging event designed to share different perspectives over the same topic, and to make connections and better understand Diabetes. Today I used a wildcard topic – ‘Diabetes Personified’ and aims to personify your diabetes so people can understand it a little better.

The 5 Stages of Grief…

I’m usually inherently positive about diabetes, and to be honest, about life in general. I crack a lot of jokes. I laugh at myself, and I laugh at my illness. Sometimes. Of course, that’s not always the case – like when I was told I had Type 1 Diabetes, I quietly went through the five stages of grief.

Stage 1. Denial and Isolation

Maybe it’s all just a big mistake, maybe I don’t have diabetes. How do they know for sure? If I don’t check my blood sugar I can pretend it’s fine. Ignoring it will make it go away. If I isolate myself I can hide this.

Stage 2. Anger

What did I do to deserve this? Why do I have diabetes? I look after myself, it’s not fair! 

Stage 3. Bargaining

Please take it back, please tell me it was a mistake. I’ll do anything. C’mon pancreas, start working again and I’ll act like this never happened. I’ll run more, I’ll eat better. Please?

Stage 4. Depression

This is it, this is my life. I have an incurable chronic illness. My life is ruled by test strips and insulin shots. I can’t do this. I don’t have the strength for this. I don’t have the mental capacity to do the mathematics to keep my body functioning right. This SUCKS!

Stage 5. Acceptance

The fifth and final stage of grief is the reason I need to ‘clean it out’. It’s part of the reason I got my medical alert tattoo – to accept that this illness is for life. Diabetes turned my world upside down. I went from a low maintenance girl to a high maintenance girl – except instead of needing more time to do my hair, I need a little more time to test my blood sugar and inject insulin. Instead of holding my hair back when I’m sick, I might need you to open a juice box for me instead. Diabetes has taught me that my body is a little more fragile than it used to be. It’s a little more temperamental. It needs a little more care. But diabetes has also taught me that my body is stronger than I could’ve ever imagined possible, and that power was always within me. My body still endures pain, my lips still kiss, my skin still feels, my eyes still see and my heart still beats. I’m still here, and I’m still very much alive. My name is Tamsin and I have Type 1 Diabetes. 

 

Diabetes Blog Week

I wrote this post for Diabetes Blog Week – an annual blogging event designed to share different perspectives over the same topic, and to make connections and better understand Diabetes. Today’s topic is ‘Clean it out’ and aims to let go of something you’ve been hanging on to, physically or emotionally.

Shh…

Todays topic encourages us to spill the particular parts of diabetes that we would usually keep from the public sphere – the aspect of diabetes that we tend to keep to ourselves, away from our family, friends, and, well, the entire internet. 

There is one aspect of diabetes I choose not to blog about. And that, my friends, is my hope for a cure. No one wants a lifelong, chronic illness. With diabetes, I never want my friends to see me at a low. Just like I never want my family to see me on a bad diabetes day.

Deep, deep down in the bottom of my heart there is a candle that flickers with hope for a cure. And while I may go my lifetime without this never becoming a reality, that flame will never be extinguished. As long as there is life within me, there is hope. But that’s not what keeps me going. What carries me through life is the faith I have in myself: Faith in myself to jump from the world’s first commercial bungy despite my fear of bridges: Faith in myself to jump from Australasia’s highest bungy despite my fear of falling: Faith in myself to Skydive from 15,000ft despite my fear of heights. Faith in myself to white water raft despite my fear of rivers. Faith in myself to cross the Thailand/Cambodia border solo and in the middle of the night . Faith in myself to do a season in the snow despite trying snowboarding once in my life. Faith in myself to travel the world despite my shy and timid nature. Ultimately I live with the faith in myself to live the life I want with my health securely in my hands.

A small part of me will always hope for a cure, but it will never dominate my life. My faith takes up too much room. 

Diabetes Blog Week

I wrote this post for Diabetes Blog Week – an annual blogging event designed to share different perspectives over the same topic, and to make connections and better understand Diabetes. Today’s topic is ‘Keep it to yourself’ and aims to look at the aspects of diabetes you usually keep to yourself.

I can still run…

I can still run.

Here’s the thing about running.

RunRunning doesn’t care if you’re fat or thin, rich or poor. Running doesn’t care if you’re straight or gay, liberal or conservative, whether you live in Africa or the United Kingdom. Running doesn’t care what car you drive, what clothes you wear or if your bum looks big in that. And guess what? Running doesn’t care if you’re a diabetic. Functioning pancreas or not, the road will always welcome you back. And welcome me back it did, in the form of a marathon.

I ran my first marathon on a severe lack of training, two days after having one too many drinks. I’d also just worked 80 hours across the 7 days leading up to race day and would be running with a torn knee ligament. To add insult to injury (pun intended), I’d been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes just two months previously.

MarathonThe marathon wasn’t about the race, nor was it about the medal at the end. The biggest challenge wasn’t about anyone else on that course. It was about the slow and painful process within me that propelled me to be the best I can be: It was the rain dripping from my face at Mile 1: It was the sweat in my hair at Mile 2 and the aching in my lungs at Mile 4: It was the stitch in my side at Mile 5 and the nausea in my stomach at Mile 7: It was the throbbing of my calves at Mile 19 and the stiffness in my knees at Mile 20: it was the blisters in my feet at Mile 22 and the dryness in my mouth before every drink station: it was the torrential rain at Mile 25: it was being drenched to the bone at Mile 26: But most of all it was the voice inside my head that told me to stop. The voice that argued that there is no valid reason for my body to continue, and wants me to quit. But I didn’t. Even when my blood glucose monitor failed in the rain – I found cover and tested. Even when I had to pause to chug water on top of jelly beans so I didn’t choke on them – I kept going. I ran side by side with other non-diabetic runners. Whilst other runners paused to guzzle water, I tested my blood quickly, and carried on. Whilst other runners were taking their glucose tabs, I had my jelly beans. None of the thousands of runners we raced alongside with knew I was a diabetic, and they didn’t need to. We were all just runners, tackling a distance only 1% of the population had completed. We were all in it together. The day I completed the marathon was the day I realised diabetes wouldn’t prevent me from doing anything I wanted to do with my life. My body may be a little more temperamental these days, but it’s also holds strength I didn’t know possible. And  so I run.

RemarkablesPost-marathon, I went for an early run on an empty stomach. I’d been eating low carb for a while, and on this day it appeared as though I had become fat adapted. This means that rather than running on glucose (which I would regularly top up as I ran), I ran on fat. I know this because rather than testing every 20 minutes and needing to consume glucose, my blood sugar levels were steady. Not only that, but I managed to run powerfully and non-stop for over an hour. I’d ran an elevation of 450 metres. I was also running in one of the most spectacular parts of the world – Queenstown, New Zealand. I was running down through the trees along the lake with a view of the Remarkables when I suddenly broke into a grin and tears fell from my eyes.  Before diabetes, I ran to feel the fresh air in my lungs and the breeze on my cheeks. I ran to explore the beauty of our world through my footsteps. I ran because it made me love the feeling of living. I cried because I still run now for all of those reasons, and because I can still run.

Diabetes Blog Week

I wrote this post for Diabetes Blog Week – an annual blogging event designed to share different perspectives over the same topic, and to make connections and better understand Diabetes. Today’s topic is ‘I can’ and aims to look at the positive side of our lives with diabetes.