The Balancing Act With Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

Bonnie’s Story:

Things I know today that have made my life so much easier.  Balancing insulin, food and activity is key to balancing your blood sugar.  This can be so easy at times and then other times it can be somewhat of a challenge.

What I have figured out is that things change for many reasons.  I start each day as a New Day.  Blood testing machines didn’t exist when I first became diabetic so when I purchased my first Blood Glucose Meter it was a big deal, it was so much easier actually knowing what my blood sugar was before giving my insulin.

Insulin – Food – Activity

Understanding how Insulin, Food, and Activity work for you, is very important in managing diabetes.  I have designed a tracking form that makes it easy to be able to track what is going on with each of these areas and will also make it easy for your medical team to see what is working and what needs to be adjusted.  Living well with diabetes has been an ongoing learning process, their is no one size fits all with diabetes.  Yes living well with diabetes is a 24/7 responsibility.  I became T1D when I was six years old, I have lived well with T1D on insulin for 50 years.  Thriving is our default setting and I am just in the process of starting a new business.  Being responsible for things from a young age seemed to come with having diabetes.  I thank my parents everyday for teaching me everything they could so I could look after myself.  I never thought I would live any other way with diabetes other then being healthy.

The insulin on the market today, make diabetes care so much easier. Being able to give rapid acting insulin to bring a high test down in a matter of two hours is like a dream come true.   The choice to lower your rapid insulin to accommodate for activity or giving rapid insulin for what you are eating makes the balancing act possible.

I wish I could say that it is a one time process to figure out what works for managing diabetes, although, this certainly hasn’t been the case for me.  You have to remember we are growing, living beings.  If you consider all the hormone changes that go on in our body through childhood, adolescence, and into adulthood, you will better understand why things change with your diabetes.  With activity levels changing at different times in our life also changed the absorption of insulin.  So all things considered you are going to see changes in your food, insulin and activity.

T1D means that your blood sugar will go up and down because your pancreas does not produce insulin. So if you can mimic the pancreas and provide insulin at the same time as your pancreas does, I would say that is a win-win scenario.  Click here to check out what has worked for me in regards to my treatment plan.

If you have your medical plan in place and you are ready to make change happen in your life even if you have diabetes… may want to consider this option.

As a Life Coach, working with clients from all walks of life including those with diabetes.  Click here to set up a free introductory meeting with Bonnie.

Their is no such thing as a “Perfect Diabetic” type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition where your pancreas no longer produces insulin and the only current way to live with this condition is to take insulin through injection or an insulin pump.  Diabetes causes your blood sugar to go up and down and thinking you will always have a perfect/good test is completely unrealistic.  The more you understand diabetes and what options are available for you, the better life you will live.

Living well with diabetes is a choice, I know for sure ignoring the fact that you have diabetes is not a solution.  Yes, it can be hard and somedays are not going to be easy.

imgresOne of the things I heard from a doctor at a very young age was “get control of your diabetes before it controls you”  I heard this load and clear.  Being diagnosed at 6 years old I am very fortunate, my parents were told by my doctor if they did not teach me how to look after myself, I would not be able to live a healthy life with diabetes.  They did a great job of this, I was very young when I was the one answering the questions from the doctor, diabetes nurse educator and dietician, it has been learning process.  I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 50 years and I have never looked at myself as being sick, I have a condition that I can look after and that works for me.  I have a choice every single day wether I want to look after myself or not.  I’ve had my days where I run high because of my food choices, or to much insulin and not enough food, etc.  Yes and I learn from those times.

So what are some of the things that make my blood sugar go up and down.  The number one thing for me is not getting the right carbohydrate count for my Food.  This is easy when you have the food label, or your at home and you prepared it yourself.  It is unrealistic to think you are going to have everything you need for this all the time.  The original recommended eating plan for diabetics was called an exchange diet.  The nice thing about understand this eating plan was you knew the amount of carbohydrates based on the portion size.  This is a great resource – understand the portion size of food.

I am very sensitive to rapid acting insulin so it is important for me to know my carbohydrate count, what activity I will be doing before taking my insulin. My rapid insulin lasts approximately 2 hours, which allows for more flexibility when things change.

Multiple injections or insulin pump have been great options for me.

In the beginning, it may seem overwhelming to think you will have to give insulin every time you eat anything that turns to sugar, although, with an insulin pen it can be so easy.  One step at a time it becomes manageable and literally second nature.  I can be sitting at a table in the restaurant and test, figure out the carbohydrates on my plate and give my needle and no one will even notice.  You can really add anything to your eating plan, I always ask myself, is it insulin worthy.  I do not feel deprived at all when it comes to food choices, lets face it, foods that are pretty much 100% sugar are not going to work.  I realized many years ago feeding a low blood sugar with lots of sweets, you know those things that you really need to stay away from….really only caused a crazy over swing in my blood sugar and also made me gain weight.  I will share more on healthy weight at another time.

My long acting insulin covers my baseline insulin 24 hours a day and then when I eat, I give my insulin to carbohydrate ration.  How do you ever begin to figure out your insulin to carbohydrate ratio?  You will have to do some tracking, in North America it is law that all packaged foods have a food label.

Food Label

Check out this resource on understand food labels.  You can also purchase a great resource from the Canadian Diabetes Association called Beyond the Basics.  This book is very good to help you understand about food and diabetes.  As you become more familiar with the serving sizes and the amount of carbohydrates in each serving you will be able to easily give the insulin needed for your meal.  One thing I recently found out is the fibre has to be subtracted from the carbohydrate count as fibre does not turn to sugar.


Fresh Produce Guide

The other resource I use often is called Fresh Produce Guide, this book shows the carbohydrate count for over 300 varieties of fresh fruit and vegetables.  They have also included exotic fruit and vegetables.  Living in Mexico in the winter, I love that I get to enjoy all the wonderful fruit and vegetables and know how to fit them into my eating plan.  To better understand Basic Carbohydrate Counting you will want to meet with your dietician and your diabetes nurse educator.  See the post about setting up your Diabetes Medical Team for further information.

Activity is very important for everyone and having diabetes is no different.  Exercise is part of the balancing act.  Remember it is the carbohydrates that provide the sugar/energy in your bloodstream for the activity.  You will find lots of resources online, check out the Canadian Diabetes Association.   You will want to read 7 things you need to know about exercise issued by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

If my exercise is in the early morning, which I prefer, I will first test my blood sugar.  If I am going for a 1-1.5 hour brisk power walk, I will get up an hour before and make sure I have breakfast before my walk.  I will also lower my insulin for the carbohydrates i’m eating, as the sugar will be burnt off during my walk.  I take water, glucose tablets, and a juice box with me, just incase.  If I am golfing with a cart I will usually need one or two fruit to look after the activity throughout the game.

If I am downhill skiing, this activity uses lots of energy.  I start with a good meal, I lower my insulin for the carbohydrates and then I stop and test during the day.  This is one activity where I did end with many lows during the day and into the evening.  Throughout the day I will add extra carbohydrates when my activity is high.  I like to test during and after exercise as you body continues burning the sugar in your system for a number of hours after exercise, depends on the activity level and each person.

Exercise is again something that I had to figure out over the years, please remember everyone is different.  As my body becomes more efficient with exercise, my body utilizes the insulin and food more effectively.  If I end up with a low, I try very hard not to over treat it, as I end up with my blood sugar going up and down throughout the day and that is not easy.

YogaI love yoga, as it keeps my body strong and balanced, really seeing no change in my sugar levels during the activity.  You want to ensure you read more about exercise and diabetes, the effects of exercise will be in your system for at least eight hours after, this is one reason I like to exercise in the morning. If my activity level is high in the evening I make sure I get up in the night and test.  Yep…I set my alarm.

Their are many professional athletes with T1D, it is worth figuring out what works for you.

Live well with diabetes….Thanks Bonnie

Disclaimer – This website does not provide medical advice or treatment recommendations.  All content on type 1 diabetes treatment website is for informational purposes and is the personal experience and opinion of the author.  Always seek the advice of a licensed physician with you medical questions and concerns.

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