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Posted by on Sep 19, 2017 in Diet and Nutrition, Fitness, Travel

Inspiring Curiosity: What I Learned From Experimenting with My Diet

Inspiring Curiosity: What I Learned From Experimenting with My Diet

blood sugar diabetes diet

In the (almost) 20 years I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes, I have always maintained that this struggle has given me more than it has taken from me. I know that my experience isn’t shared by everyone but type 1 diabetes has been the driving force in my life, urging me to eschew complacency and accept accountability. I’ve summited Kilimanjaro, traveled the world on a very low budget, climbed El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park, as well as many sheer walls and summits that almost no one would recognize by name or by sight.

This isn’t an “attitude is everything” locker-room speech lending inspiration in place of useful information. Inspiration is important, but its value fades rapidly when not matched with actionable information—tools that you may want to use.

The truth is that I have never been a gifted athlete. I am not fearless. I don’t do what I do because it’s easier for me than for any other rational person. I do it because I have taken 10,000 tiny little steps outside of my comfort zone—testing and optimizing to see how far I can stray beyond the limitations of being diabetic.

If there is a point of inspiration that I want to give you, it’s that there is hope. Today. Using the diabetes management tools that exist right here and now. I have found that of all the tools in my personal “kit,” the one that has given me the greatest leverage against the unpredictability of my diabetes has been diet. Strangely enough, this tool seems to get pushed aside too often for those of us with type 1, as though optimizing diet is tantamount to an admission of guilt for our diagnosis.

I have often gotten the question “How do you deal with low blood sugar while you’re climbing?” and my answer is simple: I almost never do. I wouldn’t venture into the vertical world if I had to fear my blood sugar crashing out beneath me as I dangle from a rope with my life (and my partner’s life) in my hands. There’s plenty of risk to manage already without throwing debilitating hypoglycemia into the mix!

Type 1 diabetes food

Experimenting with my diet over several years with the aid of a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) has allowed me to zero in on some key insights that have kept me pushing my limits without fearing the danger of crushing lows or soaring highs. I tried a raw, vegan 80-10-10 diet which is high in carbs and very low in fat: 80% carbs 10% protein and 10% fat. All of those carbs came from unprocessed, whole food sources.

I went to the complete opposite extreme after several months of a high-carb vegan diet into a ketogenic diet which is high in fat, moderate in protein and all but eliminates carbohydrates altogether. 75% of calories are fat and 25% are protein. All of the fat and protein came from unprocessed, whole food sources.

It may sound extreme to some, but visiting both ends of the spectrum and experimenting to see how my body responded gave me incredibly useful information. I know that you may be wondering which diet “works” better for me since they lie at polar extremes. My purpose in this post isn’t to sell anyone on the diet that works best for me. Rather, it’s to say that both “extreme” diets share one thing in common that worked well for me: the elimination of processed foods.

Diet matters. It’s a huge lever that shouldn’t be neglected in my opinion. Testing which type of macronutrient your body prefers isn’t extreme. It took time and attention to do it carefully but in the end, the information I discovered changed the possibility of life for me with an otherwise unpredictable condition. In simplest terms, needing to take less insulin means less guessing and less opportunity for dramatic shifts in blood glucose for me. That’s what I have sought and found in my years of diet optimization. For years I dismissed adherence to a specific diet as being on par with cinnamon pills and okra water. It was only the absolute need for blood glucose stability while climbing that forced me to explore the edges of the map. The impact of what I found out there has given me more than it’s taken—and that’s not an empty platitude. I’m doing more than I thought physically possible and I’m taking my diabetes to places that I once thought were unreachable for me.

If there is one thing I can give to others to consider, I hope it is my curiosity and willingness to experiment with diet. We don’t have to climb mountains but we all have to eat. Simple choices in food may unleash the freedom to climb mountains, even if that’s not your idea of a good time!

-Stephen Richert

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Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Diet and Nutrition, School

A Healthy Start: 3 Low-Carb Breakfasts your Child will Love

A Healthy Start: 3 Low-Carb Breakfasts your Child will Love

Back to school – it has a whole different meaning for d-parents. As we begin to think about the many things needed to foster a great school experience, meetings with teachers and nurses, preparing supply boxes, reviewing 504 plans, etc., let’s not forget about the power of breakfast.

Breakfast is almost a dirty word when it comes to diabetes, isn’t it? It’s said to be the most important meal of the day but boy, oh boy, can it destroy blood sugars and set you and/or your child up for a roller coaster of a day. Having had type 1 for 30 years and being the mother of a 12-year-old son diagnosed a little over two years ago, I have a unique perspective of seeing both sides. I know how that roller coaster physically drains you like no other and leaves you feeling lousy. I also know that parental pain you get in the pit of your stomach when you see your child’s CGM graph looks like a mountain range or you hear it alarm for the one millionth time!

This desire to avoid the pitfalls of diabetes led me to try low carb breakfasts, and my son and I have had success. Low carb breakfasts? Am I talking about bacon and eggs? Well yes, but let’s face it  ̶  we all know that most school mornings barely allow time for teeth brushing, let alone bacon and eggs. Here are three kid approved, low-carb, make ahead breakfast recipes that you can have ready to go.

breakfast choices low carb diabetes kids

1. Double Chocolate Fudge Muffins: These are favorites of my entire family and don’t have to be limited to breakfast! It’s like eating chocolate cake without the sugar spike! In fact, these are so good that my son brought them in for his class to celebrate his 2nd diaversary (Yes, we believe diaversaries absolutely should be celebrated! It’s another year of kicking D’s butt and that needs to be honored!). His class LOVED them! The recipe can be found online here, at My Keto Kitchen – Recipes. My own tips for this recipe: use Swerve sweetener for the erythritol. It doesn’t have the aftertaste like most artificial sweeteners and use Lily’s sugar-free chocolate chips. While they’re not entirely sugar-free, they taste great and won’t spike sugars.

2. Pancakes: Low carb doesn’t mean you have to settle for flat pancakes. These fluffy pancakes have the same texture as traditional ones minus the sugar spike. Just be sure to use sugar free syrup with them. Let me tell ya, they have come a long way with sugar free syrups! I remember being a kid and trying it – YUCK! That is not the case anymore! My kids love sugar free syrup (and they don’t know how lucky they are to have missed out on the bad ones, lol). These pancakes can be personalized too! My daughter loves cinnamon in hers while my son prefers chocolate chips (those Lily’s chocolate chips come into play here too!) These can be frozen and thrown in the toaster or microwave for those busy school mornings. The recipe can be found online here.

3. Make-ahead Breakfast Sandwiches: A few years ago leading up to school starting I found a lifesaver in the recipe found here. Having these in the freezer was extremely helpful, however, I thought they were off the table for those of us trying to eat low-carb. Then I discovered another lifesaver: Carbquik. Think Bisquik, but with less carbs. I followed the recipe on the back of the box and made biscuits. Then, I followed the recipe in the link above (minus a few things like green onions and Cayenne pepper. We keep our eggs simple, lol.) I now have a bag full of breakfast sandwiches coming in at two net carbs each! As you can tell from the recipe, you can use the leftover eggs to make burritos, but we haven’t had much luck with low carb tortillas.

So there you have it  ̶  three breakfast recipes to help ease your school mornings and keep you/and or your child out of the blood sugar roller-coaster fog. Now if someone could just help with this anxiety I’m having about sending my baby to middle school!

-Jen Runyon

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Posted by on Mar 10, 2015 in Diet and Nutrition, Lifestyle

Cooking Diabetes-Friendly Meals

Cooking Diabetes-Friendly Meals

The paleo recipe I am sharing today, as with most of my recipes, has evolved to include fresh fruits/vegetables, meats, eggs, herbs and spices, and oils in an attempt to replace the standard processed ingredients I used to cook with. Switching everything to almost entirely fresh ingredients has had an eye-opening effect on my blood sugar, lessening the drastic spikes and dips I saw before.

This has also brought a new appreciation of what consuming different foods and ingredients does to my blood sugar. The more I’ve cleaned the ingredients, the more I’ve been able to make a direct connection between the psychological impact of food consumption related to diabetes and blood sugar management.

The following recipe came together upon returning from a long vacation over the holidays to food that needed to be used (and without having to make a trip to buy groceries). The recipe is very comfort-food-like, easy and makes a home smell absolutely wonderful! It also reheated very well throughout the next couple of days.

Coconut Ginger Tandoori

Coconut Ginger Tandoori:

5 slices of uncured bacon, cut into pieces
1 cup sliced baby carrots
1 medium white onion, chopped
½ can coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
½ package chopped baby crimini mushrooms
1 small piece fresh ginger, zested
1 ½ Tbsp. tandoori seasoning
Dash sea salt/pepper/garlic salt
1 cup kale

Begin by cutting the slices of bacon into pieces with kitchen shears, directly into a sauté pan on medium heat. Let bacon cook about five minutes until it begins to turn opaque. Add the sliced baby carrots and onion and continue sautéing over medium heat for about five to seven minutes. Add the coconut milk and coconut oil and continue to stir. Add the mushrooms, zested ginger (I zested directly over the pan), tandoori seasoning and remaining spices, stirring until all is incorporated. Let the mixture sauté so the flavors meld, adding the kale last until it softens. Reduce heat and stir occasionally while preparing poached eggs.

Over-Medium Poached Eggs

Over Medium Poached Eggs:

Fill a large mug or soup bowl about ¾ full with warm water. Break two eggs directly into the water and microwave for two minutes. Microwave times will vary, so I would check the eggs periodically to see if they are poached to your preference. You can do this by using a spoon and raising an egg to the surface of the water to see how soft it is.

Top a bowl of Coconut Ginger Tandoori with the two over-medium poached eggs.

Click here to request a free Demo of the Omnipod insulin pump.

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Posted by on Feb 18, 2015 in Diabetes Management, Diet and Nutrition, Lifestyle

Diabetes and Special Occasions: The Gift of Technology

Diabetes and Special Occasions: The Gift of Technology

Check out 14-year-old Summer Asman’s experiences managing diabetes during special occasions. 

diabetes-and-special-occasions-400x300

Before diabetes, I used to love all of the desserts provided at special occasions, but now I dread eating dessert with people who don’t understand type 1 diabetes. It is hard to eat with people without diabetes. I try not to be jealous when I watch them stuff their faces with hundreds of delicious, sugary carbs (like I used to do) and I have to sit there and refrain from eating as many as them.

Celebrating events with my family is especially hard, because my cousins, uncles and aunts don’t understand. They bake pies and cookies, and they eat with ice cream and pudding. It takes a lot of will power for me to only eat my “sensible” portion of cake! Sometimes I wish my relatives wouldn’t bring so many different kinds of cakes and pies, and eat a little bit of each. They don’t understand how I feel watching them eat. How do I feel? Jealous, frustrated, hurt – and then guilty that I feel that way!

One way I have learned how to face the challenge of the dessert table at special occasions is to remind myself that they’re not just about eating all day. I love spending time with my family and friends, and enjoying whatever it is we’re celebrating. When I start to feel down about my sensible meal in the face of a six-foot long dessert table, I try to focus on all of the other joys.

As sensibly as I eat, I still enjoy some treats with my family. Another way I face the challenge of eating during special occasions is with the help of my Omnipod insulin pump. The Omnipod can’t help the way other people around you eat, but it can help make things easier for you. When I was using the insulin pen, it was hard because I had to bolus at the beginning of my meal for the exact amount of carbs I was going to eat. And I would have to take multiple shots of insulin for anything extra, which was miserable. I remember being at the first Christmas after my diabetes diagnosis and bolusing for a ½-cup of mashed potatoes and wanting more. I did not have seconds, because I did not want to take another injection! I even skipped dessert because it was just too much of a painful hassle.

Now, with the Omnipod, I can count my carbs along the way and bolus for only a few at the beginning of a meal. Then, I can bolus easily as I eat more. So maybe I can have that extra cookie on Christmas! I also input my insulin-to-carb ratio into my Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM), so I don’t have to waste time on my calculator calculating how much insulin to give myself. My PDM does it on its own. The Omnipod made Christmas especially easy this year for me, because the mashed potatoes were extremely salty and buttery (just the way I like them) and I ended up eating seconds. Without the Omnipod, that would have been two needles in my arm! Ouch! Yes, family at events is wonderful, but so are seconds of mashed potatoes.

Click here to try a FREE demo of the Omnipod.

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