Hello and welcome to Flawed Yet Functional! Last week I wanted to give you all an update on my life and health. Instead, I got all preachy about diabetics changing their diet! Ha! Well, now I really am going to give you that update. My health is better than at any point in my life! So while I share an update on me, I want to show you how to live a full, awesome life with Type 1 Diabetes. Check it out!
A diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes, particularly as an adult, can be debilitating. The level of awareness of your every bite of food and blood sugar level can be daunting. How do people with Type 1 Diabetes live a full, normal life? Life with Type 1 Diabetes can be awesome once these three things are established: a diet for optimal health (meaning all food sensitivities are eliminated and diet is rich is nourishing food), insulin management, and healthy habits that support good health.
Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis
To catch you all up, my name is Emily Stauch, and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a 33 year old after two rounds of gestational diabetes with both of my pregnancies. As with all diabetics, I began my insulin management in the typical fashion with long-acting insulin once a day plus fast-acting insulin with every meal depending on how many carbs I ate at that meal.
I managed my diabetes traditionally for about 2 weeks when I discovered some research that indicated gluten being the source of autoimmune diseases. Willing to try anything, I immediately stopped eating gluten. That day, I was able to stop my fast-acting insulin. In one week’s time, I was able to reduce my long-acting insulin dose to zero. I remained off all insulin for the next 19 months, managing my diabetes only with diet, exercise, and good healthy habits.
In December 2018, my blood sugar rose, which I understand as an indicator of my pancreas dying more. I began taking long-acting insulin again along with fast acting as needed at meals.
In March of 2019, I gave the Keto diet a try. It immediately allowed me to stop all fast-acting insulin at meals. Also my blood sugar between meals was much more stable because there were no drastic swings up in blood sugar from lots of carbs or down from the insulin.
That’s a quick rundown of my history with Type 1 Diabetes. Let’s pick apart the pieces of my diabetes management as they are today.
Type 1 Diabetic Diet for Optimal Health
A Diet that Nourishes the Body
My diet began as the Autoimmune Protocol elimination diet, and I have gone through several successful reintroductions (chocolate, wine, nuts, seed & seed oils, and cashews) and one unsuccessful (egg yolks). Now my diet could be called “Paleo without eggs” or “Autoimmune Protocol plus several reintroductions”. The second is a mouthful! I call myself “Paleo minus eggs” diet now!
After 2 months of merging Keto with my modified Paleo diet, I came to the conclusion I just don’t like the extreme carb restriction of the Keto diet. It made me limit my vegetable intake which I really didn’t like. All of my carbs were coming from vegetables, and I don’t believe it is healthy to be restricting how much kale, broccoli, or carrots one eats!
However, I found amazing stability in my blood sugar from reducing my carb intake. So I’m still a huge advocate for reducing carbs for type 1 diabetics, but for someone who isn’t eating dairy products or eggs, Keto is a bit difficult. I wanted to come up with a happy middle ground. One that would allow only long-acting insulin and high enough carbs to manage my vegetable intake.
A Diet that You Can Be Happy With
So now we’re at my current diet: Paleo without eggs and moderate carbs. I eat about 50 carbs a day, and I take 7 units of long-acting insulin each morning. That is enough insulin to keep my blood sugar levels in check throughout the day with no lows and enough vegetable intake to nourish my body and give me tons of energy.
Mealtime is much more pleasurable too! I feel free to load up my plate with green and colorful veggies, except sweet potatoes, and feel full, satisfied, and not restricted.
The perfect diet for a Type 1 Diabetic is one that nourishes your body, avoids any sensitivities you may have, and leaves you happy and satisfied at mealtime.
Like I just mentioned above, my insulin dose currently is 7 units of long-acting insulin per day. If I restricted my carbs more to the 20 to 40 range of the Keto diet, I could reduce my insulin dosage one or possibly two units.
However, I am happy with my current dosage. It manages the carbs that I eat, and I feel the freedom to eat all the veggies I want throughout the day, and even have small snacks mid-afternoon and at about 8 pm. AND…I can eat small amounts of dark chocolate which I had zero freedom to do on strict Keto. Chocolate for the win!
Healthy Habits for a Type 1 Diabetic
What are healthy habits for a type 1 diabetic? The primary healthy habits for a Type 1 Diabetic are getting enough quality sleep, some movement each day, and spending time with Jesus. There are many other good disciplines that will help support good health, but today, I just want to focus on the big three (in my opinion).
Getting the proper amount and quality of sleep is vitally important for everyone, no matter their health condition. For me, my whole daily routine is thrown off if I don’t protect my sleep time. If you are new to developing healthy habits, begin with sleep.
Start by going to bed at the same time every night. Don’t try to wake up earlier without having gone to bed earlier. Always begin your sleep changes the night before by prepping yourself properly for bed and going to bed at the same reasonable time every night.
For me, my bedtime and wake time have been I struggle since summer began. There’s just so much fun to do! However, my body usually still wakes me up quite early 5:30 or 6, but I need to start protecting the time I go to bed so I don’t feel like a zombie in the morning! A good night’s sleep makes such a difference in my energy, alertness, and productivity for the day! Waking up feeling energized is a beautiful thing, and I need to work on making this happen all year round, not just during the school year!
Move Your Body
Exercise. Ah, exercise, the thing we all have a love/hate relationship with! It is so important though since we live in a mostly sedentary society. Your body needs movement and lifting heavy objects.
Normally, I try to do a workout routine in the morning before my kids wake up Monday through Friday. However, just like my sleep has been lacking this summer, so has my exercise routine.
On the other hand though, I’m getting so much more movement outside at playgrounds and parks with my kids. Bike rides to our neighborhood park, walking around the inland lakes, and a bunch of other fun outdoor activities have been my “movement” or exercise each day.
If your schedule and routine are off because of summertime, embrace it! Use the great outdoors and this wonderfully warm weather to get your vitamin D as well as exercise requirements done in the great outdoors! Don’t add more stress to your life by worrying about a formal workout routine in the summer, just get outside!
Time with Jesus Everyday
I am a Christian, and I believe the whole Bible to be true. A big part of maintaining my relationship with Jesus is spending time in His word and in prayer with Him. It changes my mindset for the day, and it sets my focus on Him and things above rather than the worries that I may carry around with me.
I cannot emphasize enough how life-changing the Bible is. Having Jesus in my heart changes my attitude, and my perspective of the daily trials of raising young children, trying to make a difference in the world, an overall living a good purposeful life.
However, I understand you might not believe in Jesus. While I think a relationship with Him to be positive for your mental health, at a minimum, take the time to bring a peaceful activity into your daily routine. Try journaling, taking a walk by yourself, or memorizing poetry.
So there is my life and health in a nutshell right now. I’ve modified my diet to accommodate more carbs yet still maintaining good blood sugar control. Summer has thrown off my usual daily habits, but I’m embracing the great outdoors far more which is nothing to be ashamed of!
How do you live a thriving life with Type 1 Diabetes? The pieces you need to establish are a diet that nourishes your body, good insulin and blood sugar management, and pursuing healthy habits to the best of your ability each and every day. Is every day perfect? No, of course not. But that’s okay, Living with Type 1 Diabetes on a daily basis is consistent awareness and work to manage this life-long disease. There will be ups and downs. But the key to a thriving life is finding what works best for your body and then using each and every day to pursue it a little bit better. Press on, my friend!