Insulin Free Type 1 Diabetes Management | Eat More Vegetables

This series is to document my journey as an adult-onset, Type 1 Diabetic who is insulin-free and managing diabetes through a Paleo diet and healthy lifestyle changes. The first post in the series, explains how I was able to stop taking insulin by removing gluten from my diet, Insulin Free Type 1 Diabetes Management | Why I Am Gluten Free.

Eat More Vegetables

My first weeks of being gluten-free were so encouraging. My blood glucose readings were coming down into satisfactory range for a type 1 diabetic. I was on cloud 9 that I had found the loophole. I had beat the system!

Not so fast, Emily! At my next endocrinologist appointment, I found my A1c was back down to 6.6 (from 9.7 at diagnosis), which is on target for a type 1 diabetic, but my daily readings weren’t quite good enough.

For some reason, when I met with the diabetes educator, I just thought my blood sugar readings should be below 150 at each testing point throughout the day. I was wrong. In the fire hose of information I was absorbing, I had forgotten the little chart my endocrinologist had given me regarding target blood sugars throughout the day.

Fasting Goal: <130

Pre-Meal Goal: <130

Pre-Bed Goal: 100-150

Oh. Right. The only time my goal blood sugar reading is less than 150 is right before bed. Hmm.

I leave that appointment deflated and not sure I’m on the right track or if I can manage type 1 diabetes through diet (This is the beginning of a recurring theme. It feels like I am forging my own path. It is isolating and deflating at times. I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing. I don’t know how long this experiment will work. I don’t always know the right path to take when my blood sugars rise. I’m figuring it out as I go along. When I find something that works, it’s exhilarating. When I fail, it’s the lowest of valleys.)

Back to the drawing board. Where do I go from here? I honestly didn’t know.

Dan and I love watching documentaries, and the one we were working through at that time was In Defense of Food by Michael Pollen. (Go quick to PBS! It’s free to watch right now!) My biggest take-away from that documentary was we need to eat more vegetables.

I was already making our food from scratch at home. We didn’t eat out much, so I thought we were doing great in the healthy food department. However, our breakfast options consisted of oatmeal or eggs and sausage. No veggies at that meal. Lunch options were leftovers or egg salad/tuna on crackers. Maybe there was a veggie at that meal, but likely not an entire serving. Dinner usually had a vegetable as we were grilling often (it was summer), but if we weren’t grilling, the vegetables were minimal.

In fact, I distinctly remember counting up how many servings of vegetables I’d had in a day, and I was actually contemplating if the onion and garlic I had used in a recipe could count as a serving of vegetables. Ha! I was really grasping for any tiny bit of vegetables to count because really my vegetable intake was low.

One Vegetable at Every Meal

I knew we needed to up our vegetable intake. I decided to challenge myself: one serving of vegetables at every meal. Can I just be honest with you? It was really hard at first. We ate a lot of smoothies with our breakfasts because I didn’t know how else to get a vegetable in us other than blending it up with sugary fruits!

acorn squash

A couple weeks into this challenge, the difficulty eased up. We could eat scrambled eggs, sausage and a sweet potato hash. Delicious. For lunch, we found we really like the crisp crunch of fresh, raw vegetables. Our garden was in full swing at that time, so we had plenty of fresh cucumbers, carrots, and snap peas to keep us full at lunch. For dinner, I leaned on frozen veggies (if short on time), grilled vegetables, or tried to put even more vegetables in a soup or side dish than the recipe called for.

Two Vegetables at Every Meal

I soon realized, I could do more. The kids were used to seeing vegetables at every meal, and they were eating them without fuss! So I challenged myself again: two servings of vegetables at every meal.


The second challenge was not as difficult as the first because the foundation had already been laid. The groundwork was there for vegetable intake, I just had to add more. Breakfast hash with sweet potatoes AND kale or smoothies with cucumber AND spinach. Lunch plates now had two raw vegetables in large piles on each plate: egg salad with sliced bell peppers AND carrot sticks or tuna patties with cucumber slices AND avocado.  Dinner on the grill now had hamburgers with grilled zucchini AND summer squash.

Results of More Vegetables

My blood glucose numbers went down a bit, but the vegetable intake didn’t have the dramatic effect that removing gluten from my diet did. What it did change was my snacking and satisfaction at meals. I found if I ate more vegetables at each meal (1) I could eat more, as much as I wanted, with minimal blood glucose affect, and (2) since I was more full from my meals, I wasn’t looking for snacks as much between meals.

The change in my snacking habits/cravings was huge from a lifestyle perspective. I was much more content with my diet since I wasn’t craving high carbohydrate snacks all the time. At mealtime, I could fill my plate twice and still have my blood sugar in line. Freedom to eat as much as I want?! If you’ve ever been on a restrictive diet, you know the feeling I’m describing!

Besides the habits in my eating, I knew it was the right thing for our bodies and our health to be eating more vegetables. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to survive. Everyone can agree we should eat more, right?

These two challenges took a month or more for me to conquer. It is now late summer, late August/early September 2017. For the most part things are trucking along just fine. My morning blood sugars aren’t always in line, but the rest of the day looks so good, I ignore the morning reading a bit. I am feeling on top of the world again with this diet, even if my fasting blood sugar isn’t quite right, the rest of the day is in range so adding artificial insulin would send me low. So that is not an option right now.

We all know we should eat more vegetables. The problem is how. Follow my example, start small with just one vegetable at each meal. Once you find your rhythm, up it to two vegetables per meal. Then eat more than one serving of each of those vegetables, and you will likely be eating the recommended daily amount. Vegetable intake plus removing gluten from your diet will leave you full, snacking less, and likely shedding more than a few pounds, without even trying!


Daily Paleo Menu #3

For more Paleo meal ideas, follow me on Pinterest! Check out my Paleo | XXXX boards for the inspiration I’ve gathered. My Tried & True | Paleo | XXXX boards are the recipes I’ve made and loved. Happy hunting!

Example: Paleo | Meal Ideas are all the main course recipes I’d like to try, and Tried & True | Paleo | Entrees are main courses I’ve made and loved.

Breakfast – Mexican Breakfast Casserole

I’m becoming a fan of breakfast casseroles. They allow me to make a hearty breakfast with lots of veggies and enough to serve my family two meals! This breakfast is inspired by Paleo Running Momma’s Mexican Breakfast Casserole, but I really changed things up.

I miscounted how many pounds of breakfast sausage I would need this week, so I didn’t have any left to make this dish, so I used ground beef. I made the ground beef as if I were making tacos: brown the beef then add seasoning and tomato sauce.

I layered my dish with sweet potato rounds, sliced onions, and bell peppers and roasted all of those together in the bottom of the dish before adding the beef, tomatoes, and eggs.

In my egg mixture, I added salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of onion powder. I did this because I was in too much of a hurry to look up the actual recipe! This method turned out delicious (my boys each had 3 helpings!), but I do plan to make it again closer to the original recipe and see how it turns out!

Beef Sweet Potato Egg Casserole

Lunch – Cauliflower Pizza and Broccoli

Pizza was one of our specialties pre-Paleo diet. We had a killer deep dish pizza down-pat, and we were perfecting our thin crust when the diabetes hit.

I have tried a couple Paleo pizza crusts, but most of them use arrowroot powder which is really high in carbs. In the effort to not overload my pancreas (and thereby over-taxing and possibly killing it more) and yet still have pizza, I decided to give a cauliflower crust a try.

I followed this recipe by

Overall, it was good. The crust is loaded with seasoning and does not taste like cauliflower at all. The texture was a bit soft and spongy. I might not have squeezed enough of the water out of the cauliflower. We’ll have it again, and I’ll try to get the crust more crusty.

I made my own pizza sauce from a recipe from my mom then topped the pizza with crumbled bacon, sliced pepperoni, and chopped onions. I try to have 2 vegetables with every meal so I added steamed broccoli on the side. My other veggie was the cauliflower. Does that count?

Easy Pizza Sauce

Quick and easy, homemade pizza sauce. Just a few ingredients and you'll have a tasty sauce with no unknown ingredients or additives!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6
Author Emily Stauch


  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano


  1. Combine tomato sauce and spices in small sauce pan. Cook over low heat until sauce reaches desired consistency. The cook time will be depend on how runny the tomato sauce is and how thick you want the sauce to be. I typically cook it for 30-60 minutes.

  2. When sauce reaches desired thickness, remove from heat and spread on prepared pizza dough.

  3. Store in refrigerator for a week or freeze for up to 1 year.

Recipe Notes

Makes enough for 3 medium sized pizzas, about 8" in diameter.

Dinner – Paleo Mexican Picadillo

My all-time favorite cookbook is The Best Mexican Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen. Much to my heart’s sadness, most of the recipes are not Paleo-friendly. One of the dishes I’ve been able to adapt most easily is the Mexican Picadillo. My version of the recipe, complete with cauliflower rice is below.

This dish is hearty yet won’t leave you with a rock in your stomach! It’s chock full of good vegetables so while tasting like a comfort food, it’s good for you!

Paleo Mexican Picadillo

Ground beef and chopped vegetables in a hearty Mexican-flavored sauce served over cauliflower rice. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican, Paleo
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6
Author Emily Stauch



  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 bell pepper stemmed, seeded, quartered
  • 6 oz white sweet potatoes peeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 3 carrots washed thoroughly, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 24 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 jalapano stemmed, seeded, quartered
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped

Cauliflower Rice

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 1 heads cauliflower chopped into florets
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup water


Make the Picadillo.

  1. Chop onion and bell pepper in a blender at low speed until roughly chopped. Put in a bowl and set aside.

  2. Chop potatoes and carrots in blender at low speed until roughly chopped. Put in a bowl and set aside.

  3. Blend tomatoes and jalapeno in blender until smooth. Pour into bowl and set aside.

  4. Heat olive oil in large skillet until hot. Add the onion/bell pepper mixture and cook until soft, stirring frequently. Stir in chili powder and garlic until fragrant then add ground beef. Cook ground beef until all brown and cooked through.

  5. Add potato/carrot mixture and tomato/jalapano mixture to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, on low but simmering until potatoes and carrots are soft, about 30 minutes.

  6. Stir in cilantro. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve over cauliflower rice with sliced avocado.

Make Cauliflower Rice

  1. Clean the blender pitcher. Chop the cauliflower florets on low speed in small batches until chopped into rice-sized pieces. Put in bowl. Repeat until all cauliflower is riced.

  2. Heat oil in large skillet or dutch oven until shimmering. Add onion and cook until starting to brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

  3. Add cauliflower to skillet along with salt and pepper. Stir until well mixed. Add water then cover and cook for 8-12 minutes, Stir every 2-3 minutes until cauliflower is tender.

  4. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately topped with picadillo. 

Recipe Notes

  • Store leftovers in the fridge in airtight container.
  • Reheat in the microwave for a quick lunch.
  • Recipe is adapted from America's Test Kitchen Mexican-Style Picadillo. Adjustments were made to make this recipe Paleo-friendly.

Although these are not typical Mexican and pizza dishes, they are truly delicious! You and your family will enjoy them even if they are not like the real thing. I find myself being more easily satisfied with my food knowing that I am nourishing my body, not just satisfying a craving.

What have you tried that is atypical to the American diet?? Any great recipe hacks to share?

Paleo Pizza


Paleo Hot Chocolate

Here’s a Paleo and kid-friendly treat for you and your family! My kids love to play out in the snow in the wintertime, and they equally love to get a cup of hot cocoa when they come back in! Dairy-free hot chocolate is hard to find in a pre-made mix, but it is super easy to whip up on the stove.

For more Paleo recipe ideas, follow me on Pinterest!

This is one area I have a little bit of guilt over in regards to this Paleo lifestyle: my kids missing out.

I know the health facts. I know I am setting them up for the healthiest, longest, disease-free life with this diet and lifestyle. And yet, it is still hard to tell them no.

No, you can’t have animal crackers at Bible study.

No, you can’t have half of your Halloween candy.

No, you can’t have those florescent cupcakes and pizza at the birthday party.


It is just hard to say no even when I know it’s the right thing to do. I KNOW those things aren’t good for them (even the gluten, grain, and dairy-free Halloween candy isn’t good for them!), but it tastes good. I know it does. They know it does.

They are really so good and understanding of why we eat the way we eat, but it is still hard for this momma at times.

So…today…I want to share with you my version of hot chocolate. I make this Paleo-friendly version so my kids can experience that sweet chocolate-y warm goodness when they come in from playing in the snow.

Almond Milk Hot Chocolate

It’s still has sugar in it, so this isn’t a healthy recipe by any means, but it’s a treat that I like to indulge my kids with so they have part of a normal childhood.

It is still rich and chocolate-y, just like regular hot chocolate.

easy paleo hot chocolate

Depending on your choice of sugar and milk, the flavor will be slightly different, but this recipe is very flexible. Use the milk and sugar of your choice, just keep the ratios the same. I use almond milk which give a nice nutty depth of flavor. I haven’t tried with coconut milk, but I’m sure that would be great too!

Stove top hot chocolate

Paleo Hot Chocolate

Kid-friendly, dairy-free hot chocolate for the whole family to enjoy!

Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 7 minutes
Servings 1
Author Emily Stauch


  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Combine cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan. Pour in 1/4 cup of almond milk and whisk until mostly smooth and dissolved.

  2. Turn heat on medium-low and whisk continuously until sugar is completely dissolved, about 30 seconds.

  3. Pour in the remaining almond milk and whisk until combined. Heat until desired temperature.

  4. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • Use any milk or milk-alternative
  • Use any sugar

Paleo mommas, what do think your kids “need” to indulge in? Where do you make allowances in their diet? Sugar? Dairy? How often do you allow treats? For reference, I think I make this once a week in the winter.

Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate


Autoimmune Protocol to Manage Type 1 Diabetes

The autoimmune protocol is a specialized diet that eliminates inflammatory foods to stop the body’s immune system from over-reacting (an autoimmune response). The purpose of the autoimmune protocol is not only to stop the autoimmune response, but to allow the body to heal from the autoimmune attack.  The diet nourishes the body with its focus on nutrient dense meats, vegetables, and fruits giving the body exactly what it needs to thrive. For some autoimmune diseases, it is possible to cure the autoimmune disease through this diet and environmental/lifestyle changes. For more information, read this post.

I am an adult-onset, insulin-free, type 1 diabetic. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The trigger is not known definitively, but I strongly suspect gluten is the culprit. However, autoimmune diseases are not triggered by just one thing. There are three things that could trigger an autoimmune disease: genes, environment, and diet. The best news is genetic predisposition to a disease is not a guarantee that you will develop the disease. Changing your diet and lifestyle choices, meaning what you eat and your daily habits like sleep and exercise, can very possibly cause those genes to not fire. This means if you eat the right food and take care of your body, it is unlikely you will develop an autoimmune disease, even one that runs in your family.

I hate to say it, but I need to go on another elimination diet (aka autoimmune protocol). My morning and sometimes evening blood sugars are just not what they should be. I think they can be better. I know they can be better. They have in the past.

My Past Experience with AIP

Back in October 2017 when I did my first elimination diet, I followed the meal plan and methods in The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Meyers. I saw immediate blood glucose improvement the first day I was on the diet. The results were truly amazing and so encouraging!

However, the food was simply not tasty. I love to cook. I’m pretty good at it (at least I think so!), and I just couldn’t handle spending hours in the kitchen to only have a bland, unimpressive meal. My taste buds demand more.

For that reason alone, I only stayed on the strict diet for 2 weeks before I started adding back in some of the restricted food. I thought I had narrowed down my blood sugar level issues to dairy and non-gluten grains, as those were the two biggest categories of food that I eliminated on the diet. So I slowly added back in the restricted, but possibly ok, items one at a time: eggs, nuts, coffee, nightshades, and alcohol.

My morning and evening blood sugar readings stayed great until November 23, Thanksgiving. I had bought chocolate covered blueberries and acai berries to have as a snack while family was in town over the holidays. I neglected to check the ingredients thoroughly, and they had dairy. My morning readings jumped in one night from 110-145 to 160+.

Wow, I wish I had walked through my past readings and diet changes like I just did to write this post! The change is obvious! I didn’t find the solution to my higher readings (candy with dairy) until well in January.

Why I Need AIP Again

I’ve been very strict about my dairy exposure for the last three weeks, but my morning blood glucose levels are not lowering. I cut out alcohol on January 27 and coffee on February 2. My morning blood glucose still remains the same.

I think I need to heal my gut again. I’m going back on the Autoimmune Protocol starting on Monday, February 19, 2018.

Steps to Success with AIP

This time, I’m doing it my way. I finally discovered what the “AIP” tag on various Paleo recipes means. Autoimmune Protocol! It’s the same elimination diet I had tried in October 2017! I’ve found more blogs and books to read, and the world has opened a little more to me. There are even more people out there healing themselves through food! It’s not just me!

Some of them are food bloggers who share AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) friendly recipes. Yay! Good food!! However, I am careful to watch my carbohydrate intake, even while on the AIP diet. I am still a type 1 diabetic  without a fully functioning pancreas. Some AIP recipes rely on cassava/tapioca/arrowroot flour, and I must limit my intake of those because they increase my blood sugar dramatically. I will be eating fresh food: meat, vegetables, and fruit.

The menu is planned, groceries are budgeted and purchased, and I’ve formulated a plan for accountability. I am ready to rock this round of the Autoimmune Protocol!

Menu Plan

Autoimmune Protocol Menu Plan

Notice all the “leftovers” in the menu above? I intentionally tried to make most meals stretch for two. Diets like these are no joke. They require effort in the kitchen, so I want to maximize my effort by cooking double when I do cook so that I can have at least one easy meal the next day (maybe two!).

Also notice on Thursday, I have two “leftover” meals planned. After a few days of making new recipes, I find I have many odds and ends of leftovers: one serving of soup here, another serving of hash there. I pull all of those out and try to clean out the fridge. Everyone eats something different, and no food gets wasted! (And it gives me another meal or two off cooking! Score!)

Groceries & Budget

I was over budget for this shopping trip. My budget for one week is $130, and I spent $155 for this week’s worth of meals. I use YNAB faithfully to make sure overspending on groceries doesn’t eat away at the rest of the budget. This is the beauty of a budget: I just borrowed some money from our miscellaneous category to cover the budget over flow. The budget is still on track! I am guessing I’ll be a little over most weeks I do the AIP. It’s even more expensive than just a Paleo diet.

My fridge is filled to the brim. It’s so full, I’m afraid some of my produce will freeze due to lack of air flow! I need the weather to cool down again so I can use my second fridge, aka the garage!


My main source of accountability is my husband. He is always with me and rooting for me in all these health adventures. Even though he doesn’t have a pressing health problem, he willingly takes my diet restrictions on himself. He is supportive every time I want to quit, and he helps me problem-solve, troubleshoot when things go awry.

My second source will be you. I plan to share quick updates on Instagram, and a weekly, more detailed, recap on this ole blog. Facebook will also have these same updates. Follow me to see how things are going day by day!


As I mentioned above, figuring out what the “AIP” abbreviation meant on recipes posted on Pinterest was eye-opening. All the sudden, I could find so many recipes to help me through the elimination phase of the AIP diet. This discovery is what gave me the courage to try it again. I can do anything as long as my food tastes good. Ha!

I also checked out some very interesting books from the library, and wouldn’t you know, they all say the same thing! There are more published authors out there proclaiming the healing value of food.

Here are some good books and blogs to look into if you are looking to heal you gut, cure an autoimmune disease, or just looking for a healthier lifestyle than you will find from your doctor’s office.

Autoimmune/AIP Education

The Autoimmune Solution by Dr. Amy Meyers

The Autoimmune Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body by Sarah Ballantyne

The Paleo Mom blog

A Squirrel in the Kitchen blog

Unbound Wellness blog

Follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook for more inspiration and see what I’m learning!

General Gut/Body Education

The Broken Brain

Grain Brain by David Perlmutter

Wheat Belly by William Davis

Gut by Guilia Enders

Autoimmune Protocol for Diabetics



Insulin Free Type 1 Diabetes Management | Why I Became Gluten-Free

This post is the beginning of a series of posts that outline how and why I can manage my Type 1 Diabetes through diet and lifestyle. It is not widely spread information, but it IS out there. It’s published in medical journals, and I will provide links to what I’ve read and watched. Take the time to read the links provided. I believe they will change your life and health dramatically, even if you don’t have Type 1 Diabetes.

Many of the principles I’ve learned come from Type 2 Diabetes research, Celiacs, or just autoimmune diseases in general. It reminds me of a Dr. Seuss quote from one of my favorite books of my kids’:

The more that you read

The more things you will know.

The more that you learn

The more places you’ll go.

~Dr. Suess, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

I want to offer hope to other adult-onset, Type 1 Diabetics (T1D). A T1D diagnosis is not a death sentence. It is a manageable disease, and I have found that it is even more manageable than you will hear from your doctor’s office. You can thrive in better health than you ever were prior to your Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.

Want to know how? I’m so glad you asked.

Insulin Free Type 1 Diabetes

Let me give you a little history on my family, and my person health journey.

  1. My brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a 9 year old, around 1990. From a young age, I was familiar with blood sugar (glucose) monitoring, insulin injections, and sugar awareness.
  2. When my brother graduated from college and began to see an endocrinologist for his diabetes management, he (and through him, me) learned the new system of diabetes care: carb counting and using two types of insulin to manage blood sugar level: long acting and fast acting insulin.
  3. My brother’s oldest daughter is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a young girl, around 4 or 5 years old.
  4. My father was diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic in his 50’s, around 2010. His diagnosis was long and drawn-out as adult-onset diabetes was not as common then. He has elevated amounts of the antibody GAD65 present in his system which is the key to a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis (versus Type 2).
  5. At 29 years old, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy in 2013. I was able to control my blood glucose levels with diet and exercise. Upon giving birth, I was declared diabetes-free, so I resumed my usual lifestyle and eating habits (home-cooked meals BUT included wheat, dairy, and not enough vegetables).
  6. At 31 years old, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes again during my second pregnancy in 2015. This time, I knew the symptoms, and I knew the weekend my pancreas could no longer keep up with my carbohydrate intake. I gave birth in June 2015 and was declared diabetes-free at my 6 week check-up.
  7. For the next two years, I ate what I thought was a healthy diet (homemade, whole wheat sourdough bread, whole foods, home-cooked meals, moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables). In April 2017, I felt the symptoms hit again: severe thirst (drinking a gallon of water or more a day), frequent urination, and blurred vision). I knew I had diabetes. Sure enough, within one week’s time, I had a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis (GAD65 levels were off the chart, A1c of 9.6, and diagnosis blood glucose level of 512).
  8. I was diagnoses with Type 1 Diabetes at 33 years old after 2 cases of gestational diabetes.

Based on my history and my family’s history, I thought I knew all there was to know about Type 1 Diabetes. Initially, I did not look for alternative methods to manage my diabetes. I thought carbohydrate counting and matching my insulin intake to the carbohydrates I consumed was all I needed to know.

A week or so into my insulin-managed diabetes, I was forwarded this blog by a friend. Mark’s Daily Apple promotes a primal diet and how it can completely change your life and health. That night, I dug in to the Diabetes category. I dug in deep. I followed citation after citation. I read blog articles, medical journals, tons of them.

My husband was busy that night. He came home to a dark house and me glued to my computer screen, reading like my life depended on it.

“Honey, what are you doing??” he asks as he clicks on the lights.

“I think I need to go gluten-free” I say, “I think gluten could be causing Type 1 Diabetes.”

“Ok” he responds. We head off to bed discussing how I would do it. I don’t think it will take too much since we already didn’t eat processed food which has wheat hidden everywhere! I just need to not eat our delicious homemade bread, no big deal.

That day was the last day I intentionally ate gluten. I’ve ingested accidentally now and then, but I quit cold turkey that night.

I immediately was able to stop bolusing at meal time, and over the course of 4 days, I weaned myself off my long acting insulin.

Did you catch that? I stopped taking my fast-acting insulin the day I went gluten-free! I was completely artificial insulin-free 4 days later! 

**A little tidbit I just read in Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD.

The concept that diabetes should be regarded as a disease of carbohydrate intolerance is beginning to gain ground in the medical community. Diabetes as a by-product of carbohydrate intolerance is actively being advocated by Dr. Erin Westman of Duke University; Dr. Mary Vernon, former medical director of the University of Kansas Weight Control program…Drs. Westman and Vernon report, for instance, that they typically need to reduce the insulin dose by 50% the first day a patient engages in reducing carbohydrates to avoid excessively low blood sugars.

 The quote above is only regarding carbohydrates, not wheat specifically, but it is comforting that others are seeing what I am seeing, even if only in part!**

The gluten withdrawal symptoms were real and hard. I made my husband take me to the emergency room I was so convinced I was dying. I was visibly shaking, had a tremor in my chest, and feeling faint and dizzy. I couldn’t sit upright because I would start to pass out. It was an intense afternoon/evening! It took 6 days for me to start to feel normal again, and once I did, my blood glucose numbers stabilized to (almost) normal range, for a Type 1 Diabetic.

That is how I found out about gluten’s link to Type 1 Diabetes. Below are some facts and findings with the supporting articles that I read that convinced me to get rid of gluten in my life. These are the tip of the iceberg! There is SO much information out there! Read these articles, follow the citations to find more information. Read! Take back control of your health!

Type 1 Diabetes Remission

This was one of my first Google searches when I was still hopeful that my diagnosis was a fluke. Unfortunately for my hope, it does happen! It’s not common, but it has occurred.

Remission of an adult woman

Remission of a 6 Year Old Boy by Gluten-Free Diet – If you read nothing else, READ THIS ARTICLE! This was it. This convinced me to give gluten-free a try. At this point, I had nothing to loose. As I’ve done more and more research since, it has supported the findings in this first article.

It is important to note that to preserve maximum function, the gluten-free diet needs to be implemented as soon as possible after diagnosis. The pancreas does not grow new beta cells (at least not that we know of); so to preserve insulin production, gluten needs to be eliminated right away. Not to say that other long-term diabetics couldn’t benefit from a gluten-free diet. They will experience more stable blood sugars, elimination of other autoimmune ailments, and less insulin need. Win, win, win, right?

Gluten’s Link to Type 1 Diabetes

Once I decided to go gluten-free, I needed to understand why gluten could cause or be linked to Type 1 Diabetes. I didn’t understand autoimmune diseases at the time, so the connection really made no sense to me.

Here’s the boiled-down, Emily version: gluten causes the walls of the gut to become inflamed allowed partially digested food particles into the body. The body’s immune system sees the foreign substances and attacks the intruders (an autoimmune response). However, sometimes, the attack goes awry and the immune system begins attacking cells other than the intruder/gluten cells.

In the case of Type 1 Diabetes, the immune system begins attacking the beta cells in the pancreas. The immune system can attack other things which lead to different autoimmune diseases: thyroid, skin,  joints, etc. resulting in hypo/hyper-thyroidism, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. In fact, if the gluten issue is not addressed, other autoimmune diseases can develop. Below is a quote from the previous article:

Prolonged exposure to gluten in CD (patient’s with Celiacs) may promote the development of other autoimmune diseases.

In order to stop the body from these autoimmune responses, the irritant must be removed from the body (wheat) so that the autoimmune response will stop. When wheat is removed from the body, the inflammation manifested in skin, joints, organs, etc. will stop. It will go down and the body returns to normal.

Bottom line: Heal your gut. A permeable gut lining is the source of autoimmune diseases or maybe eating wheat which causes inflammation in the gut and causes the body to release zonulin which increases gut permeability is the source of autoimmune diseases. It’s complicated, but it all centers around the gut. Heal it. Take care of it. You whole body will thank you.

Read this article for a thorough review of Type 1 Diabetes and other potential causes (dairy being one in addition to gluten! I’ll touch on this in another post.)

This post from Mark’s Daily Apple also has many great ideas on how to manage Type 1 Diabetes with tons of good sources to read.

In summary, I gave up gluten because it was inflaming my gut and causing my body to attack my pancreas. I believe by doing this, I have stopped my body from attacking my pancreas. I do not know this as fact yet.

There is a “honeymoon” period after a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis where the pancreas can spontaneously start working better again. I do not believe I am in the honeymoon period because my pancreas did not spontaneously start producing more insulin. I would still be on artificial insulin if I had not changed my diet. My blood glucose returned to T1D “normal” only after I removed gluten from my diet, and even then, I was taking artificial insulin for a few days afterward until it was very clear that I did not need it anymore.

Thankfully, my C-peptide results are normal which is a great sign of insulin production working as it should. However, my blood sugar levels are definitely not normal so I know my pancreas is not working at full capacity. I believe I can preserve the currently level of insulin production by continuing my gluten-free diet. My hope is I can prolong it indefinitely. Time will tell, and I will be sure to let you know.

Thoughts? What have you read? Please share any and all resources and questions!

Manage Diabetes by Paleo Diet


Gluten’s Effect on My Body | A Real Life Example

For the sake of anyone searching out there, I thought I’d explain in detail how gluten affects me when I have it, even a tiny bit. I’ve recently come across articles claiming there is nothing harmful in gluten, that it is all hype.

I get it. I was on that bandwagon before my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis.

However, I am a living, breathing experimenter here, and I can attest it is a real thing. In an effort to hopefully help someone else experiencing gluten withdrawal, here is my story.

side effect of no gluten

New Year’s Eve was our final Christmas gathering. We headed to Dan’s brother’s house since they have a new baby, and we offered to cook dinner. On the one hand, to give the new parents a break, and on the other so we don’t impose our crazy diet stress on other people. We feel so bad whenever we have to tell anyone what to prepare for us because it sounds like we don’t eat anything.

Anyway, I had a cutting board out and chopped the potatoes. I tossed them in the oven then rejoined the family call while they cooked.

The call took place over dinner time for us (Family is in multiple time zones so it will happen to at least one family!). The new mama needed to eat, so she made a PB&J sandwich on the cutting board I left out.

Not thinking of bread crumbs being on the board, I then chopped bacon on the same board (thinking at the time the board had only seen raw potatoes) to add to the green beans, then washed the board.

We finish up the family call; eat a lovely steak, potatoes, and green beans with bacon dinner; and head home.

I feel great having eat whole, clean food. I have zero digestive issues with the meal and go to bed with a normal blood sugar reading of 137.

The next morning, January 1, I wake up to a fast blood sugar of 161. What?

By lunchtime, my blood sugar is down a bit but still quite high for me, 152. I had an active morning cleaning the house, so this number baffled me. What is going on??

My pre-dinner reading is a little better, 117, but still quite high for the active day I had. For me, normal is 90-120 before lunch and dinner. So 117 is still in that range, but I had been a cleaning machine that afternoon which made this number high in my opinion.

By bedtime, I was down to 108. Huh, I’m not sure what is going on. I like to think days like this are a fluke, but they usually aren’t. My body’s blood sugar doesn’t go up for no good reason.

The next day, January 2, my numbers are still elevated but better:

Fasting: 144

Lunch: 123

Dinner: 121

Bedtime: 148

The end caps seem ok, but lunch and dinner is still troubling me. I am not usually that high during the day, especially during active housekeeping days which these two days were.

Wednesday, January 3, the physical symptoms of gluten hit:

  • Tremors in my chest
  • Inability to sleep due to the internal shaking
  • General feeling of unwellness
  • Weakness
  • Insatiable hunger.

These are all signs of gluten withdrawal, very similar to withdrawal from a street drug (although less intense, I imagine). The body gets addicted to gluten fast and wants more. I’ve had accidental gluten ingestion before, and these same symptoms hit three days later. The only thing to do is grin and bear it. I keep eating normally, not giving in to the cravings, and eventually the symptoms subside.

Fasting: 150

Lunch: 124

Dinner: 119

Bedtime: 148

Dan and I brainstorm what is going on, and we trace our steps back one meal at a time. We go back and back until we land on that sandwich made on the same cutting board I was using to prepare dinner on New Year’s Eve. That was a TINY amount of gluten! This is why we are 100% gluten-free, not 80%/20% or even 90%/10% as many diets go. It’s all or nothing. If you want significant health improvements, you’ve got to cut it all out.

The next day, January 4, I’m back to normal. Whew!

Fasting: 140

Lunch: 96

Dinner: 95

Bedtime: 135

I give you this play-by-play to encourage anyone else out there trying to manage Type 1 diabetes or any autoimmune condition by diet. Mistakes will happen, and it is helpful to know what other people do to course correct.

What lessons (health or otherwise) have you learned from other people’s walk through the same situation? Have you sought out medical advice on the internet? Have you made changes to your life based on other people’s recommendations? What was the outcome?


Making a Paleo Diet Affordable

It’s not a secret that fresh, healthy food costs more than processed, packaged food. So how do I afford it?

I’m always curious how people live the life they live, so I’m here to share mine. My purpose is not for you to compare and feel better or worse about yourself, but just to give a point of reference. I know we all have limited funds to feed, clothe, and house ourselves, and we all put different emphasis on those aspects. In our house, we put a big emphasis on food, healthy food. The natural outcome of that is we spend good chunk of our monthly budget on food.

To level set, I shop for two weeks at a time, and I am buying food for 4 people: 2 adults and 2 kids (2 and 4). Truth be told, my kids eat as much as adults so I buy/make a lot of food! My grocery budget is for food only. Toiletries, dog food, paper products, eating out, etc. come out of other parts of the budget. The grocery budget is for groceries only.

We budget $260 for food for two weeks. I plan out my trips before I go so I know if I’m going to hit my budget or not. If I need a little extra money, I will likely borrow for our “Parties” or “Miscellaneous” category. I can usually do it for $260 though, give or take $10.

I have no idea if this is high or low, and I don’t actually care to know. This is the amount that fits into our budget and puts fresh, healthy, life-giving food on the table.

I’ve been brainstorming how to make a Paleo diet affordable, because it is, quite frankly, expensive. Here is what I came up with, but I’m sure there are more ways to stretch your dollar! If you have other ideas, please share in the comments below!

How to Afford Paleo

Menu Plan

You need a plan. You will overspend and impulse buy if you don’t have a list already made out before you go into the store. I just read in The Power of Habit that people tend to buy the same things when they grocery shop whether or not they need it and whether or not it is on their list. What? That’s crazy-town people! Make your list, and buy what is on your list! Be stronger than the urge to add to your cart “just in case.” You will have plenty to eat by only buying the things on your list.

Use the Food in the Freezer/Pantry

Let’s be real with each other: we all have food sitting in our pantry or frozen in the freezer that’s been there for a very long time. I menu plan precisely, and I have it too! To save money next time you shop, look at what you already have on hand. Make a plan to use it in a meal, or just get rid of it. Why let it keep cluttering up your precious space in your pantry or freezer?

Embracing the Garden/Hunting or Other’s Garden/Hunting

If you have a garden, learn how to eat all that your garden produces and preserve the overflow of what you can’t eat. Don’t let it rot! Search for recipes on Pinterest that use whatever your garden is producing currently or seek out good cookbooks for seasonal vegetables and fruits.

The hunting item has been huge for us this year. Dan got a deer this fall, and I’ve always been a little leery of hunted meat. I don’t know why. I’m just used to my meat coming neatly packaged from the grocery store. If you have access to wild game, it can save you so much money! We replaced our beef with venison for almost 2 months this winter. Two months of not buying red meat! Huge savings! We ate it all ways: hamburgers, meatloaf, steaks, roast, casseroles, tacos, etc. If a recipe called for beef, I substituted venison, and we rarely noticed a flavor difference.

One more tidbit, take advantage of other people’s gardens or hunting. If your neighbor has an abundance of zucchini, take it! You can do so much more than bake a quick bread with it. If your friend offers you wild game, accept it readily! Plop it into any well-seasoned soup, and I doubt you’ll notice a difference. Don’t feel like a mooch. You are preventing good food from going to waste. Take advantage of it!

Have a Budget

I’m not just talking about the grocery budget. If you want $260 free to spend on groceries without the electricity getting turned off, you need to budget all of your money. I highly recommend You Need a Budget. It’s a easy and relatively in-expensive tool to get all of your money in line. Learning discipline in all spending is a worthwhile endeavor, but if you focus on your food budget first, the rest will fall in line much easier. There’s something about budgeting for groceries that teaches important habits and discipline that will leak into your other areas of spending.

Dining Out

Budget for it so you can enjoy it and not break the bank when you do. While this won’t actually save you money, you need a break from the kitchen. Make it a priority by setting aside a little money from each paycheck to make this possible. Research a restaurant before you go that will accommodate your dietary needs then sit back and enjoy not cooking!

Plan, Plan, Plan, then Plan Some More

Even after you’ve made your menu plan, keep checking ahead a few days as you go through your week to make sure the meals will work with the scheduled activities for each day. For example, we decided to make a last minute trip up north to go skiing as a family. I needed a meal that could sit warming in the crock pot for hours in the lodge while we ski. I looked ahead, swapped a couple meals, and we were good to go on a day ski trip without spending money eating out and without sacrificing our dietary needs.


Every so often, about once every couple months, I challenge myself to go an extra week before grocery shopping. You don’t have to go that long, but pick a certain amount of time and challenge yourself to clean out of the pantry, eat all the leftovers, and use things that have been sitting in the freezer for a long time. It will seem hard the first day or two, but you will quickly get into creating meals from odds and ends. I think you will be pleasantly surprised how easily you make it to your goal day.

Cook at Home from Scratch

By now, you know I’m an advocate for eating at home. It’s healthier and cheaper than eating out. It’s also much easier to manage dietary restrictions in your own kitchen! What I want to touch on is “healthy”  convenience packaging. I’ve talked about packaged salad mixes before, but my latest discovery is frozen cauliflower “rice.” Yes, you can buy it already chopped small, ready to be cooked.

If you have to buy it for convenience sake, then do so, by all means. It’s better to eat it from frozen then not at all. Just know you are paying WAY more.

My last cauliflower purchase from Aldi was $5.20 for 2 heads of cauliflower. I weighed my bowl after I chopped it in my blender: 4 pounds. This week, Meijer has frozen riced cauliflower on sale for $2.29 for 12 ounces. That would cost over $12 to get 4 pounds of cauliflower rice. I just have to mention that cauliflower was on sale my most recent shopping trip at Horrocks. I paid $.79 per head of cauliflower: $1.58 for roughly 4 pounds of cauliflower rice! If you can spare the time, cook from scratch. It’s vastly cheaper. Don’t get me started on salad dressing, cake mixes, and really any convenience food….

Build up a Supply of Spices (Slowly)

Spices can be expensive, especially less common ones (I finally found annatto seed! It took me about a month!). When planning your menu for the week, keep new spices to one dish or maybe two. If you are buying more than that each time you grocery shop, you are likely forking over more than $10 just on spices. I’m not saying it’s not worth it. It totally is! Just spread out buying them so they don’t break the budget.

Another tip is buying seasonal spices at the end of the season. My last shopping trip, I was able to get nutmeg, cream of tartar, sage, and rosemary for $.79 each because they had Christmas labels on them. If you have wiggle room in your budget, pick up a couple when you see deals like this.

My last tip on spices is organize them. You’ve got to know what you have so you don’t waste money buying a spice you already have one or two jars of. I did this early on in my marriage with cinnamon. I kept thinking I didn’t have any, so I’d pick up another as I walked down they aisle (the habit mentioned above!). At one point, I had four jars of cinnamon. Four! I like cinnamon, but that was a lot. It took us a while to consume that much!

Organized Spice Rack

Don’t let the Fresh Produce Rot

Like this post on green onions, learn how to properly store your more fragile produce so it will last your entire menu planning period. Do a quick Google search for whatever you bought. You will find several ideas for any type of produce.

When in doubt, take the original wrapping off, rinse it, wrap in paper towel, then loosely set in plastic bag in the fridge. This works with everything from kale to lettuce to parsnips to cilantro.

That’s my top 10! How do you maximize your grocery dollars? Shop less often? Shop at more stores? Shop at fewer stores?

Fostering a Grateful Heart | Entryway

Are you a perpetual home-shopper? I used to be. I am exercising my gratitude muscles this year by writing about aspects of my home that I appreciate. Can you guess what is happening? My attitude toward my home is changing! I didn’t hate my home before, but I love it deeper now. I have more pride in it and joy maintaining it since starting these posts.

If you’d like to read more like this, click here.

GratefulnessToday our entryway is on my mind. By entryway, I just mean the area right inside our front door. I explain this because my house actually does not have a defined entryway. The front door opens right into the living room.

Entryway Shoe Shelf

I love home design and studying function/flow of a home. I’ve spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to define the entryway space and maximize it’s function. It’s a quirky space, but here’s 3 things I’ve found to love about it.

  1. It’s large! Since there is no wall defining this space, it can be as large as I need it to be. Working on a project in the winter? Set up a folding table; there’s plenty of space to paint! Have friends coming over for dinner? Set up the kid’s table in the entryway; there’s room for 6+ kiddos to eat there!

Open Entryway

  1. It’s multi-functional! Currently, it’s workshop, office, AND mudroom. What more could you ask for?

Uses of an Entryway

  1. It’s flexible! Need more room for sitting in the living room? Scoot that couch back, encroaching on the entryway, to make room for more chairs. Need to dry all the winter gear after skiing? Push the couch into the living area to make room for drying racks.

Do I wish sometimes I had an elegant entryway complete with round table topped with a gorgeous floral arrangement and beautiful chandelier? Yes, but then perhaps I’d be so worried about keeping the table decorated and chandelier clean that I wouldn’t let my kids drop their snow gear at the door to run inside for the hot cocoa. Maybe I’d be so caught up in the lovely of the space, I wouldn’t use it for painting a picture for fear of making a mess. Maybe I’d find myself making a museum of all the pretty things instead of a home that my family is free to make mistakes in (note smudges on mirror and barbell on floor!).

Entryway Stairwell

I’d rather my house be used then on display. I’d rather have a desk in the middle of the mess because my family can see all that I do on the computer. No hiding. I like having my projects right there in the open. What better prompt to finish a project?! I’d rather there not be a place for everything because what would prompt me to keep only what I need?

Honestly, there are more hesitations in my mind when I think of the perfect house than thoughts on how idealic and wonderful it would be. I think I’d be more stressed trying to (unsuccessfully) keep it clean and less joyful watching my kids be kids (playing hockey in the house anyone???).

If I did have said perfect house, you know what would happen? I’d discover it wasn’t actually perfect. It would have its flaws, just like any other house: the off-centered windows, ill placed outlets, less than ideal HVAC system, etc. There’s always something.

So instead, I chose to love the home I’m in. I will be grateful for all aspects of my house, no matter how quirky and off-centered. If I do get another house someday, I will practice gratefulness of that one too.

At the end of the day, my entryway isn’t the ideal layout. It isn’t the height of design genius. That doesn’t need to stop me from maximizing it’s function and appreciating every square foot of my house.


So there you have it. Way too many words about the awkwardly large space inside my front door. Where are you at in your gratefulness for your house? Any overlooked areas that actually turn out to be quite flexible and usable? Do share!

Grateful for Space


Daily Paleo Menu #2

For more Paleo meal ideas, follow me on Pinterest! Check out my Paleo | XXXX boards for the inspiration I’ve gathered. My Tried & True | Paleo | XXXX boards are the recipes I’ve made and loved. Happy hunting!

Example: Paleo | Meal Ideas are all the recipes I’d like to try, and Tried & True | Paleo | Entrees are main courses I’ve made and loved.

Today’s Paleo menu theme is comfort food. I know I had reservations with all of my diet changes because my first thought is “I will have nothing to eat!” Cooking and eating is a huge part of my life, so I couldn’t accept diet changes without tasty food.

The first new recipe I look for when working with diet changes is pancakes. It might seem funny to you, but I love traditions and pancakes are an ingrained part of my family’s week.

Dan started the tradition of pancakes on Saturdays during our days of making fresh sourdough bread. He would save the leftover starter all week and make sourdough pancakes on Saturday morning. He would make a HUGE stack of tangy, springy pancakes each and every Saturday. There would be enough for several more breakfasts for the boys and I to enjoy throughout the next week. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!

I am always so sad to lose recipes I (we) love. Pancakes in particular because of this Saturday morning tradition. We can’t be without pancakes on Saturday morning! When dairy and oats were still a part of our diet, we would make these Oatmeal Yogurt Pancakes. Our most recent favorite that are Paleo-friendly are the Fluffy Pancakes in Against All Grain Meals Made Simple cookbook.

So without further ado, let me show you some delicious comfort foods that are Paleo-friendly!

Breakfast – pancakes (similar) and sausage links

Almond Coconut PancakesI make our pancakes plain or mix in blueberries or chocolate chips. We top ours with any combination of sliced bananas, almond butter, strawberry freezer jam, maple syrup, and nuts.

For my plate, I limit my pancakes to 3, and I do not use maple syrup. As a Type 1 diabetic, I do need to watch my carbohydrate intake, and this meal pushes the limits of my carb load for one meal. I try to be active on Saturday mornings to help my body burn off this meal. By active, I mean I do some laundry and light cleaning, not cross-fit or anything. 🙂

Lunch – Taco Bowls

Pan fry cubed sweet potatoes in oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, cook until soft. Brown ground beef in a pan, sprinkle with taco seasoning (This is a good one, omit cornstarch to be Paleo compliant.). Assemble bowls: sweet potatoes, taco meat, salsa, avocado, diced tomatoes, and Chipotle Ranch Dip.

The Chipotle Ranch Dip is killer. You need to try it. We’ve been putting it on everything, including my latest carb-free snack: chicharrones!

Dinner – Meatloaf over Cauliflower-Parsnip Mash with Roasted Garlic and Green Beans

Confession: I love meatloaf. I’m sure I complained about it as a kid, but I L-O-V-E it now!

This is my favorite meal to put together quickly (if the meat is thawed, of course!). Quickly mix the meat and seasoning together, and while that bakes, I cook and mash the root veggies. About 5 minutes before mealtime, I put some frozen green beans from Costco in a saucepan with a splash of water. I cook on medium until warmed through. Drain the beans then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

I serve the meatloaf on top of the mashed root vegetables. I find the peppery tang of parsnips to be a great pairing with meatloaf. I’d even venture to say I prefer this combo to regular mashed potatoes. Gasp! It has so much more flavor and character than regular white mashed potatoes!

This menu is a testament that you can enjoy your old favorites even when your diet changes. A little creative thinking and planning and you will find yourself continuing to enjoy the same foods you always have!

Comfort Paleo Meals

Have you tried any crazy remakes that you ended up liking more than the real thing? (Cauliflower rice? Cashew cream? Nutritional yeast? Flax seed eggs? etc.)



Post-Holiday A1c Update and New Diabetes Management Plan

As I mentioned in this post, I had a hard time keeping my fasting blood sugar in range over the holidays. I eventually discovered that I had been eating dairy unknowingly. I was snacking on York Peppermint Patties and chocolate covered acai berries (in small amounts so the carbohydrate amount wouldn’t affect my blood glucose too much). In my effort to be like my Grandma, having candy dishes all over during the holidays, I accidentally sabotaged my gut. Oops.

There’s no need to cry over spilt milk. Now that I know where those higher than usual numbers are coming from, I’m back on the dairy-free wagon! I am still working to keep my lifestyle and diet in line so I can keep my pancreas alive and live a full, healthy life.

I was curious/concerned how these higher than normal blood glucose levels would affect my A1c. I was eating those dairy candies for about 8 weeks before I discovered the issue. The A1c tests 2-3 months prior to the test. So I messed up pretty much the entire time frame!

My quarterly check-up with the endocrinologist was Monday, January 29. The office tests my A1c levels every 3 months and uses that along with daily blood glucose checks to make sure my type 1 diabetes stays in check. Since my diabetes management plan is so different than most, I wanted to test the accuracy of the home A1c test and come up with a new diabetes management plan.

Home A1c Test Experiment

I decided to try one of the home A1c kits from Walgreens before this visit. I wanted to test the accuracy of the home kit against the doctor’s office. In my revised diabetes management plan, I’m hoping to stretch out my office visits, and in order to do that I need an accurate way to check my A1c.

A1c home kit

After reading many reviews on many brands of home A1c test kits, I was not very confident in this product. Each kit comes with supplies to run 2 tests. However, the failure rate (getting an error message or no reading at all) seemed to be right about 50%. It seems very easy to mess the test up, even when the instructions are followed to a T!

So you can imagine my nervousness in trying this test! I decided it was worth $42 just to try, even if I’m not successful.

Each kit comes with the following: a meter, 2-#1 bags that contain the blood collection supplies (lancer, siphon, and shaker), 2-#2 bags that contain a cartridge that inserts the blood sample into the meter, and of course, instructions. Read the instructions carefully, my friend, if you try to do this!

A1c home kit parts

The #1 bag is opened first. Wash your hand thorough and dry them. Use the provided lancer to prick the side of your finger. Work a good sized drop onto your finger then gently touch the sample collection device to the drop of blood. Continue to touch the blood drop until sample is full. Squeeze out more blood as necessary.

I had to set the collection device down, squeeze more blood out, then continue to fill it, and the test still ran just fine.

Blood Collector A1c

Insert sample collection device into the shaker tube. Twist and push until full inserted. You will hear a “click.”  Then shake for 5 seconds. Set the tube upright on its cap and get meter ready.

Open the #2 package, remove the cartridge, and insert into the meter. Make sure the codes on the left hand side are both on the left and that they match! My code was “Y5.”

Wait for the meter to say ready. Remove the end cap of the shaker tube and press onto circle of the cartridge. Remove quickly when the meter says “run.”

Wait 5 minutes for your result. The meter will count down the 5 minutes, and the result will be shown on the screen for 60 minutes after the test is complete.

A1c result


Not bad for messing up my diet over the holidays, huh?

Now I didn’t take this result with full confidence because some of the reviews said the test was way off.

I was going into my endocrinologist that morning, so I knew I’d get an official A1c test there, and I’d have a good idea of the accuracy.

The endocrinologist’s A1c result was 6.5. Nice! Very close! I haven’t researched the margin of error on these machines, but that seems good to me. My endocrinologist thought the result was close enough too.

Now that I have an accurate way to test my A1c at home, let’s chat about revising my diabetes management plan.

Type 1 Diabetes Management Plan

I am planning to stretch out my check-ups to once every 6 months (with my doctor’s approval). Disclaimer: I’m not recommending you do the same unless you are very disciplined, your diabetes in very much under control, and you’ve discussed your plan with your endocrinologist.

My methods for managing my diabetes are so different from the norm with type 1 diabetes that I don’t think I need to be in the endocrinologist’s office ever 3 months. If you’re curious, here are my reasons for stretching out my visits:

  1. Health Care Expense – Each office visit costs between $70 and $150, depending on if I see a doctor or physician’s assistant. This does not include any labs outside the office visit. I have a high deductible health plan, and since I’m not on expensive medication (insulin!) or testing supplies (I have an annual subscription to One Drop.), I do not hit my deductible each year. I like to keep my out of pocket expenses as low as possible.
  2. A1c Home Test – I can test my A1c levels at home much cheaper than the ones administered by the endocrinologist’s office. This is similar to #1, but it is important that I stay on top of my diabetes, not letting my blood glucose levels creep up over time. If I couldn’t perform this test at home, I would still be going in to the office every three months.
  3. Diabetes Education – I am educating myself by reading journal articles, books, and blogs. I know why I am managing my diabetes the way I am, and it is working. I am an intelligent, educated individual, and I believe I can understand and apply scientific studies and journal articles to my own life. My endocrinologist’s office, while supportive, has not read the research I have. Any help I get from them in the way of education is usually not in line with what I’ve read and am practicing.
  4. Diabetes Products – Each time I visit the endocrinologist’s office, they are pushing a new diabetes management tool. Each visit a new and improve or cheaper version is recommended. Although I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt, it does feel like the pharmaceutical companies are influencing the “standard of care.” I have been able to find diabetes management tools on my own that are not only accurate but fit my budget (One Drop, Home A1c Test Kits).
  5. Tracking Physical Symptoms – At each visit, the endocrinologist tests my feet looking for loss of sensation, nerve damage, development of callouses, wounds not healing, etc. I know how and do track these at home. If I miss something, I believe a visit every six months will catch what I miss.

I’ve read and re-read, carefully worded and re-worded what I’ve typed above. Please know I am in no way against doctors. I believe in doctors and modern medicine. They have literally saved my life. I do think our healthcare system is flawed and overworked. The best solution is to take control of your own health. That is what I am doing: take control.

I do my own research. I do my own tests. I make my own conclusions.

I do fill in my doctors, and they are supportive (some more cautiously than others!). At the end of the day, I take responsibility for my own health. I do not think it is my doctor’s responsibility to make my life as full as it can be. That is on me, and I aim to live the fullest, healthiest life I can.

Won’t you join me?

Are you a buck the trends kind of person? I haven’t always been, but this health journey with diabetes is changing me! What have you learned lately that has challenged what you always thought to be right?