In this blog, Omnipod® Ambassador, Myrthe, shares her experience with a more holistic approach to diabetes management.
Myrthe has been paid a fee to create this content.
When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 20 years ago, my diabetes management consisted of regular finger pricks and multiple daily injections. Over the years, my diabetes management has really changed. Technology has played a huge part in that. I no longer need to inject multiple times a day, as now I use the Omnipod DASH® System to deliver my insulin and regular finger pricks are also in the past because of my glucose sensor.
Although I credit technology for most of the change in my diabetes management, a lot more has changed over the years. I realised that other lifestyle modifications can help me with managing my glucose levels and overall health. From a positive mindset to my relationship with food: in this blog I write about what helps me with my diabetes management, besides technology.
Whether you live with type 1 diabetes or not, stress is not healthy for anyone. In my experience, mental health aspects can also have a big impact on my physical health. I realised that my mindset and the way I take care of my mental health can have a big positive impact on my diabetes management.
I’ve found that stress and not feeling well mentally, can cause blood sugar changes as a physical reaction for me. However, when I am stressed, tired, or overwhelmed with emotions, I also find it more difficult to do everything I need to do as a person living with T1D. Such as counting carbs, correcting, checking my blood sugar, thinking about every move I make. It’s a lot!
Over the last few years, I became more aware of the impact of my mental health on my diabetes. But trying to live a life with less stress is way easier said than done... I tried many different activities to find out what helps me stay in a healthy positive and (mostly) relaxed headspace. Here is what I gave a try:
Some people love it, some do not understand it at all. But if you really give it a try, I believe it can be a really helpful mindfulness tool. For me, it’s as simple as sitting or lying down and focussing on my breath for 10 minutes. I try to let go of any thoughts that cross my mind and bring my attention back to my breathing. It helps me relax.
I went on a diabetes retreat with diabuddies
Although this was quite new for me, I loved it so much. After spending a whole weekend with people who truly understand what it is like living with type 1 diabetes, I realised a few things. One that stuck with me is that saying ‘No’ can be so powerful. I already knew this, but the retreat was a welcome reminder.
There is a lot of content online that says you can do anything and everything with type 1 diabetes. However, it is also totally fine to say ‘no’ and diabetes being the reason for saying ‘No’ to something is also perfectly fine. You don’t HAVE to do everything just to prove you can do it with type 1 diabetes. Do what makes you happy and what is best for your diabetes management.
Professional psychological help has also done a lot for me. There is absolutely no shame in visiting someone professional who can give you the tools to create a healthy mindset. Talking out loud about my feelings and emotions and being handed some great tools that work for me (like meditation!) helped me so much.
Relationship with food
One of the first things I remember about my diagnosis 20 years ago, is the nurse telling me and my parents what I was and wasn’t allowed to eat. I was allowed to eat three slices of bread for lunch for example. One slice with a sweet topping such as chocolate sprinkles (I am Dutch!) and the other two with savoury toppings such as cheese or peanut butter. I grew up with the idea that if I ate anything else, it would make me ill. 20 years later, changes in the way we manage diabetes, makes it possible to eat more of what we want. Thanks to extended bolus feature on the Omnipod DASH® System, I can help manage my post meal blood sugar spike after certain foods!
However, sometimes I still have experiences that tend to have a negative impact on my relationship with food… Some foods are still quite tricky to get right- like trying to bolus for a pizza or French fries. This is always a challenge for me. Sometimes, when it doesn’t work out, I end up with a high blood sugar that makes me feel unwell.
That is why I learned more about nutrition and fuel for my body. I found out what food works for me, what I enjoy and what makes me feel good. I try not to restrict myself but sometimes I do need some trial and error before I know how to correctly bolus for a certain meal or snack. Knowledge is key here! I am still in the process of trial and error with bolusing for pizza, but I am sure one day I will figure it out. ;)
What about you?
These are some of the additional things that help me with improving my diabetes management. Directly or indirectly. What helps you with your diabetes management? What do you do that makes you feel good and maybe indirectly makes it easier to have in-range blood sugars? Write it down for yourself! When you feel a little burned out from diabetes, read it again and remind yourself!