When non-diabetics think about diabetics, insulin injections and a ban on sugar often come to mind.
But there’s much more to diabetes that a diet change and a regular jab. It can be a challenge, especially around the holidays when food and drink is at the centre of most festive celebrations.
Psychotherapist Dr Karen Phillip has been a Type 1 Diabetic for 45 years, and says despite the challenges, an active and fun life is possible – if you live life mindfully.
“Sure, you may miss out on some things, extravagances with food but that is a small price to pay for remaining healthy and living a long healthy life.”
After almost five decades of life as a Type 1 Diabetic, here’s what Karen recommends for others starting their journey.
1. Get a diabetic pump and CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) to closely monitor your blood sugar levels every minute
A diabetic pump delivers insulin throughout the day, adjusting to the precise amount of insulin the body requires.
“The pump can adjust the insulin delivery for the diabetic or alarm when levels are out of standard levels,” says Karen.
“It gives people with diabetes more flexibility to eat additional foods or miss foods, while making micro adjustments that insulin injections are unable to provide.”
2. Respond immediately or as soon as possible to any high or low blood readings
“With the CGM either connected to the diabetic pump or working independently on an app, it can alarm you when a hypno (low) sugar level is expected or a hyper (high level) is expected,” says Karen.
“So, the diabetic can take appropriate action to intervene and stop the highs and lows they often experience.”
Keeping on top of things prevents other dangers that can result from diabetic highs and lows, such as collapsing when walking, driving or caring for children.
3. Be mindful of your diet and consume healthy small meals
All diabetics must monitor what they eat, when they eat and how much they consume.
After years you can become used to this regimentation as part of your daily life, but sometimes complacency can set in.
“Unless the diabetic pays attention to their diet and food intake, the sugar levels can become dangerously high or low causing considerable health issues with the body,” says Karen.
4. Keep your mind and body active
Becoming or remaining active is vital. While we all should be active throughout our life, people with Type 1 Diabetes are faced with considerably more health issues.
“Therefore, if they remain healthy and active, their body can guard against many of the forecasted issues.”
5. Treat your diabetes as an inconvenience, not a disease
“Providing you’re aware of their limitations regarding food and diet, you can live a good quality life,” says Karen.
“In fact, a well-controlled diabetic can be healthier than many non-diabetic people in the community, as they need to continually monitor their food and drink intake, their activity levels, and attend regular health and blood checks.”