Food, food, food

I write this blog post, with two thoughts running through my mind – 1) we are half way through Eating Disorders Awareness Week and 2) I have sneaked a lovely little bar of white chocolate into my bedroom, with the intention of eating it tonight, and I’m not sharing it!

I’ve never had a problem with eating. Mum tells me I never used to take my milk when I was a baby, and I didn’t enjoy my solid food for a while. I have been reminded many times, how it took me an hour to eat a piece of meat, once. That, along with memories of my weetabix going cold, because I was such a slow eater.

Despite this, I really do love my food. I like to try new food, I like to cook, and I really can eat a lot, when I put my mind to it. As much as I like to say diabetes hasn’t changed my lifestyle, I think deep down, it has. Not solely because of my diabetes, my IBS is more of a hindrance than the diabetes, I don’t think I enjoy food as much as I used to.

If we’re playing a game of word association, you say ‘restaurant’, I say ‘anxiety’. So many worries are attached to the idea of eating out – will they have food that won’t aggravate my IBS? Will they be able to tell me what’s going into the food? What if service is slow and I have a hypo? How will I know how many carbohydrates are in that meal?

When I can, I like to look at the restaurant’s menu. If I can decide what I want to eat beforehand, that means I can calculate the number of carbohydrates in that meal. Of course, this isn’t going to be 100% accurate – different ingredients are used between restaurants, I may not want to eat the whole thing, difference portion sizes etc. SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT!

I’m lucky in the sense that I haven’t suffered with an eating disorder. However, I do worry about what I eat. Which leads me to the second point. I cannot stop feeling guilty about the things I do eat. I know that I can inject insulin for the extra carbs that are in the chocolate or the cake, and experience tells me that I’m pretty good at estimating the carb content. However, I am anxious about the long term effects, even if it just once a week that I indulge. In all honesty, I think I am anxious because I have seen the consequences of ‘treats’ turning into daily occurrences.

They say treats are ok, in moderation. I’ve never been one to binge on chocolate (thank goodness I’m not a chocoholic!) but I do like the odd piece, melting in my mouth. From what I’ve learnt, craving a bit of chocolate every now and then, isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it seems quite normal! Maybe I should give myself a break, stop making myself think twice about everything I eat, and try to enjoy food, as much as I used to.

photo (4)
Yes, I am right in the middle of eating this bar of yumminess

OurDiabetes Tweetchat – Hypos

I’ve been stupidly busy over the past month or so, meaning I’ve missed out on a few of the live tweetchats. No fear, I’ve answered most of the questions that have been asked! The first tweetchat that I’m catching up with, was the one hosted by Sue Gregson – covering the topic of hypos…

Question 1 – Do you get warnings or does someone else notice before you?
I suffer from hypo unawareness. I say suffer, because it is one big pain in the butt! Right from diagnosis in 2011, 90%, I don’t feel when I am low. There are times when I can be sitting at home, watching tv, and I am low. On one occasion, I checked my sugar levels, as I was due to inject my Levemir. Taking into consideration that I felt fine, I was 2.2.
As a result, I check my levels around 6 or 7 times a day. I check before driving, and during long journeys. I check before every meal, before and after exercise. Without checking, there is a 90% chance that I wouldn’t know if I were low. Luckily, I’ve never needed assistance for a hypo, and I’ve never passed out. From this respect, I am very lucky. At the same time, this makes me even more careful. I don’t want to be caught out.
Question 2 – Have you been moved on to a pump because of hypos and did it help?
At the moment, I am on MDI. I have spoken to the pump consultant at my clinic, who thinks I could benefit from having a pump. However, I think it would be more useful to me, to have a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). It would be nice to have some warning of low sugar levels!
Question 3 – Why do you think some people get warnings and some don’t?
Running constantly low, could obviously contribute to lack of warning for a hypo. I ran 6 weeks without a hypo, and the first time I had a hypo, I had two in one day, and felt neither. I wish I knew why I don’t get any warnings when I am low.
Question 4 – When do you think the worst time is for hypos?
I hate the thought of having a hypo during the night. I live at home with my parents, in my own bedroom. Most nights, I am on my own. As far as I know, no one comes in my room to check on me, unless I am unwell. Therefore, if I did pass out because of a hypo, no one would find me until they realised I was late for work…
Question 5 – What’s the worst feeling for you when hypo?
As I have already said, I don’t often feel when I am low. To be honest, any feeling during a hypo, would be better than none.
The bits that don’t fit in with the questions…
I think I need to reiterate one thing about my hypo unawareness. Because I know 90% of the time, I don’t know if I am low, I am especially careful when it comes to driving. Everyday, I check my levels, 40 minutes before driving. This gives me time to get my sugar levels up, if they are too low to drive. As a rule of thumb, I don’t like to drive if I am below 7. On the other hand, I don’t like to drive if I am in the teens.
Last Christmas, my sister bought me the best present ever. A lunch box. In this lunch box, was a bag of jelly babies, a bottle of lucozade, a carton of orange juice, dextrose tablets and some cream crackers. This meant that wherever I am, if I get stuck in traffic, or break down on the motorway, I will have supplies to treat a hypo. I keep this lunch box filled to the brim, and replace anything that goes past its use by date. I keep the dextrose tablets right in front of me.
I rarely go on long journeys. Last weekend, was one of those rare occasions, where I knew I had a 2 hour journey (to visit Vicki). Before I set off, my levels were at an acceptable 8.7. I stopped off at a service station, after an hour’s drive. I checked again. 7.8. Doing well. An hour later, I was 6.8. I’d survived my journey!
I don’t take any risks when it comes to driving. I know how much my mum worries, my dad worries, and Paul worries. The least I can do is look after myself.

Louise 1 Diabetes 0

This weekend has allowed me to let my hair down, and I really feel I need more weekends like these. Diabetes is a condition that doesn’t go away, and involves almost every decision I make, every day of my life. It can be tough and there are days when I wish it would just disappear. Sadly, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon, so diabetes is something I’m just going to have to put up with.

On the most part, I am very good at accepting my diabetes. I have a well controlled diet, I exercise, and I don’t drink massive amounts of alcohol, because I don’t know how it will affect my sugar levels, entirely. On the one hand, I know I can’t simply have a ‘holiday’ from my diabetes. On the other hand, I know that is perfectly acceptable to have the occasional treat, without it killing me. Behold the slice of yummy carrot cake, that was consumed in a matter of minutes, yesterday afternoon.

Checking my blood glucose levels before deciding how much insulin I needed to inject, I was instantly disappointed. 15.7. I realised this morning, this was due to a huge miscalculation from lunchtime. The panini I had eaten, had 55g of carbohydrates, not just 30g, which is what I injected for.

A while back, newly diagnosed ‘me’ would have stopped myself from eating the carrot cake, on the basis that I didn’t want to risk being any higher, even if I did inject. However, I was in the company of three other people with diabetes, all of whom were also in the process of eating something ‘nice’. I was perhaps in the best possible hands to eat something ‘naughty’, so I did.

Comparing the nutritional information on the Carbs ‘n’ Cals app, the DAFNE app and My Fitness Pal, I estimated that the carrot cake had around 55g of carbs. I still had a couple of units of insulin on board, so I didn’t want to correct that 15.7 too much and hence make myself low. 5 and a half units would hopefully suffice, and not make me spike too high. Of course, I was dubious. Mum has always told me that a) the most healthy foods never taste nice and b) anything that tastes nice will probably be not so nutritious. I had a feeling I was going to be high later that evening.

Please put your hands together, for a welcoming surprise, 3 hours later… Checking my levels before my evening meal (that was to be yet another challenge), I was presented with a very tasty level of 7. This, in my eyes, was a perfect bolus for the carrot cake. I think that because I managed to accurately estimate the amount of carbs, and deciding against correcting the 15.7, I have shown to myself that I don’t have to miss out on everything that is ‘tasty’ and a ‘treat’.

A treat is a treat, not something to be had every day. As long as the correct amount of insulin is injected, I know I won’t be too high, I won’t end up with a hypo, and I can enjoy food as much as I did, before I was diagnosed with diabetes. Perhaps this is due to listening to and seeing other people’s experiences with diabetes. It is so so important to remember though, everyone’s experience with diabetes is totally different from one person to the next.

I do wonder how many times over the next few years, I’ll be asked “should you be eating that?”