My Type One Twenties (So Far)
For myself and many others, a large part of my experience as a twenty-something-year-old has been navigating life with Type One Diabetes. Although I received my diagnosis of Type One when I was 15, it has only been the more recent years that I have started to truly focus on my lifestyle, like learning about health, wellbeing, my relationship with food, and how important these all are in helping to manage my blood glucose levels.
Something that I would like to clarify early on is that although they share a namesake, Type One and Type Two Diabetes are very different beasts - the main differences being that Type One is not preventable or curable, while Type Two is mainly lifestyle-related and develops over time. Type One is a genetic condition where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. And yes, it is about as fun as it sounds! There are many factors that can influence blood glucose levels including physical activity, dehydration, hormones, various environmental factors, and food.
In my earlier years with diabetes, I had a certain safety net - living at home, the routine of school, and a more sporadic social life. Nowadays my life looks a little different. As my lifestyle evolves, so does my approach to health and nutrition. Maintaining a balanced diet makes it that much easier to control my Type One on a day-to-day basis - having consistent meals, eating fewer carbohydrates, and avoiding high-sugar foods that might spike my blood glucose levels.
Over time I’ve found that there are some food types that have become staples in my diet. Some of my go-to foods are nuts, berries, and green veggies as they’re full of fibre which helps to balance out the carbohydrates and keep me feeling full for longer. I love veggies like broccoli, spinach, red peppers, onions, kale, and carrots as they’re full of vitamins, antioxidants and other goodies. There’s plenty of research out there which talks about the link between food and diabetes, but I’ve found a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables to be the key for me.
It’s one of the reasons I started taking Nutrient Rescue - to make sure I was getting my daily nutrients, but I have continued because it helps to give my body and immune system the extra support it needs.
I am extremely lucky to have access to some cutting-edge medical equipment, such as my Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), which is permanently linked to me, and my insulin pump. Both devices are attached to me 24/7 and make the day-to-day management of my diabetes so much easier. However, they can also occasionally turn it into a nightmare. Sleep through the night? Guess again — a CGM low glucose alert. Test: eat 15g of sugar and wait 10 minutes. Repeat the process until your blood glucose levels are normal. Back to sleep? Never mind, you have rolled over and ripped out your pump site. Add to your collection of battle scars. However, I would like to reiterate that this is not what it is always like. Most of the time, my diabetes is like my quiet friend that I just check on every now and then. Whilst a consistent diet can help minimise variation in blood glucose levels, sometimes it simply has its highs and lows (excuse the blood sugar pun).
Although I wouldn’t wish Type One on anyone, and sometimes wonder what my life would have been like without it, having diabetes has taught me a lot. It has taught me to be resilient, empathetic, to take the time to listen to my body, and to look after it with proper nutrition. In the weeks leading up to my diagnosis, my body gave me signals that something was not right. Tiredness, thirst, and an allergic reaction to our new washing powder. I am forever grateful that my body took me to the doctor's office before the situation got worse. The challenges of diabetes have shown me to be strong and that the bad days will pass. Sometimes a bad moment is just that. But the most important thing I have learned from my Type One is to be kind to yourself, to your body, and to others.
Written by Ella Guillemot-Mene
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