Anxiety Management During Pandemic Days~

Strange time, hmm? Loved this advice from Cindy.

Many of us are experiencing emotional distress from the pandemic which can affect each of us in different ways, but often presents as increasing anxiety, worry, sleep disruption, feelings of helplessness, panic, and/or depression.

The shrieking headlines don’t help do they? So what can we do to manage these feelings and feel stronger emotionally and psychologically as we prepare ourselves to face the difficult days ahead?

As a psychotherapist who has practiced for many decades, I have some ideas that can help. So if you are interested, read on.

We are going to make a customized anxiety toolbox. One approach doesn’t work for everyone, pick and choose what feels right for you. Of course I’m including relaxing photos intermixed in this post because looking at positive images is an objective and powerful anxiety reducer. What you perceive influences how you think and feel.

ANXIETY TOOLBOX:

Self Talk Reframing (Cognitive Therapy)

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The Diabetes Diet price drop

the diabetes diet by emma bairdWe’re running a price promotion on The Diabetes Diet. Until 8 December, you can get our guide to low-carb eating and how this can balance your blood sugar levels for the bargain basement price of £1.99/$1.99.

(Gosh, I love alliteration. Can you tell?!)

Our book offers a wealth of advice about the low-carb lifestyle and how to adjust medications to cope with a reduced carbohydrate intake. It also includes meal plans and recipes covering everything from bread substitutes to main meals, breakfast ideas and veggie dishes.

Here are some of the reviews for the book:

“Still working my way through this book, an awful lot to ‘digest’! It’s given me ideas as to how I can change my diet to help with weight loss & better health too!”

“I’m in pretty bad shape but 2 weeks after starting on insulin and reading this book, I am completely hooked and feeling great. This book has more revelations than the Da Vinci Code and the more you read the more you realise how obvious it is that carbs are a bad idea.

“In under two weeks I’ve got my blood sugar down from an average 26mmol to between 9 and 13. Still a way to go but its a great start and now I’ve had a fright I’m determined to change my habits. The book is well written, informative and easy to follow. It has some great inspirational stories, plenty of recipes and good advice.”

“This is a potentially life changing must read for diabetics and their Medical Advisors. It is a well written, informative book based around the premise that type 2 diabetics can normalise their blood sugar levels and type 1 sufferers can better manage their condition by following a low carb diet.”

You can buy the Diabetes Diet on Amazon wherever you are.

#WorldDiabetesDay

Happy #WorldDiabetesDay to you! This year’s theme is Family and Diabetes. While the day (and the month) is more aimed at raising awareness of the undiagnosed condition and family members looking out for the signs of diabetes in partners, parents, siblings etc., my day will reflect on my family and how thankful they make me.

I was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of nine (there I am, just post-diagnosis on the right). Since then, diabetes care has come along in leaps and bounds. In those days, you used syringes made of glass, tested your urine and not your blood and relied heavily on your body and not a machine to tell you what was wrong. (Ah, the young yins! Don’t know they’re born…)

As a nine-year-old weeping copiously at the prospect of no sweeties or birthday cake again ever, I wasn’t 100 percent au fait with what was now going on with my body. I scared the living daylights out of my parents several times by fainting first thing in the morning. The most memorable time when I jumped up on the kitchen window ledge to let our pet cat in and fell off it. Onto a stone floor.

Bite me…

As biting my tongue often went along with fainting, my dad would try to stop me by inserting his own hand. I bit that instead.

Still, my parents were a game pair—happy to downplay the condition so I never felt disadvantaged. It took me until my 20s to realise I had a chronic illness. Duh, I know, but diabetes never felt that way to me growing up. My mum’s favourite cry was, “Have you got your Dextrosol?” whenever I left the house. (Again, the young yins. Not having to use Dextrosol for their hypos.) But other than that, they never mentioned it as a limiting factor or felt I could not do anything because of the diabetes. Fair enough, I announced no plans to be an athlete, truck driver or pilot, but they waved me off to a university in another country, a kibbutz, solo living and more without fuss.

Whenever I called home or visited, questions concentrated on my job, my personal life, what I was doing… diabetes never took centre stage.

Then, as I got older they generously funded a pump for me for a few years. When it gave up the ghost, I decided against further funding as I didn’t want to take any more of their money. They would have handed it over gladly. And still would, even though there are no longer two of them…

Ah, the mood swings…

Any family member of someone who has diabetes will raise a wry eyebrow if you talk about the mood swings. Figures, after all, that if you have a chronic illness tiredness is a frequent friend of the not very nice sort. It makes you sullen and snappy. Who better to take that out on than your nearest and dearest?

Then, there are the ‘hypo experts’; mums and partners who can tell you are hypo before it strikes you the excessive yawning is more to do with plunging blood sugar levels than a late night the day before. Grr. Double grr because they are almost always right.

I have my own little circle of mood bearers—once upon a time my mum, dad and sisters. (Still my poor old mum to some extent). Nowadays, my husband. He’s awfully good at spotting hypos. Awfully brilliant at lots of other things too. Running upstairs to bring me supplies when I run out of needles and other equipment. Keeping me in jelly baby supplies. Factoring in blood glucose checking stops whenever we are out and about. Finding me ice-cold water when high blood sugars kick in. Accepting that I am terrifically rubbish at late nights, which means we do not go out that much. (Tip—I organise a lot of things for a Sunday afternoon.) Checking restaurants to see if they offer low-carb options before booking them.

Diabetes does not come alone. Yes, it includes tiredness and a whole slew of other complications you do your best to avoid. But if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes warm, supportive, kind and patient folks to nurture a diabetic.

Here’s to them all—my family. Thank you thank you thank you.

Inventor awarded £2m for diabetes invention

This week’s diabetes-related news includes a story about an inventor finally awarded the compensation he deserved following a 13-year legal battle.

Professor Ian Shanks built the first prototype of the electrochemical capillary fill device (ECFD). The technology* eventually appeared in most blood glucose testing products—a huge boost to those of us with diabetes. Professor Shanks was working for Unilever at the time.

The registration of patents by Unilever earned the company £24 million, though Professor Shanks argued it could have earned royalties for as much as one billion US dollars, had his invention been “fully exploited”.

Patents Act

He told the BBC that when he first applied for compensation, not one employee had benefited from the introduction of the Patents Act introduced 30 years earlier. The Act entitles workers who invent something that gives their employer an “outstanding benefit”, a “fair share” of the benefits.

At the Supreme Court in London, the judges unanimously agreed Professor Shanks was entitled to compensation because he had provided his former employer with an “outstanding benefit”.

Professor Shanks said most of the compensation would be taken up by his legal costs, but that he was happy on behalf of future inventors. If something they make turns out to be significant and really profitable, then it was only right they stood the chance of a reward.

“Disappointed”

Unilever told the BBC they were “disappointed” because the company had already given Professor Shanks the “salary, bonuses and benefits” when he was employed to develop new products for its business.

My t’upporth—gotta love a David Goliath battle, right? Though it seems peculiar to me Professor Shanks needed to take his claim to the highest court in the land when those preceding courts knocked him back… (A comment on the legal expertise Unilever can afford as compared to an individual.) 

I am with Professor Shanks. I want brilliant people out there working on technology and medical care that will change the lives of millions of we diabetics. And those individuals should be rewarded for the outstanding benefits they bring.

Read the full story on the BBC.

*Confession. I can’t work out the exact nature of his invention.

Miracle Mayonnaise #lowcarb

Bowl containing home-made Miracle Mayonnaise
Home-made mayo mixed with chopped celery, red peppers and tomatoes.

Chums, I have a new recipe for you that will TRANSFORM your life.

A bold claim, I know, but this nifty trick will help you bash up a batch of home-made mayonnaise in less than 30 seconds. I have timed it. No more standing there trickling oil in drop by drop and curdling it when you slip up and pour too much oil in. No—this is foolproof.

Several weeks ago, I watched TV chef John Torode make this on Celebrity MasterChef. He was demonstrating how the contestants should make mayonnaise if they were to recreate his recipe in the time specified. The two celebrities trying the recipe out did not use his method, opting for the conventional mayonnaise method, but John’s way intrigued me. That couldn’t work, surely…?

Glory be. It does. Super, super easy. I love Hellman’s Mayonnaise but I am also queen of the home-made, and with mayonnaise you get to control the oil. Commercial brands use cheap vegetable oils. For my version, I used Cretan olive oil—a mild one as the extra virgin stuff is too strong for mayonnaise.

Here is the recipe. Try it. Be amazed.

Miracle Mayonnaise

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fresh, easy to make mayonnaise you can use for salads, veggies, fish, ham and eggs.


You will need a stick blender and a tall, narrow vessel. I used a Pyrex jug.

Ingredients


1 large whole egg

250ml lighter olive oil, or a mix of olive and rapeseed oil

salt and pepper

1 tbsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

1tsp Dijon mustard

Directions

  1. Crack the egg into your vessel. Add the mustard and salt and pepper. Pour the oil on top.
  2. Push your blender down so it is on top of the egg. Press it on and whizz until you get a thick sauce.
  3. Add the lemon juice or vinegar, blend again and taste. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. Place in a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. It will last four or five days.

Please note: this recipe contains raw eggs. According to the NHS, in the UK vulnerable groups such as the elderly, infants, children and pregnant women can eat raw or lightly cooked eggs but they should be British Red Lion stamped, hen’s eggs and come from the UK.

 

 

 

 

#LowCarb Vegetarianism and other adventures

meat-free alternatives Maybe it’s the Extinction Rebellion folks gluing their hands to pavements, disrupting flights and parking their uncooperative crusty* posteriors on roads throughout central London.

Or it could be the underlying anxiety about eating meat that has always bothered me since I took it up again after more than 20 years of vegetarianism. But lately I have drastically cut down on the amount of it I’m eating and embraced the substitutes.

Vegetarianism and particularly veganism aren’t natural fits with a low-carb diet, the one I follow because I believe it’s the best one for helping people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. Heck, the good Doctor Morrison and I even wrote a book about it!

Quorn slices

But the meat substitutes have come much further than the last time I ate them. Quorn makes decent fake ham slices. Cauldron sausages and marinated tofu work for me too—all of them low carb, though not as low-carb as the real thing. Even the Diet Doctor—the best source of everything you need to know about a low-carb diet in general—recognises that many people do want to follow a low-carb diet that they can square with their conscience and the website offers low carb vegetarian and even vegan plans these days.

While I question some of the health claims people make for a plant-based diet (and I’m picky about the word being used to mean ‘veganism’—I’ve always based the bulk of my diet around vegetables), poor Mama Earth’s resources will run out far too quickly if meat consumption continues at its current levels.

As I have no children, I can tick that big box on the green credentials list but the other two are eating a plant-based diet and not flying anywhere. As someone who’s not that fussed about travel, the latter might be easily achieved too. That just leaves me with what I choose to eat. As I don’t do absolutes any more, opting to be a vegetarian with limited dairy most of the time is what appeals.

Low-carb vegetarian recipes

How about you? Have you changed your diet because of environmental concern s or do you plan to? We do have veggie options on our website if you are looking for low-carb meat-free recipes. They include low-carb curried cauliflower cheese, aubergine and pepper parmigiana, baba ghanoush, Tofu with teriyaki sauce and crustless spinach and feta quiche.

*As Boris Johnson called them. Maybe he was attempting ‘wit’ as a distraction from the chaos he is in midst of creating in the UK.

Diabetes and the roller-coaster ride

Just a quickie from me this week… I thought I’d share an interesting info-grab with you. The flash glucose monitoring system collects all sorts of info which is easy to see at a glance, such as your daily graph.

The graph shows you how often you have been in or out your target blood sugar range. The Monday one here (right) is me on holiday. Happy days, eh? Let’s loosen the reins on low-carb eating as boy, do the Cretans know how to do miraculous things with potatoes. While over there, I tasted what must count as the BEST CHIPS IN THE WORLD. A bold claim, I know.

And Wednesday is me back from holiday, determined to jump back on the low-carb wagon*. Goodness me, those graphs tell their own story, hmm? From wild jumps—the roller-coaster ride, to a far more sedate and steady line. A week’s potato bingeing is fun, but long-term I prefer to stick with the graph that doesn’t soar and plummet all over the place.

 

*Sorry for all the mixed metaphors.

Lamb in almond sauce #low-carb

woman using a pestle and mortar

My husband bought me a new pestle and mortar this week—mainly because we are watching Celebrity MasterChef on the Beeb and every time I spot one of the stars pounding their garlic, I sigh and wish out loud that I had such a big one…

Cue the delivery of a weighty package. I crushed eight cloves of garlic in it at once to celebrate. Vampire-proofed to the max, what else could I do? How about a lamb curry where I roasted whole spices and then pounded them to dust?

This lamb curry in almond sauce is a recipe I adapted from the Spice Sisters Indian cookbook. The whole spices are cumin and fennel seeds, and cardamom, all of which will scent your kitchen beautifully as you roast them. Serve your curry with cauliflower rice or this low-carb naan bread. Normal rice and naan bread will keep the carb-lovers in your family happy.

Lamb in almond sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 500g diced lamb
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1tbsp grated ginger
  • 2-3 chillies, chopped
  • 1tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1tbsp fennel seeds
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, split and seeds removed
  • 1tbsp turmeric
  • 1tsp ground black pepper
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1tbsp garam masala
  • 200ml passata
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 4tsbp natural yoghurt
  • 2tbsp ground almonds mixed with 50ml water
  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil
  1. In a small pan, dry-fry the cumin, fennel and cardamom for a few minutes. Pound to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the meta in batches until it is browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and add the onions.
  2. Fry until translucent. Add all the other ingredients (except the lamb and the lemon juice) and bring to a simmer. Cook for ten minutes and then use a hand-held blender to make the sauce smooth.
  3. Add the lamb back in, pop on a lid and allow to gently simmer for 30 minutes. Add the lemon juice at the end.
  4. Allow 15g carbs per portion.

The golden rule with curry is it almost always tastes better the next day.

How Your Hormones Impact Physical Activity

Dr Colberg’s article: useful to know…

Dr. Sheri's Blog

Insulin injection

The human body only has insulin to lower blood glucose but has five hormones that raise it (with some overlap). This hormone redundancy tells you is that, at least from a survival standpoint, your body is desperate to make sure you do not run out of blood glucose; it is not as concerned about you having too much. Insulin is an important hormone for regulating your body’s storage of fuels (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) after you eat. It tells your insulin-sensitive cells (mainly your muscle and fat cells but also your liver) to take up glucose and fat to store them for later as muscle and liver glycogen (the storage form of glucose) as well as stored fat. During exercise, any insulin in your bloodstream can make your muscles take up extra blood glucose. In people who have a pancreas that functions normally, insulin levels typically decrease during exercise, and…

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Seven observations on using the FreeStyle Libre for a week

hand holding FreeStyle libre meter
You will prise this from my cold, dead hand…

Blood, I miss the sight of you… I’d gotten used to those tiny beads that popped from the tips of my fingers several times a day. This week, not so much.

And as misses go, it’s a rubbish one, right?

As the proud new owner of a FreeStyle Libre (may the universe rain her blessings down on NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde), I know the much-vaunted advantages. Ability to test more often and easily. Probable positive effect on your HbA1c levels (the long-term measure of blood glucose in the body) and reduced likelihood of complications.

Here, then, are my observations on the lesser quoted points you notice when you wear one…

  1. I’m clumsy as heck. Yes, I keep bumping into door frames. Maybe I always have walked into them on a regular basis but when I hit my right arm (the one I’m wearing the sensor on) off a door frame, I notice. Three times in the first four hours of wearing it.
  2. The absence of black dots. Those of us who’ve spent our lives doing five or six blood tests a day (see above) can hold out fingers tips covered in tiny black dots. Occasionally, the skin peels away in protest. Three days in and mine VANISHED.
  3. Oh, the joy of the night-time test! You wake up, roll over, grab the sensor from our bedside table and wave it in the direction of your arm. Voila! The result. No messing around opening that wee case up, taking out the tube of sticks, popping it open, finding a stick and taking three attempts to insert it into meter, pricking your finger and missing the stick with the dot of blood, etc. And all done in the dark because you don’t want to disturb your other half.
  4. No more vampire impressions. I did blood tests on public transport, in offices, when out and about, in the gym, the cinema, the pub, restaurants and more. And I was discreet about it, but when your finger bleeds you suck it to get rid of the excess, right? Some folks think that is disgusting or that you should always wipe it on a tissue or surgical wipe. Who has the foresight to carry all that around as well as everything else?
  5. Having to remind yourself you can test whenever the heck you want. I’ll get used to the feeling quickly but I’m still adjusting. Shall I test again? No, no I only pricked my finger an hour ago and I’m only prescribed XX amount of sticks every months so no… Stop right there, lady. Shall I run the meter over my sensor again? Yes, yes, yes!*
  6. Staring at your graph. Oh the fascination of watching what your blood sugar levels get up to over eight hours. Telling yourself you will record this properly, oh yes you will, and work out patterns so you can make educated adjustments, rather than relying on guesswork.
  7. Missing the sight of blood. As you might have guessed, the intro to this piece was a big, fat lie. I’m one hundred percent happy that bloody fingers are a thing of the past (ish, you still have to do some).

* Ten’s the recommendation, in case you were wondering. Too many’s not good on the sanity levels.