This Week I’m…

It’s all about me, folks!

Is anyone’s week of that much interest to anyone else? Blogging demands a certain conceit – that yes, your activities and opinions are either interesting or useful to others*. I’m HUGELY entertaining, but only really to myself. Sometimes, my mum and husband laugh along too, if they are feeling kind.

Nevertheless, I experimented with this blog form elsewhere and decided to run with it on the Diabetes Diet. So, this week I’m…

Trying out new recipes. Like most folk, I’ve been stuck in the same ol’ recipe rut for a while. Prawn cocktail Monday, seabass with avocado Tuesday, sausages at some point. (Well, they are so flippin’ good.) I decided to try out lots of new recipes recently, and I’ve enjoyed the process.

Some of them worked wonderfully – steaming seabass and dressing it with ginger, soy sauce, sliced chillies and sesame oil gave me something new to do with fish. And the crust-less pizza was fun too. I tried Good Food magazine’s budget-friendly pot roast recipe, using silverside of beef, carrots, celery and stock, which would have been good if I hadn’t overcooked it.

It was as tough as old boots. My jaw still aches remembering the workout it got. Still, the gravy and the veg that came with it was MARVELLOUS!

Re-discovering running. I started running 13 years ago, did it regularly, entered a lot of 10k runs and even a half-marathon, and then lost the love. It was hard, it needed a massive amount of willpower to make myself get out there and do it, and it was dull, dull, dull. Seriously, there are good reasons why runners look so miserable. Then, four weeks ago, I decided to go for a run anyway.

Just to see if I still could.

And I could! Two days later, I thought I’d try again. I still could! And here I am, four weeks later going for a run every two days, and LOOKING FORWARD TO IT.

What’s different this time? I run so slowly, your granny could probably overtake me. If you take it super-slow, you don’t get that nasty struggling with the breathing thing. Or the lead-like calves. And I listen to a podcast while I do it. Anything comedic is a good bet, though you try listening to Radio 4’s News Quiz as they tear into our politicians and Donald Trump, and run at the same time. Laughing like a loon and heavy breathing is HARD.

Adjusting to the dark nights. For those of you outside of Scotland, by the start of November, it’s dark by 5pm (and it’s only going to get worse). You can do worthy things, such as making sure you do get some daylight at lunchtime if possible. On the other hand, it’s a great excuse to park your a**e on the sofa and binge-watch your way through Stranger Things 2.Image result for stranger things 2

 

*The stats for any blog serve as a great reality check, should you ever find yourself under the illusion that your opinions/activities ARE fascinating to anyone else…

Diabetes in the News

What’s new in the world of diabetes? We’ve rounded up the news for you…

The BBC reported that a pioneering therapy is safe for type 1 diabetics. The therapy retrains the immune system, and it was tested on 27 people in the UK. It showed signs of slowing the disease. Like many of these kinds of treatments, though, it only works on people who have been diagnosed recently – it’s unlikely to help those who’ve had the condition for years.

Another BBC report focused on the rise of Type 2 diabetes in children. More than 600 children and teenagers in England and Wales are being treated for the condition. A report from child health experts found 110 more cases among the under-19s in 2015-16 than two years before. Local councils have warned this is a “hugely disturbing trend” – and that urgent action to tackle childhood obesity is needed.

Bedfordshire News reported on a new approach to type 2 diabetes treatment the University of Bedfordshire and the local branch of Diabetes UK is trying out. The university is hosting weekly exercise sessions so people can take advantage of regular exercise sessions and support to help them make changes to their lifestyle. One 70-year-old told the newspaper the clinic had made a huge difference to his strength and energy levels.

How do you feel about your diabetes? Amy Mercer thought she’d come to terms with her condition a long time ago, but a chakra reading revealed pent-up anger and frustration. Amy wrote an interesting post on what she learned from the reading on Diabetes Self-Management.

Finally, it’s not a week if there isn’t at least one article purporting a ‘cure’ for diabetes… Clinical trials have begun for ViaCyte’s PEC-Direct – an implant that grows insulin-producing cells from stem cells, according to futurism.com. ViaCyte’s president, Paul Laikind, said he thought the PEC-Direct product had the potential to transform the lives of people with type 1 diabetes.

 

 

Buy Our Book!

cropped-3d-cover-image1.pngForgive our wee plug – but if you’re looking for a comprehensive explanation of how you can use low-carb eating to help with diabetes (type 1 and type 2), we’ve got the answer with our book, The Diabetes Diet. 

How can it help you? If you’re a type 2, we give you detailed menu plans for different levels of carb intakes and lots of recipes, including plenty of baking and treats so you don’t feel as if you’re missing out on anything.

The missing link with many low carb diet plans is that they don’t tell you what happens if you take insulin or any other blood glucose lowering medication. (Hypos!) Our book explains how you manage your medication to prevent or minimise that and how you work out how much medication you need to take for protein. Yes, that needs taking care of too.

We also include some case studies of people who’ve used a low-carb diet to manage their diabetes and how it has helped them, including one from a vegan…

It doesn’t cost much and it might help you a lot.

Thanks in advance! Emma and Katharine.

 

Diabetes: I’m Thankful For…

diabetes diet
Go to bed early with a good book and other advantages to diabetes.

How much does diabetes shape your personality? If you’ve ever experienced high blood sugars while at a party or surrounded by other people, you’ll know feeling tired and ill turns you into an introvert. Making conversation, especially with strangers, requires far too much effort.

Perhaps many of we introverted diabetics are extroverts dying to get out? Without the ups and downs of diabetes, we’d be flinging ourselves at strangers, auditioning for the X Factor, dominating meetings at work and organising sing-songs whenever we get together with friends and family?! Everyone would secretly dread us coming into a room. “Oh no, it’s XXXX. Now we’re going to be bullied into singing/dancing/playing some daft game.”

Just a thought…

When you experience on target blood sugars, the resultant energy gives you confidence – the kind of confidence that makes life’s more extroverted activities do-able and possible. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of nine and it’s been with me for all of my adult life.

There are plenty of positives diabetes has given me. One of the blogs we follow – Georgina M Llloyd – listed 30 ways diabetes has helped improve her life. I had a think about some of the ways it has shaped mine.

Here they are:

Organisational skills. You need tip-top organisational skills to stay on top of diabetes – ensuring you have enough medication, ordering and picking up repeat prescriptions, making sure you have carry enough medical gear with you, planning for exercise, keeping glucose tablets or jelly babies on hand, preparing for holidays etc.

An appreciation of the UK health system. A civilised country provides free healthcare to its citizens. As a type 1 diabetic, I’m so glad I live in the UK. All my medication, hospital appointments and eye checks are free. If I want extra help from a diabetic  nurse, that won’t cost anything either. I’ve got gum disease (it’s one of the side effects of diabetes, but it’s also common among the general population) and I’m receiving treatment at the dental hospital. That’s free too.

The ability to say no. Georgina mentioned this one too. When you’re a people pleaser as I am, it jars to say no to food people have lovingly prepared and placed in front of you. Practise it enough and it becomes automatic. And then you can use that ability elsewhere; being asked to do too much, for example.

A love of walking. I’ve tried lots of forms of exercise over the years. Walking is the best – it’s gentle, easy and it serves more than one purpose. It’s exercise, but it gets you from A to B. It’s exercise, but it helps lower your blood sugar levels. It’s exercise, but it calms the mind at the same time. It’s exercise and it gives you access to fresh air, beautiful views, chats with dog owners and more.

Health and fitness is my hobby. It might have become one of my interests anyway, but thanks to diabetes I’ve always found diet and activity fascinating. These days, we’re lucky enough to have access to lots of information. we can do our own research and work out the best ways to look after ourselves.

It gives you an excuse to go to bed early. A cosy bed and a good book? Just tell your other half that you want to read, sneak upstairs, put your pyjamas on and dive in. It’s legit because you need more sleep anyway, right?

How has diabetes improved or changed your life? What are you grateful for? 

 

 

Coconut Oil And Dry Eyes

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERACoconut oil – the miracle product you can use for anything, right? You can cook with it, you can take your make-up off with it, you can use it as a moisturiser, an anti-frizz treatment for your hair…

And to give relief from dry eyes*?

If you have diabetes, you are 50 per more likely to suffer from dry eyes. I do. I often wake up at night and my eyes really hurt. If you have diabetes, you are more likely to get dry eyes because you do not produce enough tears.

My dry eyes could also be due to my age and changing hormones, and because my job necessitates spending a lot of time in front of a screen.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

Two months ago, I splashed out on sea buckthorn capsules, having read up on their properties and claims that the oil can help with dry eyes. I haven’t really noticed any difference – and those capsules are expensive, roughly £23 for a month’s supply.

I stumbled on the coconut oil solution by accident. Having run out of my normal cleaner one evening, I removed my make-up with coconut oil. Then I decided I might as well use it instead of my usual night-time moisturiser.

When I woke up in the morning, I noticed that my eyes felt fine. Most nights or early in the morning, I wake up with dry, sore eyes. To test if this was a co-incidence, I replaced my normal moisturiser with coconut oil for a week afterwards, ensuring I always rubbed plenty in my eyes at night.

Cheap Solution

Voila. No sore eyes.

Coconut oil – and especially if you buy it from Aldi where you can get it for £2.99 a tub – is much cheaper than sea buckthorn capsules. And it has plenty of other uses too. Maybe it is a co-incidence, maybe I’ve done something else differently that has affected my eyes, but I’ll be sticking with the coconut oil for now. It can’t do any harm.

 

*We don’t give medical advice pertinent to individuals on this blog. If you decide to try out the coconut oil solution yourself, you do this at your own risk.

 

What To Do With Excess Tomatoes

diabetes diet recipesPuree them, roast them, sauce them, turn them into soup – honestly, there’s plenty you can do with a tomato glut. I’ve decided to turn mine into oven-dried tomatoes, with the aid of some homegrown herbs too.

What about the higher carbohydrate content of tomatoes, I hear you ask. A medium-sized tomato – roughly 100g, say – contains 4g of carbohydrates, 1.2g of fibre. If you’re going to use them for sauces, chances are you’ll be using quite a few of them. Eat your tomatoes with protein, as part of a salad with chicken or ham, for instance, or as a sauce in a curry.

It is easy to eat a lot of sun or oven-dried tomatoes. They concentrated flavour makes them very tasty, for one. Because they have lost a lot of water, they are smaller and denser than normal tomatoes and you could end up eating a lot of them – and a lot of carbohydrates as a result. Eat them sparingly, two or three added to salads or with some sliced meat.

I’ve used rapeseed oil here to keep my product as Scottish and local as possible, but you can also use extra virgin olive oil.

Oven-dried tomatoes

  • Servings: 1-2 jam jars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 250g tomatoes
  • Fresh oregano – about 8tbsp chopped
  • Fresh basil – about 3tbsp chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rapeseed oil
  1. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. It’s easiest if you use your fingers, or you can use a teaspoon.
  2. Place the tomatoes, cut side down on a grill rack over a tray and leave for half an hour to drain.
  3. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees C.
  4. Mix together the crushed garlic, oregano, basil and salt and pepper. Using a teaspoon insert tiny amounts of the mixture into the tomato halves.
  5. Sprinkle a tray with a little of the rapeseed oil and place the tomatoes cut-side up on it. Cook in the low oven, turning the tray a few times, for three hours.
  6. Place in sterilised jars* and top with rapeseed oil.

Sun-dried/oven-dried tomatoes have roughly 23g of carbs (6g fibre) per 100g.

 *To sterilise jars, heat the oven to 140 degrees C. Wash the jars and their lids in hot, soapy water and place in the oven to dry out completely – about 7-10 minutes. Fill and seal.

Diabetes Self-Care is Often at The End of the List for Patients. Why?

Jim_Gaffigan_making_a_goofy_excited_face,_Jan_2014,_NYC

A team of Swedish medical researchers interviewed 24 people who had diabetes to see if there were factors that got in the way for self-caring behaviours that enhanced diabetes management. They found that some patients didn’t believe diabetes was all that serious, that it was way down the priority list compared to dealing with other life problems, that they didn’t believe it was under their control anyway and that it simply wasn’t worth sacrificing a good time for.

Any of this sound familiar?

Other illnesses, emotional distress, prioritising the needs of others and money problems all seemed to get in the way of getting to grips with self- care routines that are the crux of effective diabetes management.

For patients who are struggling with the condition, the authors think that medical professionals would be far better of focusing on what is desirable and realistic for individual patients rather than trotting out the “usual” advice, which is often perceived as being totally beyond the ability of some people and at some times in their lives.

Family support has been recognised as been a major factor in diabetes management adherence. The health care system and how easily it can be accessed is another environmental factor. Susann Strang, with her nursing background, understands that the patients’ life experiences, current situation, cultural background, beliefs and attitudes all affect their willingness and ability to follow treatment recommendations. If consultations are patient centred rather than protocol centred improvements in glycaemic control can be seen.

The patients who were interviewed for the study came from an area of Sweden with a high number of immigrants and a low socio-economic status. The number of smokers and amount of cardio-vascular disease was higher than more affluent areas in Sweden. A range of type two patients over the age of 18 were given in depth interviews. They were asked, “What does living with diabetes mean to you?”

Many people said that their lives had become more structured and limited by the diagnosis of diabetes. They were aware that food and medicine were basic issues in the control of the condition and had incorporated routines into their lives so that particularly those who had had diabetes for some time almost forgot about it. “For me diabetes is only something I have and I will have it as long as I live. I don’t think so much about it. It is like having a cup of coffee in the morning, or like going to the laundry.”

The lack of symptoms accompanying high blood sugars often led people to relax about diabetes management. Work responsibilities, home problems, lack of support, loneliness, and frank depression all reduced quality of life and put diabetes into the background. Immigrants often missed their old lives and countries or worried about relatives. Some had given up prior religious beliefs as a result of trauma they had witnessed.

Cardiac disease, high blood pressure, inflammatory problems, chronic obstructive lung disease and depression often seemed more important issues than diabetes, particularly when it was almost without any perceptible symptoms.

Some people thought that it was their fate to get diabetes. They also did not believe that changing their lifestyle was their responsibility. “The only thing the doctor complains about is losing weight. No matter how hard I try I can’t get below 84kg. I’m just like my parents. So it has to do with the genes. And you can’t change them.”

Respondents sometimes discussed feeling hopeless and resigned to the situation. One even thought that society was to blame for his lack of motivation to change his lifestyle.

Although most patients had had nutritional advice, most had trouble keeping to the plan. The social factors of enjoyment of food were seen as more important than eating right for diabetes control. The taste of food, perceived boredom of healthy food, and cooking ability all affected the degree to which people were willing to change their diet.

The majority of respondents were well aware of the positive effects of physical activity yet some took no exercise at all. To explain this they said they were lazy, exercise was boring, it was more convenient to sit on the couch or at a computer, it was painful to exercise, they were too tired, they were depressed, they had sleep problems, they had no idea how to go about it and they didn’t have enough money to exercise. Some worried that exercise was bad for the heart.

Sadly other studies by ST Miller and P Jallinoja also have identified the same unwillingness to change to a more beneficial lifestyle is not uncommon among people with diabetes.

The authors recommend that health care professionals learn about the way individual patients view living with diabetes and what type of care they really prefer. As patients can change their views over time, keeping the door open to change is recommended.

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “If I want to succeed in bringing a person towards a specific goal, I must find out where she is and start from there.”

Adapted from Diabetes in the shadow of daily life: factors that make diabetes a marginal problem. Anders Agard, Vania Ranjbar, Susann Strang. Practical Diabetes March 2016.