Buy Our Book!

diabetes diet
The Diabetes Diet is now available in paperback and e-book.

Forgive 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.

 

 

Diabetes in Cats on the Rise

diabetes in cats
He’s a pudgy pussy – and sadly at risk of developing diabetes.

Diabetes in dogs and cats is on the rise – that’s according to a story in the Daily Mail this week.

Pet insurer Animal Friends says cats are most at risk. The insurer’s study of 9,000 pets showed an increase of 1,161 percent in feline claims since 2011. At the same time, cases in dogs have increased by 850 percent.

An expert from the UK veterinary charity, the PDSA, told the Daily Telegraph that one of the reasons for the increase in diabetes among cats and dogs was owners feeding their pets human food, which has far too many calories for them.

Animal Friends received just 62 claims for cat diabetes cases in 2011 – compared to 721 claims in 2015. Symptoms of the disease in pets include the pet being hungry or thirsty all the time, along with peeing more often.

Diabetes in cats and dogs can be managed with insulin therapy and diet and exercise.

To prevent your dog or cat from getting diabetes in the first place:

Check their weight*. This varies depending on breed, but for visual clues you should be able to feel the ribs and spine and see the animal’s waist when viewed from above. The abdomen should be raised. It shouldn’t sag when viewed from the side. Cats are roughly supposed to weigh less than 5kgs.

Check the weight at petMD. The site has a calculator that allows you to calculate the weight for different dog breeds.

Only feed your pet pet food. These can vary in quality. The popular brands tend to have a lot of rice, cereal and vegetables, which aren’t necessarily ingredients that dogs or cats are meant to eat and gluten in particular can upset stomachs. You can buy pet food which is formulated for weight loss.

Check food portions. This is especially important if you are feeding you cat or dog biscuits. Make sure you are giving your pet the recommended amount and no more.

Encourage your pet to exercise. With dogs, this may mean extra walks. For cats, structured exercise is difficult, but you can start by placing his food bowls upstairs or investing in a biscuit dispenser he needs to play with in order to get his biscuits. You can also start playing with him before every meal. Catster has some ideas for how to play with your cat. This is especially important if you have an indoor cat.

Pet weight loss is important – but it also requires expert advice from your veterinary surgery. Be sure to ask their advice before putting your dog or cat on a diet.

 

*The easiest method for weighing a cat or small dog is to hold the animal, jump on your scales (set the scales to kilos for ease) and then weigh yourself and subtract the difference.

Resilience matters most for young and old when it comes to living with diabetes

clifford
Pic thanks to Diabetes UK

The Journal of Health Psychology have recently ran a series of articles showing that a positive attitude towards coping with chronic illness gives a better quality of life.

Adolescent type one diabetics who felt competent in their self- care, were optimistic and had high levels of self- esteem coped better than those who did not share these characteristics.  Low resilience was associated with higher distress, poor quality of life, maladaptive coping strategies and poor glycaemic control.

Older adults of low socioeconomic status who had low resilience had an increased risk of diabetic neuropathy compared to those in the same financial straits but with higher resilience.

As a GP I see some children struggle with diabetes and I know that their poor glycaemic control will have devastating consequences in future years.  Most of these children have parents who are struggling to cope with their lives, regardless of the diabetes, and don’t seem to be able to make the highly structured changes that are necessary to manage the condition really well. To make matters worse they often miss clinic appointments. There are liaison nurses who do house visits and psychologists who try to help. Proper (not current NHS!)dietary advice would help and even meal provision with portioned carb and protein counts would be one way to help these families. After all, meals are made available free to some pensioners and surely this would be cheaper on the long run than dialysis and the dropping out of the job market that early complications often bring.

(Research findings from Jounal of Health Psychology 2015 20,9, 1196-1206 and 1222-8 from Human Givens Volume 22, No 2, 2015.