Thursday, 29 September 2011

the ups and the downs of ozzie life

g'day folks! or i should say, good morning - because i am now back in the UK ♥

i thought i'd let you all know that i am back safe from my travels, and will be resuming some semblance of 'regular' posting forthwith... including updates on my new book and new videos also.

i'm so excited to be back and to get into a regular routine. my sugar levels did eventually settle down in australia, thank goodness, but it was so tough going. i ended up having to change my set every 2 days, and increasing my basal rates heaps in order to manage my levels ok. i also went on a 30min walk twice a day most days, which was super beneficial.

the biggest shock for me, was losing control over my eating, and dealing with people's limited understanding of what type 1 diabetes really means.

i guess the difficulty really lies with the fact that i do change my diet kinda frequently - my understanding of how best to manage my diabetes is still in progress. it's a constant learning curve, and that's hard for other people to understand. especially with the amount of books about health and diabetes i'm devouring at present.

since february i've been eating 'low carb', starting out with just 30g a day, and then gradually increasing it to my sweet spot of about 100g, which is where i'll probably stay for a long time. i'm also eating low gi, and i love trying out health foods like chia and flax and coconut flour - so you can see where confusion might come in to all other people.

it's hard for someone to comprehend how a melon is actually really high GI, but an apple isn't. or, how i'd rather eat natural local honey, than Splenda. or how i love to bake with buckwheat, rye and spelt instead of wheat.

the hardest points for me where when someone had gone out of their way to make me something special to eat, and then i had a horrendous evening feeling rough because it wasn't actually low GI or low carb or a small enough portion size.

i must put my hands up and admit that i have often sabotaged myself, by agreeing to a small portion of something bad out of politeness. thinking it's ok to have a small bite now, because it's early morning and i've just been on a walk, or i'm spending a day wandering around a city - and then the person thinks that it's ok all of the time... do you know what i mean?

sometimes on holiday it's ok to have a slice of banana bread or an ice cream or a glass of Milo - but only once, and only in exceptional circumstances, not every day. deprivation on holiday isn't cool with me.

the other thing is that there's so much confusion between diabetics, and between type 1 and type 2. i found this a LOT. most people have a vague idea of diabetes, but don't know that there's such a HUGE difference between the two, and the way they get managed. or that the guidelines aren't at all strict for what you should or shouldn't eat to manage your levels. one diabetic might eat a vegan diet, another low carb, another low gi - there's so many recommendations, and different things work for different people.

i met up with a lovely diabetic in Armidale, NSW, called Beck, and she was a vegan that ate quite a lot of wholegrains, but no dairy. whereas at the time, i was eating a lot of meat and dairy but very few wholegrains. this was very confusing for my aunt and cousin to understand - how can you both have type 1 diabetes, but eat completely different diets?

i was continually eyed with suspicion and often treated like a fool when my sugar level rose up - i've had diabetes for 13 years now (almost exactly), and people reckon i ought to know how to deal with it so i never have highs any more. but, we all know that an infusion set can fail, you can forget to bolus or there can be a bubble in your tubing that affects absorption...

but diabetes is invisible. when you are high and feel horrible, it's not obvious to anyone else. they can't know how concerned you are that this one high level might be the thing that causes your sight to fail in 10 years, or your nerves to go funny as you age.

another thing i found out in Australia was how a high protein, high fat, low carb diet is not right for me. it lead to bloating and overeating, which consequently made my sets stop working and my sugar levels to fly up high. i'm currently in the process of working out what other options there are out there, before embarking on any radical new diet change. though i know it won't include heaps of cheese, chicken, nuts or bacon.

so. lessons learnt...
  1. it is never ok to eat a little bit of very tempting and delicious high GI foods whilst anyone else is watching...
  2. educating other people about diabetes, and the differences between type 1 and type 2 is paramount.
  3. being clear about why and what you choose to eat differently, and the importance of it for your future health.
  4. science is continually changing, and you always need to be open to learn.
  5. you can't expect a country to magically straighten out your sugar levels - it's a continual effort each moment to decide to do the best thing for your body to ensure it's future health
  6. 100g carbs is perfection for me, but i have yet to understand how much protein and fat my body thrives on (and of what type too - is it animal or vegetable?)