people toasting wine glasses

Happy New Year from Defying Diabetes!

Happy New Year from Defying Diabetes, I hope you celebrated and had fun!

I wish you happiness and remember to not get too bogged down in The New Year’s Resolution ‘hype’!

person holding lighted firecracker

Remember to check out How to set sustainable goals for yourself! and my Simple guide to fitness with diabetes!

Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!


What is the deal with cooking oils

People often get confused about what oils to use when cooking. So here is my simple guide explaining which oils you should use when!

Plant oils should not be used for cooking

cooking oils

Plant oils become unstable when they are heated to high temperatures. This causes oxidation of the oil, which in simple terms means ‘damaged oil’.

When we consume oxidised oils on a regular basis it can be harmful to our health. Oxidised oils essentially ‘clog up’ blood vessels causing them to narrow. Narrowing causes decreased blood flow to areas of the body.

This process is linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis and much more.

Oils to cook with

coconut oil - cooking oils

The following oils remain more stable at higher cooking temperatures, therefore they are preferable to use.

This includes:

  • Coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil

Also opt for oils that are cold pressed as this minimises any damage to the oil during processing.

Oils to use in cold recipes

Pretty much all plant oils are perfect to use in cold recipes or as a garnish. The following oils are very sensitive to heat and light and can be damaged very easily.

Keeping these oils in dark bottles in the fridge will minimise oxidation.

  • Sunflower oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Walnut oil

In my opinion, 1 calorie oil sprays should also be avoided. These are often cheap plant oils and they are prone to oxidation. Rather than focusing on calories, focus on nutrients. Coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil have so many benefits to our health, please don’t avoid them because they are high in calories – this alone does not make them ‘bad’.

Cooking methods

frying - cooking oils

Frying is a convenient way of cooking, but unfortunately it is one of the most damaging. This is because food is heated to a high temperature very quickly. Therefore, I advise avoiding frying foods and opting for baking at lower temperatures, lightly steaming and boiling.

If you want to make something like a stir-fry, cook the veggies down in water, let them cool down, and then add in your oil of choice. This tastes amazing and allows the oil to remain stable, giving you many health benefits!

Thank you for reading What is the deal with cooking oils. I hope this was useful and helps you to adapt your cooking! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to lower your cholesterol! and 5 foods diabetics should be eating!


Tips on teaching children to inject

Learning to inject as a child can be a pressured and stressful experience. Therefore it is vital to give every child living with diabetes the correct support to build confidence.

Firstly, we must recognise individuality and understand that each child will require different support. Some children will take a lot longer to feel confident enough to inject, keep reading for all my tips on how to overcome this!

Recognising when your child is ready

nerves - teaching children to inject

This depends on a range of factors, such as how old the child was at diagnosis, their confidence on diabetes control and their personality.

Some children will learn to inject immediately after diagnosis, and other children could have parents or carers injecting them until they are ready to inject themselves.

If your child has an overwhelming sense of anxiety at the thought of injecting, they are not ready. Making a child feel forced will make this a traumatic experience when it really doesn’t have to be!

Try to encourage your child to complete preparation activities (listed below), remove any sense of urgency and be as patient as you can be.

Preparation activities

oranges to inject

Preparation activities can be completed in the weeks and months leading up to the child injecting themselves.

This allows children to get used to the correct technique, build confidence and experience.

For younger children, JDRF have an injection teddy (called Rufus!) with patches over injection sites. This can be fantastic to ‘normalise’ the concept of injecting, and the teddy can make children feel like they have a buddy, preventing feelings of isolation. Having toys can also take some pressure off, and can be made into a game of taking turns. Click here to get your Rufus now!

Another useful tip I have is to use an orange or lemon to practice injecting into. These fruits have generally the same thickness of skin, and mimics the sensation of injecting a needle into yourself.

Finally, try and get the child to hold your hand while you are injecting them. You are still doing all of the work, it is just easing the child in slowly.

What to look out for when your child starts injecting

When your child is ready to inject, I recommend swapping over, having the child hold the pen and do most of the work, with your hand over the top for comfort. Again, this is slowly progressing from the last step and adding another building block to their confidence.

Another tip is to take it in turns to do injections, if your child has more anxiety in the mornings, it might be best for you to do the morning injection, and for them to do the lunch or dinner injection. Eventually the worry and anxiety will diminish as new routines establish.

Encouragement is vital at this stage, don’t continue to inject your child if they want to try to do their injections on their own!

Watch their technique as they start to take control, some children can forget to rotate injection sites, so gentle reminders will help to prevent injection site soreness and lumps.

Eventually your child will inject all on their own, which will be an incredibly rewarding and proud moment that must be celebrated!

Further support for children and parents

support - teaching children to inject

Your nurse and consultant team should absolutely be providing support, tips and information on making this transition.

If your child is really struggling, contact the team, or your GP for further guidance and anxiety management.

If you are struggling as a parent, my best advice is to find other parents going through the same situation. Have a look for Facebook support groups, or get into contact with your diabetic team and they can give you some contacts.

Thank you for reading Tips on teaching children to inject! I hope you found this useful and I hope this is a smooth transition for you. Be sure to subscribe for more content and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Supporting a child transitioning into secondary school while living with diabetes and Diabetes technology 101!

crop unrecognizable sportsman showing bicep in gym

Bulking with type 1 diabetes

For many people the cold months mean it is bulking season! Gaining muscle has some incredible health benefits when done and maintained correctly. Keep reading for my tips on what to do and what to avoid!

In my opinion yo-yoing from bulking to cutting every winter and summer is unsustainable and a potential unhealthy cycle to get into. The thought that we always have to change our bodies to be ‘seasonal’ and to look good is distorted. Gaining muscle should be a long-term dietary and lifestyle change in order to better your health, not to ‘fit in’ with the ‘ideal body standards’ social media thrusts upon us.

Of course part of the reason people bulk is to ‘look better’, but we need to go deeper and use other means of motivation and discipline to achieve goals. Loving your body, less anxiety, feeling energised, getting better sleep are all fantastic reasons to set fitness goals like muscle gain.

So, if you are looking to gain some muscle whilst keeping your sugars on track, lets look at what you need to consider!

Sugar level control changes will happen

bulking season

If you are living with diabetes, you will mostly likely already know that routine changes = sugar level changes.

This does not mean gaining muscle can’t be done when living with diabetes, it just means we have to be strategic, look at sugar level trends and adapt to new routines.

Sugar level fluctuations depend on the type of exercise you are doing. If you swap from endurance to weight focused training, your levels can start to spike.

Of course this depends on the person, but it is very common to have hypers while weight lifting. This could mean you might need a small correction dose before or near the beginning of your workout to keep in range.

Furthermore, increasing carbs, fat and protein in accordance with higher energy demands will require more insulin.

My best advice is to talk with your doctor, consultant and/or a nutritionist for the best transition and results. This will allow you to adjust your insulin to carb ratio and correction dose.

Insulin sensitivity could change

One thing to note if you are trying to gain muscle, fluctuation in insulin sensitivity will most likely happen.

What you could notice is your sugar levels are remaining high, despite using your insulin to carb ratio. The change in insulin sensitivity can be due to increased adrenaline and other hormone fluctuations. If you start to struggle with this, definitely chat to your diabetes consultant or consult with a nutritionist specialised in diabetes.

One tip I found really useful is to continue with cardio during bulking. It doesn’t have to be a lot of cardio, but walking, running or completing HIIT can help to promote insulin sensitivity as well as muscle gain.

The correct nutrition can also limit insulin resistance, so keep reading for my nutrition tips.

Protein for bulking

Gym lads are often OBSESSED with protein! Don’t get me wrong, this is a vital macronutrient for bulking, BUT there are other nutrients that are often neglected and are also fundamental.

The idea of ‘eat whatever you can get your hands on’ while bulking is absolutely not the way to go. If you are prioritising fast and processed foods to pack calories in, this will be detrimental to your health. You might gain what you want, but this can lead to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and make diabetes control so much harder.

Eating a diet high in refined carbs, saturated fat and low quality protein decreases insulin sensitivity, which will decrease exercise performance as well as limiting muscle gain.

eggs for bulking

So opt for high quality protein sources: (if you can go for organic, grass-fed meat)

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Cod
  • Tuna
  • Eggs
  • Chickpeas
  • Edamame beans
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Lentils

Other nutrients to prioritise

salmon for bulking

Other nutrients to prioritise are omega-3 fatty acids, if you are eating lots of animal protein which is high in omega-6, this can cause too much inflammation and delayed exercise recovery. So eat the following to balance this out and to promote exercise recovery:

  • Salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring 2-3 times per week
  • Handful walnuts or 2 tbsp chia seeds, or 2 tbsp flaxseeds everyday (e.g. in a smoothie, oats or yogurt)

Omega-3 fatty acids also helps to promote insulin sensitivity, which will help with glucose control, cholesterol balance and better exercise performance! So prioritise polyunsaturated fats over saturated fats.

Finally, make sure you are eating plenty of antioxidants, magnesium, iron and potassium – which all help with muscle growth and recovery. Aim for 7 a day (one portion of fruit/veg is roughly 80g) and make sure you are including some of the following everyday:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Banana
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Avocado
  • Beans and lentils

Thank you for reading bulking with type 1 diabetes! I really hope this way useful and helps you to achieve your fitness goals without sacrificing time in range. Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out How to handle a hypo mid-workout! and my Simple guide to fitness with diabetes!


Jack Iredale on managing type 1, while playing professional football!

This week I have the amazing Jack Iredale featuring and answering some questions on how he manages living with diabetes while playing professional football!

Jack has played with Cambridge United and been promoted to League One, all while managing type 1 diabetes and truly showing anything is possible with type 1!

Keep reading to find out about Jack’s incredible story, and how he manages diabetes around working in the sports industry!

When were you diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed just before Christmas in 2009 when I was 13.

People living with diabetes often struggle when people ask difficult questions surrounding diabetes. Have you ever come across this, and how would you tackle this situation?

The most common question I get asked from people who don’t know much about diabetes, is if I can eat chocolate! But they soon understand when I explain that Type 1’s can eat chocolate after checking sugar levels and a small injection!

Jack Iredale - Cambridge United promoted to League One

What advice would you give to people living with T1D who want to pursue a career in the sports industry?

My best advice is to never think living with Type 1 diabetes will hold you back, because it won’t. If you are confident in your control and are switched on with everything, there is absolutely no reason for type 1 to get in the way of achieving in your sport.

How do you keep yourself calm during a hyper or hypo, and what snacks/hypo treatments would you recommend to sporty T1D’s?

Over correcting a hypo is very easily done! But when you have had diabetes long enough you will know what you need to fix it. Knowing this gives me comfort that I’ll be feeling back to normal ASAP. I always carry Lucosade sport with me, I keep it pitch-side for training, and give it to the Physio on game day in case I ever need it. This works really well for me as I can have a quick drink and get back to football ASAP!

What does your match day routine consist of in terms of monitoring and maintaining your sugar levels?

Jack Iredale on living with type 1 diabetes and playing professional football

On match day I am constantly checking my levels. I’d say a minimal of 10 times on match day just leading up to kickoff. The FreeStyle Libre has been amazing for that!

I’ll do my best to have my final meal no later than 3 hours before kickoff to give plenty of time for my sugars to react to the food and insulin.

I’ll also aim to have my sugars somewhere between 6-8mmol. Any lower I’ll run the risk of a hypo and any higher will have me fatiguing quicker than I would normally.

Finally, for any T1D’s who are considering getting a CGM/FGM, would you recommend using the Freestyle Libre? 

I would absolutely recommend using a FreeStyle Libre. It has been incredible for me and I love how convenient it is. Especially using the FreeStyle Libre app on my iPhone, which allows me to check my sugar levels instantly, no matter where I am.

I wanted to finish with a huge thank you to Jack Iredale! Thanks for sharing some insight into living with type 1 and most importantly inspiring those living with type 1. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it and work hard! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Be sure to subscribe, check out my Instagram, and Jack’s Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Simple guide to fitness with diabetes! , Diabetes technology 101! and Myths vs truths about diabetes!

photo of dog laying on sand

Keeping your feet healthy with diabetes!

The feet is another area where complications can arise when living with diabetes, and the feet are often a neglected area of the body!

I have been writing a series on preventing complications of diabetes, here are posts on keeping your eyes and kidneys healthy in case you missed them!

So aside from controlling sugar levels, here are some other tips on how to keep your feet healthy with diabetes!

Get proper shoes!

supportive shoes for keeping feet healthy with diabetes

Wearing shoes that support your feet is vital for preventing problems.

Not only do proper fitting shoes support your joints and muscles, but it also helps to prevent blisters and calluses that could become infected.

So buy your shoes from a store, get your feet measured and even buy insoles to ensure your shoes fit correctly!

Learn how to cut your nails!

Cutting your nails correctly can prevent some extremely painful ingrown toenails!

Ideally nails should be cut in a square shape (i.e. not rounded at the edges) to prevent them from growing into the skin.

Also, try to not cut nails too short, cut straight across and leave the corners squared.

If you have any problems with your feet or toenails, book in with your doctor, or seek a podiatrist to prevent any complications.

Keep active!

exercise for keeping feet healthy with diabetes

Exercise increases circulation and strengthens the muscles in the feet. So try to incorporate a variety of exercise into your schedule! A mix of cardio, resistance training and stretching is optimal!

Remember to always keep your feet dry, particularly after exercise to prevent bacteria from harbouring.

And guess what I’m going to say.. if you smoke, try your upmost to quit! I say it across many of my posts because smoking is so damaging to the body and decreases circulation. This puts you at a higher risk of complications all over your body!

A final point to note, if you take part in sports that are particularly hard on your feet, such as ballet, skiing or running, pay extra attention to your feet!

Cover your feet!

cover feet to keep feet healthy with diabetes

Always wear shoes outdoors to prevent getting any cuts or scrapes.

Of course any broken glass, splinters or sharp objects on the ground could be contaminated with nasty bacteria that can cause major infections.

Furthermore, always keep your feet covered at the swimming pool to prevent picking up any verrucas or warts. These can take years to go and can cause some nasty infections!

Please remember, if you have any concerns or any of the following issues with your feet, book in with your doctor immediately:

  • Breaks or deep cuts in the skin
  • Any pus
  • Any change in skin colour (blue, purple, red, pale or dark)
  • Feelings of persistent pins, needles, pain, numbness or burning

Thank you for reading keeping your feet healthy with diabetes! I hope these tips help and be sure to subscribe to have content delivered straight to your mailing box! Also be sure to drop me a follow on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Diabulimia 101! and my Simple guide to fitness with diabetes!

photo of person holding black smartphone