Top Tips

5 secret things impacting your sugar levels and health!

It can be really stressful and irritating when your sugar levels are out of check and you have no idea why! Have a read for 5 factors that could be impacting your sugar levels that you had no idea about!

1. Stress

When we are feeling stressed or anxious for a long period of time the body releases the hormone cortisol. Long-term exposure to cortisol can be very damaging to the body. For example increasing blood pressure, reducing blood flow to the digestive system and increasing blood glucose levels.

Therefore, feeling stressed can majorly contribute to hyperglycaemia, increasing risks of long-term complications, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetic retinopathy, nerve damage and cognitive diseases such as Alzheimers.

One of the best things you can do for your health is to decrease your stress load and learn how to cope with stress in a sustainable way for you. Figure out what works for you and implement it into your daily routine, self-care should never to neglected!

For tips on how to decrease chronic stress, read my blog; Is stress making your glucose levels impossible to control?

2. Hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers that help to control processes within the body. For women, the menstrual cycle can cause fluctuations in sugar levels. Changes in oestrogen, LH and FSH can cause some women to have higher sugar levels and other women to have lower sugar levels during their period.

During your next period pay attention to your stage in the menstrual cycle and your glucose readings. If you notice that the readings are particularly high or low it is definitely worth adjusting your insulin doses during your menstrual cycle.

3. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep also contributes to chronic stress and high cortisol levels, which can cause sugar levels to spike. Sleep deprivation also makes binge eating more likely, contributing to hyperglycaemia.

Sleep is vital for the body to repair itself and if you are constantly tired it will be hard for the body to balance sugar levels. Furthermore, chronic hyperglycaemia causes frequent urination to get rid of the sugar, causing you to get up several times in the night, contributing to restless nights and adding to chronic stress.

Getting good quality sleep is very important for everybody’s health, so it is vital to lower chronic stress and implement a sleep routine in order to break the cycle of bad nights.

4. Alcohol

Obviously a lot of alcoholic drinks contain a lot of sugar, meaning initially a lot of insulin might need to be taken alongside it. However, the process of removing alcohol from the body can cause hypoglycaemia.

The liver is in charge of detoxifying the body, and the liver uses glucose and glycogen stores to remove alcohol from the body. This means hypo’s can occur hours after the consumption of alcohol.

Therefore it is very important for people living with diabetes to know this, and consider insulin doses and having snacks before and after consuming alcohol.

When I have a drink, I start with a more sugary drink to make sure my glucose levels don’t dip. I then like to have sugar free drinks to prevent my sugars going too high, and I always have a snack before I go to bed or after I have finished drinking alcohol. It might sound quite complicated to people who aren’t living with diabetes but this is the sort of thing we have to consider! 🙂

5. Illness

When the body is fighting off infections it can cause sugar levels to rise very sharply. People living with diabetes deal with illness differently and it can not only cause hyperglycaemia, but it can also cause DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) which can be really serious.

If you have diabetes and have unexplained high sugar levels, or have any form of symptoms, check your ketones either with a urine dipstick or blood ketone monitor. If you have high ketones seek medical care immediately.

If you have high sugar levels but no ketones, take more glucose readings and make sure you are taking correction doses. Consume lots of fluids and eat to strengthen your immune system. Make sure you are eating garlic, turmeric, ginger and lots of fruit and veg everyday.

Thank you so much for reading this weeks blog! Please comment and email me any feedback!

Diet, Top Tips

5 foods diabetics should be eating!

Here are 5 foods to try and incorporate into your diet to aid your health and glucose control. In no way am I suggesting that these foods will ‘cure’ diabetes, but a lot of people have noticed a big difference in glucose readings when eating the following foods, coupled with exercise and carb counting!

1. Cinnamon

  • Cinnamon can help to increase insulin sensitivity, meaning cells have more receptors for glucose, which can help to prevent high glucose and insulin resistance.
  • Add cinnamon to your oats or coffee in the morning. You can also incorporate it into your cooking, some great recipes with cinnamon include curry, chilli con carne, jerk chicken, and or a stir-fry.

2. Nuts and seeds

  • Many types of nuts and seeds contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3. It is extremely beneficial to include fatty acids in the diet because it can prevent high cholesterol, and promote heart health. This is important for diabetics to consider because cardiovascular disease is a common long-term complication of hyperglycaemia. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of protein aiding muscle repair and growth.
  • Eating a handful of nuts and/or seeds a day is a great habit to get into. Some examples include walnuts, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, chia seeds or sesame seeds.
  • You can simply have a handful of mixed nuts a day, or add nuts to your oats, salads or stir fried vegetables!

3. Berries

  • Berries contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential for the body. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals and reduce oxidative stress which is essential in preventing damage to the body, and helping to balance sugar levels. Berries are generally pretty low in sugar too, which is great for people living with diabetes.
  • Try and have a handful of mixed berries a day, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or blackberries! Get them in your pudding, as a snack or with any meal!

4. Wholemeal Carbohydrates

  • Eating wholemeal carbs is essential for diabetics! Brown carbs contain more fibre, vitamins and minerals, meaning they breakdown slower, decreasing the likelihood of glucose spike.
  • When it comes to portioning carbohydrates, it is different for every person. But make sure you are having a portion of complex carbs with every meal throughout the day to keep glucose balanced, and prevent low glucose.
  • Examples of brown carbs include, oats, brown pasta, brown rice, brown bread, oat crackers and so on.

5. Natural Yogurt

  • Natural yogurt has some great health benefits, not only is it high in protein, but it also contains healthy bacteria that aids digestion. Try and choose a brand that is lower in sugar.
  • Portion wise, it depends on the person but try to have a single pot or carton.
  • Natural yogurt with honey and mixed berries can be a great pudding or post workout snack. Homemade savoury yogurt dips can also be great, for example with fajitas or curry.

I hope this is useful! Let me know any other foods you would recommend! Subscribe for more content!

Fitness

Lumpy skin from insulin injections? Here’s what you need to know!

What is ‘Lipohypertrophy’?

Lipohypertrophy is when lumps appear under the skin, due to continuous injections in the same area, over a period of time.

The lumps are made up of fat that has become swollen due to constant injections.

Diagnosing lipohypertrophy can be slightly tricky. If you think you may have lipohypertrophy in some of your injection sites, bring it up in your next meeting and a specialist will be able to advice you.

Why can Lipohypertrophy can be an issue?

The formation of lumps under the skin can impact glucose control and here is why…

Insulin can get trapped in little pockets inside the lumps, meaning absorption is not occurring as it usually would. This can cause spikes in glucose levels.

Also, if this insulin starts to be released from the pockets, it can then cause low glucose.

Another potential issue is feeling self-conscious about the appearance of this area and feeling like you have to hide away.

I used to feel really self-conscious when I had lumps on my legs, but people never noticed the lumps until I pointed them out. We are always overcritical about ourselves, so try not to worry about it!

How to treat Lipohypertrophy

Lipohypertrophy is extremely common for people living with diabetes, and can resolve itself, so don’t panic!

If you have been diagnosed with lipohypertrophy, avoid injecting in this area until the lumps have fully gone down. This can take 2-3 months, if not more, depending on how large the lumps are.

It is important to avoid massaging the area because there can still be excess insulin in the area. Massaging the area will stimulate the release of this insulin, meaning there could be a risk of a hypo.

Preventing Lipohypertrophy and rotating injection sites

To prevent the appearance of lumps under the skin, it is vital to make sure you are rotating your injection sites!

Sometimes it is hard to remember to rotate your injection sites because it is an automatic process, it is common to inject in same area just out of habit!

Here are some tips on preventing lipohypertrophy!

  • If you like injecting in your stomach try injecting in a clockwise or zig-zag motion throughout the day (see picture below).
  • Don’t be scared to inject further round on your waist or hips if you are struggling with your current injection sites.
  • If you prefer to inject in your limbs, remember to switch arms and legs with every injection.
  • Do not neglect your glutes! This is a large area for injecting, I personally always inject my slow releasing insulin in this area.
  • One final tip is to make sure you are changing your needle with every injection! If needles are repeatedly used, they become more blunt. This means the needle will cause more damage when it is injected into the skin, potentially contributing to lumps underneath the skin surface.

Thanks for reading! Please email me any questions or feedback!

Top Tips

5 Easy ways to lower your HbA1c!

When working to decrease your HbA1c, some small changes to your lifestyle can actually make quite a big difference!

HbA1c is the measure of glucose attached to haemoglobin in your red blood cells. To see what the ranges of HbA1c are click here.

Don’t underestimate the power of these small changes before you try them! Implement these 5 factors and see how your glucose readings change.

1. Move more!

  • The thought of exercise can be so daunting! But the key point of exercise is to do something that you enjoy, and something you can easily implement into your daily routine.
  • For some this might be a walk or run every morning, going to the gym, or doing a yoga session.
  • It is important to realise that exercise is different for everyone. Do the form of exercise you enjoy and that you can fit into your routine. Exercise is something you should be prioritising because it is beneficial physically and mentally!
  • Also remember that there are activities you can do that are not necessarily classed as ‘exercise’, for example taking your kids to the park, taking the dog for a walk or activities such as gardening and cleaning.

2. Swap to brown/wholemeal carbs

  • There is a lot of debate about whether eating white carbs is bad for you, such as white pasta, bread, rice and so on. The general answer is no, if you are not overeating.
  • BUT for people living with diabetes, swapping to brown and wholemeal carbs can be very beneficial.
  • This is because brown carbs have a more complex structure, containing more fibre, vitamins and minerals. This means it will take the body longer to digest the glucose, meaning there will not be such a sudden spike in glucose readings.
  • Making this swap along with correct carbohydrate counting should really make a difference to your levels after eating. It’s as simple as picking up a wholewheat bag of pasta in the supermarket rather than white!
  • Some examples of brown carbs include: brown pasta, brown rice, brown bread, rolled oats, quinoa, legumes and wholegrain couscous.

3. Decrease your stress load

  • If you are constantly feeling stressed, your cortisol levels are going to be increased. High levels of cortisol will also cause your glucose levels to increase.
  • Therefore, it vital to decrease your stress load. Find cathartic activities that you enjoy and make sure you take time out of your day to prioritise yourself and your feelings.

4. Drink more water

  • Drinking adequate water is essential for bodily functions. It is also essential for dealing with high glucose levels. Water helps the kidneys to filter excess glucose out of the blood stream.
  • If you are not drinking enough water, your body will draw water from other sources, causing further dehydration.
  • Aim to drink around 2 litres of water per day, and sip water throughout exercise.
  • If you struggle with drinking enough water, get yourself a measured water bottle, and add lemon/lime or other fruits to make it taste more fresh.

5. Get adequate sleep

  • Getting sufficient sleep is so important, the amount of sleep you get will directly impact your day. Sufficient sleep makes you feel more energised, more productive and less stressed.
  • Being really tired can also increase your appetite to compensate for lost sleep, which means you are more likely to binge eat and do less activity, which will cause glucose levels to rise.
  • Start by going to bed 5 minutes earlier, and do this every night so your body can adjust to your new bedtime.

And just a quick reminder, having a good HbA1c reading is important, but it is not something to define yourself from. Every person living with diabetes has good days and bad days. Always remember to consider your health mentally and physically.

Drop me a message for any requested posts!

Psychological

Dealing with annoying questions about diabetes

The lack of understanding and awareness around diabetes can be INCREDIBLY frustrating for people living with diabetes.

I frequently get asked questions along the line of: ‘are you supposed to be eating that?’, ‘do have diabetes because you used to be fat?’. Or statements like; ‘if you stop eating carbs you’ll reverse your diabetes’ or ‘all you have to do is inject insulin!’.

If you get fed up of people’s arrogance about your diabetes, keep reading!

Why do people question you about your condition?

Unfortunately, a lot of people do not fully understand diabetes and will make assumptions based on what they have heard through other sources or the news.

Many people cannot comprehend how much work goes into looking after yourself when living with diabetes, the amount of decisions we have to make everyday, and the fact that there are no days off. We can’t just go on holiday for the day, this is not something to neglect, it’s always there in the background.

Keep reading for my tips on how to channel your frustration…

How to deal with your frustration

  1. Acknowledge that frustration can be a good thing!
  • Feeling annoyed can be a good thing because it shows that you are passionate,
    BUT you must channel your frustration in the correct way.
  • For example, rather than causing an argument, try to educate the person. They are MUCH more likely to listen to you if you speak to them with respect, rather than getting annoyed (I know from personal experience this is hard sometimes!)

2. One of my favourite quotes; ‘don’t listen to people you wouldn’t go to for advise’

  • If the person is not open to learning more about your condition and just wants to be judgemental – it is their problem, not yours.
  • You don’t have to constantly explain yourself. Here is one of my examples – An ex-coworker would ALWAYS make comments to me about how I shouldn’t be eating carbohydrates with my lunch, and if I stopped ‘my diabetes would go away’. At first I would get SO frustrated, but then I eventually released, why am I letting her comments get to me? Its my body, I know what is best for my body and I know for a fact that I am right, and she is wrong. I told her that she needed to read up on diabetes and stop making inappropriate comments.
  • So now every time people make comments to me, I laugh inside. This person has no idea what they are talking about and frankly sounds really stupid.
  • So next time someone makes a ridiculous remark to you about your diabetes, and is not open to educate themselves about diabetes, I want you to take a step back and think. Who is the person that sounds stupid right now? I can tell you for certain it is not you.
  1. Channel your anger into other things
  • Go to the gym, go for a walk, have a relaxing bath, do whatever makes you feel calm because this is beneficial to you. Look after yourself and do something positive for yourself, you deserve it!
  • If you’re feeling really overwhelmed (what we call ‘diabetic burnout’), go and talk to someone you can offload to – even feel free to email me and we can rant together 🙂
  1. Learn 3 phrases
  • This is one of the most useful tools I personally use in situations like these.
  • Learn a couple of phrases that you can use whenever people make comments about your condition.
  1. ‘I have an autoimmune disease which means I have to pay a little more attention to my lifestyle’.
  2. ‘Thank you for your concern, but I know how to carbohydrate count, so it is safe for me to eat this meal.’
  3. ‘There are different types of diabetes, and unfortunately mine cannot be cured/reversed.’
  • Remember that the purpose of these phrases is to help you if you’re feeling anxious and do not know what to say. Don’t feel the need to fully explain yourself all the time. If you are feeling uncomfortable about a topic, tell the person you feel uncomfortable and you would like to speak about something else.

5. Acceptance

  • Not everyone is educated about diabetes, people make assumptions about things they do not understand.
  • Use your time to educate rather than argue, the person might just want to learn what it is like to live with diabetes.
  • We can only make a difference by raising awareness!

6. Seek further help and advice

  • As I said above, if you are really struggling to deal with feeling questioned about your diabetes, please talk to someone. – anyone you are comfortable with.
  • You owe it to yourself, don’t let other people impact your life in such a detrimental way. I did when I was younger and when I eventually spoke up, I released I am not alone. There are SO many people out there who are going through the same problem, and want to help you. Do it for yourself, take that first step.

Thank you so much for reading this blog! Please email me any other useful tips you use when speaking to people about living with diabetes.

Please subscribe and email me any questions or blog requests!

Education on Diabetes

Confused about ‘types’ of diabetes? Here is your diabetes 101

Diabetes is a condition that confuses the vast majority of the population. People never know which type is what, if it can be cured, if it is due to obesity and so on…

There are several types of diabetes, but this blog will be covering Type 1 and Type 2.

The aim for this blog is to help raise awareness and educate people who don’t know a great deal about this condition, and want to learn more.

From a diabetics point of view, the lack of understanding and awareness can be incredibly frustrating (which I will discuss further in next weeks blog!).

There is so much negativity that surrounds diabetes and this can sometimes cause a lot of anxiety for diabetics. I’m really hoping by raising awareness it will prevent people from jumping to conclusions and automatically thinking someone is ‘unhealthy’ just down to the fact that they have diabetes. This is often not the case, so lets look into the different types of diabetes.

What is Type 1 diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune condition, where the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin.
This means the individual cannot control their blood glucose levels without injecting insulin.
This can happen for a number of reasons, including genetic susceptibility and environmental aspects.
For example, certain viruses can ‘confuse’ the immune system, and cause it to attack the pancreas, resulting in Type 1 diabetes .

This is a condition that anyone can get, despite looking completely healthy and having no family history of the condition.

Can Type 1 diabetes be cured?

To clarify, if someone has Type 1 diabetes, it does not mean they are unhealthy, the reason they got diabetes is completely out of their control and it currently cannot be cured.

What is the treatment for Type 1 diabetes?

People with Type 1 diabetes are insulin dependent, and have to inject insulin when carbohydrates are eaten. This is so the body can utilise carbohydrates for energy, and put them into storage.

A very important point to note is that Type 1 diabetics HAVE to eat carbohydrates. If we ‘cut all carbs out’ of our diet like a lot of people think, it will cause hypoglycaemia.
Hypoglycaemia is where the blood does not have enough glucose. This is very serious and can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. Diabetics can experience BOTH high glucose (hyperglycaemia), and low glucose (hypoglycaemia).

Therefore, it is imperative for diabetics to eat a balanced diet, and to inject the correct ratio of insulin for the amount of carbs eaten (this is called carbohydrate counting).

Many factors can impact how much insulin is injected, it varies depending on how much the person has exercised, how many carbohydrates have been eaten, the persons plans after the meal, and even if the person is feeling unwell. There are an endless list of what impacts a diabetics sugar levels, so calculating an insulin dose can be extremely difficult at times.

Type 1 diabetes Statistics

There are currently 400,000 people in the UK living with T1D.

85% of people diagnosed with T1D have no family history of the condition.

Individuals with diabetes will have around 65,000 insulin injections in their lifetime (at least!!).

All of the above are taken from JDRF
https://jdrf.org.uk/information-support/about-type-1-diabetes/facts-and-figures/

What is Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes (T2D) can be caused for a number of reasons. But broadly speaking, Type 2 diabetes is when the body either stops producing insulin and/or cells become insulin resistant.

What is insulin resistance?

This is a term that people love to throw about when talking about diabetes!
Insulin resistance is when insulin receptors can no longer react to insulin.
This can result from a number of factors, such as ethnicity, genetics, obesity, age, chronic stress and a sedentary lifestyle.

When cells become insulin resistant, it means that glucose cannot get inside of cells, meaning it remains in the blood stream, resulting in hyperglycaemia.

Hyperglycaemia is extremely damaging to small blood vessels inside the body, particularly vessels in the eyes, kidneys, feet and nervous system, potentially causing some traumatic long-term complications.

Can Type 2 diabetes be cured?

There is still no scientifically proven cure for Type 2 diabetes, as stated by Diabetes UK, ‘scientists are working on a ground-breaking weight management study, to help put their Type 2 diabetes into remission’.
Read further here:
https://www.diabetes.org.uk/diabetes-the-basics/is-there-a-cure


‘Remission’ is the term used when a Type 2 diabetics sugar levels are back in range again. It does not mean their diabetes has completely gone.

Of course remission is the goal for many Type 2 diabetics, and this can dramatically reduce the risk of getting long-term complications. It is very important to get blood glucose as close to the ‘normal range’ as possible.

How is Type 2 diabetes treated?

The treatments for Type 2 diabetes vary depending on the individual, most newly diagnosed diabetics are advised to alter their diet and increase their exercise. If this is not enough, tablets are given to decrease blood glucose. If this is still not enough to drastically reduce blood glucose, the individual will have to start injecting insulin, the same as Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes Statistics

1 in 10 people over 40 in the UK are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Around 1 million people are living with type 2 diabetes in the UK that haven’t been diagnosed!

Statistics taken from Diabetes UK
https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/new-stats-people-living-with-diabetes

Reducing your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

  1. Keep active! – Try to get a form of exercise in everyday, and lose weight if you are overweight.

2. Eat a balanced diet- Ensure you are eating wholemeal/wholegrain carbohydrates, fruit and/or vegetables, a source of protein and healthy fats with every meal. Avoid eating refined and processed foods everyday.

3. Learn the symptoms of diabetes – The sooner Type 2 diabetes is caught, the easier it is to achieve the ‘remission’ stage. Learn the symptoms by looking at my ‘symptom page’ or on the NHS website.

4. Identify how at risk of Type 2 diabetes you are – If you have family history of Type 2 diabetes, are older, have African-Caribbean, Black African or South Asian descent, or are obese, consider how high your risk is. This enables you to put measures in place to prevent getting Type 2 diabetes as soon as possible.

Thank you so much for reading this blog! I really hope you learned something new, subscribe for more content and let me know what posts and information you would find useful!