lemon tea served on teacup
Diet, Education on Diabetes

4 Nutrients for Insulin Sensitivity

Here are 4 nutrients that promote insulin sensitivity and blood glucose balance.

Having good insulin sensitivity means glucose can move around the body and be used more efficiently. This reduces your risk of getting type 2 diabetes, and supports your overall health.

* These nutrients ARE NOT ‘cures’ of diabetes, they can be useful in managing glucose levels.

1. Cinnamon

jerk chicken - insulin sensitivity

Cinnamon mimics insulin, meaning receptors are more sensitive and glucose can move into cells easily. This helps to prevent hyperglycaemia as less glucose remains in the bloodstream.

It is really easy to get in your diet, sprinkle some cinnamon powder in your porridge, coffee or on toast. Also use either powder or sticks in your recipes. Cinnamon is delicious in asian dishes, jerk chicken and chilli-con carnie!

2. Chromium

Chromium is a mineral linked to glucose homeostasis in the body. It increases the activity of the enzyme tyrosine-kinase which increases the uptake of glucose into cells.

Broccoli, brazil nuts, apples, potatoes and lean meats are all very high in chromium!

3. Berberine

Berberine is a phytochemical present in many plants. It has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity through receptor activity, as well as regulating the amount of insulin secreted from the pancreas (in non-type 1 diabetics).

Herbs that contain berberine include barberry, goldenseal, Oregon grape and turmeric.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids

chia seeds - insulin sensitivity

Omega-3 fatty acids have been seen to amplify insulin sensitivity. This may be due to its structural role in cell membranes and insulin receptors. Omega-3 is also vital for brain and eye health, as well as reducing inflammation.

Have 3-4 portions of oily fish per week (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring). Vegetarian sources include 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Insulin Resistance and Inflammation and 5 ways to reduce your risk of getting Type 2 diabetes

Recipes

Thai-style Chicken Meatballs!

Here is the full recipe for my Thai chicken meatballs, made with fresh lemon grass and red chilli. The meatballs can be served with noodles, pasta or rice and drizzled with sweet chilli sauce.

This recipe is has great macros which you can see below. Keep reading for the full recipe!

Serves 4

Macros: (chicken meatballs only)

Calories: 233
Carbohydrates: 19g
of which sugars: 7g
Fibre: 1g
Protein: 30g
Fat: 5g

Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken breast mince
  • 1 small red chilli (finely chopped)
  • 1 stalk fresh lemon grass (finely chopped)
  • 5 spring onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 30g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn flour
  • 4 tbsp fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • 4 tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • Black pepper

Method:

1.Gently heat the sugar and fish sauce in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and stir in the lemon grass and red chilli. Let it cool for around 10 minutes.

2. Next, stir the sauce, spring onions, cornflour, coriander and black pepper into the chicken mince.

chicken mince - chicken meatballs

3. Lightly cover your hands with flour and shape the mixture into balls. Place them on a plate (it should make around 20 meatballs).

4. Put the meatballs in the fridge for around 30 minutes.

5. Next, gently heat some olive oil in a frying pan . Fry the meatballs for around 15 minutes, turning them so they cook evenly.

6. Once the meatballs are cooked, serve them up with your choice of carb, drizzle with sweet chilli sauce and some extra coriander.

7. Next, enjoy 🙂

chicken meatballs

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Turkey Burger recipe and Jamie Oliver’s Jerk Chicken Recipe

scrabble tiles surrounded by white flowers on a marbled surface
Diet, Education on Diabetes

The Keto Diet 101

The Keto Diet is very popular at the moment, with people trying it for quick weight loss or the management of different diseases.

There is lots to know about this diet so I am writing multiple posts to provide you with everything you need to know!

What is the Keto Diet

avocado - keto diet

The Keto Diet is when fat is the main food group consumed. Roughly 75% of calories consumed are from fat, 20% from protein, and only 5% from carbohydrates.

After a few days of eating keto, our body enters a state called ketosis. Ketosis is when our body is using fat as our main energy source, rather than carbohydrates. We begin to use ketones rather than glucose at a cellular level.

Our body also increases gluconeogeneis, which is when glucose is created from other sources (such as fat and protein).

Most people experience some symptoms for the first few days of eating keto. This can include fatigue, brain fog, cravings and GI symptoms. This is important to know if try eating keto.

Potential benefits

  • Weight loss – eating keto can cause rapid weight loss. This is because we carry less water when we consume less carbohydrates. Furthermore, the body starts to use up our fat stores for energy.
  • Increasing brain function – The brain can use ketones more efficiently which can decrease brain fog, fatigue and increase concentration for some people.
  • Management of some diseases – Research has shown the keto diet can help to manage childhood epilepsy and type 2 diabetes (more to come on this on another post). Some research has also demonstrated benefits in some cancers, but more research is needed for us to know for sure.

Potential cons

restaurants - keto diet
  • Nutritional deficiencies – Removing carbohydrates for a long time can result in B vitamin and fibre deficiency. This can cause problems such as fatigue, brain fog, constipation, some skin conditions and many more.
  • Increasing ‘bad’ cholesterol – Some people turn to consuming more red meat and processed foods. These foods can increase our LDL cholesterol, potentially increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease.
  • Impacting kidney function, bone density and potentially increasing the risk of some cancers – This is also linked to food choices when eating keto. Eating a lot of processed foods and meats can be very detrimental to our health.
  • It’s hard to follow – It obviously takes a lot of will power to consistently eat keto. It can also limit socialising as most restaurants do not cater for the keto diet.
  • It’s not for everyone – There are people who swear by it, but not everyone feels the benefits of keto! No diet is a miracle cure for everyone, always remember that.

Before making any drastic decisions about your diet, always talk to a nutritionist and/or doctor. They will help you to weigh the pros and cons, and to ultimately make the best decision for your health.

Thank you for reading my Keto Diet 101, keep an eye out for more posts about this topic! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Diabulimia 101! and Insulin Resistance and Inflammation

Recipes

3 Delicious Summer Dips!

Here are 3 delicious dips that are perfect for summer! The red pepper hummus, beetroot guacamole and salsa verde are all super easy to make, and will impress your summer party and BBQ guests!

The macros for all dips are listed below, the red pepper hummus, beetroot guacamole and salsa verde provide different colours and different essential nutrients to keep your diet varied!

Estimated macros per portions:

Red pepper hummus:

Calories: 75
Carbohydrates:
5g
of which sugars:
1g
Fibre:
1.5g
Fat:
5.5g
Protein:
2g

Beetroot guacamole:

Calories: 63
Carbohydrates:
7g
of which sugars:
3g
Fibre:
3g
Fat:
4g
Protein:
2g

Salsa Verde:

Calories: 63
Carbohydrates:
0g
of which sugars: 0g
Fibre: 0g
Fat: 7g
Protein: 0g

Ingredients:

Red pepper hummus:

  • 1 can cooked chickpeas
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers (either jarred or pre-roast them yourself)
  • 60ml tahini
  • Juice 2 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp either extra virgin olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2-3 tbsp water
  • Salt and pepper
3 summer dips ingredients

Beetroot guacamole:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 80g marinated beetroot
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 spring onion
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch coriander
  • Olive oil if needed
  • Salt and pepper

Salsa Verde:

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 lunch fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil

Methods:

Red pepper hummus:

1.Add the tahini and lemon juice to the blender and blitz until it whips.

2. Next, add the oil, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper to the tahini mix. Blend for another 30 seconds.

3. Open, drain and rinse the chickpeas then add half to the blender. Blend for around 1 minute, then add the remaining chickpeas along with the roasted red peppers.

chickpeas - 3 summer dips

4. Blend for another minute or so, add olive oil to loosen the mixture if necessary.

5. Next, enjoy!

red pepper hummus

Beetroot guacamole:

1.Scoop the avocado and place in the blender with the coriander, lime juice, tomatoes, spring onion, beetroot, salt and pepper.

2. Blend until smooth, if it is lumpy add some olive oil to add more liquid.

3. Next, enjoy!

Beetroot guacamole

Salsa Verde:

1.Put the capers in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let this sit for 1 minute to remove some excess salt.

2. Next, put the mint, parsley, capers, mustard, olive oil, garlic and apple cider vinegar in a blender. Blitz until roughly chopped and combined.

salsa verde

Thank you for reading my 3 Delicious Summer Dips! Give them all a go, they are delicious! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post be sure to check out my My tasty 5 minute salad and Peri-Peri chicken recipe

3 summer dips
woman sleeping
Education on Diabetes, Top Tips

The Morning Phenomenon

Some people living with diabetes struggle with the morning phenomenon (AKA – high blood sugars in the morning). This can be confusing as we don’t expect our sugars to rise when we are sleeping and not eating.

There are a couple of different causes of the morning phenomenon, so here is everything you need to know, as well as how you can help to prevent it!

Hormones

morning phenomenon

In the morning the body secretes cortisol and growth hormone. Both hormones cause blood sugar levels to rise to give us enough energy to wake up. Of course people living with diabetes either cannot make insulin, or have insulin resistance. Therefore too much sugar remains in the blood.

Morning spikes can cause fatigue as it interrupts energy delivery, so it is something we really want to prevent.

The best way to combat this is to look at your basal insulin. Take a look at your dose with your doctor and they can help to recommend a different dose, or perhaps a better time to take your basal insulin.

Waning insulin

Another cause of the morning phenomenon is not having enough insulin in your blood to last the whole night. Of course this will result with higher sugar levels.

Again, taking a look at your basal insulin is the best place to start. If you take your basal in the morning it may not last until the following morning. You and your team may decide to increase your basal dose, or even consider basal splitting. This is when you take the basal in divided doses so you have enough background insulin 24/7.

The Somogyi effect

hypo snack - morning phenomenon

The Somogyi effect is when a low blood sugar in the night causes a rebound high blood sugar. The body is overcompensating for the low blood sugar, and releases too much sugar into the blood.

The best way to prevent the Somogyi effect is to prevent the hypo in the first place. So make sure you eat enough carbs with your evening meal and try to limit exercise late at night. Always check your sugars before going to sleep, and I advise having a snack if you are below 5.0mmol/L.

My final tip is to have a portioned hypo snack by your bedside. This will prevent you over-treating a hypo during the night.

Thank you for reading the Morning Phenomenon, I hope this was useful! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Exam stress and sugar levels and Summer travelling tips


Recipes

Healthy Cheesecake Recipe!

Here is my healthy cheesecake recipe which is the perfect summer dessert! Be sure to give this super easy recipe a go!

Serves 14

Macros:

Calories: 296
Carbohydrates: 21g
of which sugars: 8.5g
Fibre: 1.3g
Protein: 3.5g
Fat: 19g

Ingredients:

cheesecake ingredients
  • 250g GF Nairn’s chocolate chip biscuits
  • 100g coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 400g mascarpone cream cheese
  • 200g greek yogurt
  • 250g Oatly whippable creamy oat
  • 5 tablespoons organic honey
  • Strawberries for the top

Method:

1.Use coconut oil to grease the bottom of you1r loose-bottom tin. Next, place the Nairn’s biscuits and pulse until they resemble crumbs.

2. Pour the crumbs into a bowl with the melted coconut oil and stir until combined. Tip this mixture into the tin and use a spoon to press it down to form a firm base layer.

cheesecake base

3. Next, place the cream cheese, yogurt, vanilla and honey into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the whippable creamy oat and continue beating the mixture until it is combined and smooth.

4. Pour the mixture on top of the base and smooth over with a spoon.

5. Chop up the strawberries and decorate the top of the cheesecake.

6. Leave the cheesecake to set for at least 6 hours (overnight is ideal!)

7. Next, enjoy! 🙂

cheesecake

Thank you for reading my Healthy cheesecake recipe! Be sure to subscribe and follow us on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out my Strawberry jam cake recipe and my Apple and Blackberry Crumble

strong shirtless sportsman jogging on bright day
Education on Diabetes, Fitness

Cardio and sugar levels

Cardio based workouts can be really difficult when living with type 1 diabetes, particularly when you are new to this type of exercise.

Here is some useful information and my tips on how to exercise safely.

What to expect

cycling cardio

Aerobic exercise tends to be less intense with a longer duration. Examples include walking, running, cycling and swimming.

Due to the nature of cardio, it can result in sudden sugar level drops and hypo’s. Therefore, we need to use different tactics when managing glucose levels.

*If you are vigorously exercising a muscle group that you have recently injected in, this can cause rapid insulin absorption and very rapid hypo’s. This is a useful tip to consider when preparing to exercise.

Preventing and dealing with drops

1. Check sugar levels before this allows you to predict and correct hypo’s before they happen. Use your own judgement as to whether you need a snack – remember you know your diabetes best! If you are under 4.5mmol/L I would suggest waiting until your levels come up a bit before starting.

2. Check during your workout – For most people 25-30 minutes of moderate exercise can cause blood sugar to lower. Therefore I would recommend checking every 15-20 minutes, or more frequently if you are exercising at a higher intensity.

juice shots - cardio

3. Carry a snack at all times – Being prepared is vital to prevent hypo’s during your workout. I like to carry juice shots or oat bars when I am walking or running. This means I can quickly correct my sugars before they get too low, and it means I can continue with my workout.

4. Keep an eye out for delayed hypo’s – blood sugar levels can drop for up to 48 hours after a cardio based workout. Therefore it is essential you eat enough carbs and think about adjusting subsequent insulin doses to prevent this. Again, always keep a snack with you and beside the bed in case you need it during the night.

This pretty much sums up the importance of continuous glucose monitoring, especially when working with cardio workouts.

It will get better with experience

The more you repeat cardio based activity, the more experience you gain. Trial and error allows us to see sugar level trends which makes sugar level prediction easier in the future.

Don’t give up, it is worth finding what insulin ratios, exercise types and snacks work best for you!

Thank you for reading Cardio and type 1 diabetes! I hope this helps, be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Bulking with type 1 diabetes and Tips on losing weight with diabetes

Recipes

Jamie Oliver’s Jerk Chicken Recipe

Here is Jamie Oliver’s Jerk Chicken recipe, it is delicious and perfect for the summer season. If you like fresh, spicy and zingy dishes, this is perfect for you.

Serves 4

Macros: (approx)

Calories: 673
Carbohydrates: 86g
of which sugars: 16g
Fibre: 6g
Protein: 53g
Fat: 13g

Ingredients:

Chicken

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • tablespoon runny honey
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • a few sprigs of fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Rice and beans

  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 250g long-grain rice
  • 600ml organic chicken stock
  • 400g carton of black beans

Jerk sauce

  • 4 spring onions
  • a small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 6 tablespoons golden rum
  • 6 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 1 Scotch bonnet chilli
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Yogurt

  • 250g pot of natural yoghurt
  • a few sprigs of fresh coriander
  • 1 lime

Method:

1. TO START – Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Fill and boil the kettle. Put a large griddle pan and a large saucepan on a high heat. Turn the oven on to 220°C/425°F/gas 7.

2. CHICKEN – Put the chicken breasts on a plastic board and halve each one, leaving them joined at the top of the breast. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then rub all over both sides of the chicken. Put into the hot griddle pan, skin side down, and leave to cook. Clear away the board and wash the knife and your hands.

3. CORN – Put the corn into the saucepan with a good pinch of salt and cover with boiling water. Put the lid on.

4. JERK SAUCE – Trim and roughly chop the onions and put into the blender with the leaves from most of the bunch of thyme, 3 bay leaves (stalks removed), ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice, 6 tablespoons each of rum and vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of salt. Remove the stalks and seeds from the chilli and add the chilli to the blender, then quickly crush in 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic and blitz with the lid on until you have a really smooth paste. Add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to loosen, if needed.

5. CHICKEN – The undersides should be golden now, so turn the chicken over. Pour the jerk sauce into a snug-fitting baking dish and use tongs to lay the chicken on top, skin side up. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of runny honey and scatter over a few sprigs of rosemary and the remaining thyme sprigs. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Carefully pour away the oil from the griddle pan and wipe clean with kitchen paper, then put back on a high heat.

6. RICE & BEANS – Put a large wide saucepan with a lid on a medium heat. Trim and finely slice the spring onions and put in the saucepan with the cinnamon stick, a good lug of olive oil and a big pinch of salt & pepper. Stir and let soften for a minute or so, then add the rice and chicken stock. Drain and rinse the beans, then add to the pan. Stir gently. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium heat. Pop the lid on and leave for 12 minutes.

rice and beans with jerk chicken

7. YOGHURT – Tip the yoghurt into a small serving bowl. Finely chop a few sprigs of coriander and add to the bowl with a pinch of salt and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil. Finely grate over the zest of 1/2 the lime and squeeze in the juice. Stir in, then take to the table with the other lime half for squeezing over.

8. CORN – Use tongs to move the corn to the hot griddle pan and drizzle over a little olive oil. Cook and turn frequently until charred. Once ready, put on a platter and take to the table.

corn with jerk chicken

9. RICE & BEANS – Take the lid off the rice after 12 minutes and give it a stir. All the liquid should have been absorbed. Taste and correct the seasoning if need be, then take to the table.

10. TO SERVE – Take the chicken out of the oven, sprinkle over some coriander leaves and take straight to the table. When serving, spoon over the jerk sauce from the bottom of the baking dish.

jerk chicken

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If you liked this post, be sure to check out Peri-Peri chicken recipe and Turkey Burger recipe

Recipes

My tasty 5 minute salad

Here is my super quick and easy 5 minute salad. This recipe is perfect if you need to make a healthy lunch to take anywhere with you!

My 5 minute salad is high in fibre, protein and good fats which will help keep you full. You can add any source of carbohydrates you fancy to make the meal balanced.

I like to have some oat crackers on the side with hummus.
*this is not included in the macros.

Serves 1

Macros:

Calories: 378
Carbohydrates: 32g
of which sugars: 17g
Fibre: 10g
Protein: 17g
Fat: 23g

Ingredients:

5 minute salad ingredients
  • Handful iceberg lettuce
  • Handful spinach
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1/2 courgette or cucumber
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • Handful purple cabbage
  • 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 sprays of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp organic honey
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 5 walnuts
  • Coriander for garnish

Method:

1. First, wash all of your salad ingredients.

2. Next, peel the carrot and get rid of the outer peel. Use the peeler to create carrot and courgette ribbons for your salad and set aside.

3. Chop celery, cherry tomatoes, purple cabbage and coriander for garnish.

4. Combine the spinach, iceberg lettuce, celery, tomatoes, cabbage, carrot and courgette in your bowl or container. Add the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts, and mix the salad together.

5. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, oregano, garlic powder and honey.

6. Toss the dressing into the salad and garnish with fresh coriander.

7. Next, enjoy! 🙂

5 minute salad

Thank you for ready my 5 tasty minute salad, make sure you give this a try and let me know how it goes! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post be sure to check out my 5 minute breakfast oats and 5 Minute Healthy Chocolate Dessert!

Education on Diabetes

The FreeStyle Libre 3?!

Abbott are officially launching the FreeStyle Libre 3 which is more than exciting, it is life changing.

Keep reading for all of the details on the Libre 3!

The difference between the Libre 2 and 3

There are a few differences between the Libre 2 and 3.

The first difference is the 3 will be the smallest and thinnest glucose monitoring system in the world.

FreeStyle Libre graph - Libre 3

Another update is the continuous real-time glucose reading feature. This means the Libre will automatically send glucose readings every minute to the reading device.

The final update Abbott have stated is the Libre 3 will have a one piece applicator making the application process smoother for users.

The changes makes living with diabetes more discrete and glucose control more efficient. how exciting!

As well as the incredible updates to the system, the Libre 3 also upholds the 14 day glucose accuracy, as well as high and low glucose alarms.

Access to the FreeStyle Libre 3

Abbott have been able to create the Libre 3 at the same price as the previous Libre generations.

Libre 3 cost

This is fantastic news because it increases the accessibility to advancing diabetes technology.

This means here in the UK, the NHS should have no problem funding the Libre 3 because it is exactly the same price as the Libre 2.

I hope this post gets you excited, the work achieved by Abbott is incredible and shows how advancing tech is easing the burden of living with diabetes. We are hoping the Libre 3 will be available in Europe in 2022 or during 2023.

Thank you for reading The FreeStyle Libre 3! Be sure to subscribe and follow me on Instagram!

If you liked this post, be sure to check out Diabetes technology 101! and 10 facts about Type 1 diabetes!