Rating my food?

I’m not usually one for using coupons, let alone food rating systems, when I’m in a grocery store. I really just want to get in and out as fast as I can, especially since without fail I am always there at “rush hour.” I have perfected the art of self-scan (although the recorded lady still yells at me sometimes); I bag my own groceries; and I’m good to go.

There are, however, several food rating systems out there, and different ones are available at different stores. I do think it’s cool that we can get (hopefully) objective feedback on which chips are slightly more healthy than others (if we are into chips). You never know, I just might try this rating thing sometime. I probably wouldn’t go to a restaurant that got a bad rating, so it might work as a deterrent for less healthy food items too.

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Being truthful to ourselves…and others

One of the things we discuss frequently in the graduate program where I teach is creating a trusting environment where people with diabetes feel comfortable sharing openly and honestly with their care providers.

At the same time it’s crucial that people with diabetes are forthright with their providers about their eating, exercise, medication-taking, and other lifestyle habits. I am always very impressed with people who sit across from me in a diabetes education visit and say, “I’ll be honest…(fill in the blank regarding food choices, exercise, smoking, etc.).” I’m impressed because, let’s face it, if people aren’t honest it’s really not a good use of anyone’s time. Yet it can be scary to open up about what’s actually happening in our diabetes lives – it makes us vulnerable.

It’s important to share openly in order to receive the best and most individualized care possible. This article discusses another reason why it’s important to be honest with ourselves and our health care providers: it just might contribute to recommendations for larger populations of people down the road!

People with diabetes: please share openly with your providers. Diabetes educators and other care providers: please listen respectfully and do not judge; use the information to help people. Thanks!

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diabetes smells

The other night we were putting up Halloween decorations and we needed small nails. I was looking on shelves in the garage, digging through former peanut butter containers that now contain various hardware-type gadgets, without any luck. At one point my daughter, who had joined in the search, came over to me, thrust a peanut butter “jar” (it’s plastic, not glass, so does that still count as a “jar”?) and said, “Does this smell like insulin to you?”

Yes, I did stick my nose in that “jar” and yes, it definitely smelled like insulin. The following questions came out of that experience: 1) What was in that “jar” that smelled? 2) Why does insulin smell? and 3) How does my daughter know what insulin smells like?

It never ceases to amaze me that my kids pick up on random diabetes things like how insulin smells. I’m sorry they even have to experience that. But thanks for paying attention! Hopefully they were also paying attention when I explained that when I take my fast-acting insulin I need to eat within a certain amount of time (as opposed to answering questions, helping with homework, or some other distraction that always seems to happen when I’ve just taken meal-time insulin). Anyway, kids are amazing. And kids of parents with diabetes just happen to be extra cool.

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Education, not panic

I just received an excellent article on Ebola from one of my alma maters. I love the title: “Public education, not panic, best approach to Ebola crisis.” Isn’t this true for anything?

Yesterday I tried to allay my son’s fears when he expressed his grave concerns about the Ebola situation. Unfortunately, I think the panic has infiltrated his system.

I’m sticking with thoughts like this one from the article: “…constantly sharing accurate and trustworthy information…” is a better approach than panic. And I am also taking this opportunity to spread the word about what we can do to prevent illnesses that are more common, and for people with diabetes can be as devastating, such as flu and pneumonia.

What’s more, panic triggers the fight or flight response, which raises blood glucose. Instead let’s stay educated and stay healthy! 

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Family Meals

There is data showing that eating meals together as a family during adolescence can protect adults from becoming overweight later in life. My ears perk up when I hear about something simple that can be life-changing.

My family always ate meals together. To the point where when I was an adolescent I had some frustrating moments with my mother. I would ask to go out (for fast food, of course) after a game or event, and she would say no. But I will tell you that when I got to college, and had one of those nights when I had to run to the cafeteria and eat by myself because no one else was available, I was always grateful for (and missed terribly) those family meals.

Eating meals with family may not be an option for some adolescents out there, so those of us who do the family meal thing with our kids may need to take some others under our wings. Family meals are important on so many levels and now we have some evidence that they may even benefit our kids’ health.

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fitness trackers and diabetes

I see a lot of “talk” about fitness trackers, mobile apps, etc. I wrote about the 7-minute Workout once, and while I do like the concept and will use it in certain circumstances, it’s not something I look at very often. I even used mapmyrun a few times this summer. While I recognize the value of these tools, I know what works for me, I tweak it every so often, and I focus on living life and fitting diabetes into it (not the other way around).

For a while now I’ve been under the impression that more people use these tools than actually do.

It’s OK if you use extra, fancy devices to monitor or supplement your diabetes management. It’s also OK if you don’t. It’s great to have options and one day an option will come along and knock our socks off. And then another day we won’t need any of these options. So once again thanks to those who work on cool technology for diabetes, and those who are focused on a cure. Meanwhile the rest of us can go about enjoying life!

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diabetes innovation…again

I am once again humbled, amazed, inspired, and impressed with what people with diabetes are doing to help people with diabetes. Not that this doesn’t happen just about every day, but here is the latest. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with Sara Krugman this morning (live from Copenhagen); she and her team are doing some awesome work that is sure to help many.

Oh, and I especially love the mouse-driven squiggly line. Nice touch!!

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Are we teaching dependence?

I am overwhelmed by all the options available to people with diabetes. Yes, we can always ask for more and better, but what we have now and what is in the pipeline are pretty impressive. Kids and families who are diagnosed today don’t even realize what people with diabetes had to work with in the “early days.” They might be appalled if they knew!

But what about things like Apple’s new HealthKit and cloud-based meters? While I believe there’s an important place for these tools, are we teaching dependence? As long as kids with type 1 are being taught how to detect low blood glucose (and treat it and then how to prevent it), I’m ok with the new-fangled stuff. Kids and adults with diabetes still need to focus on being or becoming independent in their care so that they can get on with life and living well.

We’ve come a long way in sending a message of fitting diabetes into life and not life into diabetes. Hopefully technology can help us continue on that path.

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Age and duration of diabetes

I’m definitely not getting any younger, and every day I’ve had diabetes a day longer. So when I just saw an article titled, “Age, diabetes duration increases risk for macrovascular complications,” I was not uplifted.

Living well with diabetes for almost 40 years is a big deal for me. I’m definitely proud of where I am. Seeing articles like that might give me pause for a few seconds, but then my head goes to this place: attitude is everything. Call me crazy, but I firmly believe that my attitude is more important than how long I’ve had diabetes or how old I am.

It would be easy to let words get me down (isn’t that a song?), but I just can’t give in to that. I’ve got too much to do. So rather than whine about it, I will think of myself as wine: with age and duration it just gets better.

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diabetes is small

Today is the anniversary of one of the United States’ biggest events in history. It’s hard (if not impossible) to get through September 11th without remembering where we were, or what we were doing, or how we were feeling….when terrorists attacked our safe, peaceful country. A guy I went to high school with died. So did many, many others. And families were broken and scared and will never be the same.

As I remember and honor today, I have to say that diabetes feels very, very small. I wonder how I could complain about a low blood glucose interrupting my day, or the challenge of eating less and exercising more. Days like today give me perspective – not just about diabetes, but about life in general. It’s pretty precious.

Thirteen years ago I was holding my one-year-old baby boy. Now I have two adolescent kids. And diabetes. And the diabetes is pretty small.

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