Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.Hey everyone! My name is Daria Arofikina. I’m 21 years old and currently living in United Kingdom. I have Type 1 diabetes for a total of 16 years.I am a type 1 diabetic blogger, a content creator, writer, personal trainer and in the process of becoming a Nutritionist. The aim of everything I do is to prove that type 1 diabetics can live life to the full, eat what they love, and have good control of the condition. I do this by encouraging T1s to learn to manage the foods they love with better lifestyle and nutrition choices. I promote a balanced lifestyle, where there is space for both health and tasty pleasures.
My parents did a very good job in supporting me and helping me manage my T1D as a child and growing up. They allowed me to be myself and do whatever I wanted. I completely took over my care at the age of 13, as I moved to boarding school. I wasn’t great at it and my A1C went up, but I still did everything that I was supposed to do, without getting into detail. Only in my second year of university, I really started learning and taking good control of myself.
I never really discussed the burden my diagnosis had on my family in detail, but I would guess it was very emotional for them in the beginning.
“You will figure this out. You are not alone.”
How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?I have a great doctor, but apart from that I feel that my nurses and the rest of the team are not of great help. I know myself much better than all of them do, as I have a really good grasp on my blood sugars.
I use the FGM- Freestyle Libre 1, and insulin pens wit Levemir (x2 daily) and Fiasp (meals and corrections) insulin. I am hoping to switch to a CGM soon, if all goes well. I have used Lantus for most of my childhood and teens. I tried Toujeo for a couple weeks, which did not go well. Have used both Humalog and Novorapid for extended periods of time.
A lot has changed of the last years, and especially the appearance and availability of tools such as CGMs and insulin pumps, and now the IQ basal systems. It is all very promising! The FGM has really changed how I manage my blood sugar and taught me to see trends, and avoid BG spikes. I have considered the insulin pump, but am currently happy with daily injections and do not see a need to change over at this time.
I think I pretty close to perfect manage my diabetes, but we all have those bad days. I put a lot of effort into my management and have developed a good discipline around my food choices, exercise and daily routine.
Can you recognize the symptoms of a low/high blood sugar? Do you test often and can you tell a bit more about your experiences with low blood sugar?Yes, I can recognize them. I struggle to concentrate, vision becomes slightly blurred, my lips can get numb, might sweat, etc. The symptoms come in various combinations and vary from time to time.
I scan my CGM 15 to 22 times a day, just to see where my levels are and what direction they are going. This is in order to prevent them from going high or low, before they get there.
To treat my low blood sugars I eat glucose tablets or Starburst gummies.
I don’t faint anymore now from a low blood sugar, but I have multiple times in my child years. Experiences that were very scary for everyone around, something I would not want to experience again.
Food and diet
How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?For breakfast I eat oatmeal, always. Check out my Instagram @t1level_daria for some oatmeal inspiration. My lunches vary depending on where I am and what I am planning to do, but they always include a lot of vegetables. Dinner is a huge salad bowl and a dessert yoghurt bowl (I fill it with my baking, chocolate and protein bars), you can also check these out on my Instagram stories!
I love oatmeal. So beautiful and versatile! I love brunch (I do not drink though)! I also love places where you can build your own salad, such a game-changer! I never skip any meals. I am not a snacker, so I don’t unless I am treating a hypo.
I vary my insulin intake based on what I eat. I don’t do set doses, because they allow no flexibility. I sort of use carb ratios, but those I also adjust depending on the food I eat. You can only have good blood sugars, if you know how to match your food with insulin and how to time it correctly too.
I drink about 5 liters of water a day, haha! Just carry water with me throughout the day! I will often add sugar free squash to add some flavour.
I don’t diet, and don’t think anyone should. Diet mentality is restrictive and only a small number of people do not feel like bingeing after or on weekends!
I don’t get annoyed when people ask me about food I can or can’t eat. You can’t expect people to know everything about type 1 diabetes, just as I don’t know about other conditions, they won’t know about type 1.
Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?I do believe that eating more plants is very helpful for T1D management. I eat mostly plant-based (or more like vegetarian) myself. However, if you do not use insulin correctly, then what you eat does not matter that much. Learn to dose and time your insulin, then your blood sugar levels will be a tonne better!
Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?I used to. I would recommend pre-bolusing and going for a lower-carb option.
“Stop being afraid!”
Exercise and work
Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?I exercise 5 to 6 times a week.
I am currently studying and working freelance. I doesn’t affect my diabetes much. My job does allow the freedom I need to control my diabetes well. You learn more about my freelance work at t1leveldaria.com.
Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?To manage my diabetes better I walk a lot and try to move as much as possible. This helps with my insulin sensitivity.
Mentally can be hard to pre-bolus, fight the fear or hypos. It is also important to do the best to control you emotions and not expose others to your mood swings when you are high/low.
The best part of having diabetes is the sense of purpose to help others that it has given me and the drive that it has brought into my life to help T1Ds learn to manage their blood sugars. And also, the discipline and self-control that it has given me.
What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?We can do and eat everything, but we may need a bit of support and a little bit of patience from their side.
You will figure this out. You are not alone. Get in touch with the T1D community and find friends to help you on your way.
Stop being afraid! Of insulin, of hypos, of highs! Fear is the worst enemy! You can treat both highs and hypos, so do not be afraid of doing so properly!
What would you ask the other diabetics?What is the healthcare in your country like? How do you get your medication?Feel free to answer in the comments below.
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