Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.
I’m an Australian registered dietitian living with MODY diabetes who loves a good brunch and beach run. I have a twin sister (who doesn’t have diabetes) which has taught me not to compare myself to others.
I was diagnosed at 7 years old and am grateful that I am able to manage my diabetes through diet and exercise. However, being diagnosed with a rare form of diabetes did come with its ups and downs. Since MODY is so rare, I often found that many medical professionals didn’t know what it was and initially I found it quite hard to trust in my healthcare team. Now, I have built great relationships with my healthcare team and am in a very stable place with my diabetes management.
I am so grateful that Diabetes has lead me to my curiosity for how food affects my blood glucose level. Which in turn lead me to studying dietetics and finding a career that I’m passionate about and love!
“I have a twin sister who doesn’t have diabetes but is super supportive with my diabetes management.”
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 relationship with my medical team and general practitioner who guide me through all my medical decisions. My mother also has diabetes and so we have always been there to support each other (and remind each other our appointments).
I don’t use any medication or insulin and instead am able to manage my MODY diabetes through diet and exercise. However my medical team suggest likely I will need medications/insulin at some point in the future.
Me & my twin sister.
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?
Sometimes when my blood glucose levels are off I feel lightheaded, have poor concentration and get shaky. When this happens I know to check my blood glucose levels straight away. However, I’m grateful that this rarely happens.
From a day-to-day basis, I test my blood sugar twice a week as guided by my medical team.
Food and diet
How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?
I eat intuitively, meaning that most days are different from each other but today I had a breakfast yogurt bowl and coffee, for lunch I had a chicken and rice buddha bowl, for dinner I had pesto chicken pasta and I ended the night with hot chocolate and some of my sister’s Anzac cookies. Chocolate is a non-negotiable for me and usually ends up in my day at some point haha.
I do not follow any “diet”, I just listen to my body, what it wants and needs. Having diabetes means that I also need to incorporate gentle nutrition principles such as spreading out my carbohydrates throughout the day to help manage my blood glucose levels.
People often comment on my diet and try to give advice on what they think I should be eating. I understand this usually comes from a nice place but it often frustrates me. One time I even had someone tell me that I shouldn’t be eating any fruit! I’m so appreciative for an incredible health care team who guide me through my diabetes management and help me manage some of these challenges.”
Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?
I eat intuitively and do not follow any ”diet”. However, if I were to categorise my meals would likely fall within plant based, Mediterranean style (without any strict rules or restrictions).
Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?
No. I love eating out with friends!
“Your diabetes does not define you!”
Exercise and work
Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?
No it does not restrict me. I do marathon running, weight training, netball and boxing. As well as pursuing my career as a dietitian.
Working at the hospital as a student dietitian.
Me with my dietitian friends.
Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?
A big challenge is managing other people’s opinions on how I should manage my diabetes. People are often trying to make comments on how I “should be eating” as someone with diabetes. However I know this often comes from a kind place.
On the other hand, the best part is being able to relate to patients and help others with their diabetes management. I am so passionate about helping others manage their diabetes and love that I have found a career where I am able to do exactly that!
What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?
For newly diagnosed people, just remember that diabetes can be challenging but diabetes does not define you.
If you are someone without diabetes, instead of commenting on what someone “should” eat or do, why not become curious and ask questions instead. You will most likely find that we love talking about our diabetes and answering any questions you have.
Want to publish your own story?
Hey! I'm Ely Fornoville, the founder of Diabetic & Me.
We interview people with diabetes and share the stories behind their lives.
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