Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.

Hey everyone! My name is Pär Zetterberg. I’m 52 years old and currently living in Falkenberg, Sweden. I have Type 1 diabetes for a total of 33 years.

I am Married to Linda. I have 2 children; Erik, 26 years old, and Emmy, 23 years old. I’m a former professional footballer from Sweden. I made my mark as a midfielder during a career that stretched from 1986 to 2006. Many remember me for my time at R.S.C. Anderlecht, but I also had the privilege of playing for other clubs like Falkenbergs FF, Charleroi, and Olympiacos.

I got my diabetes when I was 19 years old. I was always open with the fact I had diabetes. The moment I got diabetes, I was already a professional football player, and I didn’t know if I could continue playing. That was, for me, a big issue. Emotionally, I was crying every day for 2 weeks and asked why this happened to me and to no one else!?

You are as good as a nondiabetic!

Your treatment

How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?

When I got diabetes in 1990, I was treated by Harry Dorschy in Brussels (Belgium), where I was living and playing soccer. He has also been my biggest support for my wife during that period.

I am currently on daily insulin injections using Levemir and Fiasp. Previously I tried Insulatard and Actrapid, but that didn’t work.

When I was diagnosed, everything was new: insulin, blood sugar testing, a new diet, and especially the combination with my sport/job. The best improvement I’ve seen over the years was when I was introduced to the Freestyle Libre CGM. That was a very big step for me in improving my diabetes management.

I am trying the best I can when it comes down to managing my diabetes. I do believe I am doing very well. I’ll try to listen to my body for any signals when something is wrong. After some years, you start to learn how your body reacts to certain things.

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 have a lot of the usual symptoms when I have low blood sugar. I don’t know how often I get them.

I am testing my blood sugar levels very often, and especially when I was introduced to the Freestyle Libre CGM it only helped me more.

To treat a hypo, Dextro Energy! Thanks to those, I never fainted before due to a low blood sugar level.

Food and diet

How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?

I eat what comes to my mind for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Mainly I am trying my best to eat healthy options.

When it comes down to my favorite food, I always go for a spaghetti bolognese. Can’t say no to that!

Whenever I go out to eat at a restaurant, I prefer an Italian restaurant. Love that food. For snacks, I eat when I am hungry. Sometimes I eat a snack, and sometimes not.

I vary my insulin dose depending on how much carbs and what I eat.

When I’m thirsty, I go for plain water or a refreshing Pepsi Max.

I never skip any meals, and I don’t feel that being diabetic or being on a diet feels restrictive.

Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?

I don’t know since I never tried. The way I am living and eating is working for me, so I will stick to that.

Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?

I do not find it hard to eat out. The only problem is when it takes too long between the plates to be served.

“The best advice I can give is that you can still have a good life.

Exercise and work

Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?

Yes, I do sports. I’ll go to the gym, do cross-training, or play Padel.

Par Zetterberg Playing Padel

When it comes down to work, I am not currently working.

Final

Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?

The hardest part of having diabetes is 24/7 always being aware that this is a disease that can change quickly, so always be aware

I can’t share any of the best parts because I haven’t experienced that yet.

Since my diagnosis, I haven’t felt any complications caused by my diabetes.

What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?

Many people say that we have diabetes because we did not take care of what we were eating. Type 1 diabetes has nothing to do with how you lived before, what you were doing or eating.

The best advice I can give is that you can still have a good life, but it is you that can only make that happen, no one else. It is going to be a lifestyle where you are going to learn about yourself. You are as good as a nondiabetic person.

What would you ask the other diabetics?

What do you want to see for the next step we are going to take to win the struggle against diabetes?

Feel free to answer in the comments below.

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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About the Author

Ely Fornoville

Hi, I'm Ely Fornoville, and I am the founder of Diabetic Me. Being a type 1 diabetic since 1996, I developed a passion to help people learn more about diabetes. I write about diabetes and share stories from other diabetics around the world. I currently use a Medtronic Guardian 4 CGM and a MiniMed 780G insulin pump with Humalog insulin.

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