Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.
This is my tenth year of diabetes but for many of those, I was in complete denial about my diagnosis.
No one in my family has diabetes and nor did my friends at the time, which left me feeling quite alone and like I didn’t have anyone who understood what I was going through.
After much self discovery, trial and error with different diets and daily life practices, I made the decision to shift to a mostly plant based and whole foods diet.
I am now feeling better than I ever have with a HbA1c of 5.8% (that of a pre-diabetic), so I feel compelled to share my ‘lived experience’ through my ‘The Plant-Based Diabetic’ Instagram page in hope it might inspire or support someone else on their journey.
My mission is to create a safe space and community for like-minded diabetics, to share our experiences and know we’re not alone.
Thank you for being here, let’s do this together 💜✨
I was diagnosed unexpectedly at age 18. Yes, I was embarrassed and ashamed of my diabetes for several years because I didn’t want people to think I was ‘needy’ or that there was something ‘unattractive’ or ‘wrong’ with me.
My family and I didn’t know much about diabetes when I was first diagnosed, so it was a very emotional, confusing transition. I pretended I didn’t have it for many years which frustrated my family and doctors who would pressure me to take it more seriously. However, I knew that wasn’t going to happen unless I was making the decision for myself. About 2-3 years ago, I started doing a lot of self-healing which allowed me to address the emotional trauma and insecurities I felt around my condition. After much trial and error and self-education, I found peace and gratitude with my diabetes because I realised it encourages me to pay closer attention to the health decisions I make for myself, and as a result, I am now living a much happier and healthier lifestyle. I feel great!
“Yes, I was embarrassed and ashamed of my diabetes for several years.”
How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?
I get support from an endocrinologist that I see every 3-4 months, however I’ve never felt fully supported or like an individual when it comes to my diabetes doctors. I now prefer to self-educate, and talk to other like-minded diabetics.
To treat my diabetes I use an insulin pump with Novorapid insulin and a CGM. Before I used Lantus insulin.
A lot has changed but as I mentioned before, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. Some positive and some negative. Now, I have reached a place of content, peace and gratitude with my diabetes. I can see how it influences me to take a positive health conscious approach to my life.
I believe I manage my diabetes very well with a current HbA1c of 5.8%.
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. When my blood sugars are increasing, my brain starts to feel congested and foggy. My mood becomes irritable and easily frustrated. When my blood sugars are dropping, I become ‘starving’, weak and anxious.
I test my blood sugar around 3 to 4 times.
A can of coca-cola is my preferred method to treat my low blood sugars.
I’ve fainted a couple of times in my life but this was shortly just before I was diagnosed. I’m guessing that was one of the symptoms/signs of my forthcoming diagnosis. Since being diagnosed I haven’t fainted from a hypo. Although I become extremely weak and tired.
Food and diet
How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?
I usually intermittent fast between 8pm and 12pm. For lunchI usually eat tofu scramble on wholemeal toast with avocado, mushroom, onion and flax seeds. For dinner I eat quinoa/brown rice, vegetables, tofu/tempeh, lentils or chick peas. Sometimes I skip meals. My favorite food are lentils, bread and tempeh, poke bowls, burritos, pizza, dumplings but my favorite places to eat are plant-based restaurants. Too many to name.
For snacks I prefer to eat bananas, celery juice, almonds, berry smoothie, dry crackers and hummus.
I vary my insulin dose when I eat something. Thankfully my insulin pump is set up to adjust my insulin dosage accordingly with the amount of carb I am eating.
I drink approximately 2 liters of water per day.
Being on a diet makes me feel good, therefore I don’t find it restrictive.
When people ask me about my diet or certain food I can or can’t eat I get a bit annoyed, because often they are coming from an un-educated or lack perspective.
Plant Based Lentil Mushie Pies
Get the recipe right here: Plant Based Lentil Mushie Pies
Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?
Yes! I have now completely transitioned to plant-based as of 8 months ago.
Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?
Yes. It’s hard to know all of the ingredients and how much carbs that are going into your meal. It would be amazing if restaurants could include ingredient and carb info on their menus. Wow, what a world that would be?!
“When you ask why me, ask yourself, why not me?”
Exercise and work
Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?
I walk everyday, and enjoy weights training at the gym at least 3 to 4 times per week. I also enjoy yoga and dancing.
I work in the music industry for a record label and also manage an artist. I work long hours and some days are stressful which can mean keeping an eye on my blood sugar levels becomes neglected.
Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?
To manage my diabetes better I try to meditate, listen to informative podcasts and try new recipes. I try to keep my mindset as healthy as possible as this is where my commitment to my health stems from.
The hardes part of being a diabetic is feeling alone or misunderstood. Counting carbs correctly when going out to eat. Feeling frustrated and disadvantaged by having to constantly monitor my health and blood sugar levels when no one else around me has to.
But on the positive side, I have become so much more health conscious and aware of what I put into my body. Which may not have been the case if I didn’t have diabetes.
What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?
It can have a very heavy impact on your mental health. I’d also like to educate you on the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes as they are very different.
You’re not alone and this could in turn be one of the most positive impacts on your health and wellness, although it may not feel like that right now.
When you ask why me, ask yourself, why not me?
What would you ask the other diabetics?
How are you really? If you ever need to chat, I’m here to listen.
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 share the stories behind their lives.
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