Inspiring Others with Type 1 DM – My Interview with Leah

Tell us more about you!
My name is Leah. The usuals: I was born and raised in Minnesota, USA, but live in Germany now; I’m 26 years old; I LOVE to travel, and I wish I was still actively playing hockey and softball! How did I get to Germany? I studied abroad when I was in college and ended up meeting a super amazing German guy. We hit if off, did over a year of long distance, and I moved to Germany to be an Au Pair. We ended up getting married after and I stayed in Germany and here I am.

How long have you had diabetes?
I was diagnosed at the age of 14, so I’ve had T1D for 11.5 years. I always have to rewrite that last sentence, I am T1D or I have T1D. The biggest dilema.

What eating regime have you found to be most helpful in managing blood sugars? What hasn’t worked?
The last three months I have been eating low carb, high protein LCHP, Dr. Bernstein style of 30g carbs or less per day. I find that when I eat LCHP, my blood sugars are predictable and steady. I do not see big swings in blood sugar because I don’t consume very many carbs. It’s the law of small numbers: fewer carbs, less insulin, less blood sugar fluctuation. I’m really passionate about the LCHP lifestyle. I don’t mean I don’t get to eat delicious things. There are LC alternatives to literally anything you can imagine!
Prior to that, I was on a path of self-destruction. I was eating whatever I wanted and just taking insulin, you know like they told me I could do. But my blood sugars were incredibly unpredictable and the ups and downs made me feel horrible. I was moody, angry, and was so upset that I couldn’t just get it right. I was always told that I can eat anything, but the results speak for themselves. Of course, I can eat anything, but I will pay a price. I suppose all of our prices are different.

What type insulin do you use and what insulin dosage method works best for you and your lifestyle?
I currently use Novolog (Novorapid) in my Medtronic 640G insulin pump. For a time I tried Fiasp, but it does not fit a LCHP diet, so I quickly switched back. However, I did save a few vials and will use it for the
oddball high blood sugar.

How do you treat a low blood sugar?
Glucose only. I recently found chocolate flavored glucose tabs, and it has changed my life. But really, I only use glucose tabs. They work the fastest. Also, it is a slippery slope to bad habits, an unhealthy food relationship, and overeating if I choose to “treat” myself while low.

Do you exercise? What do you like to do for exercise? How do you handle activity with controlling your blood sugar?
I ride my bike to work nearly every day, weather permitting. So I get 7km in each way, a total of 40+ minutes.
Morning blood sugars behave nicely while riding bike. I don’t eat breakfast before, so I have no active insulin. However, afternoons are another story. I need to eat a few gummy bears, 8g carbs, before I leave so that my blood sugar doesn’t drop. Lunchtime active insulin will drop me if I don’t. Thankfully this works really well for me. I do not see a spike or drop when I use this method. But it was all about trial and error for me. It took me months to find this sweet spot. Other than riding bike, I do wish I would run more.

What tips would you rattle off for someone who is trying to improve their blood sugar control? Or even for someone who is newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?
Eat fewer carbs. Period. To be honest, I am quite angry I wasn’t told this before. It’s common sense. Why consume the one thing that our bodies are incapable of breaking down? Also, my second favorite Dr. Bernstein quote is this, “there are essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, but there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate”.

What does a typical day of food look like to you?
Breakfast: coffee with heavy cream, if it’s the weekend: eggs, LC pancakes, LC biscuits, bacon, etc.
Lunch and Dinner are usually very similar. I eat a lot of cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, brussels sprouts, chicken, beef, turkey, avocado, etc. and in all variations. There are SO many low carb recipes and alternatives out there. I would encourage everyone to google their favorite meal, plus low carb. There WILL be an alternative and it WILL be delicious.

What is the hardest part of being diabetic? What is the best part?
For me, the hardest part is not seeing the results of the hard work that has been put into managing the disease. Sometimes things just don’t work the way the should, but that never means giving up. And I suppose the best part is that I will always know the impact of the food I am putting in my body. That is a beautiful thing.

Any closing thoughts?
To anyone who thinks eating low carb means giving up favorite foods, don’t think that! The beginning is not always easy when adjusting to this LIFESTYLE, but it is worth it. I’ve had a few setbacks along the way, but each day when my blood sugar line gets flatter, I know I am doing the best thing for my health. That’s invigorating. And I encourage all of you to explore and find that flat line.