Inspiring Others with Type 1 DM – My Interview with Caroline Potter

 

Tell us a little about yourself!

My husband and I are currently stationed overseas with the Navy in Spain and we absolutely love the culture and relaxing pace of life here.  We are expecting our first little girl in early May and her big sister Libby, a fluffy, sweet golden retriever, can’t wait to snuggle her!  I originally grew up in Southern California and have always had a love of adventure, traveling and good food…in particular tacos!  Truthfully I love my job, but also love balancing hard work with time with my husband, being outdoors and movie watching binges!

How long have you had diabetes?

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes my junior year in college at the age of 20 and have lived with this disease for 7 years now.

What eating style have you found to be most helpful in managing blood sugars? 

Eating very low carb at the beginning was the best starting point for me and actually allowed me to honeymoon for 1 year and a half without insulin.  It taught me ALOT of discipline and I was very strict with what I ate so I am thankful for that time.  I don’t think for women eating very low carb forever is good because it can mess with your hormones!

Nowadays I eat a very balanced diet, still with minimal carbohydrates, but I really listen to my body signals.  Some weeks I need more carbohydrates and other weeks I need more fat.  Listening to my body and realizing that every day is a new day has helped me manage this disease…that and learning to recreate my favorite foods in a healthy way!  I do avoid all refined carbohydrates, most gluten-free items, refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.

What hasn’t worked?

 Strict carb counting—every carb has a different nutritional profile and interacts differently with you.  Stress, hormone changes, travel and emotions play a huge role in blood sugar moderation.  Paying attention to the whole picture, especially our emotions and stress, and how different carbs interact uniquely with us is so important.  For example, anything with cane sugar, even in small amounts can mess up my blood sugar for 2 or more days afterwards, but the same carb amount of berries doesn’t bother me.  

Foods that really spike my blood sugar are fruit, with the exception of berries, sweet potatoes, cane sugar and most gluten-free flours as they are usually very refined and filled with starch.

What type insulin do you use and what insulin dosage method works best for you and your lifestyle? 

I take long-lasting insulin every morning and short lasting as needed.  I would prefer to inject insulin into my arms because it hurts less but find that it works better in my stomach.  I have never been on a pump!

How do you treat a low blood sugar?

Honestly, I don’t have them often because my blood sugar is usually very stable due to the way I eat.  I love to keep R(x) bars on hand, in the car, and in my purse for emergencies, or when I want a healthy treat because they are delicious!

Do you exercise? What do you like to do for exercise? How do you handle activity with controlling your blood sugar?

I love to walk outside and typically take a long speed walk every day—during pregnancy this was the most helpful way to control my blood sugars! I also love pilates and will occasionally run short distances.  I prefer to find ways to incorporate workouts into my everyday routines and my husband and I often walk to get a cocktail or coffee in the afternoons.  I also love swimming in the ocean in the summer!

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?

Remember that the more carbs you eat, the more insulin you will have to take and that sets you up on a blood sugar roller coaster!  Becoming disciplined with your eating habits may seem impossible at first but you will greatly limit your day to day ups and downs as well as improve your future life, so in the big picture, it is worth it!

Find other like-minded type 1 friends—doctors are fabulous but talking with people that actually have this disease is so important. I really struggled with that at the beginning, but thankfully now have found women of a similar mindset that I can vent to or strategize with.  Even within the Type 1 world, be careful to surround yourself with people of a similar mindset when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle because everyone has different opinions!

What does a typical day of food look like to you? 

I always eat 2 eggs in the morning! Usually with sautéed spinach and a bit of feta cheese.  On the weekends my husband and I love making scrambled eggs and chorizo or grain-free waffles.  I drink a cup of decaf coffee (I gave up caffeine over a year ago) with cream, cinnamon, and grass-fed collagen.

For lunch, I like to make a salad with leftover grilled chicken, nuts, feta cheese and balsamic vinegar dressing.  Often I make a charcuterie style plate or a yogurt bowl with my homemade granola.  If I need an afternoon snack, I usually make guacamole with either Siete tortilla chips, red bell peppers or slices of parmesan and scoopers.  In the winter months, I will make decaf coffee or rooibos tea or when it’s hotter, I will make unsweetened iced vanilla matcha for an afternoon drink.

My husband usually grills for dinner and we absolutely love steak, filet mignon topped with butter in particular.  We usually do homemade fries, grilled veggies, and Caprese salad.  We also love garbanzo bean pasta chicken alfredo (typically I only do a small scoop of pasta mixed with sautéed spinach to keep my carbs lower).

I always eat a bedtime snack about 45 minutes before bed to keep my sugar stable through the night—usually a few slices of parmesan cheese, handful of pistachios or macadamia nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter or whole milk yogurt.

What is the hardest part of being diabetic? What is the best part?

Most people just don’t understand the exhausting battle, both physically and emotionally, of diabetes; and I don’t mean that negatively towards them, I just don’t think it is anything you can understand until you go through it!  People will make odd comments like “oh your eating healthy to get skinny “(false, just trying to avoid a hospital visit) or “why aren’t you eating dessert, I made it especially for you?”  I really struggle with trying to be gracious to others but also standing strong in how I know I need to live and eat.

Honestly, now I can say I am thankful for diabetes.  It has taught me to be stronger and more disciplined than I ever could have imagined and reminds me daily that joy is a choice.  It has given me a heart and a platform to share my story and encourage others that healthy living can be a fun and rewarding process!

Closing thoughts?

Remember, you have this disease for life! Don’t let yourself get discouraged by a bad day of blood sugar or a bad test result.  Always think big picture, your emotional well-being, and quality of life are far more important than stressing over a number.  Keep in mind that negativity and stress can greatly impact your blood sugar, so figure out ways that you love to relax and cut negativity out of your life!