Females Differences For Blood Sugar Control

I’ve made it an initiative in the last 12 months plus to understand female hormones and hormone imbalances better than ever. As someone with type 1 diabetes, and coaching many with diabetes, we have to consider over 50 things that are non-food related that can affect our blood sugar control, and one of the most common moving variables include the female cycle.

In fact, I have to change my daily basal weekly, if not more, to coincide with my cycle and insulin sensitivity. Through my learning, I have been collecting on the data and savvy tips in a notebook and have organized the insights below.

Wellness for a female is different and is achieved differently than for a male. There needs to much a bigger component on emotional health and support, which is why it’s important to understand our moving hormones.

OUR PERIOD
The benefit of being a female (among many!) is we have a period. Wait, how is that a benefit? Well, our cycle is termed as a 5th vital sign per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee Opinion and this vital sign offers insight into our health, each month.

First and foremost, when assessing your period, understand our body will always choose survival over making babies. In fact, the period you have this month reflects your life 2-3 months ago. As well, if you are taking savvy hormone balancing supplements like chaste tree, vitex, evening primrose oil, to name a few, give it months to take effect.

Balanced/Balancing Hormones Involves the Combo of:

  • Daily bowel movements. If you don’t poop every day – you can’t remove the digested estrogen out of your system. Gut health is super important.
  • Modulating toxins in our life. Most environmental toxins will come from the practices women take within hours of waking up – deodorant, makeup, toiletries.
  • Sleep. If you are not sleeping 7 hours a night, you are not going to have balanced hormones. Research even shows that the liver can’t detox with sleep deprivation and liver needs to be optimal to metabolize our hormones as well.
  • Diet. Eat regular and balanced meals, emphasizing the importance to eat healthy fats. Avocado, olive oil, and organic animal fat are great sources, to name a few. The research on broccoli is so strong for detoxing estrogen and this is crucial for hormone balance. If a female is not having a bowel movement daily, the estrogen is sitting in the intestines and can be reabsorbed. We want it to move along as it should daily, and if this is not happening, consider tweaking the diet to include more vegetable fiber, remove grains in the diet and add a magnesium supplement to get things moving. Overall, lots of leafy green vegetables are key to a nourished body and healthy, fertile hormones.
  • Blood sugar stability. This is one of the most crucial things for hormone balance. Do the best you can to reduce blood sugar swings and variability. If blood sugars are too high they can structurally change the ovaries.
  • Movement. Most of our hormones won’t work unless we are moving. This is esp true w/ inactive thyroid to active thyroid.
  • Happiness: Plan a girls night and go have some fun. Or find a good book. Whatever helps you live a little and un(wine)d.

MONTHLY CYCLE:

While PMS is not normal it is natural to feel a shift in energy throughout the month, and that’s why it’s important to vary exercises and food throughout the month.

Week 1 (on period): MENSTRUAL

Day 1-12 females are most like males. Progesterone and estrogen are the lowest, and the first half of the cycle is called the follicular phase.

Diet – Aim to eat higher fat and protein-rich meals, which means to ease up on carbs (fruit, legumes, grains, starchy veg).

Protein helps to replenish lost iron. If a period is heavy – eat iron-rich foods with a focus on vitamin C. A citrus, spinach salad with some steak? Other good foods to source: seafood or seaweed, and low carb vegetables.

Exercise – slow movement pilates or yoga, stretching, walking or light hiking. A few days after the onset of your period you may feel energized and ready to pick back up your exercise routine.

Agenda – This is a good week to ground yourself, relax more physically and construct or address personal goals. Pull out a journal and reap the benefits of writing out your thoughts.

Week 2: FOLLICULAR

Diet – highest carb week, lowest calorie.

Persist including protein and fat in each meal, but bring down the total fat, and increase carbs. Typically, meals will be smaller than the last 2 weeks. Females are most insulin sensitive around this time of their cycle and they can tolerate more carbs without blood sugar spikes. Since the onset of your period, your estrogen will gradually rise until ovulation (which starts at the end of this week). Keep in mind estrogen has an inverse relationship to appetite. When estrogen is highest, you may notice less hunger.

Exercise – a great time to do HIIT training, challenging and longer workouts.

Agenda – it’s common to be restless and able to tackle projects and goals, including batch cooking for the week ahead when willpower is less. Right before ovulation, you may notice you feel your best, sexiest and most social. Make the most of it.

Week 3: OVULATORY

Diet – Wind down the carbs, and begin increasing the fat and fiber.

It’s not uncommon to have constipation post ovulation. Find use of flax meal, chia seeds, and high fiber veggies. Focus on hydration aggressively until end of week 4.

Agenda – Ovulation is a great time to enjoy raw foods, raw salads, high-quality protein, and foods high in zinc. During ovulation, you may notice slight cramps. Your body is preparing to release 1 of 500 eggs (which is a fraction of the eggs you were born with). Ovulation is on average 10-16 days before a period. After Ovulation, this is when progesterone and estrogen increase and progesterone releases a lot of sodium and holds onto a lot of water. This can lead to bloating. Your body temperature may be a degree higher as well. You want to salt (NOT table salt, sea salt please) your food here. Listen to your body needs.

The second half of a female cycle is called the Luteal phase.

Week 4: (right before period) LUTEAL

Diet – Lowest carb. Eat more cruciferous vegetables, more root vegetables. Limit booze AND caffeine.Start increasing fats and lowering carbs or being more strategic with carbs (aka plan out your meals).  Roasted foods are really good right now as they bring out the sweetness of vegetables. Note, however, this is a good time to eat more food period. If you limit food to amounts from prior weeks, you will indeed crave more sweets, as your body merely needs more calories. Many females deny themselves of this and end up with larger cravings. Days leading up to a female’s period, serotonin production is less. Eat high tryptophan foods (turkey, bananas, buckwheat, oily fish, flaxseed).

Studies have shown women who have a high intake of oily-fish (omega 3 fatty acids) including sardines, salmon, and mackerel, tend to have milder PMS. EFAs are also hormone regulators.

Leafy greens right before your period is helpful in calming your nervous system (due to calcium, magnesium and potassium). Even consider a green powder here, such as those sold by Organifi.

Overall understand your desires for food when it’s this time of the month. Just understanding what is going on with your body can help resolve overeating or poorer food choices. “This too shall pass.”

Exercise – step back and understand what your body needs. It could be stretching or it could be a long hard workout. This week is often a wild card.

Agenda – This is the best week to have pre-planned meals as your energy and interest in making meals will be low.

Supplements – Magnesium supplementation is important for cravings, energy, mood and blood sugar control, especially 7 days before the period. Additionally, fish oil, B vitamins, and tryptophan are recommended to help with PMS and can be used starting with ovulation (if not all month).

Related Reading:

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!

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.

Inspiring Others with Type 1 – My Interview with Hanna

Hanna first caught my eye on Instagram, under the name @HannaDiabetesExpert, as she seemed like an eager soul to help others across the world. She has an unconventional approach to managing her type 1 diabetes and I believe her story is not only inspiring others but helping make bold changes too. I am excited to share this interview with you, and please let us know your thoughts on Hanna’s story. Thank you, Hanna!

  • Tell us a little about yourself!

I’m a public speaker, writer, and advocate who loves to help fellow people with diabetes to feel healthier and happier with their own care. I’m passionate to find motivational and inspiring ways to bring about a change in diabetes management, and I’ve developed a profound understanding of how things like nutrition and lifestyle choices can balance diabetes. I also co-organise Europe’s first 100% low carb events, called The Low Carb Universe.   

How long have you had diabetes?

I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes for 33 years, since 1985.

What eating style have you found to be most helpful in managing blood sugars? What hasn’t worked?

I was eating a “normal diabetic diet” for the first 26 years after diagnosis, including skimmed milk with meals and extra points for fruits as dessert, not to forget the 45-60% other carbs on my plate. Throughout these years, I could never manage my diabetes like I was expected to, my A1c was always way too high, too many fluctuations in my blood sugar, I was overweight and using insulin like it was water. I quickly got the label of “brittle diabetic” in my file. When I did my education to become a nutrition coach, my teacher, who is not a medical professional, but has more common sense than most, saved my life. When we were learning about carbs, insulin and how they work in the body, he pointed me out in front of the class and said “Hanna, you don’t even make any insulin. If I were you, I’d think once and twice about what I was eating”. That was my aha-moment, and I started cutting down on carbs soon after that. Today I eat very low carb, protein-rich and healthy fat, as I’ve found it works the absolute best for me, my diabetes and my lifestyle.

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

I went through a lifestyle transformation when I finally said yes to the pump 5 years ago. It’s vastly improved my life, and I love that I can be so spontaneous with it, for example with basal rates. I use Novorapid (Novolog) and have gone from taking about 100 units a day to 15-25.

How do you treat a low blood sugar?

Always, always, always with glucose tablets. I treat them like medicine and they are the most exact way to get to a safe, healthy range again without overshooting. Treating hypos with food never worked for me.

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

I hate exercise, but I love movement! I do a lot of walking, yoga, and body weight exercises, for example. For these movement forms, I don’t feel any pressure, like having the right gear paying expensive memberships, which is also good because I travel quite often. I personally rarely have problems with blood sugar and activity, and if I do, I can quickly correct it back into range again as I don’t have masses of active insulin. But I do know it is a huge struggle for many others.

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?

There is always a way! You need to find YOUR way of managing diabetes, which takes some researching. And it definitely doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s or what your healthcare professionals tell you. That being said, with great freedom comes great responsibility. If you want to change your health, you need to be ready and willing to take it into your own hands.

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

I get up, have a few glasses of water, as well as a giant cup of herbal tea to rehydrate my body after a long nights sleep. I very rarely have breakfast, as I’m generally not hungry then and don’t see the point of stressing my body with food if it doesn’t signal for it. It also gives my blood sugar a chance to stay stable for a few more hours. I wait with eating until lunchtime, 12-1pm, when I have vegetables, protein and fat, such as an omelet with vegetables and ham, smoked salmon and avocado, or just the leftovers from dinner the night before. I don’t typically snack unless my body tells me to. Then, around 7-8pm, I have dinner, which is again vegetables, protein, and fats, like a burger patty with spinach sautéed in bacon fat, chicken with cauliflower rice or salmon with pesto and broccoli.

To some, eating like this might sound boring. To me it means freedom not to feel constant hunger, being able to push meals around according to my schedule, as well as stable blood sugars.

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

The hardest part for me is worrying about the future, possible complications, and limitations in life diabetes may bring me. Even if I’ve found my way of dealing well with the emotional and mental part of living with a chronic illness, it still gets to me sometimes.

The best part is that I know my body so much better than many others and can tell quickly if something isn’t right somewhere.

Any closing thoughts?

Dare to go out there and find what works for you and your diabetes management. It’s a difficult illness to handle, but it’s entirely possible to live and thrive with it on a daily basis.

This is one of the hopefully many interviews I will be showcasing on my site. If you have type 1 diabetes and are interested in sharing your story and strategies, please send me an email at [email protected]

Gut Health + Multiple Autoimmune Diseases

It’s late September and I am driving through the backroads of Indiana listening to a podcast as we head home from a very fun weekend in Chicago. It was so much fun, in fact, my husband had me drive as he was reclined in the passenger seat.

Either way, I wasn’t fussed as I spent the time reviewing information for an upcoming presentation I had on the books related to gut health and diabetes. Yet, with my intention to polish up on the facts, I nearly had to pull over as I had an “ah-ha” moment when tuning-in to a podcast hearing Dr. Sarah Ballantyne discuss the risk of getting additional autoimmune diseases for those who already have an existing one. As if 1 disease wasn’t enough, right?! Thankfully, there is something we can do to halt this from happening, but a little information first.

Autoimmune disease affects over 50 million Americans, and if you have an autoimmune disease, you have genetic predisposition to have an overactive immune system. With this, the risk of getting an additional autoimmune disease, according to Sarah Ballantyne’s literature review, is 1 every decade.

Hitting close to home, I felt it in my gut when I read how type 1 diabetes (T1D) is associated with autoimmune thyroid disease (AIT), celiac disease (CD), Addison’s disease (AD), and other autoimmune diseases. This isn’t common sense, nor is the information of how to prevent it from happening, but there is hope.

Looking back on my 26+ years of having type 1 diabetes I sense a relationship with this research. In 2009, my life changed when I did a gluten-free experiment. Multiple endocrinologists thought I was wasting my time, as I had proved multiple celiac disease tests negative. Yet, my A1C and blood sugar control were immediately improved and continue to be more predictable and better than ever. Not to mention, my eczema, insomnia and female hormones are better off. Just last July I did a food sensitivity test on myself, and my reaction to wheat was off the charts, followed by gluten. An allergy (celiac) is very different than a sensitivity, and taking my food sensitivity results seriously is improving my overall well-being and are helping to reduce my risk of acquiring more diagnoses. In the last 2 years, I’ve experimented more with my diet, and am now working to wean down or off my thyroid medication (my thyroid tanked with the onset of pregnancy with my second child). It will be a slow process, but things are moving in the right direction. No doubt, food is powerful. Slower than medicine, but powerful.

In the least, it’s a good thing the progression of an autoimmune disease is not entirely determined by genetics. Reseach concludes there are 3 parts:

  1. genetics,
  2. environmental factors (from everything from a heavy metal toxicity, to a stressful emotional event), and
  3. a leaky gut. (Here Dr. Axe does a good job defining Leaky Gut, and below I highlight how to take care of your gut).

It’s valuable to understand that an autoimmune disease can sit brewing in the body for years before a diagnosis occurs and the great news is we can do a lot to prevent the last “straw” from reaching the camels back.

While there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, the best way to be your healthiest and prevent any further autoimmune diseases from occurring or progressing is to focus on 1) what we eat, 2) what we absorb and 3) how we take care of our body/lifestyle. 

Diet/What We Eat:

  1. The AIP is a good starting point for anyone dealing with one or more autoimmune diseases. Not only does it exclude grains, dairy, and legumes like the basic paleo template, it also eliminates nightshades, nuts, seeds, eggs, alcohol, and sugar, leaving a pure and basic diet of meats, seafood, certain vegetables, certain fruits, healthy fats and spices that help to promote anti-inflammatory reactions within the body. Upfront, I want to highlight that while this diet can be a very low-carb diet, it can also be a high carb diet sourcing healthy foods including plantains, sweet potatoes, yams, fruit, yucca, taro, etc. This approach can be tough. Thankfully there are great resources, from books to websites and podcasts. Pheonix Helix is a leader in communicating effective ways of living this lifestyle. Her website is a wealth of information as is her podcasts and guests.
  2. A few other paths to take to make sure someone is eating the right things for their gut is they can do an elimination diet, removing the biggest offenders: gluten, wheat, sugar, eggs, soy, dairy, seed/man-made oils (think corn, canola, soy, safflower seed oils) and corn. Like I did in 2009, begin avoiding one or all of these food groups and take notes on how you feel.
  3. Increasing vegetables and fruit in the diet,
  4. Diversify meals,
  5. Incorporate good spices and herbs,

Gut/What We Absorb:

  1. First REMOVE inflammatory foods and chronic stressors, REPLACE the problem foods with healing foods, such as items listed below, REPAIR the gut with specific supplements, and REBALANCE and nurture the gut, ongoing with probiotics. This is known as the 4 R Protocol.
  2. Research suggests the gut can take on average 2-12 weeks to heal, and likely longer for this of us with an autoimmune disease. For anyone with an autoimmune disease who is also sensitive to gluten and consuming it, it can take closer to 6 months for the gut to heal. And there is little benefit in a “gluten-light” diet. A fraction of a crumb can inflame the body, and I know this first handed when the cook in a cafe I used to work in, would cut my chicken breast with the same knife he was cutting chicken sandwiches with, I’d get ill. I also think of my mother who has osteoporosis, Hashimoto’s and rheumatoid arthritis, but still gets non-gluten free communion at church every weekend. Bottomline, it’s important to be 100% gluten-free when experimenting and if implementing when results are positive.
  3. Increase fermented foods in the diet along with coconut products, bone broth, and collagen,
  4. Avoid food sensitivities – Get tested using Cyrex Labs, MRT LEAP, or KBMO. (I can be a resource in acquiring a test). Learn how well you tolerate FODMAPs
  5. Moderate saturated fat as it can impair the microbiota,
  6. Replenish nutrient stores with potent supplements, and ask for advice from a health professional to find a high-quality product and the right product for your needs and background.

Lifestyle/How We Take Care of Ourselves:

  1. Prioritize sleep, both quantity, and quality, Did you know in 1965 we got on average of an hour and a half more of sleep per night than compared to today? That’s a big difference, and females need more sleep than males. Here is a list of how to tweak your environment to improve the quality
  2. Engage in adventure and hobbies. If you don’t have the time, shift things around so you do.
  3. Not that you don’t know already, but prioritize blood sugar control. The swings cause inflammation and disturb the peace in our gut.
  4. React better to stress. It’s common to say,  “Reduce stress,” but that thought only makes me a little more strung out. Instead, I put my energy on my response to challenges and tough tasks.
  5. Work on communication so you can be heard and respected.

 

Resources/References:

  • 5 At Home Test Gut: https://www.thepaleomom.com/5-gut-health-tests-you-can-do-at-home/
  • https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/91/4/1210/2843240
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4971288/
  • https://www.healthcentral.com/article/type-1-diabetes-and-autoimmune-diseases
  • https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-28154/what-to-eat-to-have-a-great-poop.html

Strategies for Eating Out With Diabetes

As a type 1 diabetic, I think of myself as a walking, human pancreas. The role is no joke, but one I can’t disown.

Every time I eat, as do my fellow type 1 diabadasses, we need to review, assess and time what foods, in what quantity we want to eat, without rocking our blood sugars. It has gotten easier with time, but when eating foods we don’t prepare, it can be more challenging.

I get through this hurdle with the following steps:

  1. I choose a meal that includes what I call PFF: 1) animal/egg/fish protein, 2) fat, including olive oil. butter, avocado, nuts or a bundle this with choosing a fattier protein source, and 3) a food high in fiber, including vegetables, gluten-free grains, beans, lentils.
  2. When ordering drinks, I politely and try to casually mention to the waiter/waitress I need a gluten-free meal. About 1 in 100 people have celiac disease, but about 10% of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). This doesn’t include the high number of gluten sensitivity.
  3. Adjust your order to your needs. I will see something on the menu I like, for example, a grilled salmon, and I will adjust what comes with it to make it lower carb. Often salmon will come with potatoes of some sort, and I will ask for broccoli instead.
  4. Know that most restaurant meals add salt, sugar and extra oils to a dish to make it taste better. This results in eating more and needing more insulin. Just being educated on this, I focus on eating just enough and taking a larger dose of insulin for the dish.
  5. If ordering a salad, opt for olive oil and vinegar. Canola oil or vegetable-based oils are often the standard for many restaurant dressings and these fats are harmful to our health. As well, dressing can often have a lot of hidden sugar.
  6. Review a menu before you go and ask questions to understand how much sugar/carb is in the meal you want so you can calculate your needs. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your server if an entree can be baked, grilled, or broiled instead of fried.
  7. Don’t deny yourself, but also don’t overeat. Keep it simple and be present and mindful. 
  8. If you are on an insulin pump – use the “Dual/Square or Extend” bolus options so you don’t take your insulin too late, nor bottom out before your meal arrives.
  9. While sitting and talking with company, drink plenty of water and try avoiding alcohol while you eat. Make it the appetizer or dessert if you wish to drink.
  10. For dessert – ask if you can have fresh berries and cream instead of the other dense options.

Lifestyle: Getting Accustomed to Making Your Meals At Home

Eating a balanced diet doesn’t need to be labor-intensive. With planning and being efficient with shopping, you can save your mola and feel good. Here I am highlighting some how-tos on eating home-cooked meals, catered to those looking after blood sugar control, which in a way, relates to everyone. 

“If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.” Sketch out 7 days and plot 2-3 meals, based on real food, plus snacks (if needed). Intend to make surplus for the meals so you have leftovers. Looking at your calendar:

  • Do you have plans for meals out this week? Will you need to pack any meals for school/work/appointments? For the latter, can you make things or buy items that can easily be eaten as is, or cooked in the microwave?
  • How many people are you responsible for feeding? 
  • Do you have any long days or night errands to run? You will need something portable
  • Make a grocery list with meals in mind and use ingredients that can come from the freeezer or pantry, in the scenario your schedule changes. No one likes throwing money away. 

A French man once said he walked into a North American grocery store and couldn’t find any food.

What? Well, if you think about and roam the aisles and food labels enough, you will find that this certain man is onto something. A majority of our packaged food is not real food. Just this morning I rant to the grocery and reviewed a dozen products and set them right back down because of cheap, unhealthy ingredients listed on them such as GMO beets (sugar), canola oil (very inflammatory), food colorings, chemicals, HFCS, more sugar, MSG, artificial sweeteners, BHA/BHT, nitrates, sulfates, the list goes on. Yet, my point is, know what is good for you and have an idea of where to get it.

Put together a grocery list before you head out. Ideally capture it on your phone. We often leave home without a list, but rarely forget our phone. Review your list before you go, and make sure the items you plan to buy, reflect the volume of foods you want on your plate. For example, if you intend to have half a plate of vegetables, make sure you buy enough vegetables. Same for protein, make sure your cart is about 25-30% of animal protein and 25-30% of fruit, grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.

Additional ways to save and simplifiy:

  • Look at ads, use coupon apps available on smartphones
  • Buy ingredients, not products
  • By produce in season, when cheapest
  • Grow your own vegetables/herbs
  • Never overeat and see how the quality of food, not volume, makes you feel satisfied (intuitive eating)
  • Cook in bulk and freeze portions for leftovers
  • Buy in bulk, and choose ingredients that can used in multiple dishes
  • Buy whole, canned wild fish or frozen fish
  • Buy fruits and vegetables frozen (just as healthy, if not more healthy)
  • Buy cheaper cuts of meat and slow-cook it to tenderize it.
  • Don’t major in minor things. Focus on buying real food and don’t stress if you can’t get organic or grass-fed
  • Avoid foods void in nutrition, which can simply just increase appetite. For example, gluten-containing grains, sugar, processed food, granola bars
  • Cut out the extras – bottled water, mints, etc
  • Keep food simple, yet, have variety so your palate doesn’t get bored.

Food prep can be therapeutic; especially when you look at it as a time to unwind and forget about stressors. We need to unplug, to recharge. Set aside time, one time a week, to prep meals so when you come rushing in the door, or out, you have something nutritious to quickly reheat or consume within a short window of time.

Meal Ideas:

  • Frittata – these are great, and can be made in advance, sliced and heated or chilled for a well-rounded breakfast or lunch. The ingredients do not need to be elaborate. Choose some produce, lean meat and spices. 
  • Slow-cooker Chicken Vegetable Soup
  • Salad with Tuna – as simple as it sounds. When I was on the road a lot with work, I would run to the grocery before Monday AM, pick up a bag of lettuce greens, canned tuna, eggs (then hard boil them) and some other type of produce, and throw it all together for 3 lunches or so a week. 
  • Lettuce Tacos – buy some lean meat, mix some spices and throw it over some vegetables or romaine leaves. Leftover meat is great with eggs too. 
  • Grilled Fish and Frozen Veg with spices – buy some frozen fish in bulk, pull out however many filets you need in the morning, thaw in the refrigerator, and cook in a skillet with some lemon, butter and pepper and pair with a vegetable. 
  • No-bread Sandwiches
  • Snack options, including portable food ideas
  • Scrambled Eggs and Ham – simple, cheap and satisfying. 
  • Banana Pancakes – take 2 eggs and one small banana, mash, and make 2 pancakes. 

Real change is not easy, but it is worth it.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kelly

Let’s Make This Year (2018) Different

How many people do you think made a weight loss wish when the ball dropped this year? Chances are, quite a few.

With two-thirds of Americans overweight, there are an estimated 45 million people on a diet right now, chalking up $33 billion per year on weight loss products.

Yet, times are changing, and so are the approaches to improving our health. The dogma of calories in, equal calories out has been exploited. There is far more involved with wellness and weight loss than the obsession with eating perfect portions of perfectly healthy food.

Make this year different by relaxing the efforts on dieting, and create a balance between the mind, body, and spirit, emphasizing how you feel, how, what and when you eat, and what you believe makes you healthy. I’ve included a few items to focus on below:

1. Hydrate

The goal is to drink half your weight in ounces, and more if you are exercising or traveling. Start the day with an inner bath and drink 20 ounces first thing. In the winter, I fulfill this need by carrying a water bottle with me wherever I go, or more often you will see me with my Continga containing hot water with lemon.

2. Don’t Major in Minor Things

Sometimes eating “perfectly” can do us more harm than good. Relax and don’t give up 95% of your life to drop 5% of your weight (or fill in the blank of what you are trying to achieve). The healthiest version of yourself isn’t how good you look in a swimsuit. The healthiest version of yourself is when hormones are balanced, your body and mind are strong and you have the energy to do what you love. When you push your body to extremes, including talking to yourself in a negative way, you’re giving up more than calories. You miss out on life.

3. Avoid Vegetable Oils and Man-Made Oils (Canola. Corn, Sunflower, Soybean oil, Safflower and Cottonseed oil)

These oils have large amounts of biologically active fats called Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are harmful to our health.  The more Omega-6s you eat, the more systemic inflammation you will have. Opt for better fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil. palm oil, grass-fed butter or ghee for cooking, and olive oil, macadamia nut oil, sesame oil, walnut oil for cold uses. Make sure to have some sort of fat on your plate at each meal, and the right kind of fat.

4. Know Hunger is the Best Sauce

Master hunger and feel comfortable being hungry 30 to 60 minutes before a meal. Eat when you’re hungry – but only when you’re hungry. Forget the clock and listen to your body instead. 

5. Moderate

Perhaps my favorite tip: moderation (and I am not talking food). While working hard in your career, parenthood, friendships, life, find a balance in enjoying things like make you happy. Being healthy is a balancing act, and not about deprivation nor perfection.

6.  Stress Less – Sleep More

Sleep is the backbone of good health. Guard your bedtime as sleep deprivation decreases the release of growth hormones and increases cortisol levels. Both of these play an important role in blood sugar control.

 

Mastering Your A1C

Blood sugar control is tricky. What often works this month, won’t work the next as there are a number of variables that play into the result. Unconventional variables include hydration, the weather, stress/workload, sleep (deprivation), hormones (my basal changes every week of the month), sunlight exposure, magnesium status, nutrient deficiencies, electrolyte status, activity, happiness, diet, etc.

However, in my 26+ years of having type 1 diabetes and working with hundreds of clients with diabetes, below are key players that help keep an A1C ideal. Please note, that an A1C is not the only goal with diabetes, it’s just an easy lab to draw that can paint a picture of blood sugars averages over the last 60-90 days.

  1. Check blood sugar regularly. In the book Sugar Surfing, the authors suggest skimming the information on a CGM up to 50 times a day, and I totally agree. It’s most crucial to review information/moving blood sugars that occur upon awakening, post meals, and pre/post workout.
  2. Review trends. it’s hard to manage what we don’t monitor, and thankfully there are great apps and programs that make tracking easy. I personally use Glukoo and I have a number of clients using OneDrop.
  3. Be mindful when eating, and this includes eating slowly and chewing your food. If you are on Humalog or Novolog, always eat your carbs last, and your protein and vegetables first. The new insulin, Fiasp, you may not need to do this as it works 3x harder and acts faster out of the gate.
  4. Have consistent meals from one day to the next with the same amount of carbs. Besides optimizing our metabolism, this practice can help us create the right portioned meal to sustain satisfaction to the next meal and appropriate insulin delivery.
  5. Practice eating with the sun, and allowing an intermittent fast for 12-16 hours. I like turning this into a fun game and using the Zero app to track my fast from an early dinner to breakfast.
  6. Hydrate – I recommend 10 glasses of water a day. This will take effort, and it’s worth it. Hydration leads to better blood sugar control and fewer cravings.
  7. Post meal – move. Walking is magical for blood sugar control. Indeed a fast-paced walk can lower blood sugar 1-2 mg/dl per minute.
  8. Make sleep quality and quantity count. Have a set bedtime, turn off electronic hours before bed and/or use blue light blocking glasses, make sure the temperature is ideal (68F) and there is no light exposure.
  9. Take supplements such as a high-quality probiotic, B-complex, magnesium, and fish oil. I recommend and source only pharmaceutical grade supplements.
  10. Tap into (or build) your Diabetes Team. Seek out a health coach/dietitian if the need is there and the timing is right. Be prompt with your endo appointments and seek a social support system.

Cheers to you and good health,

The Diabetic Dietitian

The Ultimate Wish List & Gift Guide

As a minimalist, this list is hefty, but I promise, I LOVE every item on here. Perfect gifts for your friends & family…or put some aside for yourself! Happy holidays, enjoy the season!

SELF-CARE/SHORTCUTS:

  • Thrive Market 25% off and Free Shipping on your first order In the Real Food & Fitness Masterclass we talked a lot about keeping things simple. I love Thrive Market for this very reason. Just saving money on my obsession with Siete Tortilla chips is also another reason I love Thrive Market too.
  • Facial Mask: As a time-starved mom, a facial mask allows me to have my own spa at home. It’s a fun thing to do with friends (and husband) when traveling! Multi-Masker Set $68
  • Chemical free lip gloss: The glosses stay on, taste yummy and look awesome. This bundle comes in 3 colors and you can purchase and divvy between 3 friends for gifts. Perfect Pout Trio: $48
  • Food Sensitivity Test: It can beneficial knowing what healthy foods are actually not supporting out health. This test I use with clients, cuts to the chase of know what ingredients are stalling weight loss, gut health repair and progress. If interested, send me an email and I can answer and questions, or send out a kit to have the test done in your own home. Small Business Saturday discount (valid until 11/27 midnight) $325. 
  • Detox: Most Decembers I will do a 21 day detox program, and there are a few of them I really like. Read more here. Along with Small Business Saturday, I am offering 15% off all detox programs and supplements from Standard Process, Pure Encapsulation, and Thorne; which are all pharmaceutical grade supplements (valid until 11/27 midnight). 
  • Energy Bead Bracelet: this chakra lava bracelet is elegant and suggests to support healing. I also like how the beads absorb essential oils so it can carry aroma. $12

IN THE KITCHEN:

  • Continga insulted mug: I use 2 of these a day. I start with a coffee in one and use another repeatedly throughout the day, filling it with my favorite tea. Sometimes in the winter, I just use it to hold my warm water, sipping on it while I work.
  • Dry Farm Wines: One way to hold onto that glass of wine without sacrificing your health is to consume low alcohol, natural wines. Natural wines are produced organically, without dangerous chemicals involved or artificial additives. Above all, when I drink Dry Farm Wines wine, my blood sugar levels remain stable on my CGM and I feel fine the following day. That’s a touch expectation, as I can usually tell when I just have a single glass when out to dinner. Love this brand, and they are changing the way people enjoy wine.
  • Instant Pot: Okay I will admit it. It took me 8 months to use mine, and that was n 8 months wasted. My instant pot makes dinner so much easier. I made an awesome chicken vegetable soup after returning home from a long trip and it was just what my family needed. From perfectly cooked eggs, sweet potatoes, soups and more
  • Bone broth – I use bone broth in soups, but I also freeze it in an ice cube trays and use a few cubes when I am stir-frying something or roasting vegetables. It bumps up the nutrition, flavor and protein content (slightly) of the meal. This is a great gift for a health conscious person, or for the elderly, as it supports immunity through the flu season (and so much more). Kettle & Fire is offering their biggest discount of the season until Cyber Monday.
  • Amazon Echo: So last year? Maybe, but just as good, if not better. We use our “Alexa” (Echo) all day long. When the kids get witchy, I ask her to play music to change the mood. If I am playing chef, I quickly ask “Alex” how long I need to cook something or set a timer. This consumer good was something I thought Siri could fulfill, but I have been proven wrong.

FROM THE BOOKSHELF:

  • Panda Planner: Best Daily Calendar and Gratitude Journal to Increase Productivity, Time Management & Happiness – Hardcover, non-dated, 1 year. $27
  • The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day. $23
  • Unconventional Medicine by Chris Kresser: This is his new book about the call to action to reinvent healthcare and reverse chronic disease. It’s a great read and I highly recommend if you haven’t already read it.
  • Tribe of Mentors: Short Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferris: We all need mentors, particularly when the odds seem stacked against us. To find his own, four-time #1 best-selling author Tim Ferriss tracked down more than 100 eclectic experts to help him, and you, navigate life. In short, action-packed profiles, he shares their secrets for success, happiness, meaning, and more.

In celebration of Small Business Saturday, I am offering 15% off all my services (counseling, grocery store tours, kitchen reviews), supplements, detoxes, and products. This offer is valid until 11/27 midnight.