Become your own diabetes inspiration!
9 min reading time
Become your own diabetes inspiration
Who this story is about?
Meet Daria. She is an Online Fitness Coach and a health writer, with a limitless love for nutritious food, keeping active and living a balanced lifestyle. Daria is a huge supporter of fitness as a lifestyle and flexible training (listening to your body, but also pushing yourself at the right times). She is a Type 1 Diabetic, and coach to Type 1 Diabetics, as well as non-diabetics to live a happier and more balanced life. Her goal is to demonstrate that everything in life is possible and can be achieved with the correct mindset, support, and approach.
First Diabetes Experience
Dianurse: For how long do you suffer from diabetes? Daria: I really do not like using the words “suffer” or “disease” when I am talking about my Type 1. I hold a very positive mindset around the condition and never let it get into my way or stop me from doing things. It is just a little extra challenge that I need to deal with, which can even be fun sometimes, especially when you get to learn new things about your body. I was diagnosed when I was 4, and, as you may imagine, do not have much recollection of what it was like or how it happened. I know that I was still in very early stages and that it got diagnosed after a serious virus, which my body took really badly. Because, I’ve had Type 1 for pretty much my entire life (I am 20 now), I do not really know a life without it.
About biggest fears …
Dianurse: What have your biggest fears been during your time with diabetes? How did you conquer them? Daria: I think, my fears are very similar to those of any other Type 1: fear of lows, fear of insulin, fear of certain types of foods. My biggest fear throughout my whole life with T1D was the fear of insulin, which I had to get over, and did it by paying very high attention to carbohydrate counting and using more accurate insulin to carb ratios, which I ignored for a very long time. My other big fear is that of going low during an important event. I am not embarrassed about doing insulin in public, but I sometimes do feel embarrassed to treat a low in front of a large number of people. I do understand that this is what I have to do for my health, but still, the idea is not very appealing to me. Funnily enough, I have never had the fear of not waking up because of a low during the night, as I am quite lucky to be pretty sensitive to hypoglycemia.
How To Manage Diabetes
Dianurse: What’s the best way to manage diabetes, based on your experience? Daria: The most effective tool in my diabetes toolbox is exercise, and walking in particular. I find that walking can help insulin work much faster and improve insulin sensitivity. Weight training is also highly effective to lower insulin resistance for an extended period of time, can be up to 48 hours in certain cases! The second tool I could not live without is my Flash Glucose Monitor. I use a Freestyle Libre sensor and could not imagine a life without it. It has allowed me to be more flexible, measure my blood sugars more often, without stopping what I am doing and understand what is happening in between mealtimes much better. It is the best tool you can have to be able to see patterns and take action on them.
Dianurse: Tell us more about your diet. Daria: I call myself a flexitarian, which means that I do not have any food restrictions. Having said that, I emphasize eating a lot of plants and vegetables and do not consume red meat at all (just because I do not enjoy it). In all other senses, I eat just what I want, with no restrictions. However, I do have very good knowledge about how to build a balanced plate and eat healthily, therefore, there are not many junk or sugary foods, in my diet. I enjoy chocolate, cake, and other treats in moderation. When I have small amounts, they do not have much of an effect on my BGs. I believe that there should not be any restrictions for Type 1’s, as it is possible to manage any food, it just takes practice, experimentation, identifying blood sugar trends, and learning to use insulin correctly.
Dianurse: What is your favorite dish and why? Daria: I have a lot of favorite savory dishes, but if you asked me to choose only one dish to eat for the rest of my life, it would absolutely be oatmeal. Oats are an amazing carbohydrate and they are so creamy and delicious. Mixing in some protein and topping them with nuts and fruit gives a well-balanced nutritious meal. I have my own strategy of managing my morning oatmeal, which involves a pre-bolus of 30 minutes, but I actually need that pre-bolus because of morning resistance and not the oats themselves. I have recently discovered #zoats (oatmeal with mixed in grated zucchini), which helped me reduce the blood sugar spike that I used to have before. My oatmeal management is fine-tuned and I know that this breakfast sets me up for a good day of blood sugars.
Dianurse: Do you avoid any foods? Daria: I actually do, and a few, mostly because I just haven’t learned how to bolus for them and don’t really have much interest in them in general. I avoid wine and beans. I don’t really like either and they mess up my blood sugars, so I just don’t eat them. I know I can learn to manage them, but I don’t see why I need to if I don’t like them anyways. I also try to avoid eating pasta, pizza, and high-carb dishes when I eat out. I prefer to have my carbohydrate as a side or just none at all. I mean, have some potatoes or bread, not mixed into the main dish so that I can visually portion them out for myself. If I feel like ordering a high-carb meal when I am out, I will do so, because there is no point in missing out on life’s pleasures.
Dianurse: Tell us more about fitness/sport activities that you do. Daria: I am not much of a team sports player, but throughout my life I’ve danced at a semi-professional level, ran cross-country and track, but my heart lies in gym-based exercise. I love resistance training, group training, HIIT, and spin classes. I am, in fact, a Personal Trainer and Online Coach myself. My love for a spin is immense, and I have even completed a fundraiser challenge of 6 spin classes for JDRF UK, which you follow along to at https://youtu.be/eB85xM6aUsQ. I have my own techniques to manage exercise, which I developed over a period of time. Each time I try a new type of training, I need to figure out how to manage that too. This is done by identifying patterns and understanding how your body reacts to different types of exercise.
Dianurse: What would be the best/most effective way to keep your blood sugar in the healthy range, again based on your experience? Daria: To me, a consistent routine and lots of activity can really help manage diabetes. Movement helps with insulin resistance and doing things at similar times helps to follow patterns and address blood sugar rises/drops before they happen. With T1D, you always need to think a step ahead and trust your previous experience. Stress management plays a large role in blood sugar control, as hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol can raise blood sugars and increase blood sugars. Dealing with stress using journaling, yoga, and meditation has been of great help to me, not just for my BGs, but for my overall wellbeing. I highly recommend starting up a self-care routine, which can also include walking, cooking or meditating – whatever makes you feel good.
About diabetes and technology
Dianurse: Technology is rapidly penetrating healthcare. There are literally thousands of apps capable to track vital signs of humans, or simply data loggers (carbs, blood glucose, etc.). What would be the added value of these technology advances for diabetics? How technology can help diabetics to effectively control their diabetes? Daria: In all honestly, I do not log my blood sugars or carbohydrate intake in any way, as I keep my meals similar in carbs, and do not find that I need to know my ratios. I have also found that logging actually brings more stress to me than benefits. I did log for a short period of time, when I was figuring out how to calculate insulin doses and how to understand BG patterns, but not more than for a week. I haven’t really found IOB (Insulin-On-Board) trackers useful either, as my sensitivity is very varied depending on my levels of activity and foods eaten before. I know my diabetes well enough to be able to tell my blood sugar without all those tools. I do encourage you to try out all tools, as everything about diabetes is very personal, and you don’t know if a certain app will be for you until you try it out.
Dianurse: How can you inspire others to take better care of themselves and their diabetes? Daria: I must say, the best thing you can do for yourself is to be curious, learn more about your body and its processes. Become a scientist, and experiment with your blood sugars and insulin dosage/timing. The best way to learn about your diabetes is to find patterns in your blood sugars, try out new management techniques, and adjust your nutrition, carb and insulin intake to take better control of your blood sugars. This all comes with patience and practice. And, of course, do not forget to pre-bolus. If you would like some inspiration on nutritious meals, diabetic tips, low carb desserts and fitness inspiration, give me a follow @t1level_daria . Check-in and say hi, I am always happy to connect with other Type 1’s.
You can follow Daria and connect with her. Facebook: @t1levelfitness Blog and Website: https://www.t1levelfitness.co.uk Instagram: @t1level_daria YouTube: Daria Arofikina
Monica is a marketing maanger at Dianurse and a blogger.