Surviving Christmas with the Diabetes Police

Originally posted on Diabetes Daily:

It’s beginning to look a lot like… CARBS! Yes, it’s that time of the year for over-indulging. All that delicious food, loaded with butter and sugar. So tasty… so comforting… so… STOP! At least that’s what we’re going to hear the most because we live with diabetes. Oh, yes, the Diabetes Police are out to get us. They “know” sugar is bad for us, and they want to keep us away from it. Don’t even look at that nice tray of cookies.

Annoying, right?

So, if this is that special time of the year to eat, drink and be merry, how are we supposed to enjoy the holidays with someone nagging us about what we should and shouldn’t eat? I’ve been there, with someone giving me the stink eye because I went for the sweets. It’s embarrassing, it’s infuriating—especially when you’re chastised in front of everybody—and I know it takes a lot of self-control sometimes not to snap. After all, we’re already living with a condition that limits some of the choices we make, and having someone reminding us of the fact isn’t much fun.

How do we handle it, then? Here are 5 tips:

  1. Education. I think dealing with the Diabetes Police is an opportunity to educate others about how we deal with diabetes and its many complexities. Tell them about how some of us use insulin to help our bodies process carbs; or explain how even people with diabetes can learn to be smart about food choices and exchanges without having to sacrifice  a good moment at the table. Most people just don’t know better.
  2. Planning ahead. We can be honest and upfront, and ask people not to single us out no matter how good their intentions are. Instead of getting reactive, we can be proactive. For example, is there a way to prepare certain foods you know would be healthier? Don’t be afraid to ask if it’s possible to accommodate it.
  3. Realistic behavior. We know how our bodies work, we know how those 90 grams of carbs will make us feel. So the best way to keep the Diabetes Police at bay is probably stay on track with our own management. We have the knowledge, we have the tools, it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves.
  4. Self-love. The most important thing is to keep in mind that we don’t have to be perfect, and we can’t let other people make us feel bad for not being perfect. Remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous quote, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Accept the challenges, roll with the punches, correct whenever you have to, and move on. But most of all, demand respect from others.
  5. Appreciation. In the end, our family and friends think they’re helping us, supporting us, and doing what’s best for us. Understanding what good support looks like for people with diabetes isn’t easy, so we’ve gotta remember that they’re policing and they’re comments are usually coming from a place of love.

I hope you all have a blessed holiday season, happy numbers and lots of memories to cherish!

BG Testing… 1,2,3…

Originally posted on Diabetes Daily.

The first time my endocrinologist told me I was doing so well managing my blood glucose levels, I only needed to test them 2-3 times a week, I laughed… hard… I looked at him with a big “REALLY?” stamped on my forehead. He assured me it was okay, so I thought it was okay.

Guess what? It isn’t okay!

In 2008, I worked for a company that sold diabetes supplies and delivered them in the mail. While I tried to appreciate the experience for what it was, and did my best to keep my compassionate and caring attitude toward the customers, I got burned out pretty quickly. Among the many things that made me unhappy about that job was the absurd insurance companies’ policies when it came to the limit on test strips.

Insurance companies in general oversimplify something that isn’t simple at all. Their perfect equation goes something like this: you use insulin, you test 3 times a day; you don’t use insulin, you test 1 time a day. And good luck with that! Forget the highs and the lows during the day, and just guess what your food can do to your glucose levels before you put it in your mouth. Easy, right? No.

I speak from the perspective of a person with type 2 diabetes who doesn’t use insulin. Most of the time, I’m just praying to the gland gods to behave when I eat. Many times I don’t even pay attention and have the negative thought train about dying any day, anyway, so why bother? And you know why that is? Because I was told it was OK to test only 2-3 times a week… so the rest of the time I’m completely oblivious.

It’s really hard to get into a blood glucose testing routine when you’re advised to do it so randomly. If you choose to stick to that necessary routine and use more test strips, good luck paying for them out of your pocket. I’ve gone without testing for long periods of time, mostly as a personal choice (irresponsible choice, I may add), and let me tell you that not knowing your numbers isn’t a good thing. Especially when you rely on food choices; sometimes even the healthy stuff may play a bad trick.

So, how do you know? By testing your blood sugar more often!

If you’re not testing often because you believe that people with type 2 diabetes shouldn’t test that often, consider talking to your doctor about increasing the amount of test strips in that prescription. Knowledge is power. It’s frustrating not to know where you’re going to land when you jump. And testing often does help you make better choices.

The One With the Giveaway

Most  people believe that being Colombian automatically makes you a coffee lover. If you ask me I’ll probably say yes. Coffee is a staple in my house (well, my mom’s house) and there is always coffee brewing for a “tintico.” I remember there was always a thermos with coffee on my grandma’s table, So yeah… coffee… the elixir of life.

It wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I realize how many ways of serving coffee there are. Some I like, some I hate. Now coffee has become an luxury for some, and what gets to me the most is how complicated it is to order a coffee these days; tall, grande, venti, non-fat, yes-fat, three shots, no shots. Oh, my God, what happened to a regular café con leche?!?!

However, there is one thing I love about different ways to drink coffee. Enter coffee creamers! Yes, I love how you can fancy up that cup with so many wonderful flavors. But I’m partial to the perfect partner, Coffee Mate. Why? I don’t know… maybe it’s because I like Nestlé or I’m just more familiar with it. In any case, Coffee Mate has done a great job bringing the fancy coffee house to our house.

If you ask me what my favorite flavor of Coffee Mate is, I will never give you an answer. It depends on my mood, it depends on what I’m looking for. But one thing is sure, I do love the sugar-free version! To me, it makes my coffee taste and look more like the usual café con leche I grew up with, and there’s the added bonus to not raising my blood sugar levels too much. Of course I was going to mention diabetes in the post!

OK, I wasn’t going to bore you with stories about coffee for nothing… There’s a  giveaway with some neat coffee-related items (believe me, they’re fantastic!). It’s easy… just leave a comment sharing what your favorite flavored coffee is. Yes, it’s that easy. The winner will be picked randomly (I’ll have my cat draw the number!)

Prize packs will include:

· Branded coffee mug
· Sterling silver coffee charm
· AMEX gift card
· Coffee-mate full-value coupons
· Patterned napkin

And you really want one of these! I know you want it… you really do!