What have you found to make your diabetes-life easier, or what barriers have you found that make it harder? This week, we welcomed Adam Brown, senior editor at diaTribe, to discuss the contents of his new book Bright Spots and Landmines with members of the diabetes community.
Q. Bright spot: What foods best keep your blood glucose in range? How can you eat them more often?
A. Adam: Chia seed pudding! Nuts and seeds, eggs, giant salads, chicken, fish! Having them in the house helps a lot, so I don’t reach for junk food. Having good food readily available is so key. It’s the empty pantry that is often bad for my diabetes and gets me to make landmine decisions.
• Foods with higher fiber, lower carb, but also plenty of moderate carb foods. Buy more at the store and keep stocked up.
• Cauliflower rice over regular rice, and foods like broccoli or peanut butter during snacks. I have just eliminated other options from our house.
• A low-carb, grain-free approach works great for my son. Veggies and protein work well.
Q. Landmine: How do you approach challenging diabetes foods? Tips to avoid them?
A. Adam: Moderation never works for me. One bite, and I am finishing the whole package. So I steer clear completely. Having substitutes helps, especially almond flour.
• I’ve cut out some of my previous problem foods. Those I kept, I am moderate with. I learned that all foods fit from Laura Cipullo, RD and CDE.
• I tell myself, “No means no.” If I shouldn’t have something, I forget about it and move on.
• Out of sight, out of mind. Keeping them out of the house can be a helpful way to avoid challenging foods!
• I google low-carb recipes for versions of foods we like.
Q. Bright spot: What activities and tricks help you keep a positive mindset and lower stress?
A. Adam: So many bright spots and landmines. Remember the benefits of managing blood glucose, zoom out visualization, breathing, and walking.
• Making music has done a great deal for my positive mindset. Listening to music lowers stress.
• Spending time with my support team, not being too hard on myself, and maintaining a healthy exercise schedule.
• Some of the best ways to lower stress are to go on walks around your hometown and drink tea.
Q. Landmine: What are your mindset and motivation struggles? How can you avoid them?
A. Adam: My big mindset landmines are perfectionism and asking unproductive questions. I try to reframe with better questions and being realistic.
• When I get burnout. Then I basically say, “What else are you going to do?” I look at my daughters and snap out of it real quick.
• Sometimes too much data can set me back. I had a rough weekend of blood glucose [problems] and felt down on myself. But I must remember that I can only do my best. The rest is just living with diabetes.
• Figuring out overcoming exhaustion during exercise, low blood sugars always get me, and trying to feel encouraged.
Q. Bright spot: on days when you get exercise, what are the key enablers?
A. Adam: Remembering that five minutes of exercise beats zero minutes. Also, walking my dog helps so much, and I often wear a weighted vest.
• Exercise is one of the things I do the most consistently. Last week was a sick week, and it felt wrong to not be working out.
• Making exercise easier by removing barriers is key. This way it can fit into your busy life. Scheduling exercise into a busy life is another way to help make it happen more often.
• If I’ve eaten well the day before, I have energy and feel motivated.
Q. Landmine: next time you can’t find time to exercise, what might you do?
A. Adam: I go for a 20-minute brisk walk and call my mom. I always have time for that.
• Sometimes even just some stretching can get you through the day.
• I should set a reminder to exercise at a time I know I’m available each day.
• There are always a few minutes you can steal for a walk! Try suggesting a walking meeting with a coworker, for example.
Q. Bright spot: What enables your best nights of sleep? How can you have more great nights?
A. Adam: It’s always about starting the pre-bed routine early enough to get to bed early and not having evening green tea, even though I love it.
• Days I exercise are nights I sleep best.
• Limiting light exposure can help you fall asleep quickly so that you’re not tossing and turning for hours.
• Stable blood glucose before bedtime. I make sure that I have whatever I might need (glucose, meter, and water) next to my son’s bed.
Q. Landmine: What commonly ruins sleep for you? How might you avoid/fix it?
A. Adam: Overeating snacks before bed to avoid lows means high blood glucose overnight means terrible sleep. Limiting pre-bed food is so key; only glucose tabs to correct.
• Stress ruins my sleep. It keeps me up late and wakes me up frequently. Also, low blood glucose.
• Stress. I worry about T1D complications while I am sleeping and can’t detect as well. I’m unsure what could help that more.
• Sleep procrastination can ruin what is supposed to be a good night's sleep. Setting a firm bedtime can help.
Thank you, Adam Brown and members of the diabetes online community (#doc) for joining this week’s diabetes community chat.
Join this discussion by commenting below, or join future discussions every Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET by following @DiabeticConnect on Twitter and using #DCDE.