I first met Phill Connell just a few short weeks ago when he retweeted something I posted for Diet-to-Go on Twitter. Phill and I began to chat via email and I soon learned the Englishman shared something with millions of Americans -- and that something was diabetes.
I am not the shy type so I quickly asked Phill if he'd like to blog about what it's like to live with diabetes. Phill told me he loved to write and he readily agreed to take up the task at hand.
So today we welcome Phill Connell to our ever-growing Diet-to-Go family. Please feel free to let us know what topics you'd like Phill to tackle.
And be sure to check back often when Phill blogs about what it's like to live...
I was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes 19 years ago last July. To be brutally honest, it was great news: I'd dropped to 105 pounds, performed badly in my university exams and needed to know why I felt so bad all the time.
I'd feared that I was suffering from something that wasn't manageable, so when the nurse at my doctor's practice told me that my blood sugar was out of control, it was a relief!
In the close to 20 years since, I've embraced the challenges that diabetes has brought. Every day is another day I'm grateful that I wasn't diagnosed with anything more serious back in the summer of 1991. Diabetes is a condition which shapes the way I live my life, including my approach to diet and fitness. Happily, the discipline that helps me to keep my blood sugar under control also encourages me to eat well.
1. It's the habits that kill you, not the treats!
By following a healthy diet with the right amount of calories and nutrients every day, I can afford the treats that I really enjoy. The diabetes needs to be kept under control so that my lifestyle controls it, not so the diabetes controls my life.
2. Follow a good everyday diet.
The diet I follow is fairly simple. Wholemeal carbohydrates as a basis for every meal, supplemented by tasty proteins and vitamins in the form of all my favourite meats and veggies. I certainly don't sacrifice my tastes for my health.
3. Make allowances for what you love.
The medication to manage your diabetes should be flexible enough to allow some treats. Learn how it works and modify your intake of insulin or tablets to take account of extra carbs. This is where having a predictable daily routine shows its worth: you'll know how your drugs work because you follow a good routine - then you can deviate once in a while, knowing how much extra medication to take.
4. Stay active!
Diabetes was my wake-up call. I was healthier at 30, after 9 years with diabetes, than I was at 20 before I developed it. Now at 40 I'm still healthier and more active than I was as a kid. Keep your body moving and it will repay you with years of service and higher energy levels.
Things change. Technologies and treatments are always getting better. Clever people work hard, all the time, to improve the lives of others. Join your national diabetes organization (the American Diabetes Association in the U.S., Diabetes UK in Great Britain, to name just two) and keep abreast of what's going on.
You might have diabetes, or you might know someone who has, whether it's controlled by insulin or diet or tablets. Just remember, things could be a lot worse. You're here, you're alive and life is a gift for you to enjoy. Form good habits and allow yourself the treats that make you smile.
In future weeks I'll be offering advice on a number of topics that you, the person living with diabetes, will find important. I'm not a doctor but I've spent 20 years living happily and healthily with diabetes -- and you can too!
Until next time, look after yourselves.
Phill Connell is a food lover, cyclist and Dad. An insulin-dependent diabetic of 20 years, living with diabetes for Phill is just... well, it's just living. Staying fit and active to watch his family grow is what gets him up the mornings. Phill also writes his own blog to share the adventure.