Monthly Archives: November 2015
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1967, yet I have very mixed emotions about how this month is handled. I grow weary of the constant stream of negativity shared related to all forms of diabetes. The standard message shared contains words such as, “devastating,” “deadly,” “stressful,” “all consuming,” “terrifying,” etc.
I’ve had Type 1 Diabetes almost 50 years. None of those words or phrases applies to my life. Never has. Never will. Please know I’m not passing judgment on the views that are shared. I’m simply stating that those views are not a version of my truth. My heart breaks for those for whom it is true.
Based on the negative perspective I see shared so often during National Diabetes Awareness Month, I decided to share my personal tips for avoiding the potential stressors related to diabetes. My hope is that these tips will help you find joy and maintain peace in your journey with diabetes.
Here are my tips for maintaining sanity and finding joy while living with any form of diabetes:
- Work through the anger and let it go: It is perfectly normal to be angry about having diabetes. Did you hear that? Completely, totally normal. Being angry is a standard part of the grieving process that follows diagnosis. Problems result when the anger becomes all-consuming and/or doesn’t dissipate with time. I experienced a lot of anger as a result of having diabetes. I didn’t start working through that anger until about 20 years after my diagnosis. The result of facing and working through the anger was profound. Getting rid of the negativity and learning to find joy in the daily trials of diabetes changed my life. Releasing the anger enabled me to let go of lots of negative junk that kept interfering with my ability to live abundantly. It also helped me finally accept the diagnosis instead of constantly railing against it. My health in general improved as a result. My clients with diabetes often find that emotional release work enables them to lower their A1Cs and feel better in general.
- Stop expecting perfectly normal blood sugars: We all know how important it is to maintain blood sugars that are as close to “normal” as possible; however, you will never know peace if you become frustrated and upset each time your sugars stray outside of the normal range. I get that it can be frustrating to do everything right and have your blood sugar dip or spike for no apparent reason. Part of living with diabetes includes accepting that our bodies will rarely do what the text books say they should. Learn from the unexpected lows and highs and move on.
- Decide and choose to live abundantly: Many people receive the diabetes diagnosis and instantly decide their life is ruined. That may partially be because ignorant medical professionals often tell newly diagnosed diabetics their lives are over and they will never be healthy again. That is not true. Living joyfully and maintaining peace with diabetes requires that we maintain a positive, hopeful attitude. Living with diabetes can indeed be stressful at times. Choosing to keep a good attitude and maintain a positive perspective on life makes a huge difference in how we function on a daily basis.
- Don’t let diabetes become your identity: You are an amazing person with the capacity to live an amazing life. The fact you have some form of diabetes is absolutely irrelevant to who you are as a person. I meet many people whose entire identity is based on the fact they have diabetes. Everything in their life revolves around and is limited by a diagnosis. It doesn’t have to be that way. Having diabetes does not need to and should not affect every aspect of your life. Learning to control diabetes instead of letting it control you is key to maintaining joy and peace in the midst of the potential challenges. Living joyfully is a choice, plain and simple. You can choose to let diabetes control every facet of your life, or you can choose to live your life abundantly and make diabetes a very small part of who you are. It is possible to live that way and maintain good control. I promise.
- Learn to laugh at your frustrations: Many aspects of diabetes are hilarious, but it takes a special person to learn to laugh at their frustrations. Commit to finding humor in the myriad of situations that can pop up while living with diabetes. Your entire perspective will change. You may also find people enjoy being around you more.
- Take time to count your blessings every single day: I realize that advice is given far too often and may sound a bit cliche. In spite of that, taking time each day to remind yourself how incredibly blessed you are truly helps you live with joy. Focusing on our blessings instead of our challenges helps transform our perspective, attitude and outlook. Don’t believe me? Try it.
- Take time to help and encourage others: It doesn’t make much sense, but taking time to help and encourage others is a great way of lifting ourselves up. Taking our focus off of our own problems and making an effort to encourage and help someone else automatically makes us feel better. It works every single time. As a wise man once said, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”
- Stop expecting the worst: I work with a lot of people with diabetes who assume blindness, amputations, heart disease, and other complications are inevitable. That is NOT true. Complications are possible, not definite. I find that people who expect to have complications wind up having them, while those who assume everything will be fine have far fewer. Our body has a funny way of listening to what we tell it. Assuming complications are inevitable and living our life waiting for them to happen increases the likelihood they will. I’ve seen that play out in people’s lives over and over again. After almost 50 years with Type 1 Diabetes, I don’t have any complications. It is possible.
- Celebrate and acknowledge your accomplishments: Living with diabetes can be a challenge. Take time to celebrate your accomplishments! Celebrate and give yourself a pat on the back for everything you do that you thought might be impossible due to diabetes. Also take time to celebrate accomplishments other people foolishly said you couldn’t achieve. Short of a few legalities, there is nothing you can’t accomplish with diabetes. Travel across Europe by yourself? Got your motorcycle license? Worked a 15-hour shift with no highs or lows? Celebrate the heck out of that! Make a list of non-food rewards and reward yourself for every accomplishment you achieve.
- Consider what you wouldn’t have without diabetes: Most of us can admit there are aspects of our personal development and life we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t been diagnosed with diabetes. Many of us eat healthier, exercise, and take better care of ourselves as a result of the diagnosis. Some of us have increased self confidence as a result of defeating the challenges of diabetes. Most of us have wonderful people in our lives we would never have met if we didn’t have diabetes.Take time to honestly assess the good things you’ve become or received as a result of living with diabetes. Remind yourself of those benefits when you’re tempted to get frustrated..
And one final word of advice:
- If you need help, ask for it: Depression is more common in folks who have diabetes than those who don’t. If you find you are having trouble coping or have sunk into a “funk” you can’t lift yourself out of, please seek professional help. There is no shame in that. Blood sugars directly affect brain chemistry. Depression is not something you can simply think your way out of. Counseling, a support group, or medication may be necessary. Accept that and get the help you need.
You are amazing. I know living with any form of diabetes can be challenging. If we choose to rise above those challenges and live abundantly, nothing can stop us. Go live abundantly!
I am a huge fan of “life hacks.” Handy tricks that can greatly simplify a natural lifestyle create a win-win situation, allowing us to
simplify our lives while improving our health. What could be better? Following are my Top 10 Natural Health Life Hacks. Use them to simplify your life, improve your health, save money, and live better. Have your own natural health life hack? Please share it in the comments!
Dr. Pamela’s Top 10 Natural Health Life Hacks
Stop wasting money on commercial colloidal oatmeal: The word “colloidal” in relation to colloidal oatmeal simply means, “able to uniformly disperse in water.” That’s it. Nothing fancy and no chemistry required. Make your own colloidal oatmeal – and save a ton of money – by blending organic oats in a blender until they form a fine powder. It’s just that simple. Most commercial colloidal oatmeals contain chemical additives designed to improve the powder’s flow through processing machines, so by making your own you also reduce your exposure to potential toxins.
Freeze leftover smoothie in an ice cube tray: Once the smoothie cubes are frozen, you can either use them as a cool treat on a hot day, can use them as ice cubes in water to create an “infused” beverage, or can toss them into a blender and make a frozen version of the original smoothie. You can also use the frozen cubes to save time. Make a double batch of smoothie every day for a week, freezing the excess and putting the cubes in a canning jar in the freezer. Use the frozen cubes to make a quickie smoothie on mornings when you run out of time for a healthy breakfast. Freezing the smoothie will detract a small amount of nutrition, but will retain enough nutrition to provide benefits. If you’d like a formula to use to make perfect smoothies every time, read this: Perfect Smoothie Formula.
Keep a pre-packed bag with gym essentials in your trunk: Having a back-up gym bag packed and ready to go will help eliminate most excuses for not working out. Keep one in your trunk, in your desk at work, or wherever it will always be ready. Items to pack might include a t-shirt and shorts, tennis shoes, deodorant, headband, water bottle, etc.
Buy organic spices in the bulk section instead of individual jars: When we buy organic basil in a jar, it costs $4.79. The same amount of organic basil in bulk costs us less than $1.50. Find a locally owned store that sells organic spices in bulk. The store we frequent even allows us to weigh our own container when we enter so we don’t have to use a plastic bag. We save loads of money by buying our organic spices in bulk. We wash and re-use glass spice bottles, but you can also find bottles on Amazon for next to nothing.
Measure your daily water need into a bottle in the morning and keep it with you all day: We all need to drink half our weight (in pounds) in ounces of water on a daily basis. This means people who weigh 150 pounds should drink 75 ounces of purified water daily. Staying hydrated helps ensure our cells can work at their optimal level, helps us feel more energized, can eliminate headaches, and prevents the body from secreting hormones that make us feel hungry when what we actually need is water. The bottom line is that our cells work better when they’re hydrated and look like grapes than they do when they are dehydrated and look like raisins. So do we.
Ask for a to go box when you order at a restaurant, then place half your meal in the box as soon as it’s served: Most portions of restaurant meals are huge, especially if they include side dishes, salad, etc. Boxing up half your meal as soon as it’s delivered helps ensure you don’t overeat and provides a meal for the next day. For more tips and tricks for eating healthily when eating out, read Ten Ways to Make Good Choices While Eating Out.
Use coconut water instead of sugary sports drinks: Coconut water naturally contains every trace mineral present in human blood. It is also very easily absorbed and void of added sugars or corn syrup. It makes a much healthier alternative to sports drinks loaded with synthetic minerals and excess sugars. Coconut water is also often successfully used instead of infant electrolyte replacement drinks. (Discuss that option with your pediatrician or physician.) For best results, use a coconut water that is organic and that does not contain added sugars.
Make your own “gel” icepack: Simply blend 2 parts water with 1 part rubbing alcohol. Place in a zippered bag, force out as much air as possible, freeze, and use as needed. You may want to use two bags to help protect against having the zippers pop open. These ice packs are nice because they don’t leak all over but can easily fit around limbs and body parts. To prevent overchilling of the body part, place a towel or wash cloth between the area that needs to be iced and the gel pack. You can increase or decrease the ratio of water to rubbing alcohol to change the thickness and density of the “gel” as needed. Vodka or Everclear can be used instead of the rubbing alcohol if you prefer.
Use a piece of spaghetti to light candles: Believe it or not, spaghetti is flammable. Light a piece and you can use it to light multiple candles with hard to reach wicks. Note that gluten-free spaghetti doesn’t work as well as regular spaghetti.
Ditch artificial makeup removers: The best makeup remover on the planet is organic, high oleic sunflower seed oil. The oil easily removes makeup and contains fatty acids known to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. It’s also very inexpensive. To use, apply the oil to a natural cotton ball or cotton wash cloth (use black wash cloths for removing eye makeup) and gently use to remove makeup. You’ll protect yourself from artificial chemicals while nourishing and moisturizing your skin. It’s a winning combination!
Bonus Natural Health Life Hack #11:
Use coconut flour instead of corn starch as a thickener: Coconut flour is ultra-absorbent and makes a fantastic thickener for soups and stews. It does not add any flavor to the recipe. Since most corn starch is made from genetically modified corn and is high in carbohydrates, I prefer to avoid it. Coconut flour not only works better as a thickener, it has better nutritional value, adding protein and healthy essential fatty acids.
Bonus Natural Health Life Hack #12:
Store natural peanut butter upside down on its lid: That will allow the natural oils to rise to the bottom of the jar. Shaking the jar before opening it will make it easier to stir and blend the oils back into the butter.
What are your favorite natural health hacks? Please share!