Peer support plays an important role in my life. It reminds me of the positive effects diabetes can have. Meeting people who understand my condition relieves my stress about diabetes and makes it easier to cope with. The feeling of not being alone is a warm one indeed. But where can a freshly diagnosed diabetic find peer support? I made a list of five items to help you search for peers both in the real world and on the net.
Each country has its own diabetes association. Most often the purpose of those associations is to guard the rights of diabetics and organise peer support. You should search for your own country’s diabetes association. The associations often arrange local meetings around the nation and some even offer diabetes support persons for your aid.
Sometimes it can be a bit of a threshold to just go to a peer meeting. It can be easier to go for a run or hike with fellow diabetics. Some countries have online communities dedicated for diabetics with a certain hobby. See Connected in Motion, which is a community for diabetics who like outdoor activities (they have great videos!). Similar communities may be found in your country. Or maybe start one together with your local diabetes association?
Online groups. There are several traditional diabetes forums to be found around the net, like this one. Facebook also has a lot of discussion groups and probably in every language, so be sure to search for them. I like forums because it is easier to search for discussion threads concerning a certain subject. FB groups easily become a never-ending stream of duplicate threads.
Search for blogs and Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest feeds on diabetes. It can also be empowering just to read about others’ views on diabetes. If you just like reading and watching, search with hashtags. We use #t1d, #type1diabetes and #diabeticlife, but there are many others and also country specific hashtags, like #diabetesuk or #diabetesfi.
If you have a diabetes related question in mind and want to ask in anonymously, you can use JDRF’s Get Support function. You just type in some background information and your question and their volunteers will answer you! Of course, they won’t provide any medical assistance, but will answer questions about what it is to live with diabetes.
And one extra tip for peer support!
+1. Grassroots peer support! When you do find some diabetic friends, you can suggest sharing your logged diabetes values in messenger styled chat. Dottli’s app does the sharing automatically and it can really help to motivate you to take better care of yourself. I wrote a blog post about grassroots peer support earlier, you can view it here.
In the beginning of this year, I was fed up with my blood glucose levels which seemed to know only two alternatives: sky high or rock bottom. Food and insulin are the major players which influence the amount of glucose in my veins. Sweets have been my biggest vice and boy, they really drive my BG through the roof.
I think most of us know what kind of food is good for us, but how many of us can really stick to a healthy diet? I had tried, but it was so easy to make the not-so-good choices. After last Christmas I decided it was really a time for change. Knowing myself, I knew I had to do something drastic, so I started a super healthy diet. I mean “5 kgs of veggies and 3 kgs of berries a week” kind of healthy diet. The diet included a very hefty amount of proteins as well. The excess proteins do create an extra strain on a diabetic’s kidneys, but the huge amount of carbs I was eating before the diet wasn’t good for me either, so I decided to stick with the proteins.
One good side effect to the diet was the fact that I had to measure the weight of nearly everything I ate, so I really knew the amount of carbs I was having. With the aid of my personal Harry Potter (my pump’s bolus wizard), it was really easy to just log the carbs and accept the amount of magical bolus it suggested to me.
My diet required me to prepare all the healthy food in advance and it was kind of hard work. It was also a bit difficult to come up with new recipes that were allowed in my strict diet. I could have done with a magical Chef Potter as well. While I’m not much of a cook myself, it felt quite satisfying to know I was eating healthy and to see the steady trends of my BG levels.
My diet was amazing, my blood glucose levels were SO good! Luckily I was able to use CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) and witness the great levels in real time time. For the first time ever during my type 1 diabetes (16 yrs), my BG trend was almost straight! I couldn’t stop staring at the curve. For the first time, I felt I could actually manage my diabetes! I was winning! I felt good about my diabetes and had no anxiety whatsoever! And I lost 5 kgs in 6 weeks!
At first I thought all the good things that was happening to me was due to eating clean food without extra or hidden salt, fat or sugar. After a while I realised that maybe the largest and most significant thing was the fact that I was weighing everything I ate. I knew the exact amount of carbs I was intaking. I was also eating less carbs than before, so that must’ve helped as well. When you change a major part of your daily carbs to veggies, it’s easier to stay control of your blood glucose levels. Also, eating at regular intervals really helps to control hunger and weight.
My diet lasted for six weeks and after it ended I was not able to continue it anymore. But I learned a lot from those weeks and still benefit from my diet. I want to highlight a few things based on my experiences during those six weeks. Here are the words of wisdom I gathered:
Eat clean, unprocessed food. Try to avoid foods with hidden sugar, salt or fat. They mess up your carb estimations!
Eat more veggies and berries. They can only do good for you!
Every now and then, make use of the kitchen scale. It can be a bit laborious but the better BG levels are so worth the effort!
Dottli is a digital health company based in Finland and improving life with diabetes is our first focus. As a hub for connected health apps and devices and with cloud-based intelligence, Dottli can also provide real-time support on your personal health goals.