Sunday, July 24, 2016

Life, but not as you know it

  • Focus 24/7
  • Low GI
  • Carb counting
  • Health and fitness focus
  • Long term benefit over short term pleasure
  • Just do it!
  • Believe in yourself

Sometimes I think I should become a personal trainer or life coach. But I am a mum to a child with type 1 diabetes and this is my daily mantra – both for myself and my family. We have all embraced a healthy lifestyle – which for the most part makes managing diabetes easier. But it isn't easy.

Freya is now 7 years old. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes nearly 7 years ago. Her pancreas stopped working properly and that was that. There was nothing we could do to change it and nothing we could have done to prevent it. Type 1 diabetes has no cure and is not preventable in anyway.

Each night for the past 7 years my husband, mother or I have tested Freya at around 11pm, 2am and again before 5am. We do this as for people with type 1 it is possible to have unexplained high (hyperglycemia) or very low blood glucose levels (hypoglycemia) overnight. The impact of long term high blood glucose levels can mean loss of limbs and all sorts of serious medical conditions (such as loss of sight, heart or kidney failure). The impact of low blood glucose levels is more immediate – in mild cases it makes you feel drowsy, confused and often very hungry. In severe cases it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage, heart failure or death – sometimes within a few hours.

So whilst some people have very few hypoglycemic (low) episodes at night, some people (and more often kids as they are growing rapidly) have them more often. The risks are real and something that adults with type 1 and parents, partners and carers of people with type 1 diabetes have to live with every day.

So, yes, I know, all of this sounds very dramatic. And it can be. Children and adults die from complications due to diabetes every week in Australia, but most live happy, healthy and fully functional lives.

What we would love though is a cure. We would also love a good night's sleep on a regular basis.

There is technology available that could help people with diabetes, though at great expense. The government is considering subsidising up to 4000 children under 18 in a pre-election promise which will hopefully be put through parliament in the coming months. Whilst this is a great start, there are currently over 120,000 people in Australia with type 1 – so that is a lot of people who are not going to be helped in any way.

That is also 120,000 people and their families who would dearly love a cure. Whose lives have been forever changed by a genetic fault – that still has scientists baffled as to its cause.

My daughter has had at least 5 injections of insulin a day; over the past 7 years that's over 12,000 injections. She has also tested her blood (via her finger tips) up to 10 times a day in the same period (over 25,000 finger pricks to draw blood). She is 7 and does this to stay alive. Sometimes she gets frustrated, but mostly just gets on with it.

My daughter is amazing and truly an inspiration for me. She is the reason that each year, for the past 6 years, that I have organised a fundraising or awareness raising event for diabetes. I want to find a cure. But if I cannot find a cure, I want Freya and all people with diabetes to live in a country where people don't judge them for having diabetes. Freya is smart, healthy, super fit and fun to be around. She can and will do whatever she wants in life.

Diabetes can be a life threatening and life shortening disease but if we all band together we can make a difference. Please donate if you can or simply share this to help raise awareness about diabetes.

I am organising the Sunshine Coast JDRF One Walk at Cotton Tree Park on the 28th August 2016. Registration is from 8.30am and the walk starts at 9.30am (there are 2km and 5km options available – and well behaved dogs on leads are welcome). For more information click here

To donate to the One Walk click here

To donate to JDRF click here

To donate to Diabetes Queensland click here

I will be updating my blog more regularly so please follow by email or check out my instagram page (@invigor8) where I share new blogs and images.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

4 years with type 1 diabetes: Judgement Day

Judgement day

It has been 4 years today since my baby girls' was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I remember the kindness of the staff at our local Hospital, I remember getting in and out of the ambulance as the bigger nearby hospital changed their minds about taking my daughter (for the best I know realise) and I will never forget the shock of not being able to travel with my baby to the closest major hospital in the ambulance – not knowing if she would make it. The ambulance staff were amazing and kept us as updated as they could and the Local Emergency team did everything they could to assist in a terrible and frightening situation.

Type 1 diabetes is a life sentence. For the patient and the family. It is also the start of a new life. One that involves a whole new language and a new level of politics.

My little girl is amazing. But I have also learned that so are many of my friends – new and old. So are my husband and my mum. Diabetes changes so much. Friends have learnt that I cannot be as reliable as I once was. My mum has become a life saver – giving me a much needed break as my husband works away, to help pay for the additional costs of managing type 1 diabetes that the government does not cover, and to give us a better life. I have made new friends through diabetes, who understand my life and my fears. But I have also found that my closest friends understand. They just do. I am really lucky to have them in my life.

I have also found that there is an unfortunate side to the support world. There are women who bitch, undermine and judge, often for their own gain. I probably should have expected it – but it really took me by surprise. Why would people do this? And how do they live with themselves? I have found that there are women who will actually go out of their way to bring you down and for this I am very sorry. For them mostly, as I believe that they must have very sad lives that they need to create pain for another.

Over the past four years I have learnt a love about myself. I have learnt what I really want to do. I have learnt how hard it is going to be to do it. I have worked at a fairly senior level in big pharma and for one of the biggest charities in Australia, but it will take more than knowledge to create the groundswell of change that is needed to create better lives for everyone with diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2. I have learnt that judging others does not help anyone and that only through assisting and creating change can we make a better life for everyone. One day I hope I will be a large part of that change. Until then, I will dabble at the edges, poking and prodding and trying to encourage people to understand each other.

My message for today… diabetes does not discriminate. For some types of diabetes diet and lifestyle may help – but it may not. You don’t know your future nor the future of your kids. Do not judge others and where you can, please lend a hand or an ear.

All Images: Copyright Invigor8 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Breastfeeding…. Bottle feeding…

I am not sure if there are words that are more controversial in parenting (well maybe with the exclusion of vaccination – but we can do that next week!).

Let me put this out there right now – I was a Brand Manager for an infant formula company for many years, both here in Australia and overseas. I have sat through hours and hours (and hours) of market research watching mums talk about breast feeding, bottle feeding, about how (when still pregnant) that they will have routines, their lives won’t change, how (post birth) they wish someone told them not to expect to have a routine, why they often feel guilty that they can’t live up to their own expectations (let alone other peoples) and how much they wish other parents/ grandparents and society would not judge them for their feeding choices… And interestingly, how they wished they could get more information about infant formula and why they feel so very guilty.

Yes, I worked for a formula company. Yes, it was in our interest to hear this. But in reality, there is very little ability to share good, thorough information about infant formula in Australia. We are not even able to call it baby milk here (you can in the UK). Here we have a mandated name so that it sounds clinical and scary and not as good for babies.

And I understand that breast milk is best. Not only did I have to write the “Breastfeeding is best for your baby” statement on any “marketing literature” that I developed in Australia (creating guilt for mums much anyone?), but I also did breastfeed both of my children. But I was able to and I wanted to. At the time of working for the “Big Pharma” company, I had read all of the current studies on why breastfeeding is beneficial and researched at length what ingredients I should be lobbying to have included in our formulas to make them better for babies and as close as possible to breast milk. Because, you know what, isn’t that what we all want? If we can’t, or chose not to breast feed, don’t we want to give our babies the next best thing?

And you can yell at me and tell me I am biased, but no matter what, I have worked in the industry and seen the research involved. I understand that without profits, there would not be significant research gains. Unless governments are going to start fully funding research and development into every illness, every health requirement, we need companies to make a profit. Otherwise, we all need to dig a lot deeper and start donating significant amounts of money to research of all kinds.

So as a mum who breastfed, as business women who worked for a formula company and as a parenting writer, I believe that we need to give mums (and dads) respect for their intelligence. We need to support mums in their choices. Help them to breastfeed, but not at the expense of their baby’s health or the mother’s mental state. When they can’t (or chose not to) breastfeed, give them the information to help them chose the right formula for their child. It may not be the most expensive formula (or maybe it will be), but without full access to unbiased information, how can a parent make an educated choice between formulas.

We need to take a step back from the health professional bashing and “it is all about profit” claims.

We need to work together. We need to make it all about mum and baby.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Low carb Protein Balls (recipe time!)

I don't hold myself up to be a chef of any kind; however I have been spending a fortune buying high protein, low carb foods for my 4 year old with type 1 diabetes. I have started to research cheaper (and less processed to some degree) options for snacks and have been struggling to find many online. I also like things to be simple... so anything I post will be EASY and quick!

If you aren't familiar with the taste of protein bars/ snacks, these may be a little unusual as they really do have a specific taste/ texture that is not for everyone.

Let me know what you think of this one:

 Low carb Choc-peanut biscuits (or balls)

50g protein powder (chocolate)
30 – 35g Peanut butter (no added sugar)
5 teaspoons of water
(NB: see botom of article for slightly reduced fat/ kj option)


Melt peanut butter in microwave for 20 sec in microwave safe bowl (I used Kraft’s new No added sugar or salt crunchy – adds texture)

This is the batter with 3 tsp water
Add protein powder and mix. Add water slowly to allow powder to absorb all water before more is added. 

Depending on the brand of protein powder used you may need more or less water. (I used Body Science Shaping Protein for Women in chocolate flavour).

Once a very thick and fairly dry consistency has been formed, mould into a tube shape (as per image right). 

Slice tube into 8 small pieces (to be consistent with nutritional information panel (NIP) shown below).
For balls, roll each piece into a small ball (NB: You can also choose not to cook the balls at all and roll in a small amount of shredded coconut for variety – coconut is not included in NIP)

For biscuits, flatten and shape into a small biscuit (as per left image)

Place on a microwave safe plate (you may want to lightly spray with oil).

Microwave for 45 secs (may vary depending on your microwave – longer will make them drier, if you make larger size biscuits or balls you will need more time). 

Biscuits/ balls will rise slightly and batter will start to dry.

Allow to cool (biscuits will crisp slightly, but not much, as they cool)

Each biscuit or ball contains approx. 212kj and 0.8g carbs. See Nutritional Information Panel (NIP) for more information (below). 

Option B: reduce peanut butter to 20g and increase water to 6 - 7 tsp. This cuts the kj to 153, fat to 1.5 and carbs to 0.6. It doesn't change the flavour or consistency too much either.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's love got to do with it?

“Mummy, will I get a Valentine’s Day card?”

That was the question posed by my 6 year old son yesterday. “Probably not, sweetie” was my reply.
What followed was a long discussion about what Valentine’s Day meant; who got cards, why, why not, and why it all started (I had no idea).

My 4 year old daughter popped the odd question in here and there, but mostly the questions were from my son. The kids in her kindy class make cards for their parents – which is sweet and appreciated.

My son’s concerns were that the kids at school were already talking about who they were giving cards to and who they thought they would get them from. Did I say that he is 6? When he asked if he and his male mates could give each other cards so they weren’t left out, I was a little stumped. Of course they could, however that was not necessarily in the spirit of the day, which was about girlfriends/ boyfriends (and I am making no judgement here on same-sex relationships – simply that a 6 year old does not have a romantic relationship). 

But I wondered, why couldn’t the day be about friends? The main reason I felt uncomfortable with the whole concept is that Valentine’s Day is just so much about marketing. In my job, I have received endless press releases telling me about why I should be telling our magazine readers they should be giving “sugar-free chocolate this Valentine’s Day” or giving a cute stuffed bunny/ teddy/ dog to show they really care.
I have enjoyed receiving something on Valentine’s Day and when we have time, my husband and I have made a special effort to have a quiet meal together. That said I enjoy a thoughtful card or quiet meal even more when it is spontaneous and not part of a set marketing calendar that tells us to share our feelings on this date.

So in the end, I told my son that he should make his friends a card telling them why they are special to him. It didn’t need to be a Valentine’s Day thing, but that was up to him.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What does it mean to you?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Baby, no more

Baby, no more

Tonight while I was cooking dinner I realised that I am done. With babies that is. No more for me. I have always said I would like another; however as I stood there at the stove, with my husband driving my two kids home from their swimming lessons, I realised that my life is pretty good just the way it is. Of course if there was an accident, I am sure I would welcome a baby. But right now, I can live without ever having to breastfeed for 6 – 24mths, change nappies, clean poo/wee of EVERYTHING, wake throughout the night constantly (other than every 2 – 3 hours for my type 1 daughter), and generally have a screaming baby be MY responsibility.

I have never been fond of babies. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mum. And I have always wanted to be a mum. I loved my own babies and thought they were beautiful. But for the most part, other people’s babies are pretty ugly and boring. My sisters haven’t had kids yet, so maybe that will be different. I am fairly maternal in my behaviour, so people seem to insist on handing me their babies, which I generally try to resist. Once they are over 12 months I am great; but before that, not so much.

People always ask if you have finished having babies. I don’t think you can answer that question without getting the opposite response from the asker.  Of my two closest friends, one is done and one wants another. And yet when someone asks “Are you going to have another?” The friend who replies, “Oh, no I have 4, I am done”, seems to always get, “You should never rule it out” and the friend who says, “Yes, I would like another at some stage”, hears “You are so lucky to have 3 wonderful kids”. Okay then.

Of course the most interesting responses I have had when discussing the possibility of a new baby have come from my two kids. My 6 year old son and 4 year old daughter love the idea of a baby. But it is when we get down to logistics that things become interesting. Both of my kids co-sleep (still) from time to time (the “time” being almost every night from around midnight, plus when my husband is away for work). So when we discussed where the baby would sleep this caused great concern and agreement that is was probably best that we stayed at just two kids, as mummy only had two armpits for cuddles!

I am not sure what I will say when asked if I am having any more kids. It is still too new for me. I only shared my newfound knowledge with my husband over dinner. He looked quite amused really, as he was already in the “done” camp.

All of that said, I do reserve the right to change my mind.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Respecting allergies

Sometimes your kids are so much smarter than you give them credit for.

In my job, I am lucky enough to receive hundreds of books (mainly kids’ books) to review. This means that I am fairly picky when it comes to children’s books and I thought I could have a pretty good guess at which ones my kids would like, love and which they would want to read over and over again. 

Recently I have been stumped by my daughter’s choice of regular reader. She has chosen a nicely illustrated book about food allergies. The story is simple and the message is clear. It is the story of a 2 year old boy with severe food allergies who goes to a party. For those of you who read my posts regularly you will know my daughter has type 1 diabetes, but this does not stop her from being able to eat any foods. After reading the book for about the 25th time, I asked her why she liked it. She explained to me that she loves how Thai (the boy in the book) doesn’t have to miss out on anything at the party (his mum has pre-prepared everything that is needed) and that because everyone looks out for him he can be normal too. My daughter is only 3 years old. 

This had me reflecting on how poor I can be about respecting food allergies. On a recent visit to our hospital for my daughter’s quarterly review I asked her if she wanted a peanut butter sandwich that day (as I always take a complete day of meals to save any issues with carb counting or lack of healthy choices at the hospital). She didn’t want peanut butter, but it didn’t occur to me until I got home that night and was on the internet that I could have put children’s lives at risk. Another mother who had been at the hospital that day complained on Facebook about the types of foods parents had with their kids, and only then did I realise that I could have been endangering any number of kids.

Since then I have been making more of an effort to try and understand more about intolerances and allergies, but boy it is confusing and there is so much conflicting (and frankly, in some cases patronising for those with allergies) information.

So for those parents out there with kids with food allergies, I would love to hear your story. How can I and other parents help to make the lives of your kids easier? What would you like us to do or not do? And what would you like us not to say to you or your kids?