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Making Food Fun When You Have Type 1

Something no one ever tells you when you’re diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes is that your relationship with food will change completely. Eating can no longer be a second thought, but rather an important factor on your list of daily to-dos. 

When I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I was fourteen years old. Even though I’m only sixteen now, that young girl who was diagnosed in November of 2018 is a world’s difference away from who I am today. I knew so little about the effect carbohydrates have on your existence, let alone your energy levels and ability to function each day. I think it truly hit me in the month leading up to my diagnosis, when each and every symptom came through my body like a tornado no one ever sees coming. My body began to break down, and I questioned why each and every day. It was only until a finger stick test revealed that my blood sugar was a whopping 691 that I realized how serious not managing your diabetes, and not caring about your diabetes can be.

From that initial day of diagnosis, I went through the entire learning process that is Type 1 Diabetes. I learned about carbs, and which foods you should and shouldn’t go for. I was informed that my diet had to change if I wanted my blood sugars to be stable. However, I never truly grasped that idea of conquering your diet until the months following my days of diabetes education in the hospital. 

Having had a very balanced diet my entire life, there were a lot of foods I continued to enjoy on the daily. I loved that meats and cheeses along with most vegetables had such little carbs, so I didn’t have to worry about going high or low when eating them. Other things, however, like sugary cereal and soda, I decided to stay away from just because of the direct effect they had on my inability to feel good after I ate them. I saw and still see no benefit to my body in consuming those things. 

One thing I never did, though, was cut myself off from the foods I love. If there’s something I want you to take away from this blog, it’s that ridding yourself of the foods you love just because they scare you will never give you the satisfaction you’re looking for in a balanced diet. Instead, I would hope that like me, you find alternatives to the sugary foods you used to frequently enjoy. In our day and age, there are so many ways to find better versions of the “bad stuff” that people say will hurt your blood sugars. Yes, it takes some time and research to find those alternatives, but it is well worth the joy and internal feeling of balance. Having sugars that are in range and that you know will be in range when you consume these alternatives is more than gratifying personally and mentally. 

This is not to say that I too don’t indulge in some of the more sugar options every once in a while. I find pleasure in enjoying ice cream when I’m in Vermont with my family, or M&Ms and Twizzlers on a random movie night. You do not have to cut these foods out of your life completely. That doesn’t lead to any sort of happiness with your eating habits! It is all about balance.

Try your best to prepare ahead of time if you’re going to have foods that are out of your comfort zone in terms of sugar or carbs. Correct twenty minutes before rather than ten. It’s the little forms of management that induce a good lifestyle with Type 1. Don’t feel guilt…feel prepared. Try to find the strength to do so. 

Around April of this year, only a month into the infamous quarantined months of COVID-19, I decided to start an instagram page I named “type1foodfun”. It has become a wonderful place where I post the foods I eat (both good and bad), the activities I do, and quite honestly; the entirety of my life. I’m showing others, with and without Type 1, that you have the ability to conquer a disease that a lot of people feel cannot be tamed. Why? Because I’m living with it every single day of my life. I find time to do things that don’t involve thinking about Type 1, but that’s not to mention that it’ll always be there. Type1foodfun has grown into such a positive place where I feel good about my diabetes, because I’m subconsciously recording all the ups and downs that is life with Type 1. I’m more aware than I ever was about myself. My page keeps me happy in the sense that myself and others take notice of all that I do, and the effort I put into this disease.

With that said, I want to leave you with a simple statement I thought up one day as I was trying to remember just how I picked my username…

Food can be fun when you have Type 1. Read it over. Believe in it, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

Sofia Pansini
Hi, I’m Sofia and I too am learning to conquer my type 1 diabetes through acknowledgement, perseverance and dedication. I thought it would be nice to share a bit about how I make food fun and manageable with my diagnosis. Enjoy, and know that my messages are always open to anyone on here!

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