Editorials

Type 1 Diabetes: What you need to know

14 July 2016

By Beth

Being recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, I have realised how little people know about the condition. It gets tiring explaining the same things over and over again to different people, so this has encouraged me to write about the basic facts people should know when it comes to Type 1 Diabetes.

Before I begin, I must make clear that Type 1 Diabetes is completely different to Type 2 Diabetes and this post is only focused on increasing awareness and understanding of type 1 Diabetes.

10% of the of those who suffer from Diabetes have Type 1, whilst the other 90% have Type 2. So it is understandable that Type 1 is the more misunderstood of the two.

Important things you need to know:

  1. I can still eat foods that contain sugar.

I get asked this multiple times and although I can’t eat as many foods containing sugar as I used to, I can still eat some. The explanation is simple; whenever I want to eat a sugary food, just like when I want to eat any other food, I must inject insulin.

  1. I still live a normal life just like I did before being diagnosed.

The only thing that really changed was testing my blood every now and again and that I take insulin whenever I eat. Weirdly enough, I’ve found having diabetes has encouraged me to get involved with more activities such as dancing, teaching and writing.

  1. My body can still produce insulin.

Being only diagnosed ten months ago, my body is still capable of producing insulin, but this will eventually stop. This is what doctors call the ‘honeymoon stage.’ After two years the production of insulin will completely stop and I will rely on injections to keep my body functioning.

  1. There is no such thing as “bad diabetes.”

Having diabetes, I choose to take care of myself. As a result, those who choose not to take care of themselves can end up with other life-threatening diseases, such as coeliac and thyroid disease.

  1. Eating too much sugar doesn’t cause diabetes.

The majority of the time, Type 1 Diabetes is genetic and is caused by a trigger, such as being ill. It cannot be prevented by eating less sugar or having a healthier diet. The chances of getting Type 1 Diabetes, if you don’t have a relative with the disease, are under 0.5%.

  1. I have to carb count.

For every 20 grams of carbohydrate I consume, I have to take one unit of insulin. This ratio is different for everyone and I will most likely have to change this amount in the future. Carb counting allows me to have great control over my blood sugar, which allows me to live the healthiest life I possibly can.

  1. Type 1 Diabetes cannot be cured

No cure for diabetes has been found as of yet, however there is a lot of research and funding towards finding a cure – so fingers crossed for the future!

  1. “Diabetic foods” are a no-no.

Surprisingly, it is actually recommended by doctors to avoid foods labelled as “diabetic” as much as we possibly can. Diabetic food contains all sorts of nasty chemicals and ingredients which can actually end up giving us worse health problems than just eating normal foods.

There is so much more to know about Type 1 Diabetes and what it’s like to live with it but that could take a lifetime to explain as every day is different and I’m still learning myself. If you want to know even more about Type 1 Diabetes, visit http://www.diabetes.co.uk/type1-diabetes.html

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