Healing with Type One Diabetes: An Interview with the Diabetes Dominator
- What Is Type One Diabetes?
- What Are The Symptoms Of Type One Diabetes?
- The Science Bit
- What Is The Treatment For Type One Diabetes?
- An Interview With The Diabetes Dominator
- Should You Get Tested For Type One Diabetes?
What Is Type One Diabetes?
Type One diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that was once known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. Type One diabetes differs from Type Two diabetes as it is an autoimmune disorder, whereas Type Two diabetes is genetic and developed through lifestyle and environmental factors.
It is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little to no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is required to allow glucose (sugar) to enter cells and produce energy. Those with diabetes are said to be insulin resistant. Type 1 diabetes has no cure.
What Are The Symptoms Of Type One Diabetes?
The symptoms of Type One Diabetes include:
Increased thirst (polydipsia)
Increased thirst (polydipsia) may occur due to a lack of tissue fluid that is being used to dilute excess sugars. Despite drinking up to two litres of water everyday, those with diabetes may continue to feel thirsty all the time. Therefore those with type one diabetes may experience increased thirst, dehydration and/or a dry mouth.
Frequent urination (polyuria)
Frequent urination or polyuria is a common characteristic of diabetes. Polydipsia and polyuria go hand in hand. As excess sugars build in the blood, the filtration processes of the kidneys are put under pressure, and excess sugars are excreted through urine along with tissue fluids, causing increased thirst and increased urination.
Extreme hunger may occur when glucose levels in the blood remain abnormally high - a person with diabetes can become hyperglycemic which means that glucose cannot enter the cells. Without glucose, the body cannot convert calories from food into energy cells, causing an increase in hunger.
Unexplained weight loss
The body may begin to to burn fat and muscle for energy during hyperglycemia as the body is not producing enough via glucose. This may cause unintentional and unexplained weight loss.
Irritability and other mood changes
Fluctuating blood sugar levels may cause energy highs and lows. Fluctuations in energy levels as well as the stress associated with consistently managing blood sugars may too cause highs and lows in mood and energy levels. Irritability, mood changes and chronic fatigue may result from fluctuations in blood sugar.
Blurred vision may result by cause of high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). When blood sugar rises rapidly, the lens of the eye may begin to swell, temporarily causing blurred vision. This is known as diabetic macular edema (DME). When blood sugars are low, a person with diabetes may experience double vision, blood vessels in the retina may become overly sensitive to light. This is known as diabetic retinopathy.
Diabetic neuropathy occurs when parts of the nervous system are damaged by high blood sugars. If nerves associated with and controlling the digestive tract become damaged, it can lead to diarrhea, incontinence, but most commonly, constipation. Constipation is also a side effect of many medications that are required to treat diabetes.
Those with diabetes are more prone to developing infections as a result of diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy as outlined earlier results in damage to the nervous system by cause of high blood sugar. Nerve damage can result in reduced blood flow in certain parts of the body, which continuously weakens a diabetic’s immune system, making sufferers more susceptible to infectious diseases.
People with diabetes may experience peripheral neuropathy which occurs when nerves fibres located under the surface of the skin become damaged. This occurs most commonly in the hands and feet, causing itchy or tingling skin.
The Science Bit
On a basic level, the chemical processes involved in diabetes include insulin and glucose.
Managing diabetes is a balancing act of blood sugar levels, when the hormone insulin which regulates the function of glucose is not being produced sufficiently.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the in the pancreas, a gland found just below the stomach. The pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin signals the fat, muscle and liver cells to allow the absorption of glucose into the blood. Glucose is used to generate energy.
Glucose is a simple sugar. It is an energy source that is ingested through food and drinks in humans. The process of using glucose to make energy is known as cellular respiration. When we ingest various sources of nutrition, they are broken down and absorbed in the blood. When glucose is transported into cells, different enzymes work together to transform glucose into different molecules, thus releasing the energy stores we require to carry out different functions.
If the body has absorbed a sufficient amount of glucose, it is stored as excess sugars known as glycogen.Glycogen is stored as fat cells, or excess fat. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels, preventing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If you have type one diabetes, the process of glucose entering cells is disrupted.
What Is The Treatment For Type One Diabetes?
The treatment for diabetes focuses on managing blood sugar levels with insulin, diet and lifestyle. The main goal of treatment for diabetes is to maintain blood sugar levels within a normal range as often as possible.
Type one diabetes is managed through insulin and lifestyle changes that promote balanced blood sugars.
An Interview With The Diabetes Dominator
“Language really matters when you’re talking about diabetes, to say someone is suffering has a negative connotation, life with diabetes can be joyful too.”
Daniele Hargenrader, also known as the Diabetes Dominator is a best-selling author, diabetes coach, health and wellness guru, personal trainer and nutritionist. Daniele transformed her former struggles with type one diabetes to her present triumphs.
Daniele was 9 years old when she was diagnosed with type one diabetes. Her adolescence saw her battle a binge eating disorder, neglecting her insulin medication and what she describes as “learned helplessness.” Today, she shares her journey with her clients “to offer shortcuts” that she didn’t get the opportunity to take.
You received your diagnosis at a young age, what was it like?
I was only 9 years old when I found out so I’m sure it was much scarier for my mom and dad at the time. There was no internet, I know, it’s hard to believe that there was a time where the wasn’t the internet. You had to put all of your faith into doctors. At the time it was a case of “Here are your guys insulin and syringes - good luck!”
Can you tell me about your binge eating disorder that followed years after your diagnosis?
My father passed away when I was twelve very suddenly. Puberty and the reality of losing a parent sent me into a spiral, all I could think was that my life was terrible. Everything was spiralling out of control. I began binge eating and not taking insulin the right way, it was a learned helplessness.
The food was always there and I had lots of access to eat it as my mom worked full time. I would eat donuts, cakes and cookies in secret while I was on my own. My depression was fuelled by my food addiction. I weighed 200lbs at the age of 14. When I started to heal, I came to know that my condition didn’t need to be a burden. It could my reason to make more of an effort to be joyful and to practice self-love.
Where did the idea for diabetes dominator originate?
It came from a chat my husband and I were having about what I wanted to do with my life. I realized that I would need to act like a superhero. I realized how I needed to act to live the life I wanted to live. This superhero arrived in the form of the diabetes dominator. It was an anchor.
To become what you want to be, you need love- sometimes you need to dominate things with love. You also need consistent self-care practices and the ability to help people to understand you and what you need. It’s what I teach,
I’m a citizen scientist. The Diabetes Dominator is about personal choice and experience, it is about how I dealt with my diagnosis, my binge eating disorder and overcoming these struggles. I share what I have learned so others can learn from my experiences if they’d like to.
How do you approach nutrition with type 1 diabetes?
There are no restrictive boxes for me, nothing is off limits. I just try to find the best version of whatever I eat - quality of ingredients is my main focus. For instance, I don’t eat processed white flour, I use healthier alternatives, and these alternatives are not difficult to find. I don’t eat regular pasta, instead I have chickpea and black bean alternatives. I believe that the few ingredients in products, the better.
What is the approach you take with your clients?
We boil down the large, overarching goals and set smaller, attainable goals to reach along the way.
There’s no way to build a rigid structure for a group of people, each particular person has different requirements. We build on mindset first, followed by nutrition and fitness, my approach is a perspective that is based on logic. At the beginning of a new journey with health, it’s important to pick one thing.
The first thing I recommend to my clients is to just focus on hydrating their bodies with water for one week. It’s something that’s not too foreign or overwhelming. I tell them to drink a sufficient amount of water. When people burn out, they don't want to check their blood sugar, and water is what everybody needs first and foremost. It’s a manageable task but once they realize they can do that, it encourages them to know that they can achieve more.
What are your main tips for eating for health with type one diabetes?
If you want to have something that is seen as unhealthy, you still can but you can seek out a higher quality ingredient alternative or make it at home with unprocessed ingredients to balance your blood sugar. I think it’s important to feel good about your choices.
Find a local farmer’s market and eliminate the middleman. The quality of ingredients is the most important thing.
I eat a plant based diet, but that doesn’t mean I’m demonizing other lifestyle habits. There’s no such thing as right or wrong - food doesn’t have morality. Cookies aren’t bad and carrots aren’t good. It really just comes down to quality of ingredients.
Do I think diabetes diets are being promoted for the wrong reasons?
Keto and paleo diets are often circulated in the media. There are sections of the population that these regenerated lifestyles work well for, that’s a small percentage.
It's not useful to say I've been good or I've been bad based on what your eating. Those diets are double edged sword, it’s not demonic, there's nothing wrong with it, however I think you should always just strive to do your personal best and pay attention to how ingredients make you feel when you eat them. I love girl scout cookies but I know I can look for a healthier alternative at the store or make them myself.
What are the foundations of the Diabetes Dominator?
Mindset is always the beginning, then its creating sustainability. I teach people how to build their own tailored lifestyle based on what brings them joy. When it comes to diabetes, I don’t like when people refer to it as suffering or “suffering from”. It is a case of healing or suffering, and if you continuously believe you are suffering, the mindset of suffering manifests itself - same as if you believe you are healing. Focusing on what I can do vs. what I can’t do is a useful perspective to employ. Using the pillars of nutrition, fitness, body systems (sleep/elimination), support and mindfulness, you can set and achieve attainable goals.
We don’t realize how valuable is it until we look back at where we started.”
What are your plans for the future?
I want to continue writing. I will be having a book launch soon in Barnes and Noble and I’m so excited for it! I am to open more discussions about diabetes and I will continue to help my clients. I want to keep healing, through love, forgiveness and perseverance.
I'm fulfilled and know I’m doing the right thing. The best thing we can do is help other people and I couldn’t imagine doing much else with my life.
“What's therapeutic about writing is learning and finding out the why.”
Should You Get Tested For Diabetes?
You should take the LetsGetChecked Diabetic Check if:
- You want to track, monitor and improve your diabetes
- You have a family history of diabetes
- You are presenting with symptoms of diabetes
A Diabetic (HbA1c) Check measures average levels of blood sugar, known as glucose over the past 3 months. Hemoglobin A1c is a protein found on the surface of red blood cells, it sits alongside sugar molecules during the lifespan of red blood cells, generally 3 months. The higher the level of glucose in the blood, the higher the level of hemoglobin A1c, which is indicative of type 1 and 2 diabetes. The % of Hemoglobin A1c refers to the amount of glycated hemoglobin in the blood. Glycated hemoglobin is red blood cells that have glucose attached to them. An A1c between 5.7-6.4% signals prediabetes. Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed when A1c is over 6.5%