Mila Buckley specializes in self-care, and eating with Type 2 Diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to process glucose properly. There are 8 million people living in the United States with undiagnosed diabetes, and it is the seventh most common cause of death in the U.S.
This week, LetsGetChecked is joined by Mila Buckley, the founder of Hangry Woman, an online publication that shares recipes tailored specially for those living with diabetes, resources for dealing with a diabetic diagnosis and steps to take when striving for self-care.
Mila speaks of the initial shock in finding out that her life would change forever with one diagnosis and how she now channels this energy into writing the Hangry Woman and eating with Type 2 Diabetes.
The first thing that went through my mind was how much I thought I failed myself.
Your publication is cleverly titled "Hangry Woman", how did you get started on this?
My husband actually helped me come up with the name! There was a time where I would get really irritable when I wouldn’t eat, and he would always tell me “You get so hangry!” When I was in the process of changing my blog name, it just kept sticking with me, and since I love to write about food and eating, and I’m a woman, “Hangry Woman” was the perfect fit.
For people who don't know, what is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the chronic illness where your body is insulin resistant. Your body produces insulin on a consistent basis, but instead of your cells using the insulin your body produces, glucose instead builds up in your bloodstream because it can’t get into your cells to be used as energy. This causes high blood sugar. Eventually, unmanaged high blood sugar can lead to serious complications.
A lot of people think that type 2 diabetes comes from eating tons of sugar, and although Type 2 Diabetes has links to lifestyle conditions like being overweight and a eating diet high in carbohydrates,sugar does not cause type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance does.
What were the main symptoms you were experiencing before you found out you had diabetes?
There were a few, I was constantly thirsty, I always had to go to the bathroom, my eyesight was blurry, I was sweaty and out of breath all the time.
How did you deal with these symptoms before going to the doctor?
At the time I was really stressed in my personal and professional life. Work was very challenging for me and I had so much going on personally that I just tossed everything up to stress. I thought if I eliminated stressors from my life, it would be easy for me to move forward. Then, I started trying to lose weight, because I figured maybe that was why I was feeling bad. I lost 20 pounds and then my weight wouldn’t budge. After months of dealing with it, something told me that I should go to the doctor. Once I did, I found out that I had diabetes.
What was it like when you found out? What was the first thing that went through your mind?
The first thing that went through my mind was how much I thought I failed myself. For so long I thought that I really tried to do my best, and it was so hard for me to accept that my whole life was going to change.
I was so confused, and upset, and frankly depressed. I didn’t know what I was going to do about it.
It didn’t help that my first doctor was very dismissive, he handed me a prescription and told me to work out, take the medication, and come back in three months. There was no guidance at first.
How did you deal with your diagnoses in the weeks that followed?
By nature I’m just inquisitive. So I read blogs, and websites and articles to get familiar with what I would be dealing with. I did the same thing and went back to the doctor a couple of weeks later with questions that I was too shocked to ask upon getting my diagnosis. I asked to see specialists like a dietician and an endocrinologist. I told my family about it, and tried to make the very best of a really tough situation. I also started to journal my feelings. I wanted to scream so many times, and getting the diagnosis made me sad, but writing about it made feel better.
Putting the pen to the page was very therapeutic in some ways and allowed me to express my frustrations and questions about what to do next.
What advice would you give to someone who has just found out that they have diabetes?
I would tell them that it’s going to be okay, and that finding your groove and asking questions is going to get you through this. Swallowing the diagnosis is the hardest part, once you find a routine, and support, your life will positively change in ways you can’t imagine!
You are a foodie, how did your diagnoses affect your diet?
More than anything I’m more careful about what I eat, and trying to measure my intake. I’m way more conscious of chips in the middle of the table at a Tex-Mex restaurant, or any kind of bread. I’m also striving to balance the macros in my meals, and lower my carbohydrate intake. I of course have days where I get off track, but I correct it as soon as I can and I keep moving.
What advice would you have given yourself on finding out that you had diabetes?
I actually wrote a blog about this. There were so many things I wish I knew, and so many things I wish my past self knew about accepting this diagnosis and all that comes with it, but the first thing I would have told myself would have been that this was all going to be okay. Everything that seemed so scary then was only scary because I didn’t know much about what my body was going through. Now that I have a better understanding, I feel like I have a hold on things.
How do you manage your diagnoses now?
I talk about it and document it mostly. It really helps me cope when I can explain my feelings and learn more about how to best manage things. Overall, I exercise, I do my best to balance my meals, I’m careful about taking my medication and giving myself my insulin doses and I just keep taking it one day at a time. That’s the key.
One foot in front of the other, and you can make it.
Has your blog helped you to overcome living with diabetes?
My blog has really helped me with learning to live with my illness and doing more research and but also connecting with people who have a similar story and have to live with a similar lifestyle. Writing it has shown me that I’m not alone, and although some days may be a struggle, there are so many people making it work.
Do what you can, with what you have and where you are.
What words do you live by?
You can only do you best with what you’ve got in front of you. When that’s what you’ve got, you have to take it as far as it will go. That’s how I feel about my diagnosis. I was only able to do what I could with what I had where I was. I’m in a much better place now, so I’m able to do a whole lot more.