Friday, 22 April 2011

Diabetic Chocolate; a personal pet peeve!

This is a huge pet peeve of mine; well-meaning people who want to buy people with diabetes that stuff called “diabetic chocolate”. If you are one of these people, who have their heart in the right place please read on. If you know someone who buys you this stuff forward the link for this blog post.

The truth is that diabetic chocolate is not all that’s it’s cracked up to be!

Why do people go in search of diabetic chocolate?

Well, I assume it goes back to the days of yore when people with diabetes were told they should not, under any circumstances, have sugar, as in sweets and treats and such.

But since then, there has been a lot of research published about this type of refined sugar and its relationship with blood glucose control. The new guidelines for people with diabetes, especially people with Type 1 who have healthy BMI’s, is that a little of what you fancy is grand.

However, we are slow to catch on to this fact. Even those of us who have Type 1 Diabetes have trouble with this concept.

Why is it not all that it’s cracked up to be? (That’s my attempt at a word play on Easter eggs).

Fact number 1; it’s a laxative!

Most of the diabetic chocolate out there is sweetened using alcohol sugars. This sweetener has been known to cause abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. On the up side; it doesn’t cause a huge swing in your blood sugars. (I would much rather have the blood sugar swing and take a bit of insulin to deal with it-thank you very much).

Fact number 2; it does have less calories but not a lot less.

The difference in calories between diabetic chocolate and regular chocolate is so miniscule that you still have to be portion conscience when you are watching your fat intake.

Fact number 3; it’s usually more expensive than regular chocolate.

Can’t really say any more than that!

So that’s my opinion but what do the professionals say;

Diabetes UK states;

” Diabetic' chocolate is not recommended. It is expensive and unnecessary. Diabetic chocolate contains fructose, sorbitol or a similar sweetener which can have a laxative effect. Diabetic chocolate is also just as high in fat and calories as ordinary chocolate, and can still raise blood glucose levels.”

American Diabetes Association states;

“When you’re considering foods with low- or reduced-calorie sweeteners, always check the Nutrition Facts on the label. Many of the food products containing these types of sweeteners still have a significant amount of carbohydrate, calories and fat, so never consider them a “free food” without checking the label. By comparing the calories in the sugar-free version to the regular version, you’ll see whether you’re really getting fewer calories.

You’ll also want to compare the fat content of the labels. There is often more saturated and or trans-fat in sugar free baked products.

Sugar alcohols can have a laxative effect or other gastric symptoms in some people, especially in children.

Diabetes Federation of Ireland states;

“The concept of ‘diabetic’ foods or a ‘diabetic’ diet has long since been replaced by guidelines on healthy food choices and individualized advice on eating habits for each person with diabetes. Like the rest of the population, people with diabetes are encouraged to eat a diet low in saturated fat, sugar and salt, with plenty of fruit and vegetables and meals based on starchy carbohydrate foods like bread and potatoes. There is no single food, which must be excluded from the diet of people with diabetes. Total avoidance of sugar is now considered unnecessary. Consequently, the idea of legitimizing so-called ‘diabetic’ foods has also been outmoded.”

Should anyone need further information on why you should rethink your plan to buy diabetic chocolate this Easter or anytime click on this link from BBC’s Watchdog.

My Conclusion

You should treat diabetic chocolate the same as regular chocolate and eat in moderation. But why would you even bother with the expensive stuff then!

Chocolate; please eat responsibly!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Where are the Irish Diabetes Role Models?

Nick Jonas
Halle Berry & Nick Jonas have been used as Diabetes Role Models some many times that I’m kinda tired of it. I don’t mind Nick Jonas so much because he’s doing his bit as a public figure for Diabetes Advocacy but as an almost 40 year old woman I can’t relate to him. As for Halle Berry, well, ever since that whole debacle about how she weaned herself off insulin while pregnant, her credibility is in the toilet.

Yes, there are many, many more celebrities with Type 1 diabetes but these are the two that are most commonly used.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have people with Type 1 Diabetes closer to home to aspire too? I just want someone famous who is Irish and who is the complete opposite of what the public perception is of diabetes. An image I can show people who give me their pitiful face when they discover I have Diabetes that it’s not a life of pain and misery.

Surely, amoung the 20,000 Irish people with Type 1 Diabetes there are a few celebrities who would speak up on our behalf?

Are they hiding? Why would they hide? Should I be hiding too?

This is what we do have and I suppose it will do for the time being.

American Spokespeople on Diabetes Awareness

  • Nick Jonas, pop star
  • Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson
  • Mary Tyler Moore, actress
  • Bret Michaels, lead singer of the rock band Poison
  • Sharon Stone, actress

UK Spokespeople on Diabetes Awareness
  • Steve Redgrave, Olympic rower
  • Philip Schofield (mother & brother with Type 1)
  • Lucy Davis from “The Office”

Irish Spokespeople on Diabetes Awareness who we appreciate but have Type 2
  • Gerald Kean
  • Karl Spain
  • Ian Dempsey

 Irish Public Figures who have Type 1 Diabetes.  
  • Mary Banotti, former MEP
  • Pat Carey TD from Kerry
  • Catherine Brady, world champion kickboxer
  • Kenneth Sweeney, former senior county footballer; Sligo

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

I’m doing it for Diabetes!!! Volunteers needed.

I know - its fun run season and there’s a 10K organised in your area every single weekend from now until October. The sponsorship cards are being thrown at you from left, right and centre. And I know that I’m adding to that long list of charities that need & deserve your cash.

But I’m still asking and hoping that you will join me.

The Clare 10K takes place on Saturday, the 25th June in Lees Road Sports & Amenities Park. I am looking for volunteers to walk with me (or run ahead:-s) and raise money for the Clare branch of Diabetes Ireland.

Diabetes Ireland Clare branch tries to fund raise only a couple of times a year so as to not make lots of demands on your pocket.

Why does Diabetes need money?

• 440 Irish people will die every year because of Diabetes (from CSO 2006 census).

• 314 Irish legs will be amputated because of complications of Diabetes this year (from Diabetes Action podiatry campaign).

• Study after study shows that if people with diabetes are provided with structured education on how to manage their diabetes that it reduces their risks of developing the diabetes complications that lead to death.

• People with diabetes must deliver 95% of their own care, it is of paramount importance that they receive on-going, high-quality diabetes education that is tailored to their needs and delivered by skilled health professionals.

• People with diabetes need peer support because a life time is feels like an eternity to live with a chronic illness.

Where will your money go?

Diabetes Ireland Clare branch provides;

• Support groups for all people with diabetes so that the old and the newly diagnosed people with diabetes can lean on each other.

• Diabetes Information Event where a medical professional imparts their wisdom on how to make life better with diabetes.

• Support for Diabetes Ireland’s national programmes; Sweetpea kids Club, Teen Activity Day, Structured education courses for people with diabetes.

Or you can decide where you want your money to go by ticking one of these boxes on your sponsorship card;

- Diabetes Ireland Education & Support Services

- Type 1 Research

- Type 2 Research

- Sweetpea Kids Club

- National Teen Activity Day

What do we need from you?

We need people to volunteer to participate in the Clare 10K on Saturday, the 25th June 2011. All the race details are published on Sponsorship cards and t-shirts are available by contacting me on mobile 087 641 5747 or by emailing me at

If you are unable to volunteer you can sponsor someone who is. You can sponsor me through my fundraising page on

Using your credit or laser card.

Every cent counts for us and we would hugely appreciate your support!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

You have been diagnosed with Diabetes, so what next?

On the 2nd April 1993 I was diagnosed with diabetes. This year marks 18 years of living well with D. Coincidently, the 2nd April is my daughter’s birthday, so for the last seven years I don’t actually remember that I’ve clocked up another year until afterwards.

But I do remember most of those first days. I spent 10 days in hospital. I remember the confusion and the wonder and my complete and utter ignorance about what was happening to me and my inability to comprehend it all.

I was being told that I could live a normal healthy life so I figured I wouldn’t worry about it all.

But then I returned to the world to live my “normal healthy life” and it wasn’t as easy as it was before. I had hypos all over the place, and if it wasn’t low blood sugar it was high blood sugars. Back then I was on twice daily injections and having to eat meals and snacks at specific times during the day. It was hard and I was only just able to keep my head above water.

I didn’t think anyone out there could help me so I didn’t talk to anyone about my diabetes. People would ask “how is your diabetes?” and I would say “fine” and change the subject. I cried myself to sleep almost every night for a couple of months because I couldn’t figure out what I had done to cause this diabetes.

But I got over it and I turned it all around. I learned about my diabetes and I realised that I needed to take care of it and it would take care of me.

When I think of the many people who are being catapulted into the Diabetes Community these days I feel those early days again and I do everything I can to let them know that they are not alone.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a 12 step plan that tells newly diagnosed people with diabetes what they need to do next after diagnosis. However, I did come across something in a borrowed copy of Outsmart Diabetes, Rodale Publications. The section was titled “Taking on Diabetes”.

And here is the outline:

Get Confirmation of whether you have it or not.

Go to the doctor or healthcare professional and ask to be tested for diabetes. If the test is positive, make sure you have your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol checked also and a foot and eye examination.

Take time to fully digest what you have been told.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, take the time to fully absorb what you are being told. Don’t make assumptions or hasty decisions. The only way you will take control of your situation is with a clear head.

Find out the facts for yourself.

Look to the internet, your local library or contact one of the many organizations for more information. In this case it’s true that knowledge really is power.

Work out how those facts apply to you.

Once you’ve gained a good all round understanding of diabetes, focus on the particular type that you have, and with this knowledge work out how you can make your life easier.

Prepare yourself for your next conversation with your doctor.

Arrived armed with information and you will know if you are being sold short or misdiagnosed. There is no reason why your doctor shouldn’t welcome your contributions. Also, if you know what you want to talk about you will probably get a much better service.

Accentuate the Positives.

If might not, at first, seem that there are too many. But if having diabetes means you can no longer carry on making excuses for not eating healthily or doing exercise, then that has to be a bonus.

Start making lifestyle changes

Go forward with whatever adjustments you have t make to your life with gusto and as if they were your idea. Think they are only being made to improve your quality of life.

Don’t Worry.

Stress can only make your condition worse, as it can trigger surges in blood sugar. And besides, worrying never changed anything!

And that goes from me too. It's not a perfect step by step list but it's something.

And remeber it is what it is and all you can do is your best.