Tracy Sanders shares with us her journey from her T1D diagnosis to a healthy, fit lifestyle fueled by a low-carb diet.

Managing diabetes and sport
I have always adored sport. I participated in swimming, touch rugby and netball throughout high-school and have always led an active lifestyle. I was determined to continue this hand in hand with T1D.

It is advised that one should exercise with T1D, however, I do not feel it is emphasized enough. Exercise has an overwhelmingly positive impact on diabetes management. It does not cure, but it tackles multiple issues all at once. It reduces the amount of insulin you need, it provides those positively impactful endorphins, and it empowers your body and generally improves how you feel about yourself. In any form of chronic illness, it is important to empower yourself in some way. Exercise and fitness are one of my forms of empowerment. However, it is not an easy task. It requires patience with your body and an assertive attitude. You have to be perceptive to the information your body and glucose readings will give you, and continuously adjust your insulin management accordingly. This is important to find your pattern of management, which is an intensive task at first, but once you learn about your body it becomes a bit easier to find that balance.

 

It is advised that one should exercise with T1D, however, I do not feel it is emphasized enough. Exercise has an overwhelmingly positive impact on diabetes management.

The Process
I continue the journey to finding my ultimate balance, I continue learning, adjusting and working on the dynamic process of diabetes management.

I started my journey militant and strict in my ways, I cursed at the site of butternut and gem squash, I saw every carbohydrate as a failure and struggled with huge guilt if I slightly deviated from my strict diet. I have worked to undo unhealthy mental habits surrounding my diet and attitude towards food and have learnt that the low carbohydrate diet is not a cult, it is not a be all and end all, and it is simply a lifestyle. Most importantly it is individualised, different ratios of fat, carbohydrate and protein work for different people and you need to find your balance.

I continue to read and research about T1D, it’s vital to take an interest in yourself and your condition, make yourself a priority and be proactive about your health. It’s important to be open to how other people approach their health with diabetes and never be judgemental. I have friends who follow a strict high carb, low fat, plant-based diet and they are happy looking after their health in their unique way. We must be open to change, open to experiment and deviate from our routine ways, which may even be failing our health.

With any approach you have to take the step to manage your diabetes, you have to start the process with kindness and appreciation. Practice kindness towards yourself, patience when you stumble or lose your way and gratitude for all that your body is capable of, besides making insulin.

Tracy Sanders is a final year medical student graduating as a Doctor in December 2017. She was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at the age of 20, and has spent the last 3 years exploring, learning and sharing the possibilities that lie after a life-altering diagnosis. Follow her journey on Instagram via Type1Tracy