Saturday, December 7, 2013

4 years with type 1 diabetes: Judgement Day

Judgement day

It has been 4 years today since my baby girls' was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I remember the kindness of the staff at our local Hospital, I remember getting in and out of the ambulance as the bigger nearby hospital changed their minds about taking my daughter (for the best I know realise) and I will never forget the shock of not being able to travel with my baby to the closest major hospital in the ambulance – not knowing if she would make it. The ambulance staff were amazing and kept us as updated as they could and the Local Emergency team did everything they could to assist in a terrible and frightening situation.

Type 1 diabetes is a life sentence. For the patient and the family. It is also the start of a new life. One that involves a whole new language and a new level of politics.

My little girl is amazing. But I have also learned that so are many of my friends – new and old. So are my husband and my mum. Diabetes changes so much. Friends have learnt that I cannot be as reliable as I once was. My mum has become a life saver – giving me a much needed break as my husband works away, to help pay for the additional costs of managing type 1 diabetes that the government does not cover, and to give us a better life. I have made new friends through diabetes, who understand my life and my fears. But I have also found that my closest friends understand. They just do. I am really lucky to have them in my life.

I have also found that there is an unfortunate side to the support world. There are women who bitch, undermine and judge, often for their own gain. I probably should have expected it – but it really took me by surprise. Why would people do this? And how do they live with themselves? I have found that there are women who will actually go out of their way to bring you down and for this I am very sorry. For them mostly, as I believe that they must have very sad lives that they need to create pain for another.

Over the past four years I have learnt a love about myself. I have learnt what I really want to do. I have learnt how hard it is going to be to do it. I have worked at a fairly senior level in big pharma and for one of the biggest charities in Australia, but it will take more than knowledge to create the groundswell of change that is needed to create better lives for everyone with diabetes. Both type 1 and type 2. I have learnt that judging others does not help anyone and that only through assisting and creating change can we make a better life for everyone. One day I hope I will be a large part of that change. Until then, I will dabble at the edges, poking and prodding and trying to encourage people to understand each other.

My message for today… diabetes does not discriminate. For some types of diabetes diet and lifestyle may help – but it may not. You don’t know your future nor the future of your kids. Do not judge others and where you can, please lend a hand or an ear.

All Images: Copyright Invigor8 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Breastfeeding…. Bottle feeding…

I am not sure if there are words that are more controversial in parenting (well maybe with the exclusion of vaccination – but we can do that next week!).

Let me put this out there right now – I was a Brand Manager for an infant formula company for many years, both here in Australia and overseas. I have sat through hours and hours (and hours) of market research watching mums talk about breast feeding, bottle feeding, about how (when still pregnant) that they will have routines, their lives won’t change, how (post birth) they wish someone told them not to expect to have a routine, why they often feel guilty that they can’t live up to their own expectations (let alone other peoples) and how much they wish other parents/ grandparents and society would not judge them for their feeding choices… And interestingly, how they wished they could get more information about infant formula and why they feel so very guilty.

Yes, I worked for a formula company. Yes, it was in our interest to hear this. But in reality, there is very little ability to share good, thorough information about infant formula in Australia. We are not even able to call it baby milk here (you can in the UK). Here we have a mandated name so that it sounds clinical and scary and not as good for babies.

And I understand that breast milk is best. Not only did I have to write the “Breastfeeding is best for your baby” statement on any “marketing literature” that I developed in Australia (creating guilt for mums much anyone?), but I also did breastfeed both of my children. But I was able to and I wanted to. At the time of working for the “Big Pharma” company, I had read all of the current studies on why breastfeeding is beneficial and researched at length what ingredients I should be lobbying to have included in our formulas to make them better for babies and as close as possible to breast milk. Because, you know what, isn’t that what we all want? If we can’t, or chose not to breast feed, don’t we want to give our babies the next best thing?

And you can yell at me and tell me I am biased, but no matter what, I have worked in the industry and seen the research involved. I understand that without profits, there would not be significant research gains. Unless governments are going to start fully funding research and development into every illness, every health requirement, we need companies to make a profit. Otherwise, we all need to dig a lot deeper and start donating significant amounts of money to research of all kinds.

So as a mum who breastfed, as business women who worked for a formula company and as a parenting writer, I believe that we need to give mums (and dads) respect for their intelligence. We need to support mums in their choices. Help them to breastfeed, but not at the expense of their baby’s health or the mother’s mental state. When they can’t (or chose not to) breastfeed, give them the information to help them chose the right formula for their child. It may not be the most expensive formula (or maybe it will be), but without full access to unbiased information, how can a parent make an educated choice between formulas.

We need to take a step back from the health professional bashing and “it is all about profit” claims.

We need to work together. We need to make it all about mum and baby.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Low carb Protein Balls (recipe time!)

I don't hold myself up to be a chef of any kind; however I have been spending a fortune buying high protein, low carb foods for my 4 year old with type 1 diabetes. I have started to research cheaper (and less processed to some degree) options for snacks and have been struggling to find many online. I also like things to be simple... so anything I post will be EASY and quick!

If you aren't familiar with the taste of protein bars/ snacks, these may be a little unusual as they really do have a specific taste/ texture that is not for everyone.

Let me know what you think of this one:

 Low carb Choc-peanut biscuits (or balls)

50g protein powder (chocolate)
30 – 35g Peanut butter (no added sugar)
5 teaspoons of water
(NB: see botom of article for slightly reduced fat/ kj option)


Melt peanut butter in microwave for 20 sec in microwave safe bowl (I used Kraft’s new No added sugar or salt crunchy – adds texture)

This is the batter with 3 tsp water
Add protein powder and mix. Add water slowly to allow powder to absorb all water before more is added. 

Depending on the brand of protein powder used you may need more or less water. (I used Body Science Shaping Protein for Women in chocolate flavour).

Once a very thick and fairly dry consistency has been formed, mould into a tube shape (as per image right). 

Slice tube into 8 small pieces (to be consistent with nutritional information panel (NIP) shown below).
For balls, roll each piece into a small ball (NB: You can also choose not to cook the balls at all and roll in a small amount of shredded coconut for variety – coconut is not included in NIP)

For biscuits, flatten and shape into a small biscuit (as per left image)

Place on a microwave safe plate (you may want to lightly spray with oil).

Microwave for 45 secs (may vary depending on your microwave – longer will make them drier, if you make larger size biscuits or balls you will need more time). 

Biscuits/ balls will rise slightly and batter will start to dry.

Allow to cool (biscuits will crisp slightly, but not much, as they cool)

Each biscuit or ball contains approx. 212kj and 0.8g carbs. See Nutritional Information Panel (NIP) for more information (below). 

Option B: reduce peanut butter to 20g and increase water to 6 - 7 tsp. This cuts the kj to 153, fat to 1.5 and carbs to 0.6. It doesn't change the flavour or consistency too much either.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

What's love got to do with it?

“Mummy, will I get a Valentine’s Day card?”

That was the question posed by my 6 year old son yesterday. “Probably not, sweetie” was my reply.
What followed was a long discussion about what Valentine’s Day meant; who got cards, why, why not, and why it all started (I had no idea).

My 4 year old daughter popped the odd question in here and there, but mostly the questions were from my son. The kids in her kindy class make cards for their parents – which is sweet and appreciated.

My son’s concerns were that the kids at school were already talking about who they were giving cards to and who they thought they would get them from. Did I say that he is 6? When he asked if he and his male mates could give each other cards so they weren’t left out, I was a little stumped. Of course they could, however that was not necessarily in the spirit of the day, which was about girlfriends/ boyfriends (and I am making no judgement here on same-sex relationships – simply that a 6 year old does not have a romantic relationship). 

But I wondered, why couldn’t the day be about friends? The main reason I felt uncomfortable with the whole concept is that Valentine’s Day is just so much about marketing. In my job, I have received endless press releases telling me about why I should be telling our magazine readers they should be giving “sugar-free chocolate this Valentine’s Day” or giving a cute stuffed bunny/ teddy/ dog to show they really care.
I have enjoyed receiving something on Valentine’s Day and when we have time, my husband and I have made a special effort to have a quiet meal together. That said I enjoy a thoughtful card or quiet meal even more when it is spontaneous and not part of a set marketing calendar that tells us to share our feelings on this date.

So in the end, I told my son that he should make his friends a card telling them why they are special to him. It didn’t need to be a Valentine’s Day thing, but that was up to him.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What does it mean to you?