Diabetes – The Basics! by Ann Morris, RN and CDE
What is SEED?
It’s a series of wellness talk shows featuring Australia’s leading Diabetes Experts with a new diabetes topic every fortnight to empower people living with diabetes and enabling them to make a new start towards good health and happiness.
In this first episode in the SEED series by KnowDiabetes you will hear one of Australia’s most well know and respected Diabetes Educators Ann Morris dispelling some of the myths that people with diabetes have to deal with.
Ann will explain why you cannot blame yourself for getting diabetes; it does not mean that you didn’t do what you were told, there are many factors that will cause diabetes, and most are not your fault. There are so many myths and judgements about being overweight and getting diabetes and Ann explains how factors such as medication, physical and mental distress are major contributors and yes you can eat desert!
Discussion about the terms “mild” or “borderline diabetes” are totally incorrect and “having just a touch of sugar” is like someone telling you that you are a “little bit pregnant!!”
Ann also explains that just because you started insulin it does not mean you have failed in your efforts to manage diabetes and why it does not necessarily mean that you have type 1 diabetes. The other myth about people with diabetes having short lives is another myth that Ann takes great pleasure in dismissing.
Discussion about the need to measure your blood glucose levels and not relying just on your feelings added to the discussion about you becoming engaged in your own diabetes. The other myth is that people with diabetes must always do the right thing. Ann explains that a person with diabetes have to make, on the average, 121 decisions about their diabetes every day a hard task to “always do the right thing”.
In the last part of the session Ann explains the importance of everyone using the correct language with people with diabetes. Calling someone as being non-compliant is totally wrong and extremely judgmental. 8,760 hours a year are spend by people with diabetes not seeing their health care professional and highlights the need to seek support in actively managing your diabetes.
In closing, Ann leaves us with a key message: By learning and understanding about your diabetes will enable you to be able to differentiate fact from fiction!
In the second instalment of our wellness series, we were fortunate to have Dr Alan Barclay talk to us about facts and some fallacies about diet and diabetes. Dr Barclay is a renowned dietician and nutritionists specialising in diabetes. He started by setting the scene in terms of what is scientific evidence that we can rely upon and what is not so reliable.
He went on to explain the different groups of sugars and explained how most people do not know that sugars are in fact a kind of carbohydrate just like starch. He also provided an explanation of what is contained in “sugars” as listed on our food labels. There was discussion and clinical evidence that an increased intake of sugars in our diet is associated with a moderate increase in body weight where a decreased intake results in a moderate decrease in body weight.
Dr Barclay continued with an account on artificial sweeteners and explained the differences that exists between them the main being that not all are artificial! A discussion followed confirming that these sweeteners will result in decreased body weight (mainly fat) and what the effects of diet drinks and alcohol have on our health. Importantly, Dr Barclay showed evidence that these sweeteners do not increase blood glucose levels; good news for people with diabetes and concluded by saying that intense sweeteners are safe and effective replacements for free sugars.
We have had a number of suggestions from our audience to provide a session on diabetes and distress; we were grateful to welcome Dr Christel Hendrieckx, a Clinical Psychologist and a Senior Research Fellow to talk to us on Dealing with Diabetes distress – emotional burden of living with and managing diabetes.
The discussion started by explaining the impact of emotions that can have on diabetes management and some strategies to overcome this:
- Access to psychologists for mental health consults is crucial
- The importance of having an open discussion between the PwD and the diabetes professional. Prompts such as “How do your diabetes management?” and raising your concerns are very important in getting the best out of the consultation process. Always choose a diabetes professional that can listen to you!
- Awareness about the mental damage judgmental words such as “non-compliance” can have on PwD. Look for diabetes professionals that do get this
- Find ways to overcome the reservation PWD have with trying not to waste the time of their HCP since they “know how busy they are”.
- “fixing the issue” might not always be possible but celebrate the fact that you were able to talk about it
- The concept of sharing the consultation agenda between the PWD and their diabetes professional is a great way to ensure a truly open and two way discussion
- With type 2 diabetes there are so many different lifestyles and opinions; always look at what you can manage and don’t forget to celebrate all wins no matter how small (or big) these are
- There are many tools available such as the Diabetes Distress fact sheets that are very helpful (https://www.ndss.com.au/about-diabetes/resources/find-a-resource/diabetes-distress-fact-sheet/)
Quite an interactive session drilling into one of the most common question people with diabetes have:
Do I focus on what I eat or do I exercise. Robbie Tyson provides some answers and guidance into this topic for people with diabetes and their healthcare professionals. Salient points:
- Internet is not always the best in providing answers to this question; it is crucial you talk to your diabetes specialist
- There must always be a balance between diet and exercise
- Focus on the changeable/modifiable elements avoid frustrations
- “Less sitting” is quite effective just like any form of movement
- Robbie reminded everyone that diabetes is a chronic condition; exercise and diet are therefore a lifelong commitment and it is importance to set your own pace
- Resistance exercise is very beneficial in people with diabetes
- Consult and trust existing guidelines on physical activity noting the importance of weight loss rate and maintaining lean body mass
- Incorporation of “quality” carbohydrates into the diet are very important
- Robbie explains why weight loss is not always the best approach for people with diabetes
Meet Our Host
Ann has been a practicing Diabetes Educator for the past 45 years and helped thousands of people discover a better life with diabetes.
Over this period, Ann has helped dispel many myths to make people successful in self-managing their diabetes and opening the door to wellness.
Ann believes that the smallest piece of information could make a lifetime of difference to someone with diabetes.
Jayne is a well established Credentialled Diabetes Educator, expert in diabetes care, support and education with 35 years of experience.
Jayne is multi-skilled having designed and delivered innovative and effective diabetes care services, online services, education resources and strategies to improve diabetes management across Australia.
Jayne says everyone’s diabetes is different, get to know yours and learn to self manage your diabetes.
Justine has 30+ years’ experience working in the public and private health sectors. At present, she is the Diabetes Clinical Nurse Specialist at The Royal Hospital for women in Sydney where she is responsible for providing clinical management, psychological support and education to a wide range of people with diabetes.
Her passion and specialty is Diabetes in pregnancy and Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) where she frequently attends national and international conferences in these areas.
Justine is passionate about working with women and helping them achieve their healthy best