Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Every January patients come into clinic saying, ‘My New Year’s resolution is to fix my diabetes!’ Even though we know that type 1 diabetes can’t be ‘fixed’, simple changes in your habits and behaviour can have an immense impact on blood glucose levels. My advice to you is to streamline your resolutions: consider your goals, list what strategies could help you achieve them, and pick one or two that you will truly commit to. Here is a list of some common New Year’s resolutions I hear in clinic, and some simple tips to make them stick!
New Year’s Resolution 1 - ‘Eat better’ When you live with type 1, decisions at mealtime take up a lot of brain space. If your goal is to eat healthier food, counting carbohydrates and doing insulin calculations for new foods can feel like a mammoth task. My tip is to spend some time at the start of the week to make a solid plan – work on one meal at a time.
For example, start with blocking out 30 minutes to plan your breakfasts:
Decide on breakfast meals for each day of the week. They don’t all need to be different!
Calculate the carbohydrates for each breakfast and write them down.
Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need and plan when you’ll buy them
Then set some time aside on a Sunday to pre-prepare anything you can to make mornings easier – for example, chop ham and vegetables and grate cheese for breakfast omelettes, hard boil some eggs, or make some chia breakfast puddings to have ready in the fridge.
Do this each week until eating well at breakfast becomes a no-brainer, then move onto the next meal.
New Year’s Resolution 2 - ‘Check my blood glucose more often’ Technology can help you create better habits around diabetes tasks like checking blood glucose. Try these tips:
Activate your insulin pump’s blood glucose check reminder
Set calendar alerts in your phone for 2-hour post mealtime checks
Enlist an assistant - ‘hey Siri/hey Google/hey Alexa, remind me to check my blood sugar at 8pm’.
If finger pricking is inconvenient or painful, consider short-term use of the Freestyle Libre flash glucose monitor, which will allow you to scan a sensor for vital information on blood glucose trends and patterns. The Family Centre offers FREE Freestyle Libre trials through my clinic sessions, so you not only get comprehensive data – you’ll get help deciphering it!
New Year’s Resolution 3 - ‘I am going to pre-bolus’ Pre-bolusing (bolusing 15+ minutes before eating) can be a really effective strategy for preventing spikes after high-GI meals, if you remember to do it! Unfortunately, we don’t have an inbuilt pre-bolus alarm, so once again, technology can come to the rescue. Try this:
Set calendar alerts in your phone for 15+ minutes before your meal time
Enlist an assistant - ‘hey Siri/hey Google/hey Alexa, remind me to pre-bolus at 7.15am’.
This may not work for all meals, particularly if you have an ad-hoc work schedule, but consider the meals it can work for and implement a system until it becomes a habit. If you’d like to learn more about pre-bolusing and how it can benefit blood glucose management check out the Family Centre’s online carb counting course, Cyber Carbs!
New Year’s Resolution 4 - ‘I will count carbs’ Counting carbs requires knowledge and equipment, but when it becomes a habit it’s a breeze. Here are three simple hacks to get carb counting back on the agenda:
Complete the Family Centre’s online carbohydrate counting course Cyber Carbs – self-paced carb-counting education that you can access from anywhere, at a time that suits you
Download a carbohydrate counting app and put it on your phone’s home screen! The Family Centre recommends the Calorie King Food Search app, available on Apple and Android.
New Year’s Resolution 5 - ‘I will do diabetes better’
If this is your resolution, it sounds like you need some all-round motivation. Chat with the Family Centre team - we know type 1 inside out - attend an event at the Family Centre, or connect with other people who live with type 1 through the Family Centre’s online communities. Crowdsourcing solutions to your diabetes dilemmas will not only give you loads of helpful tips and suggestions, it’ll also connect you with a community of like-minded people who will get behind you as you take your first steps to achieving your goals!