From Austin to Sydney with type 1.
Another fun interview with fellow type 1 diabetic Marie who I met while she was studying in Sydney earlier this year.
Over the weekend Marie has just completed a 223-mile team running event from Austin to Corpus, Texas! What an incredible achievement.
I chat with Marie about her diagnosis story, who inspires her & how she feels abut her recent decision to try a whole foods plant based diet.
Hey, I’m Marie! I just turned 22 and I’m currently in Austin, Texas studying microbiology at UT Austin. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 4, so it has been 18 years!
Hi Marie, can you share your diagnosis story with us.
Even though I was really young, I remember parts of my diagnosis night. I was being such a brat, constantly screaming and crying, and my mom had to hold me down to test my sugar levels.
Both of my parents are health care professionals, so they ultimately recognized my symptoms – extreme thirst, bed wetting, rapid weight loss, and major irritability. They used my grandmother’s glucometer (she had type 2 diabetes) to test me. The meter read ‘HIGH,’ meaning that it was over 500 mg/dL or 28mmol/L. I was in the hospital for a couple of days, while they taught us basic management.
What was your biggest challenge growing up with type 1 diabetes?
The biggest challenge growing up with T1D was managing my blood sugar levels during exercise. I’ve played soccer since I was 7, and I started long distance running with my dad when I was 11. I continued both sports during high school, and it was always frustrating to have to make educated guesses about insulin and food before games and races! Now I know a LOT more, but that was definitely mentally and emotionally tough.
Overall, you’ve always seemed to have good control – what has been your motivation to have good BGLs?
Ah, thank you. I always knew I wanted to live a long active life with T1D, and I knew that control was essential. The scary stories about amputations, blindness, etc. get a lot of negative attention, but it’s important to know the realities that we can face if uncontrolled.
Who have been the key influencers and motivators in your life growing up with type 1?
My parents are definitely my biggest motivators, always encouraging and pushing me. My good friend Jennifer was my camp counselor when I was younger and she was really my only Type 1 role model growing up. I owe a lot to these three humans. (Oh also, Nick Jonas was actually a cool celeb influence).
How would you say having type 1 diabetes has changed your life?
T1D is part of me. It’s shaped my faith and world view, and who I am as a person. I’m probably one of the odd ones who is more thankful for this disease than I should be, but I have truly learned resilience over these years.
Counting carbs and giving insulin is all I know. It’s the reason I’m pursuing a career in dentistry, why I am running my first marathon this year, why I studied abroad, and that list never ends.
How do you find the food you eat impacts your BGLs?
FOOOOOOD – this is big for me! I was low-carb for the last three years and found great blood sugar control with that. Then I saw plant-based and fully raw Type 1’s on Instagram enjoying tons of fruits. I learnt how harmful insulin resistance is and how I had been promoting it with the high fat foods I ate.
I ultimately adopted a low fat plant-based diet this year, and it has been incredible. It is ridiculous how detrimental fats are for my blood glucose levels, and I am happy to say that I can enjoy fruits and complex carbs like quinoa without spiking.
What is your favourite recipe?
Favorite recipe? Honestly the quinoa with red curry and veggies that you made for me when I was in Sydney. That stuff was incredible. I need to find some quality curry here in Texas.
What would you say to a type one diabetic who is nervous about introducing more carbohydrates back into their diet?
Nourish your body and find activity that you love. Wholegrain carbs aren’t the enemy. If you try it and absolutely hate it, then you really have nothing to lose. My world was changed, and is so much better now.
What is your favourite piece of nutrition advice you have received?
Normal blood glucose levels can be achieved following a low-fat plant-based diet. I used to think it was complete nonsense.
Thanks for teaching me so much, Amy!
If people want to follow your story where can they find you?
I adore Instagram, you can find me at @nerdscanfight