Today, I have a guest on my blog, Quinn Nystrom. When she was 13-years-old she was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. She and her younger brother were both diagnosed. For her brother, he was only five-years-old. She went through this major life change during those difficult teen years. She writes about her story in her book If I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes? Today, she’s sharing some nutrition tips on my blog. Thank you, Quinn, for guest posting today, and for sharing your story in your book.

Quinn Nystrom and her aunt Roxane Reabe

Quinn Nystrom and her aunt Roxane Reabe

At the age of 13 I instantly became a person that the so called “food police” came after. Why? Because at the age of 13 I was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes. With type-1, your pancreas completely stops producing insulin so you have to check your blood sugar on a machine 4-6 times a day to make sure it’s in range, and if it’s not in that range you have to either give yourself insulin by injection or eat food to raise your blood sugar. This disease forces you to micro-manage your blood sugar and so with that you need to manage everything that you eat and drink. I’ve gotten a lot of different questions over the years from people:

Can you eat birthday cake?

Can you have that cookie?

Can you eat bread?

Can you eat fruit?

YES to all the above questions. And a lot of the questions stem from what diabetes researchers thought years ago, which was to limit the sugar intake of people living with type-1 diabetes. Researchers now know that a carbohydrate is just a carbohydrate whether it’s a candy bar or an apple or a piece of toast. My doctor says I can eat anything in moderation. Though it’s tricky (and sometimes exhausting) having to manage a disease where you have to count every single carbohydrate that goes into your mouth so you know how much insulin to give yourself. After 15 years of living with this disease there are a couple nutrition tricks I’ve learned along the way that I think are beneficial to all people…working pancreas or not. J

  1. Eat food that tastes good, just in moderation. I love red velvet cupcakes, but it’s not a good idea for me to eat a half dozen every night! But it’s perfectly fine for me to have one for dessert every so often.
  2. Pick foods that are protein packed to fill you up longer. I’m a busy girl, who likes to be on the go…so when choosing meals I try to make sure that I’m getting in good protein choices so I’m staying fuller longer.
  3. Always have snacks on you! Since I was diagnosed I always had to carry snack with me in case I had a low blood sugar. I’ve gotten so used to it now that it’s a good habit to have if I’m having a long day and get hungry…I never want to get to a famished point.

Thank you, Quinn! I asked her a few questions about he current occupation:

When I’m not traveling around on the book tour, I speak nationally about diabetes. I’m also in the process of getting my Master’s degree in Communication Management through Syracuse University so homework from that keeps me busy as well! As of right now, there’s no plans in the near future to write another book….I’m just really focused on getting the word out to people about this book. There are 25,000 books on the market about diabetes…but this is the only book written from a first person perspective on what it was like growing up with type-1 diabetes. It’s really important to me to not have people who also share this diagnosis to not feel as isolated as I did when I was 13 years old. I do have several speaking engagements lined up for this spring and summer…and am really looking forward to some great opportunities that have being coming up. I’ll be in New Jersey next week speaking to an audience on behalf of the American Diabetes Association.

You can learn more about Quinn Nystrom at her website, order her book, and see her speaking schedule. One thing that struck me about her story is that it is for anyone who has gone, or is going through, any major life change. She went through the stages of grieving. She learned to accept what she needed to do to survive, and now thrive. She is working on getting more kids involved in summer camps like the one she attended, Camp Needlepoint (which we all agree is a funny name for a camp for kids with diabetes). Please contact Quinn if you need that connection.