“Getting Through the Day as a Diabetic”: Real Talk from Type 1 Patients

For starters, each day looks a little different than the one before it.

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It’s one thing to learn the little tasks like testing your blood sugar or counting carbohydrates (okay, not so little), but it’s another to imagine how those oh-so-crucial components of managing type 1 diabetes fit into life. Like, real life.

Part of that means accepting a little trial and error. “Treating diabetes is always a challenge,” says Craig Kasper, a patient with type 1 diabetes. “There’s never one day that’s exactly the same as the one before it.”

With a little practice, you develop routines and learn what works (and what definitely doesn’t). We asked three patients for the honest truth about what a typical day with type 1 diabetes actually looks like.

Prioritize Your Health

“On a day-to-day basis, I’m very mindful of how to keep my stress levels in check. … I’m constantly experimenting with the types of foods I eat. Sometimes I go back and forth between eating just veggies and making sure that I’m eating as healthy a diet as possible.

“Exercise is a really important component of what I do on a day-to-day basis, and I’m trying to get into the gym [or do] some type of physical activity at least six days a week and sometimes even seven days a week.”

—Craig Kasper, diagnosed at age 27

Try these tips for managing stress for better blood sugar, eating a healthy diet with diabetes, and exercising with diabetes.

Monitor, Monitor, Monitor

“I check my blood sugar every morning as soon as I wake up and every evening before I go to sleep. I think those are the two most important numbers to know—so you know how you’re starting the day and you know that you’re going to be okay overnight.

In between, I check before meals and then every once in a while I’ll check in between meals. [It’s] important to know what my blood sugar’s doing two hours after a meal. In between, I do what anybody does: I do my work, I see my friends, I live a normal life.”

—Riva Greenberg, diagnosed at age 18

Be Prepared

“Type 1 diabetes—unlike many other [conditions]—is very much an emotional and mental disease, and it controls everything from what you put in your mouth to the exercise and activity that you do, so there are just so many ways that diabetes affects and impacts your life.

“You can’t predict what scenario you’re going to be in. You could be in a slumber party as a teenager; you could be in front of a cycling class. [The trick is] always having to be prepared and thinking about it and [being] responsible.”

—Liz Van Voorhis, diagnosed at age 15

For more real talk from patients, here is advice for newly diagnosed type 1 diabetics and tips for dealing with low blood sugar.