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Helpful Hacks

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You may have heard the term "life hack" thrown around recently, referring to a handy trick that makes life a little easier. We know living with diabetes can be tough - who needs life hacks more than families living with T1D? Have you been looking for some ideas on how to make T1D management a little easier? Check out some of our Helpful Hacks below and be sure to check back for future updates!

Hacks from the Community

We love to hear about tips and tricks for managing T1D from our patient and family community! Check out our Patient Success Stories page for more insight on how our patients devised these awesome tips.

  • Controlling Blood Sugar While Exercising with Diet by Annabella Pasque. Need a way to control your blood sugar during exercise? Try mixing up the order of your pre-game snack! Eating fat and protein around 15 minutes before eating carbs can give you a steady blood sugar during and after exercise so you don't need to load up on carbs before working out. Read more about this tip and how Annie learned this on the Patient Success Stories page!

Hacks for the Holidays

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​Holidays should be a happy time for your family, and we want to help relieve some of the stress that comes with managing T1D around this busy time of year! Check out some of our favorite holiday hacks below, and read through some holiday tips on these T1D blogs:

  • T1D and snow. Just like extreme heat, extreme cold can cause your insulin to stop working. Be mindful of wearing your diabetes devices like CGMs or insulin pumps while playing in the snow, and be sure to take plenty of breaks to ensure your blood sugars are stable during play. Make sure you wear gloves and keep your hands warm to ensure accurate blood sugar testing. If you will be spending extended time outdoors, wear your insulin pump close to your body and ensure it is covered by warm clothing to keep it in working order. Make sure you keep your insulin and blood glucose meter in a warm place too!

  • Keep moving this winter! Did you know that over the winter months, people with diabetes tend to have higher A1Cs as compared to the summer months? It is probably due to great stretches of inactivity and wanting to stay warm and cozy when it’s snowing outside. Try ice skating at a local rink, sledding on a hill nearby, playing basketball at the YMCA or running laps around your basement. Remember that a little activity goes a long way, especially when dealing with diabetes. Even fitness games on a TV, game console or iPad can help increase activity!

  • Check your BG before you hit the road! The roads are treacherous this time of year and it can be even more dangerous if you are too high or too low. Before you take the wheel, make sure you glance at a CGM or check your blood sugars and always keep some sort of juice or candy near the driver’s seat in case you have an unexpected low while you are driving. If you are in for a long road trip this holiday, let your passengers know that you are a person with diabetes and that you may ask them to grab you a candy or juice on the drive.

  • Stock up for sick days with diabetes. As cold and flu season hits, it's important to be prepared! Check out our Sick Day Guide for a comprehensive list of supplies you should keep on hand and instructions for how to handle diabetes with a cold. Don't forget, please get a flu shot! It is one layer of protection that couldn’t hurt. If you do catch a bug, stay warm and hydrated and get plenty of rest. 

  • Be careful around sugar-free treats! It may be tempting to stock up on sugar-free desserts so you can have fun without worrying about carb counting, but sugar-free foods can contain sugar alcohols that can seriously upset your stomach or cause irritable bowels. You should also keep in mind, just because it says "sugar-free" doesn't mean it's carb-free!

  • Make sure you're getting enough sleep! Sleep may be the last thing on your mind as you await holiday mornings or countdown to the New Year. Your typical schedule may be thrown off because of holiday activities or late-night gatherings. Try to keep a consistent sleeping pattern to help with your diabetes management and better equip yourself for the stress and excitement that can come with the holidays. If you're feeling short on sleep, take a holiday nap!

  • Let your stomach catch up! Did you know that it takes some time for your brain to catch up with your stomach and let you know when you are “full”? Research has shown that when meals are eaten slowly, people eat significantly fewer calories and drink more water than those who ate fast. To help slow down your eating, try to chew slowly, place your utensil down after each bite, or take a sip of water between bites. Eating less high-carb dishes means you will need less bolus insulin to stay in range.

  • Be mindful of high carb dishes. Holidays are full of sweets and other high-carb meal choices. It's fine to enjoy these dishes, but you should choose them carefully. If dessert is important to you, try to keep those carbs in mind before you build your dinner plate. Some patient families recommend snacking on some diabetes-friendly foods like nuts, cheese, pickles, or celery and peanut butter before a large meal to help limit the number of carbs you are eating. Check out our Holiday Carb Counting Guide for more tips on staying in range and recipes to stay on track!

Hacks for School

  • Keep labelled snack bags. One of our favorite tips is to keep pre-portioned snacks measured in Ziploc bags and label them with a permanent marker. These snack bags are perfect for school lunches to help with carb counting or for after school snacks so there's no confusion or scales involved. 

  • Keep your teacher in the know. It's important to make sure your teachers, coaches, and other adults at school know the basics of diabetes and what they should do in the event of a low blood sugar. Give them a copy of our Letter for School Staff or point them towards some diabetes basics from your education materials.

Hacks for your Home

  • Keep a diabetes "HQ" somewhere in your home. Create a central “health headquarters,” like a drawer or cabinet, preferably in your kitchen. Help your child come up with a name for it that reflects something they enjoy, like the stadium where their favorite sports team plays or a location in their favorite book or TV show. Make sure the family knows the space is sacred — for diabetes supplies only! (If you have small children in the home, make sure the space is childproofed!) (via T1EveryDayMagic)​​

Hacks for your Stuff

  • Losing testing kits? Tie them down! If your family has trouble keeping track of testing supplies, keep them in a fixed spot by tethering the kit off with elastic or string. This way, you won't be tempted to carry the kit off and misplace it. Keep the kits in common locations, like near the bed and in the kitchen. (via T1EveryDayMagic)

  • Organize your power station. If your diabetes supplies includes a pump, CGM, and collection of meters and other chargeable devices, then keep your cords organized in one place by labelling them with masking tape. You could also color code the devices with stickers or colorful tape. Consider charging all your devices for at least one hour every day at the same time to ensure they all keep working throughout the day. One family calls this their "Hour of Power"! (via T1EveryDayMagic)

  • T1D on the move! If your teen is old enough to drive or is often gone with friends and comes home late, consider keeping a small kit with essential supplies attached to their car keys or house keys. (via T1EveryDayMagic)

Food and Nutrition Hacks

  • Trying to stay low-carb at restaurants? Start with your ordering. T1D Blogger Adam Brown says "it's easier to have willpower when ordering than when the food is right in front of me" - meaning if you change the order when you place it, you can avoid the temptation once the food is brought out. Try asking for a burger with no bun, or a Mexican dish without rice or tortillas. Get a veggie option instead, or double up on proteins! That way, you can avoid unnecessary carbs and focus on the important ones.  (via Diatribe)

  • Looking for a healthy breakfast option for T1D? T1D Blogger Adam Brown is a huge advocate of chia pudding for breakfast. According to Adam, this breakfast is filling, tasty, quick to make, and has very little impact on blood sugar. This could be a great alternative to sugary breakfast cereals or high-carb breakfast pastries! (via Diatribe)

Holiday Hacks
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