Mila Buckley, the author behind acclaimed diabetes blog hangrywoman.com, was initially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Only when treatments were found to not be working was she accurately diagnosed with a rarer disorder: latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). Her journey hasn’t been an easy one. That’s why she’s made it her purpose to shed light, share tips and bring hope and community to her readership.
How did your diagnoses influence the way you eat?
My eating habits were actually pretty good before my first diagnosis. I worked out a lot and ate lots of greens, fruits and water. I’d enjoy the occasional burger or cocktails with friends, too. After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, my eating patterns didn’t have to change too much. I did have to start being more conscious of macros — especially carbohydrates, which spike blood sugars. But food became hard to manage. I felt like I was eating well and counting carbs, but my blood sugars weren’t reflecting that. When I found out I actually had LADA and that I needed insulin, I had to be even more conscious of counting carbs so that I could take the appropriate amounts of insulin for my food without having low blood sugars. At first, remembering to count carbs all the time was difficult. Also, researching what I ate and weighing it to find the carb counts were so time consuming. But now? I’m a human carb calculator! I can look at foods and estimate the carb counts pretty closely.
What’s something positive that came from your diagnosis?
One of the healthiest habits I have now is not shunning food. All food groups do different things for your body. I’ve gained the confidence of being able to include foods I love in my diet without feeling guilty. I’ve had my ups and downs with diabetes and food, from not eating enough because I felt like it was the only way to stabilize blood sugars, to eliminating cultural foods like rice and peas and Jamaican beef patties. Now, I feel so much better and freer knowing how to incorporate these foods without shame or guilt.
Name a common pitfall for newly diagnosed people.
People with diabetes are always told to avoid carbs very broadly but not always given good advice about how carbs can be a great fit in moderation and with proper portion size. That can lead to stress around food, feeling like you can’t eat anything, and lots of frustration. I think it’s important to figure out what works for your body, learn about portion sizes and use your glucose tests to your advantage to learn how different foods affect your blood sugars.
What are your top tips for the newly diagnosed?
You can absolutely have exciting foods when you have diabetes. The challenge is always understanding how different foods may affect your blood sugar levels. Re-evaluate portion sizes (most things will surprise you), weigh your foods and get a general understanding of measurements. The small changes add up and make a big difference.
5 Daily Habits to Manage Diabetes
Since being diagnosed with LADA and starting her blog, Mila Buckley has become an inspiration to thousands of readers with diabetes. This powerhouse blogger shares some of her best lifestyle tips for healthfully managing this metabolic disorder.
1. Give Your Brain a Break
Living with LADA can be stressful. My day is constantly peppered with decisions around food, exercise, medications and blood glucose. To center myself, I practice meditation in the mornings, and sometimes before bed. During the workday, I like to take a little dance break at my desk to shake everything out!
2. Move Your Body
I’ve become a huge fan of my Peloton. I ride, run or do strength training at least four or five times weekly. It’s one of my favorite forms of exercise because I can go at my own pace and the app tracks my progress. This lets me see how I’ve improved my endurance or strength over time.
3. Quench Your Thirst
I constantly have a tumbler nearby with water. You can usually catch me with flat or sparkling water or a homemade iced latte. Staying hydrated helps to keep my blood sugars in check, and I think it also keeps my skin glowy.
4. Know Your Numbers
Staying on top of blood sugar levels is important so you know if you’re managing your diabetes properly. I wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) on my arm and I check it after every meal and exercise. I also set up push notifications from my CGM app to remind me to check at random points throughout the day.
5. Cook as a Couple
My husband and I cook dinner together during the week so we can limit how often we eat out. It always helps me to know my food measurements and what’s going into my food. This helps me anticipate fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Plus, it’s a nice way to spend time together without cell phones.