The Blue Balloon February 2017

Welcome to the February edition of The Blue Balloon, bringing you the latest news from the Family Centre.

In this edition, we've got an exciting new event and a great education program to share, a wrap of all the fun we've had in January at Summer Camp and our Quiz Night, and Bec, our CEO, is counting down to the Rottnest Swim! Read Clinic Chat with Amy Rush for the lowdown on low-carbohydrate approaches to managing type 1, and check out our gorgeous D-Legend, May Tams - so much sass! Read on, and enjoy.

UPCOMING EVENT: March Solutions Forum
Educate Your Support Network

Often, our friends and extended family just don't 'get' diabetes, and it can be frustrating for families living with type 1 to have to explain it all the time.

Our first Solutions Forum for 2017 is here to give your support network a diabetes download!

Send your friends and family along to join the Family Centre's Amy Rush CDE/APD for a chat through Diabetes Basics, followed by Bec Johnson (real live type 1 diabetic) for the lowdown on Diabetes Etiquette! There are no silly questions at our Solutions Forums; we will help your support network understand your world a whole lot better!

Quick! Reserve your places now by clicking here

Date: Monday 20 March 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 8:00pm
Place: The Family Centre, 11 Limosa Court, Stirling, 6021
Cost: Donation to the Family Centre
For: Grandparents and other relatives, neighbours, school mums/dads and friends!

If you have any queries, please call Bec at the Family Centre on 9446 6446.

Achieve your type 1 goals with FLEX-IT!

Need a motivation injection? The Family Centre's Flexible Insulin Therapy (Flex-IT) workshop will get your diabetes management off to a great start in 2017.

Flex-IT is our fantastic group program for people with type 1 aged 16+, developed by Baker IDI and presented by our smart, supportive Credentialled Diabetes Educators. It's intended as a comprehensive refresher course, updating you on the latest management strategies and type 1 tips.

Topics include:

  • Practical type 1 challenges like eating out and managing alcohol
  • Calculating insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate ratios
  • Adjusting insulin to suit food and physical activity
  • Carbohydrate counting
  • Hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia management

The course runs over two consecutive Saturdays in March 2017.

Date: Saturday March 18 and 25, 2017
Time: 9am-4.30pm
Place: The Family Centre, 11 Limosa Close, Stirling, 6021
Cost: $150 per person (Support person free of charge)

Places filling fast! Register by clicking here.

For more information, contact the Family Centre on 9446 6446.

Summer Family Camp

The Family Centre's very first Summer Camp was a hit! Camp booked out within days of advertising, and ten excited families got the opportunity to explore the beautiful beaches and bush at Camp Quaranup. As you can see, there were smiles and sunshine all round, and we are proud to say that our families gave Summer Family Camp ten out of ten!

Here's what they said:
I could not fault the camp it was AMAZING!! It was so good to have a few days off of life and actually enjoy ourselves with no cooking, the action-packed days were awesome, it made diabetes fun for a change also being with other families in the same situation

Through this we have made lovely new friends on our journey. We were so sad to leave as we had such a fabulous time.

It was so good to meet all the other parents, and I enjoyed the shared experiences and adventures with my son.

Thank you to our generous supporters who make our Family Camps happen, especially to the guests of the 2016 AHG Charity Golf Day and to Roche Australia, who sponsored families to attend.

Our next Family Camp is the October school holidays - but stay tuned for lots of fun school holiday activities throughout 2017!

Parent Advisory Group Quiz Night

Our inaugural Parent Advisory Group Quiz Night was sold out and a great success! Around 200 people got quizzical in January to support the Family Centre, and raised nearly $9000! It was a competitive, challenging night out with a whole lot of laughs - we look forward to next year's Quiz Night already.

A huge thank you to our dedicated and creative Parent Advisory Group, our team of volunteers, and to the fantastic local business that donated prizes. Check out more photos from the night here!

Countdown to the Rottnest Channel Swim!

The countdown is on for Bec, our CEO, to attempt to swim the 19.7 kilometre Rottnest Channel solo on 25 February. Bec, who has type 1 diabetes, has been in training for six months for the swim, and has documented some of her experiences in her blog, Swimsulin.

Bec is attempting the Rottnest Swim because she wants to show the kids at the Family Centre that they can achieve anything they set their minds to. Support her, and the Family Centre's work, by donating towards her swim here.

Managing T1D with a Low-Carbohydrate Approach
Clinic Chat with Amy Rush CDE APD

As the Family Centre dietitian and diabetes educator, it’s my job to support my patients to both achieve their diabetes management goals, and to help them eat in a way that meets their nutrient and energy needs. Recently, I’ve had a number of patients approach asking me to help them construct a diet that is lower in carbohydrate. Acknowledging that carbohydrate foods have the most extreme impact upon blood sugar, I fully support my patients to experiment with reduced-carbohydrate approaches in pursuit of better-managed blood glucose. Together, we’ve achieved some seriously good results.

The benefits of reducing carbohydrate
Fewer post-meal spikes
After eating, the rate at which carbohydrate is absorbed varies greatly, depending on the food’s glycaemic index. Unfortunately, rapid-acting insulin doesn’t always sync up with the rate carbohydrates are absorbed, which can result in large post-meal glucose spikes. By decreasing the carbohydrate load of the meal, it is possible to decrease the time spent with high levels after meals.

Reduces your error margins
By lowering the amount of carbohydrate consumed, we can reduce the unavoidable error margins in doing diabetes maths. If you don’t have nutrition information panels at hand, the process of estimating carbs naturally comes with an error margin. Let’s say you eat a low-carb breakfast of a cheese and tomato omelette (5 grams of carbs) and your error margin counting the carbs is around 20% - you’d be 1 gram out, which won’t impact your insulin dose. However, if you’re eating a high-carb breakfast of toast, banana and cereal (let’s say 80 grams of carbs) the same error margin could have you out by a whopping 16 grams – which can quickly translate to over- or under-dosing your insulin!

Tighter control
Following a reduced-carbohydrate approach minimises the fallout from getting the carb count wrong, by also minimising errors in insulin dose calculations. It also means you’ll need to take less insulin at each meal and snack, helping you to get off the diabetes rollercoaster. Working with smaller numbers can help you achieve tighter blood glucose control.

More stable overnight levels
If you have your basal rates set right, reducing spikes and the need for corrections after dinner can set you up to cruise through the night with stable levels. And who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep?

Got concerns? Let’s talk them through
What about growth?
There is no reason why a person can’t grow and thrive using a reduced-carbohydrate approach. I am yet to find a nutrient from a carbohydrate-containing food that cannot be supplied by a food low in carbohydrate, and the menu plans I create for my patients easily meet nutrient and energy targets. Indeed, given the mounting research that shows the impact of sustained highs and wild glucose fluctuations on growth and development, the argument for fixing these problems through food choices is compelling.

Is there a greater risk of hypoglycaemia?
If you reduce your carbs, you need to adjust your insulin downwards to avoid hypos. Treating a hypo is the same: use glucose tablets or other fast-acting carbs in controlled amounts.

Is eating low-carb boring?
No way! In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a healthy, colourful diet full of non-starchy vegetables, meat, fish and poultry, eggs, dairy, nuts and berries. And meeting your energy needs with calorie-dense foods such as full-fat dairy, avocado, coconut products and nut butters is both delicious and satisfying. Baking and treats are out of the question either - ask the mums and dads in the Family Centre Parents' Community for their reduced-carb swaps, substitutions, tips and recipes!

Can we still enjoy social events and eating out?
Of course! Lots of cafes and restaurants are happy to accommodate. Parties and friends’ houses can be less predictable, but when you feel the profoundly positive impact of stable levels, you will be surprised how easy it is to pass on the potatoes. Being your own nutrition advocate is important – talk with your friends about how they can support with food that helps your health.

Is it sustainable long-term?
My answer is this is: if a way of eating offered variety, allowed you to eat when you liked, included delicious and satisfying foods and made you feel better, would you have any issues with adherence? 

The take home message:
Do what is right for you and your family. If you do choose to try reducing carbohydrate, don’t do it alone. Do your homework, be prepared, and find a health professional who is willing to be your sidekick! 

Meet our February D-Legend, Miss May Tams

Twelve months ago I took photo of my older kids on their first day of school. To my left, out of view, standing quietly huffing and puffing was our teeny tiny May.

I dragged her to two school drop-offs, saying “No - you've just had a drink - you don't need another, and getting frustrated as we were on a time limit.”

We dropped all the kids off and she was very quiet, just huffing away. I learned later that fast, shallow breathing is a sign of diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition associated with high blood sugar and undiagnosed diabetes.

At the GP clinic, the doctor listened to our story of excessive drinking, wetting through everything, and did a blood glucose test. Not a sound came from May. Just like that we had a diagnosis, and the instructions: don't go home, don't wait in the triage queue - get straight to hospital, now! And don't let anyone make you wait when you get there.

In hospital we were rushed through, they put lines in each of her little arms. Still not a peep from Miss May. She just lay there looking at me.

Her first insulin injection onboard, our T1 journey with May commenced. We began to learn...

We learned the heart-stopping terror of sleeping through the alarm clock.

We learned how much you pray going into her room at night to check her.

We learned the relief of reaching out to feel her breathing.

We learned about new technology... now when she falls asleep in the car I no longer screech to a halt on the freeway, and rush to check her blood. Using Continuous Glucose Monitoring, which we first experienced through the Family Centre’s CGM Loan Program, gives us an indicator of what's happening so we can help better manage May’s levels.

We’ve learned that some days our fierce little girl is just not gonna take that needle, and we need to hold onto our hats and pray it won't be too hard to fix.

She's not a "special" girl, we are not "special" parents. I don’t think we’re brave, or inspirational. God didn't give us what we couldn’t handle.

We're helping her navigate her life path. We read, we talk, we find her tribe. We educate and advocate for her, with her. Already she's a great self-advocate; she will stand up to anyone if you get between her and her food or insulin. She's proud of her tribe and her tools for survival.

Our Miss May puts on her sparkly tutu and has attitude to burn - she’s the perfect little Diabetic Diva. So we let her rock her crown, put on her fancy dress and celebrate this thing called life!

- Cindy Tams, May's Mum
Recipe of the Month: Savoury Scones
Are you partial to a savoury muffin or scone but don't like dealing with the blood sugar spike afterward? Try these delicious, simple savoury bites, perfect for afternoon tea. And hang onto the recipe - these are great with soup when the weather cools down!
Makes 12.
1 medium cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices of bacon, cooked
2 eggs
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup almond flour
  • Preheat oven to 200ºC. Prepare a baking sheet with baking paper.
  • Use a food processor to blitz cauliflower until it turns into the consistency of rice.
  • Heat a frypan over medium heat. Add olive oil and cauliflower. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until cauliflower softens.
  • Transfer the cauliflower mixture to a blender or food processor, add eggs, cooked bacon, garlic powder, salt and almond flour. Blend on high until the rice is broken down and all ingredients are combined. It should look like mashed potatoes.
  • Dollop onto a baking tray - the mix will seem a little runny but don't worry.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned.
  • Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes. They will harden at room temperature.
  • Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container up to three days. The scones can also be frozen.
Nutrition information per serve (serves 12)
Kilojoules – 307
Protein – 4.2grams
Fat – 5.5grams
Saturated fat –0.9grams
Carbohydrate – 1grams
Fibre – 1.5grams
And finally, our Meme of the Month
That's all folks! Stay tuned for our next edition of The Blue Balloon. 
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Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre · 11 Limosa Close · Stirling · Perth, WA 6021 · Australia

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