Tips for Living Healthy with Type 1 Diabetes

As you may know, my son, Elijah was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in June. We were shocked since diabetes doesn’t run in our family. I knew practically nothing about T1D, only a little about Type 2. Only 5% oi diabetics have T1D, it is where the pancreas stops working and doesn’t produce insulin. Those with T1D can go on to live long, healthy lives with insulin therapy (injections or via pump) as long as they manage diabetes and live a healthy lifestyle.

t1dOnce we got past the initial shock and grieving, we made it our mission to do everything and anything we can to help our son. There is no cure for T1D. With the help of friends, family, and AOM readers, we raised $1,135 for the JDRF Walk for a Cure in September.

Elijah is turning 10 this month and asking friends to donate to JDRF to find a cure in lei of birthday gifts for his upcoming SkyZone birthday party. He would rather get one step closer to finding a cure for diabetes than receive toys.  It both breaks my heart and fills me with pride to see how grown-up and responsible diabetes has made my son…

This is a sponsored conversation for Colgate.

Living Healthy with Type 1 Diabetes with Carb Counting

We have always lived a pretty healthy and active lifestyle, even more-so now that my son has diabetes. We measure and count the carbs on every single piece of food that my son eats. We are more health-conscious than ever, because my son’s life depends on it. Even something that I would have considered “healthy” before like a breakfast of orange juice, a banana, and muffin doesn’t work anymore, that’s about 100 carbs!


Living healthy with Type 1 Diabetes is all about the carbs and how fast-acting those carbs are. Diabetics can eat anything – basically, but may have to limit the quantities or change how they pair those foods together. He can have 1/2 a glass of orange juice with a small muffin or 1/2 a banana with a bowl of cereal. It’s about pairing fast-acting carbs with proteins and carbs that digest slower.

Diabetics must cover everything they eat with insulin. Elijah has to have insulin with every bite of food or his sugar will go high – which could have both short and long-term, dangerous health effects. We have to give him the proper amount of insulin or he could go low, with sudden and dangerous health effects that could land him in a comma or worse. Carb counting is essential for good health for diabetics.

Living Healthy with Type 1 Diabetes with Exercise

It isn’t all dome and gloom, with T1D, our entire family (and extended) are eating and living healthier. My husband even lost quite a bit of weight because of our attention to both diet and exercise. It isn’t uncommon to find my entire family doing sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jack competitions at 8pm because my son’s blood sugar is too high! We make a game out of it and both Elijah and Elizabeth love it.

Exercise is very important to managing diabetes – and a healthy lifestyle for anyone.  Dr. Natalie Strand is a mom-to-be with diabetes who is co-author of the newly released of A Woman’s Guide to Diabetes: A Path to Wellness. Her advice for diabetes is to take small steps to make a big difference. For instance, exercise is important, so she recommends aiming for 30 minutes 5 days a week. She also recommends checking sugar levels before, during, and after exercise to lower the risk of high or low blood sugars.

As a family, we hike and bike often for exercise. My son is also on a swim team. He swims 3-5 days a week, 1 hour at a time.


When he was first diagnosed, he went low, very fast when he would swim! By testing his blood sugar multiple times while swimming, we were able to find a plan that worked for him, which includes plenty of snacks, which any 9 year old boy can’t object to! :)

Living Healthy with Type 1 Diabetes with Stress Management

Dr. Strand also highlights how managing your stress as a diabetic is also very important. Even 9 year old boys get stressed out – from school, kids, teachers, expectations of others, and managing diabetes. I’m so, so impressed by how responsible he has become, he practically self-manages diabetes at school – giving himself insulin, counting carbs, checking his own blood sugar, treating sugar lows and highs, etc. He’s doing a great job but it is an added stress for him.  Dr. Strand recommends stress management with exercise, adequate sleep, social support, and even yoga.

Living Healthy with Type 1 Diabetes by Prioritizing Health

Diabetics visit doctors more often than most! Their health today impacts their health tomorrow as diabetics are more prone to health problems including thyroid disease, celiac disease, Addison’s disease, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and even gum disease.

dentistNot only are we adamant on seeing his endocrinologist and family doctor quarterly, but also his dentist. Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Adam Pollock has been our dentist for years. He even specializes in those with special needs, including those with diabetes. I feel so confident in having him as our dentist for Elijah.

Everyone should see their dentist twice annually for regular checkups, this is even more crucial for diabetics. According to the CDC, diabetics are 2X more likely to develop gum disease. Regular visits and good oral care at home is vital for good oral health for diabetics.


My son uses Colgate Total, it is the only FDA approved toothpaste that prevents the gum disease of gingivitis. In fact, it helps in as little as 4 weeks. Colgate is a national partner of the American Diabetes Association, which gives me peace of mind for at least this part of our diabetes care.

Living Healthy with Type 1 Diabetes Daily, Hourly

As I am typing this post, I just got a call from the school nurse. My son’s blood sugar is 455 – wow! It’s either from a bad pump site or possibly because of the exciting science experiment they had in class.

With all the planning, healthy diet, exercise, constant blood sugar tests (10+ a day), there are always surprises along the way. I’ve learned that you have to be diligent with health and wellness when it comes to dealing with diabetes but you also have to be flexible and willing to do whatever it takes.

These are the steps we take daily while living healthy with Type 1 Diabetes.

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Founder and Lead Blogger at Akron Ohio Moms
Cindy is the top Akron Blogger with her own take on awesome brands for families, where to vacation for families, a beat on local activities and family fun, a knack for getting moms to share , and a house that is always 2 weeks away from a complete remodel!
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