Lifestyle and adventure blogger Bella Bucchiotti shares her passion for food, fitness, and type 1 diabetes advocacy.
When did you find out you were living with type 1 diabetes? How did it impact your daily life after diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes five years ago when I was 19 years old.
My T1D diagnosis has taught me so much about resilience and empathy. Instead of thinking it as the breaking of me, I want to think of it as the making of me. Type 1 diabetes has made me stronger than I ever thought I was, and it has taught me so much about my body. Diabetes tests me every single day and has made me more understanding of how others may also have struggles, too. You never know all that is going on in a person’s life. Kindness and grace are so important!
What motivated you to share your experience with type 1 diabetes and build an online community?
When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I didn’t really know much about it, and I didn’t even personally know one person with diabetes. I felt alone and overwhelmed. Within days of sharing about my diagnosis on social media, I started to build a group of people from all over the world that I could talk to and share with. I found people like me! I also found connections to parents, siblings, and friends of people with diabetes. They are looking for ways to support their loved ones.
Even after five years, I am still learning about T1D but it’s really comforting to know that I’m not alone in this and there are millions of people that are dealing with the same struggles I am on a daily basis. Connections are so important. I now see other people with pumps and sensors at the coffee shop or dog park and always start a conversation. The diabetes community is full of wonderful people.
What do you find most challenging living with diabetes?
Managing type 1 diabetes takes constant work and planning, and it can be physically and mentally exhausting. Diabetes never takes a break! I check my blood sugar constantly throughout the day and often in the middle of the night. On top of that, you calculate how many carbohydrates you are eating, keep track of exercise, and determine how much insulin to give yourself. Diabetes is always on my mind.
Living with a chronic disease with no cure is also daunting. I hope one day there will be a cure for T1D, but for now this is my life. I am doing it and I will keep doing it for the rest of my life.
How do you choose to manage your diabetes and keep track of your blood levels?
Technology for diabetes management is life changing. I use a Medtronic insulin pump and a Freestyle Libre 2 continuous glucose monitor (CGM). There are many options for diabetics to choose from for managing their T1D. Everyone has personal preferences for what works for them and their budget. Managing a demanding chronic disease is challenging and using technology like a pump and a CGM has improved my quality of life.
I have always lived an active lifestyle and try to make good food choices. I know this also helps me manage my T1D on a daily basis.
You also live with celiac disease. How does that overlap with living with diabetes?
If you have type 1 diabetes it is important to stay vigilant about the signs of celiac disease, and it is common to have both. My endocrinologist had me tested for celiac disease shortly after my T1D diagnosis.
Getting diagnosed for both T1D and celiac disease within months of each other certainly was a lot to adjust to at once. It was an adjustment, but hey, that’s life – always throwing you surprises!
As someone that does a lot of international travel, celiac disease is often more challenging than diabetes as language barriers can complicate communicating dietary needs.
What are some common products and ingredients in your grocery list that you would recommend for other people living with diabetes?
When you have type 1 diabetes you are more aware than most of what you are consuming because it impacts your diabetes management. I have always been a foodie and I find joy in eating real food, making food that tastes delicious, and food that makes me feel good. I love to experiment and get creative in the kitchen. This helps me control my blood sugar and have lots of energy. Being diagnosed with diabetes invigorated my passion for all things food and nutrition.
I rarely skip meals and always have healthy snacks with me. Fueling my body well is an important part of my diabetes management.