Month: February 2014

Tips and Tricks from a Savvy Gluten Free College Grocery Shopper.

Earlier today, Udi’s Gluten Free put out a fantastic post about the top 10 things they’d include in their gluten free grocery guide. So, I thought to myself, “I should totally do the college version!”. First, take a look at Udi’s post here, and hopefully this gluten free college girl can give you a few tips in avoiding what my friends know me for–a 2 hour trip to Meijer, up and down every aisle.

1. Make a list, on paper or in your head, of your staples.

-Okay, so maybe I’m not the best at this one–hence the two hour trips of la-dee-dah throughout the store. But I definitely do know that there are a few things I must get every time I go shopping: Udi’s White Bread, Udi’s Plain Bagels, Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese, Yoplait Light Yogurt [all are gluten free!], Dole Banana Orange strawberry Juice, Lactaid Fat Free Milk, Sargento Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Sticks, Sargento Ultra Thin Provolone/Cheddar/Colby Jack Slices, Hilshire Farms Oven Roasted Turkey Breast Deli Meat, Oscar Mayer Reduced Fat Turkey Bacon, Green Beans, Bananas, and Fuji Apples. Eclectic? Of course. Perfect for a college girl? That too.

2. Find the gluten free aisle, as Udi’s mentioned.

-Nearly every grocery store now has an area for gluten free in both the freezer and grocery sections. Are they always labeled? Definitely not.Meijer has their gluten free area in the “Dairy Alternatives” aisle…

3. Don’t forget the protein.

-It’s very easy to get caught up with my favorite Reduced Fat Cape Cod Kettle Chips, some apples, and yogurt, but be sure to stop in the meat/fish area. I avoid deli counters entirely; they’re a cess pool of cross-contamination. However, getting some fresh salmon [which you can even pop in the freezer in a Ziploc!] at the fish counter, or some Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Strips for easy dinners is a must.

4. Shop in terms of full meals first, then snacks.

-It’s easy to grab anything gluten free in sight, but be conscious that you’ve planned real meals. If you look at some Udi’s Tortillas, be sure you also grab some chicken, seasoning, and red peppers to make fajitas! [of course, check all ingredients] Shopping in terms of meals eliminates that all-too-often moment of  “Oh, so I have some bread…and an apple…Maybe I’ll just have almond butter and an apple…wait, that’s not a meal…shoot, what am I doing here.”

5. Imagine the power went out from a storm [not uncommon this winter]. Would you have enough to eat for a few days?

-I always ensure that I have enough food that doesn’t need refrigeration in case I get stuck in a tough situation. This means things like almond butter, jars of salsa, chips, dry cereal like Corn Chex [yum!], Gatorade, and other non-microwavable, non-perishables are a must. Especially as a diabetic, you MUST be sure you’ve got enough food on hand, including things with and without lots of sugar.


Hopefully I’ve been a bit helpful for that next trip between a coordinator meeting and ballroom practice, ’cause sometimes you’ve just gotta squeeze it in.


Take it easy, but take it.


If you think I need insulin when I’m low…

…then we have a real problem. There is a perpetual understanding that being a diabetic means that when anything is wrong, just get the kid some insulin. And if I hear one more person ask if they should get me insulin when I take a quick seat, shaking away with a crazy low alarm on my Dexcom, I’m going to be in a perpetual state of fear someone might just jab me with some insulin if I pass out.

Yes, of course they mean well when they offer to get my insulin. But, of course I worry. Nonetheless, that’s not the intention of this post. Yesterday, as it has been happening many times before in the last year, my hormones decide to take a random shift and I’m locked in a state of LOW. After seeing several endocrinologists, no one can figure out what has been causing these crazy spells, so in the meantime, I notice the pattern, drop the Levemir, and start eating. You all must know that horrific feeling that you’re stuffed to the brim with food and juice and yet are still low and need treatment. It might be just as bad as being low and being nauseous…maybe. But anyhow, that was my entire afternoon yesterday. My blood sugars like to behave in bizarre ways: I treat a low, and I know that compared to other diabetics, I definitely require more sugar for that number to budge. Then two hours later, the blood sugars are lovely and stable just to be followed another two hours later with two hours of crazy highs. And there’s very little way around that during these spells especially.

Yesterday, my concern was through the roof when, after being 47, I’d had 1/2 cup of marshmallows, a banana, 1/2 cup of juice, a handful of golden raisins, 1/4 cup of frosting and my favorite low food, an Apple Pie Larabar,  just to finally reach 105 on my Dexcom over an hour later. Yikes. So, I jumped on the phone with my mom, a diabetic herself, to discuss my returned low spell and how I was going to make it through the day. The worry is high with me, living alone, during these spells, but the Dexcom has definitely relieved just a bit of that stress.

I do have to mention briefly, how fantastic Larabars are for a perfect size, easy to grab and store, gluten free low blood sugar treatment option. I absolutely love my Apple Pie flavor but all flavors are gluten free, which is always fun with flavors for things that are often gluten loaded- like chocolate chip cookie dough and blueberry muffin! I buy them by the box and get a discount at Whole Foods and they stay fresh for ages, and can be thrown in a coat pocket and stored at the bottom of my backpack in case I go through all my other food and need to locate my emergency- emergency stash! Be sure you all try them the next time you’ve got a need for some tasty sugar.

My mom proceeded to recall that a glucagon can be given in doses, through a syringe, at least a few decades back for when a diabetic has the flu, or issues like these. So, after much research on her behalf, she determined that according to the AMerican Diabetes ASsociation, the Mayo Clinic, and Joslin Diabetes Center, as well as this research by the NIH, the following chart is still applicable in 2014:

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 2.08.23 PM


The glucagon should be mixed, as per instructions, and then a normal insulin U-100 syringe should be used to draw the dose. The rest of the glucagon can be stored for 24 hours in the fridge.

Though I didn’t end up needing this yesterday as I’d thought, it was just a bit of a relief knowing that I had a way around pushing food and juice as I’d been doing all day. Of course, I am not a medical professional, and please do your own research and determine if you’d like to use this option. As an aside, my mom did warn me that glucagon can definitely make your heart race, so don’t take it and immediately go running around about campus, as I would have potentially done!

Finally, I wanted to share a graphic that Udi’s Gluten Free shared via email this week, just to give you all some always needed perspective that there are a lot of us out there dealing with shoving gluten free food for a crazy low every day.

Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 2.40.08 PM


We’re all here for each other, especially on rough days like my last few.


Take it easy, but take it.


I’m sorry, but who’s the one actually dealing with this?

So, I’m learning that blogging is like diabetes—you could have the best laid plans for future endeavors [in diabetes, this is your next meal, how much insulin to take, etc.; in blogging, the best laid plans for what your next post is going to be, what you’ll discuss etc.] but as many of us know, of course it just doesn’t work that way.

I wanted to take a moment today to be sure that I touched on what I’ll call an “internet-event” that is taking up a lot of  time and space in many diabetes posts/tweets [like this one and this one] in my sphere this week. Obviously, I don’t want to just rehash everything else that has been said, but rather give my college diabetic-celiac view on the following:

Today, a columnist for the Washington Post, called Miss Manners, responded to a Type 1 Diabetic’s question about taking shots and testing blood sugars in public. Take a moment to read the third letter/response in this article, and then hear me out here.

If I ever gave more than a two second, fleeting thought to when and where I managed my diabetes, I would never be able to exist in the college world. In a split second, I’m running from an 8-5 day of class with one hour of break, by foot between distant buildings, then off to two meetings [now gluten free breakfast, lunch, and dinner in tow since 7:30am] and finally home for some homework and much needed feet-up time.

So, Miss Manners, I ask you, how would you go about advising me, a college girl, on caring for my 240 blood sugar my continuous glucose monitor is alerting me of in the middle of my 10 am physics lecture on the current and resistance of a multi-bulb circuit? Oh, should I take a moment to excuse myself so I can find a tiny bathroom stall, balance my insulin pouch on my knee, put the syringe cap in my mouth, find a corner of skin, jab myself, and proceed to return to lecture, left behind at the last light bulb?

I think we all agree here—there’s really no reason for a non-diabetic to begin commenting on how we’ve learned to *seemingly* flawlessly manage the moment-to-moment swings of a day in the life. What Miss Manners should have done is thanked the man for his concern about others feelings, and advise him to either a) do what makes his life just a little less stressful or b) recognized that she, in fact, does not have authority to discuss the topic and forward him to blogs like mine, and many others, where we’d speak from true experience.

To the man who wrote in, the next time you worry about your testing or shots in public, or if someone gives you a problem, I hope you manage it like I do: look him/her straight in the eye and say “Who’s dealing with this every waking moment, you or me?”


Take it easy, but take it.



And suddenly I have a real community.

Hi everyone-

I want to thank each and every one of you for visiting my blog. It’s actually the strangest feeling to see that you’ve *kinda* *maybe* been a little responsible for a community starting to come together to share, laugh, complain, etc., and the blogosphere has consumed way too much emotion today!

Anyhow, I just wanted to share my Twitter handle so you can all follow me/see some of my moment to moment “diabetes hacks,” as Kim [@txtingmypancreas] calls them, and maybe some other tidbits of Brianna wittiness?

Twitter handle: @briwolin

I’ll be back soon for a real post, I’m actually really excited to share something quite entertaining.

Take it easy, but take it.


And we both know that we could never have kids together.

Would I feel guilty? The question seems to swarm my mind at least a few times every year, and I wonder, would I feel guilty? Yes, there are many worse things in the world—cancer, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy. But, still, would I feel guilty?

As a young adult fighting this uphill battle of endless needles and pokes and having grown up proud to be able to finish my juice box in under 10 seconds when other kids took almost 20 seconds, I wonder, would I feel guilty?

Though I’m well adjusted and know how to handle myself in environments where there is absolutely nothing I could eat, and have learned to never let the food of an event stop me from attending one, would I still feel guilty?

Sure, they say, we’ll have a cure in no time, they say. And we’re decades down the line and nothing, not even a new treatment, has alleviated some stress. The vision of a cure is foreign, of multiple cures seems impossible. The hope always exists, yet is it enough to prevent me from feeling guilty?

Can I live with myself the day my son or daughter is  inevitably diagnosed with diabetes, celiac disease, hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, food intolerances, Reynaud’s syndrome, any autoimmune disease? My answer has been, and still is, I really do not know.

I wish I could guarantee myself all the cures I need to make the positives in blood work become negatives. But without such a guarantee coming my way before it’ll be time to have children of my own, am I really prepared to face the probable inevitability that my children will have to deal, to some extent, with what I fight so hard to deal with every single day?

For my own mother, a diabetic herself, obviously she chose to leap into the unknown. But for me, the list is longer, and at what point is it too long? I must look through the lens of my life motto: See the big picture. There are worse things in the world, and as I mentioned above, worse health conditions I could be living with, and pass on. Ultimately, I will have my own children. I know that, by living through my everyday experience, that with enough family support, it is doable.

Yet, I still do not know how guilty I may feel.

We all know, and it’s obvious through my blog, that such a serious discussion and existence is not without some form of joke. So, there’s only one person I really feel like I can connect with about these issues–my dearest friend Will. I’ve known Will since mid-way through high school and we’ve been through the highs and lows of my existence and his battle with cystic fibrosis. I can’t imagine not having him in my life. Though we never really sit down and discuss the topic of children at length, it’s obviously creeped its way into our talks a few times. Ultimately, Will  and I determined that we’d have the smartest, best looking kids, with the worst genetic pool. And if anyone else in the world told me that about my offspring, my blood would boil. But coming from Will, the only way I could ever respond with be with a smile and a giggle. Will, thank you for being there for me in a way others can’t. I will love you with all my heart always and forever.

Take it easy, but take it.